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About

self-jlem-crop

This site brings together some of my work on civil resistance and other related resources for activists, students, scholars, journalists, and citizens.

As of December 2017, I am working on a book manuscript for Routledge and looking for work in academia or other fields related to research, analysis, policy and communications.

I have a PhD in Political Science from the University of Victoria, Canada (completed April, 2017).

Research areas: international relations, political theory, protest movements, civil resistance, participatory governance, democratic theory, human rights, violence & nonviolence, peace & conflict, terrorism & counterterrorism, Middle East politics, Palestine/Israel, Canadian foreign policy

DissertationUnarmed and Participatory: Palestinian Popular Struggle and Civil-Resistance TheoryCivil-resistance theory provides a mostly coherent framework for understanding the strengths and weaknesses of Palestinian struggle, but in two important ways, concerning unarmed action action and participatory organization, I show that the Palestinian case ‘speaks back,’ drawing attention to shortcomings of the theory. See the Abstract below. Or see the full dissertation on UVicSpace.

My research builds on a diverse range of thinkers, including especially Gene Sharp, Hannah Arendt, Robin Celikates, James Tully, Mohandas Gandhi, Mary Elizabeth King, Julie Norman, Erica Chenoweth, Maria Stephan, April Carter, Stephan Zunes, Kurt Schock, and many others. See also my page on Civil Resistance Theory.

See my Academic CV (long, 5 pgs) or my Resume (short, 2 pgs)

Contact: carpentm@uvic.ca

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Unarmed and Participatory: Palestinian Popular Struggle and Civil-Resistance Theory

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation advances the literature on civil resistance by proposing an alternative way of thinking about action and organization, and by contributing a new case study of Palestinian struggle in the occupied West Bank.

Civil resistance, also known as civil disobedience, nonviolent action, and people power, is about challenging unjust and oppressive regimes through the strategic use of nonviolent methods, including demonstrations, marches, boycotts, strikes, sit-ins, protest camps, and many others (Sharp 2005; Chenoweth and Stephan 2011; Schock 2015). This study employs an approach that minimizes analytical (as well as normative) expectations of perfectly nonviolent forms of struggle (Celikates 2015), and I link this modified pragmatic action model to an organizational principle that has generally been overlooked or discounted in the research literature. On the whole, civil-resistance studies has focused on forms of action to the detriment of exploring forms of organization, or has relegated organization to a subset of action. My research clarifies a participatory approach to organization that is community based, sometimes known as the committee or council system (Arendt 1963). It is radically democratic, yet not necessarily confined to purely horizontal forms of organization. Rather, the model allows, and requires with increasing scale, upward delegation to decision-making and other task-contingent bodies. I argue that without a theoretical framework for apprehending systems of networked and tiered popular governance, Palestinian civil resistance has been insufficiently understood. The dissertation examines Palestinian cases through this framework, linking the conjunction of unarmed action and participatory organization to high-points of Palestinian struggle. Among the cases is a small civil-society movement in the West Bank that began around 2009 striving to launch a global popular resistance.

My research suggests that civil-resistance theorists consider the non-dominative element of organization as they do the non-dominative element of action, that just as violent resistance strategies can counter the logic of people power, so too can centralized organization. Yet this logic does not require that participatory organization be perfectly horizontal any more than civil resistance must be perfectly nonviolent.