Voices of Change: Presents, Pasts and Futures of Activism and Protest in Europe

deadline for submissions: 
December 16, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
14th Annual Conference of the Graduate Centre for Europe (GCfE) at the University of Birmingham
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GCfE 14th Annual ConferenceVoices of Change: Presents, Pasts and Futures of Activism and Protest in Europe21-22 May 2020, University of BirminghamCall for papers

In recent years, Europe has witnessed the rise of various protest movements: Extinction Rebellion, the Yellow Vests in France, “Stop the Coup” protest in the UK, to name but a few. These protests were fuelled by the deterioration of the social, political and environmental situation in Europe and the rest of the world, as well as by citizens’ increasing demands for social, political and environmental justice.

Throughout history, various acts of civil disobedience, revolutions and uprisings have taken place in Europe and its surroundings. Yet the recent increase of protests coincides with the development of new technologies, as well as social media and artistic movements, which have led to the emergence of innovative forms of activism. They have allowed voices from a broader spectrum of society to be heard. Protests have become more accessible to segments of society, which have been traditionally excluded from socio-political debates, such as minorities, undocumented migrants, LGBTQIA, women, young people or vegans. These groups also bring new demands to the table: in addition to the more traditional claims of protest movements, such as better working conditions, there are now calls for other considerations including gender equality, transgender rights, decolonising measures and environmental protection. This is complemented by a growing awareness of how various mechanisms of exclusion and disenfranchisement may intersect, followed by a call for new types of alliances and forms of solidarity.

What are the impacts of protests on European politics? How do the developments of new technologies affect protest movements? How does the inclusion of diverse social categories influence demands for change? How do contemporary protest movements reimagine solidarity between various groups? How does artistic creativity contribute to activism? To what extent does the history of protest movements in Europe shape the new generation of activists? What is the relationship between past, present and future protests? The conference wishes to address these and other related questions in response to the changing voices of activism and protest across Europe.

We invite contributions from academic as well as non-academic backgrounds; these may include Political Sciences, Economics, History, European Studies, Law, Languages, Literature, Art, and Natural and Life Sciences. Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Claims and causes: Feminism and gender politics, post-colonialism and decolonial movements, anti-racist struggles, environmental and food activism, identity and citizenship, workers’ rights, equality and social rights movements, etc.
  • Actors and agents: Young people, students, academic engagement, minorities, migrants, hacktivists, artists, etc.
  • Means and media: Technology and social media, the arts (visual, written, spoken), demonstrations, flash mobs, sit-ins, etc.

As a centre run by a steering committee of postgraduates, we particularly encourage postgraduates and early career researchers to apply. Moreover, in light of this year’s conference theme, we also encourage activists to apply, so as to feature both academic and practical perspectives. Contributions are not limited to the presentation of traditional academic papers and we very much welcome other kinds of participation.

A limited number of bursaries will be available to assist with travel and accommodation expenses.

If you would like to present at the conference, please submit an abstract or a description of your proposed contribution of no more than 300 words, along with your contact details and a brief biographical note, to gcfe@contacts.bham.ac.uk by Monday, 16 December 2019.