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Call for Papers & Panels: Social Movement & Conflict Research in Dialogue: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Violence, Resistance & Mobilisation

ipb annual conference 2023

ipb annual conference 2023

Annual conference of the Institute for Social Movement and Protest Studies in cooperation with the INTERACT Center for Interdisciplinary Peace and Conflict Research at Freie Universität Berlin

5 and 6 October 2023, Freie Universität Berlin

News vom 13.02.2023

Social Movement & Conflict Research in Dialogue: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Violence, Resistance & Mobilisation

What is the relationship between civil society and violence and does violence make civil society "uncivil"? What are the limits of legitimate resistance - are these limits relational to the systemic violence in which resistance is embedded, or are they subject to objective criteria? And how helpful is the normative liberal democratic framework as a guide in light of the observed convergence of repressive practices in democracies and autocracies across the globe? The divergent perceptions of mass mobilization against state restrictions in the frame of the pandemic across the globe, the hesitant support of popular uprisings against autocracy in Sudan and Iran, but also the controversies over the return of disruptive or “radical” direct action in the shape of the climate justice movement have brought these questions back to the fore.

Radical politics and their relation to various forms of political and social conflict have moved back to the center of both, social movement research and peace and conflict studies, yet, in different ways: Both fields of research deal with conflicts and contestations, struggles over different kinds of grievances and demands, how they are expressed and dealt with. Both fields address dynamics between the micro- and the macro-level. And both fields acknowledge the importance of building their insights on context-sensitive, empirical research. However, while social movement and protest research has mostly investigated contentious episodes up to a certain state of escalation, peace and conflict studies often focus on dynamics after the outbreak of violence and their aftermath. Social movement studies have frequently built their concepts and approaches based on insight gained in the Global North, while peace and conflict studies have heavily focused on contexts in the Global South. These lines are becoming increasingly blurry, and we would like to push this further, bringing the two fields (even more) into a conversation with each other. 

Call for contributions

Against this backdrop, this year’s annual conference of the Institute for Social Movement and Protest Studies (ipb) is dedicated to exploring the intersections of peace and conflict studies and social movement studies in the context of radical politics and (non)violent resistance. Together with the INTERACT Center for Interdisciplinary Peace and Conflict Research we hope to explore to what extent both fields and their conceptual repertoires and methodological toolkits may benefit from and complement each other. The aim is explicitly not to contrast the two fields and their approaches, nor to contribute to the reification of disciplinary boundaries and cleavages. Rather, with this conference we intend to provide an occasion for interdisciplinary exchange and foster dialogue between researchers with, at times, different perspectives on remarkably similar subjects.

Thematic foci

We thus welcome submissions from scholars and practitioners working in the fields of both peace and conflict studies as well as social movement studies. Thematically, we invite empirically and theoretically inspired submissions that examine various forms of resistance and their ruptures and continuities with armed struggles, from civil disobedience to more militant forms of contention. In particular, we are interested in submissions that connect with one of the following three thematic foci.

  • (Non)violence and radical politics: The thematic focus explores the contingency of contestation processes and the conditions under which they escalate into violent conflict. This concerns the material relation between different forms of resistance and state repression as much as their embedding in cultural and affective struggles over the legality, legitimacy and effectivity of specific modes of social interaction. Furthermore, it also concerns the role of identity, culture, and power in shaping what is commonly considered as violent, radical or conflicted action, including the role of media, security forces and subaltern discourses. Finally, this section aims to explore the fading lines between authoritarian and resistant practices across the globe and highlight continuities and ruptures in the ways in which contestation processes are managed transnationally across regime boundaries. For questions about this thematic focus please refer to Myriam Ahmed and Jannis Grimm.

  • Socio-ecological conflicts: In this section, participants will focus on mobilization dynamics in socio-ecological conflicts . Conflict studies have long particularly  focused on extractive projects and the resulting local conflicts at the project site such as land grabbing, pollution, resettlement and the destruction of habitats and livelihoods. Social movement studies have increasingly appreciated the enormous mobilization dynamics of the transnational climate justice movements, for instance by studying their collective action at international climate summits and in national arenas in the Global South and North. In recent years, these movements and their legitimating narratives increasingly converge, such as in the frequent forest occupations against infrastructure projects. This section aims to explore the interconnection of socio-ecological conflicts and resistance and the question of what conflict studies and movement studies can learn from each other in order to understand mobilization related to climate change, resources and the environment. For questions about this thematic focus please refer to Felix Anderl and Christin Stühlen.

  • Knowledge politics: This section aims to explore questions of knowledge production and knowledge politics both (1) as a substantive field of interest for social movement and conflict studies, as well as (2) relating to reflections on knowledge production and knowledge politics of the research fields themselves. How is knowledge produced about and during protests and in (violent) conflict, by whom, and with what consequences? What knowledge is influential in conflict transformation, peacebuilding, and development? How do knowledge politics influence the (power) dynamics in movements, protests, and conflict, as well as in their aftermath? And what role does the knowledge politics of academic inquiry play for the production of knowledge on violence, resistance, and mobilization? What do we research and how? What methods do we use? How do we build theories and concepts? For questions about this thematic focus please refer to Laura Kotzur and Mariam Salehi

➞ In the submission form, applicants may indicate whether their proposals fit either of these thematic foci, or indicate a preference to present in the conference’s general section.

How to submit your proposal

We welcome proposals for various types of contributions. Please review our guidelines and submit your paper/panel by 31 March 2023. Proposals can be submitted via Google form in two different formats: 

  • Pre-organized panels: Complete panel submissions include up to three presentations as well as a dedicated commentary that ties the three contributions together and situates them within the overarching thematic framework of the conference. Panels can be chaired by one of the participants or include an additional chairperson. The chair will serve as contact person for further correspondence between the conference organizers and the panel participants.

  • Individual contributions: Next to paper presentations, individual contributions may include academic research and activist reflections, methodological reflections, as well as presentations of ongoing research projects with thematic relation to the conference call. During the selection process, the organizing team will match these individual contributions with related submissions and assign a discussant to create coherent thematic panels.

We kindly ask you to submit individual paper submissions in English only to allow for flexibility in the composition of thematic panels. Complete panel proposals may be submitted in English or German.

➞ To submit a proposal please complete all entries in this Google form until 31 March 2023.


It is also possible to simply take part in the conference without presenting a paper. To do so, please await our general call for registration in May/June.

The conference fee is 30 € (reduced for students and doctoral candidates 10 €) and can be paid via bank transfer or directly on site. A limited number of travel grants will be available to PhD students and scholars from the Global South. For questions about eligibility and general concerns please contact the organizing team at conference2023@protestinstitut.eu. 

We look forward to receiving your proposals and to an inspiring discussion in fall 2023.

The conference organizing team

Myriam Ahmed, Felix Anderl, Bettina Engels, Jannis Grimm, Laura Kotzur, Mariam Salehi, Christin Stühlen.

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