Nonviolent resistance and culture



Publication Details

Sorensen,M. Jul. & Vinthagen,S. 2012,'Nonviolent resistance and culture',Peace & Change,vol. 37,no. 3,pp. 444-470.


This article investigates what culture means for nonviolent resistance. While literature on nonviolence has had a tendency to look instrumentally at culture,this article suggests an intertwined relationship. Activists are themselves embedded in their own cultures,and there is no ''outside culture.'' The authors suggest an innovative model of three strategies for analyzing the cultural aspects of a nonviolent struggle: (1) occasionally borrowing existing powerful symbols and cultural elements,such as flags or religious symbols,which is then applied; (2) partially remodeling ''old'' culture in the spirit of nonviolence. This strategy is illustrated through the Khudai Khidmatgar of the North-West Frontier Province in the 1930s and shows how the nonviolent struggle there,was ''negotiated'' with Islam and a traditional code of honor; and finally,(3) systematically creating a nonviolent movement culture,which is a much more complex process,is illustrated through the movement for landless workers in Brazil,the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra.

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