Call for Papers: Who is an Activist? Biographical and Transformative Effects of Protest




Who is an Activist? Biographical and Transformative Effects of Protest

June 13, 2018


We are inviting papers for a workshopon biographical and transformative aspects of activism that will be held on June 13, 2018 in Zagreb, co-hosted by the Faculty of Political Science, the Institute of Economics and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Deadline for paper proposals is April 30, 2018.

Please find more information about the call and relevant contacts below.



Much of the research on social movement activism in the political arena has explored the impact of collective action in producing structural change. Much less attention has been paid to the impact of movement participation on individuals and groups. Addressing movement activism through a biographical lens can shed light on the principal reasons for enrolment, consolidation and, in some cases, withdrawal from activism.


The questions that motivate us are grouped under two broad themes:

1)    Who protests and why

Some of the pertinent questions here include for instance the importance of exposure to particular kinds of events as a factor underpinning activist engagement? What motivates individuals and groups to participate in some forms of activism but not others? Are there generational differences in the character of activism? What are the material factors which impede or impel activist participation? How do individual activists see the relationship between movement activism and formal politics? What is the relationship between local activists and wider transnational, regional and global movements? How are activist trajectories impacted by the role of media, including new social media and computer-mediated communication?

2)    Biographical consequences of protest and activism  

Here some of the driving questions concern the affective dimensions of activist engagement. To what extent should activism be understood as ‘emotional’ work? Are positions developed by activists in their initial phase of activist involvement relatively resistant to change even in the face of changing circumstances? How can activist ‘burn-out’ be understood as a social and cultural phenomenon? Who do different groups of activists treat as the ‘Other’ against whom they define their praxis? What are the different trajectories of activist citizenship and how do these relate to individual perceptions of ‘success’ or ‘failure’ of activist initiatives?


The Zagreb Workshop builds upon collaboration within the UACES Fringe Politics in Southeast Europe Collaborative Research Network, researching politics ‘at the margins’ in Southeast Europe, including war veterans’ groups; LGBT activism; anti-austerity and anti-corruption protests; right to the city protests; football fan groups; fringe right- and left-wing political parties. In 2017 the network published a thematic issue in Europe Asia Studies on Activist Citizenship in Southeast Europe.


We are particularly interested in works which address forms of activism judged to be on the fringe of politics in Southeast Europe, in both contemporary and historical contexts. We welcome theoretical and empirical studies including those which focus on a single case study, a small number of activist biographies and/or comparative approaches.


To propose a paper, please send an abstract (up to 500 words) and a biographical note (200 words) to danijela.dolenec@fpzg.hr by 30 April 2018. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by 10 May 2018. PhD students will receive funding for accommodation and travel expenses contingent on the timely submission of a full draft (5000-8000 words) by 6 June 2018.