A fascinating course on the rise of social movements

Today I attended a one-day course on social movements held at London’s City Lit college. Social movements have a long history around the world, but over the past few years we have seen a significant rise. The day provided an opportunity to hear about, explore and discuss some of the key ideas of contemporary social movements, with speakers focusing on the changing landscape of ‘people movements’.

The first speaker was Dr Christina Julios, Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Geography, Birkbeck, University of London; and City Lit Sociology. She spoke on contemporary social movements focused on ‘honour’-based violence including forced marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). She will explore initiatives by Diasporas in Western countries as well communities in developing nations.

The second speaker was Dr James Chiriyankandath, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, and History/Politics tutor at City Lit. He spoke on the Arab Spring and its aftermath – exploring the people movements that started from the Arab Spring and the impact these have had in the North African and Middle East regions.

The third speaker was Zulfia Chynar-Satimbai who works with Amnesty International where she is currently responsible for supporting activist movement in countries in former Soviet space with no Amnesty’s presence. She spoke on her experience of working with activist groups in Central Asia – as a student activist, then aid/development agency employee then as member of an international human rights movement; exploring the multiple narratives about social movements and journeys of minority narratives towards change.

The fourth speaker was Dr Mark McQuinn, Convenor of the Aid and Development course on the MSc Development Studies course, Development Studies Department at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and a Politics tutor at City Lit. He spoke on civil society, informal associations and social movements related to trade unions and labour across the African continent, with particular emphasis on his research in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Tanzania.

It was a fascinating and often inspirational day.


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