The Centre on Social Movement Studies


Katy Hayward – “Visibility and Violence: Insights from managing contentious events in Belfast”

Time and Place: Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, Scuola Normale Superiore – Palazzo Strozzi, Florence – Room Filippo Strozzi, 7 November 2017, 2.30pm

Picture description

The association of territorial space with particular communal and political identities infuses much thinking about the nature of conflict in Northern Ireland. Evidence for this is found in the persistent inter-group tensions and violence prompted by cultural parades and commemorations in certain areas. Conflict management in this area has centred on trying to balance competing claims regarding ‘rights’ in and to territorial space. This paper is based on research that originated with the ESRC-funded ‘Conflict in Cities and the Contested State’ project and has produced eight years of unbroken ethnographic fieldwork on one of the most contentious annual events in Belfast, that of the Orange Order through a particular part of North Belfast (Ardoyne). It draws on data that includes field observations from different perspectives and locations, interviews (including ‘walking interviews’), media coverage, official documents and photographic and video archives of the events in question.

Our hypothesis here is that it is not the built environment itself nor its symbolic significance that is of most importance here, but rather the visibility of the various subjects during the contentious events. Visibility may be understood as a field of social action through which territoriality is established, resisted and explored. Drawing on Brighenti’s (2010) insights, we illustrate the three forms of public visibility at work in this context: Spectacle, Recognition, Control. In so doing, we see that events are made contentious by the type of visibility that participants at an event are seeking and are given at any particular point. By better understanding the type of visibility at work during a contested event as it relates to the position and action of any subject group (paraders, protestors, observers, police), we can better understand the triggers for violence and the conditions for effective conflict management.



"Standing up for Science" - a documentary by Dieter Rucht

A documentary by Dieter Rucht on the 2017 March for Science in Washington, D.C. - now available on YouTube.


COSMOS Talks Calendar - Second Semester 2018

Read here the full calendar of the COSMOS Talks Series


Call for Application Now Open: Summer School on Concepts and Methods for Research on Far-Right Politics

We are pleased to announce that the call for applications is now open for the 1st Summer School of the ECPR Standing Group on Extremism & Democracy on ‘Concepts and Methods for Research on Far-Right Politics’, sponsored by the Centre for Research on Extremism (C-REX), the European Council for Political Research (ECPR), and the Centre on Social Movement Studies (COSMOS).


Edited Volume - 2018

Solidarity Mobilizations in the ‘Refugee Crisis’. Contentious Moves

Donatella della Porta (ed.)
This edited volume ddresses a gap in research on social movements that has disregarded the origins of discontent and overlooks protest as a resource of the powerless; it offers insight into how the movement of refugees across the European Union and elsewhere activates political opportunities; it explores claims to citizenship made by refugees within processes of knowledge production and the mobilization of emotions

Journal Article - 2017

Reshaping Citizenship through Collective Action: Performative and Prefigurative Practices in the 2013–2014 Cycle of Contention in Bosnia & Hercegovina

Chiara Milan
This essay analyses the strategic practices adopted by social movement actors during the 2013 and 2014 mobilisations in Bosnia & Hercegovina. By bridging critical citizenship studies with literature on social movements, it classifies them as belonging to the realm of activist citizenship, but also as having a performative and prefigurative dimension.