Conversations: Understanding Protest

The global wave of protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd reminds us that we live in times of continuing racial injustice. As a publisher, we believe that books are uniquely able to help inform public consciousness and understanding – so this summer we are posting a series of extracts from works that explore our society, share different perspectives and take lessons from the past.

This blog post focuses on ‘protest’, and you can find other ‘Conversations About Global Racial Injustice’ blogs posts here.

We hope that by turning to books, we can contribute towards vital conversations about social equity and a brighter future – you can find the Association of University Presses Statement on Equity and Anti-Racism here, and a statement from the President of Yale University on the killing of George Floyd here.


The first extract is the chapter Signaling Power and Signaling to Power from Zeynep Tufekci’s Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest.  In the extract, Tufecki examines the ‘capacities and signals’ theory of social movements and uses comparative cases from Occupy Wall Street to the civil rights movement.


The second extract is the chapter Of Seditions and Troubles in the UK from Mustafa Dikec’s Urban Rage: The Revolt of the Excluded.  In this extract, Dikec looks at the background to and aftermath of the 2011 London uprising.


Related Reading

Protest at Selma
Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Voting Rights Act of 1965

David J. Garrow

“The work of David J. Garrow is more than a day-by-day account of how the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965 came into being. It is also a skillful analysis of the dynamics of protest activity and more particularly of the ways in which successful protesters deliberately use the mass media to influence uninvolved audiences.” –American Historical Review


ThePunishmentBookCoverThe Punishment

Tahar Ben Jelloun

In 1967 Tahar Ben Jelloun, a peaceful young political protestor, was one of nearly a hundred other hapless men taken into punitive custody by the Moroccan army. It was a time of dangerous importance in Moroccan history, and they were treated with a chilling brutality that not all of them survived. This powerful portrait of the narrator’s traumatic experience, written with a memoirist’s immediacy, reveals both his helpless terror and his desperate hope to survive by drawing strength from his love of literature.


Emma Goldman Emma Goldman
Revolution as a Way of Life

Vivian Gornick

Emma Goldman is the story of a modern radical who took seriously the idea that inner liberation is the first business of social revolution. Her politics, from beginning to end, was based on resistance to that which thwarted the free development of the inner self. The right to stay alive in one’s senses, to enjoy freedom of thought and speech, to reject the arbitrary use of power—these were key demands in the many public protest movements she helped mount.

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