Civil disobedience is often situated within the bounds of the democratic, constitutional state: protestors break the law in letter but appeal to its spirit by appealing to democracy’s core principles–a form of action epitomized by, and often linked to, the example of the US civil rights movement. This chapter develops an alternative framework for understanding the civil disobedience of civil rights activists: as a decolonizing praxis that linked their dissent to that of anticolonial activists, and tied the context of Jim Crow to global white supremacy. If the constitutional, democratic state formed the normative horizon for liberal understandings of civil disobedience, activists’ horizon was defined by processes of imaginative transit – the process of thinking and traveling across boundaries and disparate contexts, though which activists in motion constructed civil disobedience as a means of transforming worldwide structures of racist imperialism, colonial rule, apartheid, and Jim Crow. Between 1920 and 1960, African American, Indian, South African, and Ghanaian activists proposed, debated, and wielded nonviolent direct action as a means of self-liberation from white supremacy’s structures of fear and violence, and a way of disrupting and transforming the practices that held those structures in place.
► please register here
This is an online event, available on the Centre for Ethics YouTube Channel. Channel subscribers will receive a notification at the start. (For other events in the series, and to subscribe, visit YouTube.com/c/CentreforEthics.)