Thursday, 14 March 2013

What we do (among other things...)

‘Activism’ is constantly in the news. From tuition fees to global justice, from consumer protection to human rights – there is hardly an issue which isn’t subject to the efforts of campaigners, lobbyists or pressure groups. How did different forms of activism take shape in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? This question informs the work of the Histories of Activism research group, which brings together staff and doctoral students at Northumbria University. The group examines political protest, the efforts of interest groups, the promotion of alternative economic and social models, as well as the measures for the protection of particular groups in society. Since its foundation, the group organised a range of workshops and conferences, initiated various training events and prepared several publications.

Our research acknowledges that ‘activism’ occurs in different forms and at different levels. Action at a local level can be motivated by the desire to ‘make a difference’ through campaigning and the creation of community organisations. Examples range from cooperation in the provision of credit and welfare services to militant campaigning for the rights of a particular ethnic group. At the same time, the concerns of the research group transcend class, race, and gender boundaries.

Northumbria University hosts several microfilm collections that facilitate research on activism:
  • Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), 1917-1978
  • International Workingmen’s Association, 1868-1878
  • Anti-Slavery International (formerly the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society)
  • Anti-Slavery Reporter (1825-1994) 
  • Students for a Demoratic Society (SDS) papers, 1958-1970

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