This special issue contributes historical depth and comparative breadth to the subject of activist lives. By taking seriously the role of emotion and affect, and by focusing on individual and collective biographies, we hope to move beyond institutional or issue-based histories to show how movements for social change have flowed into one another through the medium of relationships. The aim is to show that social movements—from gender justice to workers’ rights to radical environmentalism and far beyond—are constituted by consecutive or overlapping scenes, subcultures, and often highly conflicted movement currents.
Submissions may address entirely local topics, or reach across great geographic and social distances. In addition to investigations of individual activist trajectories, we are interested in activist lives in their collective sense: generations of a family, affinity groups, radical friendships, intentional communities, political rivals, and romantic relationships between activists. We welcome proposals rooted in different historical moments and geographic scales, unbounded by national containers; we are concerned with movements that have been celebrated as successful as well as those that have failed or been obscured.
Methodologically, we welcome inter- and cross-disciplinary approaches to the past, and encourage the use of experimental writing techniques and sources that express personal narrative, such as oral histories, diaries, eulogies, letters, family albums, home movies, and travelogues.
Topics may include, but are not limited to:
• Politicization and disaffection: how people moved into or away from social movement participation
• The uses of anger, love, and other strong emotions in social movements
• How participants understood the significance and biographical consequences of their activism
• How movements are remembered – in public memory, private memory, and the tension between the two
• Activist genealogies, including those characterized by biology, affinity, friendship, mentorship, or antagonism
• How recent generations of activists relate to prior social movements, especially when there is seen to be a “golden age” of a particular struggle
• Reunions, retrospective writing, and the role of radical nostalgia
Selected articles will appear for inclusion in a special issue of Histoire sociale / Social History provisionally titled “Activist Lives”.
Individuals who are interested in contributing to the special issue should send a 300-400 word abstract and a short 2-page CV by July 1, 2018 to Lana Dee Povitz and Steven High: email@example.com.
Completed articles will be expected January 15, 2019.