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How Social Movements Die: Repression and Demobilization of the Republic of New Africa (Cambridge Studies in Contentious…

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How do social movements die? Some explanations highlight internal factors like factionalization, whereas others stress external factors like repression. Christian Davenport offers an alternative explanation where both factors interact. Drawing on organizational, as well as individual-level, explanations, Davenport argues that social movement death is the outgrowth of a coevolutionary dynamic whereby challengers, influenced by their understanding of what states will do to oppose them, attempt to recruit, motivate, calm, and prepare constituents while governments attempt to hinder all of these processes at the same time. Davenport employs a previously unavailable database that contains information on a black nationalist/secessionist organization, the Republic of New Africa, and the activities of authorities in the U.S. city of Detroit and state and federal authorities.

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“Marshalling insightful analysis, brilliant archival research, and extensive knowledge, Davenport explains the emergence, growth, and demise of social movements. This book is a real gem.”
Scott Gates, Peace Research Institute Oslo and Norwegian University of Science and Technology

“Through a meticulous analysis of a single case – the Republic of New Africa – Christian Davenport presents us with new theoretical insights into the external forces and internal dynamics that can eventually lead to the demise of a social movement organization that at its inception was at the forefront of a broader movement. His analysis of archival information on both overt and covert forms of state repression as well as his scrupulous analysis of RNA internal documents present us with innovative methods and novel lessons for the study of how social movement organizations emerge and eventually die.”
T. David Mason, University of North Texas

“Through a fascinating case study of the Republic of New Africa, Christian Davenport brings his expertise on political repression to bear on a question that has, oddly, been largely neglected by scholars: how and why do social movements die? Drawing on unusually rich data that take us inside the thought processes of movement actors as well as their opponents, Davenport offers deep insight into both the rise and demise of social movement organizations.”
Rory McVeigh, University of Notre Dame

“There is a great deal to admire about this book from its astonishingly rich data and thorough analysis to its clear theorizing about an important and nettlesome issue in the study of repression (What are the consequences of repression?) to its call for research on demobilization.”
American Journal of Sociology

“… the book will be useful for scholars interested in demobilization of social movement organizations or the general impact of state repression on movements, organizations, and individuals.”
Ahsan Kamal, Oxford University Press Journals: Social Forces

Book Description

This book argues that social movement death is the outgrowth of a coevolutionary dynamic whereby challengers, influenced by their understanding of what states will do to oppose them, attempt to recruit, motivate, calm, and prepare constituents while governments attempt to hinder all of these processes at the same time.

From the Author

This book (initially entitled “To Kill a Movement”) has been underway for the better part of the last decade.  I was drawn to it for several reasons: 1) we know very little about why social movements die relative to what we know about why they begin and what they do when they are around, 2) we know very little about how state repression influences social movement organizations as well as participants at a very micro level of analysis, 3) we know very little about African American social movements especially those that were not favorably viewed by the majority when they existed, and 4) there was a fantastic amount of previously unexplored data about the group that I came across. Finally, I wanted to write something that was very different from the books that I had previously written.  This work is at once tied to my last one (Media Bias, Perspective and State Repression) in that it concerns a specific dissident organization and its interaction with a specific part of the US political apparatus. At the same time, the book is much more nuanced in its treatment of the subject, much more narratively appealing and I was able to utilize a greater amount of the archival material that I came across. Additionally, I endeavor to show that the book and the argument should not be simply viewed as an isolated case without relevance to other social movements as well as other countries. Indeed, I believe that the argument resonates well with information available about other cases.

About the Author

Christian Davenport is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan as well as a Faculty Associate at the Center for Political Studies and Global Fellow at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). Primary research interests include human rights violations, genocide/politicide, torture, political surveillance, civil war and social movements, measurement, racism and popular culture. He is the author of five books; three solo-authored: How Social Movements Die: Repression and Demobilization of the Republic of New Africa (2014, Cambridge University Press), Media Bias, Perspective and State Repression: The Black Panther Party (2010, Cambridge University Press) – winner of Best Book in Racial Politics and Social Movements by the American Political Science Association, and State Repression and the Promise of Democratic Peace (2007, Cambridge University Press).  Prof. Davenport is the author of numerous articles appearing in the American Political Science Review, the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Comparative Political Studies, and the Monthly Review (among others). He is the recipient of numerous grants (e.g., 8 from the National Science Foundation) and awards (e.g., the Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Scholar Award and a Residential Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences – Stanford University). Others books are underway: Stopping State Repression (with Ben Appel); In Search of a Number: Rethinking Rwanda, 1994 (with Allan Stam) and If You Kill a Revolutionary, Do You Kill the Revolution (with Chris Sullivan).  He is also engaged in various data collection efforts, developing crowd-sourcing data collection programs and co-organizing workshops/conferences/webportals facilitating the development of conflict/peace studies. For more information, please refer to the following webpage: christiandavenport.com.

How do social movements die? Some explanations highlight internal factors like factionalization, whereas others stress external factors like repression. Christian Davenport offers an alternative explanation where both factors interact. Drawing on organizational, as well as individual-level, explanations, Davenport argues that social movement death is the outgrowth of a coevolutionary dynamic whereby challengers, influenced by their understanding of what states will do to oppose them, attempt to recruit, motivate, calm, and prepare constituents while governments attempt to hinder all of these processes at the same time. Davenport employs a previously unavailable database that contains information on a black nationalist/secessionist organization, the Republic of New Africa, and the activities of authorities in the U.S. city of Detroit and state and federal authorities.

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