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Social Movement Studies

Britta Baumgarten Memorial Prize, 2019

We are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2019 Social Movement Studies best article prize is

Catherine Eschle’s ‘Troubling stories of the end of Occupy: Feminist narratives of betrayal at Occupy Glasgow’. Free access through 2019.

Based on extended qualitative interviews with a small sample of participants, Eschle carefully and reflexively develops a close reading of the camp, its sexual violence and gendered threat, and brings it into dialogue with the conceptual literature on social movement failure.

The judging panel found the article to be ‘a fascinating exploration of an element of Occupy which is too rarely discussed in such detail, and which has wide relevance for understanding the endings of activist mobilisations. Combining theoretical ambition with attention to detail, Eschle’s engaging and confident feminist critique foregrounds narrative voice and individual experience. It adds new depth to our understanding of how sexual hierarchies can come to dominate democratic activism, and of why social movement actions sometimes fail.’

The panel also highly commended Jannis Grimm & Cilja Harders’ article, ‘Unpacking the effects of repression: the evolution of Islamist repertoires of contention in Egypt after the fall of President Morsi’  for its ‘innovative exploration of social movement responses to overt authoritarian and religious repression, shifting and nuancing our understanding of backlash and tactical adaptation’; and Julia Schuster’s ‘Why the personal remained political: comparing second and third wave perspectives on everyday feminism’  for its ‘thoughtful, sociological challenge to normative distinctions between second and third wave feminisms, focusing on collective action and individual empowerment’. 

Many thanks to this year’s jury: Graeme Hayes, George McKay, and Jenny Pickerill, and to the chair of this year's prize committee, Clare Saunders.

See the shortlist articles below. The winning article is free access through 2019. The shortlisted articles are free access through July 2019.

In honor of Britta Baumgarten


We dedicate this memorial prize to a wonderful colleague who left us far too soon, Britta Baumgarten (1975-2018). Britta deserves to be remembered for many reasons, not least as a role model for social movement scholars. Britta was an excellent and generous scholar and a good friend to the Social Movement Studies Journal, allowing us to publish her work but also serving as a thoughtful reviewer.

I first met Britta when she and her co-editors invited me to collaborate on a book project on Culture and Social Protest. I had been planning a book on a similar theme but immediately saw that the topic was already in excellent hands. My favourable impression was intensified when I saw the rigour, passion, and commitment to the project. Not only did Britta and her co-editors organize collaborative peer review for the book, but they invited the contributors to the WZB in Berlin to participate in a series of workshops where each chapter had an hour of intensive feedback and discussion devoted to it.  I have never before or since seen this level of commitment to the editing of an academic book, and it is a model I hold as a “gold standard” to this day. The trip to Berlin enabled me to meet Britta in person, and I was delighted to discover that her academic rigour was accompanied by an openness and a generosity of spirit that made her a joy to be around. Some people are “light givers” --they simply make other people feel better just by being with them, and Britta was such a person.  If she was going to be at a conference or event it greatly increased my chances of accepting to go too. Her generosity of spirit, strength of character, open mindedness, and critical intelligence was greatly appreciated by her students and collaborators around the world. She was a core member of the IPB (Institute for Social Movement Studies) in Berlin, and from 2011 worked at the ISCTE University Institute Lisbon. She worked on current Portuguese social movements against austerity, movements of the poor in Brazil and the changed frameworks for action of these movements over time. She was particularly interested in the transnational cooperation of movement activists and the political participation of groups usually excluded from political decision making. She actively participated in furthering research in the field through conference organizing, participation in transnational research groups, and publishing projects.

Britta wasn’t just a dedicated scholar, she was also a committed activist who cared deeply about injustice. Her scholarly work was rigourous but also inspired by a strong concern for the social issues that the activists she studied mobilized around, including austerity politics, poverty, unemployment and youth and labour precariousness. Her sensitivity made her an excellent ethnographer, giving her access to social movement communities and a deep awareness of their concerns, challenges, and experiences.

I last saw Britta in Lisbon in November 2017, where in typical fashion, she generously took time from packing for her trip the following morning to meet me for a coffee in a little square by the harbour. She was happy and relaxed in a city she loved, with the people she loved most, her partner and young son. We talked austerity politics, academic precariousness, family, and her upcoming trip to Brazil, which she was excited about. I was looking forward to continuing our conversations in the coming years, but it wasn’t to be. I have only great memories of her, and I know she is missed deeply by the many colleagues, activists, friends and family who loved her.

A list of her published work (and a memorial from her friends and colleagues at IPB in German) can be found here: https://protestinstitut.eu/britta-baumgarten-1975-2018/

–Cristina Flesher Fominaya, on behalf of the editors of Social Movement Studies

Britta Baumgarten

Social Movement Studies

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