Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Time to regroup for MA in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism

The course team for the MA in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism (CEESA) at Maynooth have decided to suspend the course for a year to regroup, before planning a relaunch starting in September 2016. 

The immediate cause is application numbers which are too low to provide a genuinely participatory and engaged classroom experience for the social movement activists and community educators who the course is designed for. It is combined with cuts to university funding and pressures to increase student numbers which make it increasingly difficult to run programmes with small groups There is a general crisis in MA numbers in Ireland, brought on by the slashing of postgraduate grants but also by massive emigration (there are over 200,000 fewer people in their 20s in 2014 than in 2009, a drop of over 27%). Education can contribute to challenging austerity, but it is also affected by it.

We would like to take this opportunity to regroup and reconsider the programme in the light of these wider changes in the social and educational landscape.  In wider terms the course has been something of a victim of its own success: other courses which previously focussed on analysis and policy are now integrating much more of an emphasis on social movements and / or organising skills; previously single-issue courses are now including a wider focus on other issues and movements; while a series of new courses aimed at activists have appeared in Ireland and the UK (in keeping with our strategy of solidarity between such projects we have included links to our sister courses on our website). We are happy to see these developments, but they also mean that we need to reconsider what we can offer to people active in movements and communities and highlight this more strongly. We hope to organise a public event with activists and course participants in the course of the coming year to discuss what our future direction should be.

Our blog bears witness to the many different movements, in Ireland and internationally, that we have engaged with over the first five years of the course, whether in the form of students from particular communities and movements, our visiting speakers, fieldtrips, and our own involvement. Ireland, and Maynooth in particular, has a long tradition of movements developing their own forms of education, learning and theorising and of working together with students and engaged intellectuals, and we are proud to be part of this rich, messy, transformative, at times fraught and radical tradition.

We want to pay tribute to everyone who has participated on the course: individual students, visiting speakers, the organisations we have worked with, and the staff of our departments and across the university. These have been hard years to keep going for students, staff and the wider activist community, but we have constantly been re-invigorated by the passion and commitment to social justice by all involved. In particular, we want to acknowledge how the austerity regime and the rising level of precarious employment in the university has had a direct and very negative  impact on programmes such as ours. Efforts to combat this through trade union activity have not resulted in the victories we would hope for, but vibrant campaigns are now making these issues far more visible and success in such struggles more likely.   

In looking towards our rethinking and relaunching, we are inspired by the scale of popular struggles, from movements and communities, in Ireland and internationally. This year we have seen the massive upsurge in community-based protest against the water charges together with the extraordinary levels of mobilisation for marriage equality. We are heartened by the ongoing activism evident in many other campaigns, communities and movements. Internationally the battle against austerity in Europe and for climate justice are coming to a head. It is becoming clearer than ever that changing the world depends on people’s extraordinary capacity to educate, agitate and organise, and we look forward to working out how we can best support and help develop this through a radically different kind of activist education.

The CEESA course team

Ken Saro-Wiwa Postgraduate Award

Royalties from sales of Silence Would be Treason: Last Writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa are going towards setting up a Ken Saro-Wiwa Postgraduate Award, for work at Maynooth in the spirit of Ken Saro-Wiwa. Full details here.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The anti-drugs movement in Dublin

A great piece by Mary Doyle on the anti-drugs movement in Dublin online here.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Week of action and solidarity with the people in Greece

A statement here from Blockupy International in support of Greece and details of the week of action and solidarity here.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Latest issue of Interface: movement practice(s)

Interface: a journal for and about social movements  
Volume seven, issue one (May 2015): Movement practice(s)

- Apologies for any crossposting -

Volume seven, issue one of Interface, a peer-reviewed online journal produced and refereed by social movement practitioners and engaged movement researchers, is now out on the theme of “movement practice(s)”. Interface is open-access (free), global and multilingual. Our overall aim is to "learn from each other's struggles": to develop a dialogue between practitioners and researchers, but also between different social movements, intellectual traditions and national or regional contexts.

Like all issues of Interface, this issue is free and open-access. You can download articles individually or a complete PDF of the issue (8.49 MB). Please note that you can also subscribe (free) on the right-hand side of the webpage to get email notification each time a new issue or call for papers is out. This issue of Interface includes 397 pages and 26 pieces, by authors writing from / about Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK and the USA and in English and Spanish.

Articles in this issue include:

Themed pieces
Balca Arda,
Apolitical is political: an ethnographic study on the public sphere in the Gezi uprising in Turkey
Ece Canli and Fatma Umul,
Bodies on the streets: gender resistance and collectivity in the Gezi revolts
Silvia Ilonka Wolf,
Beyond nonhuman animal rights: A grassroots movement in Istanbul and its alignment with other causes
Kathleen Rodgers and Willow Scobie,
Sealfies, seals and celebs: expressions of Inuit resilience in the Twitter era
Steward Jackson and Peter John Chen,
Rapid mobilisation of demonstrators in March Australia
ETC Dee and G. Debelle dos Santos,
Examining mainstream media discourses on the squatters’ movements in Barcelona and London
Lesley Wood and Cristina Flesher Fominaya,
World’s first hologram protest in Spain
Alberto Arribas Lozano,
Recordar el 15M para reimaginar el presente. Los movimientos sociales en España más allá del ciclo electoral de 2015
Claire de la Lune,
Mass action speed dating: an experiment in making mass actions empowering and effective at Reclaim the Power 2013 and 2014
Chris Hermes and Ezra Nepon,
Fundraising for direct action and legal defense: a case study of the 2000 RNC protests
Christina Jerne,
From marching for change to producing the change: reconstructions of the Italian anti-mafia movement
Daniel Cortese,
I’m a “good” activist, you’re a “bad” activist, and everything I do is activism: parsing the different types of “activist” identities in LBGTQ organizing
Tommaso Gravante,
Interconnections between anarchist practices and grassroots struggles
Michael Loadenthal,
Revisiting the master’s toolset: concerning pedagogy, privilege, and the classroom-to-war room pipeline
Heinz Nigg,
Sans-papiers on their March for Freedom 2014: how refugees and undocumented migrants challenge Fortress Europe

General pieces
Mary Naughton,
Protest in Ireland since the bailout
Rory Hearne,
The Irish water war
Selina Gallo-Cruz,
Protest and public relations: the reinvention of the US Army School of the Americas
Eva Gondorová and Ulf Teichmann,
Summer school: Social movements in global perspectives – past, present and future

·       Cristina Flesher Fominaya and Laurence Cox (eds.), Understanding European Movements: New Social Movements, Global Justice Struggles, Anti-Austerity Protest. Reviewed by Ana Cecilia Dinerstein
·       JP Clark, The Impossible Community: Realizing Communitarian Anarchism. Reviewed by Gerard Gill
·       Peter Dauvergne and Genevieve Lebaron (eds.), Protest Inc.: The Corporatization of Activism. Reviewed by Lika Rodin.
·       Alexandros Kioupkiolis and Giorgios Katsambekis, eds. (2014). Radical Democracy and Collective Movements Today: The Biopolitics of the Multitude versus the Hegemony of the People. Reviewed by Jamie Matthews
·       Stefania Milan (2013). Social Movements and Their Technologies: Wiring Social Change. Reviewed by A.T. Kingsmith
·       Anna Schober (2013). The Cinema Makers: Public Life and the Exhibition of Difference in South-Eastern and Central Europe since the 1960s. Reviewed by Niamh Mongey
·       Donatella Della Porta and Alice Mattoni, eds. (2014). Spreading Protest: Social Movements in Times of Crisis.  AND
·       Marina Sitrin and Dario Azzelini (2014). They Can’t Represent Us! Reinventing Democracy From Greece to Occupy. Reviewed by Nils C. Kumkar

An open call for papers for volume 8 issue 1 (May 2016) of Interface is now open, deadline November 1st 2015. For this issue we welcome pieces on any aspect of social movement research and practice that fit within our mission statement (

We can review and publish articles in Afrikaans, Arabic, Catalan, Czech, Danish, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Maltese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish and Zulu. The website has the full CFP and details on how to submit articles for this issue at  

The forthcoming issue of Interface (November 2015) will be on movements in post/socialisms.

If you like the Interface project please help us publicise this issue:
§  Forward this message
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The Interface spokescouncil

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

MA CEESA - a masterclass in changing the world! Deadline approaching...

NB the deadline for applications is May 29th 2015...

Are you

-          active in social movement struggles but need space to stand back, reflect, recharge?

-          committed to community activism  but frustrated by where the community sector  is going?

-          trying to see a way forward for radical education in a cold climate?

-          politically minded but don’t know how to turn that into an effective and radical practice?

-          involved in NGO or trade union activism but feel trapped by the structures?

-          concerned about the cooption of community and other groups and wondering how to reorganise?

-          clear that social change is central to you but unsure how to build a life around it?

-          interested in spending a year with experienced activists and community educators?

Around the world today, movements and communities are making history – or trying to. Austerity is being challenged across Europe, while Latin American movements are rewriting the rulebook and elsewhere massive popular movements are challenging the powerful from Hong Kong to Turkey to Ferguson. In Ireland too, struggles around water charges, fracking, abortion rights and direct provision are shaking the old certainties that “there is no alternative” to neoliberalism, that cosying up to state institutions is the only game in town, that we are condemned to an endless rerun of the same parties in power.

The need for change is huge and the outcome is still all to play for. We see seemingly unstoppable movements squashed - and seemingly hopeless ideas winning against all the odds. Movements seem to come out of nowhere and shake the powers that be – but then it can be hard to see a way forward. 

What makes the difference, and how can our movements really change the world?

The Masters in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism (CEESA) at Maynooth responds to the crisis by helping us learn from each other’s struggles in dialogue between different movements, different communities and different generations. The course is not tied to any single movement and participants come from many different communities and countries. Some are experienced activists who want to go back to education; others are people who are just getting involved in movements. 

This lively mixture of ages, backgrounds, experiences and questions is an integral part of what makes the course so rewarding. Together we are building a diverse network of movement activists, radical educators and campaigners for equality and creating new alliances for change. See the video at

The course team are experienced practitioners and engaged researchers working on equality, radical education and movement struggles. The course combines political strategy, bottom-up organising methods and social analysis with a wide range of learning methods and a focus on knowledge for change, taking a practical but radical look at the problems facing movements today. Our small-group classes run one or two days a week to facilitate participants’ lives, over two 12-week terms followed by working on a project aimed at developing your own movement practice. 

We don’t just learn within the classroom: we organise joint events with a wide range of community groups and social movements in Ireland as well as running events with international activists like Selma JamesJohn Holloway, Hilary Wainwright, Firoze Manji, Jane McAlevey, John Krinsky, Eurig Scandrett, Rhetta Moran … 

This year we've been involved in organising the Grassroots Gathering in Drimnagh, a series of training events for union and community activists with Jane McAlevey, a two-day seminar "Think hope, think crisis" with John Holloway, an oral history walking tour of inner-city Dublin with Terry Fagan, a PhD-level seminar on "social movements and collective agency" from early 19th century rural struggles to Occupy in Ireland and Oakland and a field trip to "Alternative Futures and Popular Protest" and the People's History Museum in Manchester.

The course has been widely acclaimed by researchers and activists around the world: this year alone our staff have been invited speakers everywhere from the People's Forum in Erris to Kyoto University and from the European University Institute in Fiesole to the Radical Summer School in Iceland - and we're developing exchange arrangements with colleges in Oxford and Mexico....

Often we are told we have to choose between our politics and “real life”. This Masters shows how to integrate the two with confidence, practicality, solidarity, emotional resilience, seeing the bigger picture, taking time out to reflect and supporting each other for the long haul. Participants go back to their own movements refreshed, set up new projects, find work in movement organisations, go on to further education - and bring back what they have learned to their own struggles.

Contact the Dept of Adult and Community Education at
 or (01) 7083937
Application deadline May 29th.