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Power to the People: Activism and Grassroots Organising

In this three week programme, participants will examine bottom-up initiatives ranging from protest movements to self-organised communities as they to disrupt established top-down institutional control, or propose alternatives to it. Examples will be drawn from around the world, with focus on local organisations and movements in Amsterdam's (recent) past and present.

  • Programme at a glance
    Mode of instruction: On-site (3 weeks) 
    Academic dates: Sunday 20 June - Thursday 8 July  2021*
    Housing dates: Friday 18 June - Friday 9 July 2021*
    Academic fees: €1650* read more about what is included.
    Housing fees: €650* and a €75 refundable deposit. For more information, see Housing and practical matters.
    Credits: 6 European Credits. Read more about credits and credit transfer.  
    Early admission deadline: 1 February 2021
    Regular admission deadline: 1 April 2021
    Who is this programme for? For current university students (Bachelor and Master) in the arts and social sciences with an interest in political science, urban studies, sociology, anthropology, and social movements over time. Working professionals seeking continuing education in the field are also welcome to apply.

    *Dates and prices are tentative and subject to change, and will be finalised by 1 December 2020. 

  • Programme description

    Although we appear to be witnessing a rise in protests across the globe, activism and collective action have been prevalent throughout human history. Ever since top-down institutions have developed in our societies, bottom-up alternatives and challenges have sprung up in opposition. In this course we will explore these citizen and group-led bottom-up initiatives, as they oppose  existing institutional arrangements, and provide alternative perspectives. These initiatives range from protest movements (contentious politics) and self-organised communities (prefigurative politics) to informal security arrangements and also advocacy work.

    The cases we will explore are often grounded in - though not limited to - the city of Amsterdam: squatters’ movement, LGBTQ activism, a self-organised community of undocumented people, a project on alternative (Black) history, an advocacy organisation for sex workers’ rights, and more. The thread throughout the course are the dynamics between people and institutions, viewed from the former’s perspective to recenter narrative attention on people themselves. 

    The course starts with a thorough overview of social movement theory and work on collective action, as well as a brief introduction to state formation. Subsequently, we will offer methodological tools to study bottom-up initiatives, after which we will combine the theories and methods to zoom-in on a the range of case studies. 

  • Academic directors

    Dr. Freek Janssens is an urban anthropologist, specialising in food, public space, and social movements. His research focusses on the politics of urban marketplaces in an era when they are increasingly being ‘replaced’ by both supermarkets and farmers’ markets. Freek has conducted extensive ethnographic research in London, Amsterdam, and Istanbul, amongst other places.

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Power to the People: Activism and Grassroots Organising
Degree programme
Mode Short-term
Credits 6 ECTS, 3 weeks
Language of instruction English
Starts in June