Solidarity, ‘feel good’ activism and emotional domino effects in transnational social movements

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 17:45
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Helena FLAM, University of Leipzig, Germany
There is still relatively little research on the transnationality of social movements and even less on emotions. In my presentation I will reflect on both. The transnational element is undeniable, for example, in the widespread current German mobilization for the political refugees coming to Germany from Syria and  Africa, although it does not require the mobilized individuals to leave their country of residence. But, such mobilized individuals and, indeed, "Germany" at the moment, are a drop in the sea.  Most Europeans, refuse to engage in similar acts of transnationality on their "home" territory. I will address emotions but also migration trends, economic structures, historical trajectories and national identities to try to explain why "Germany" seems to be exceptional to then consider the question whether such acts of transnationality express solidarity, “feel good” mobilization or well-understood self-interest. As a second, dissimilar case I will treat the Arab Spring whose transnationality involved enabling emotional domino effects. These had their own economic and historical causes, as Pearlman tells us. Finally, the movement for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation (JT&R) draws attention to transnational efforts to put an end to genocides as well as war and humanitarian crimes by bringing the political and military elites responsible for them to the court or tribunal of justice. In this case, those who debate sit in judgement of both perpetrators and their victims, calling on both to abide by the emotional regime they envision. While many African states supported the JT&R movement, they no longer back its offspring, the ICC in the Hague. The three cases taken together suggest that both transnationality and emotionality of transnational mobilizations vary from case to case and therefore call for posing case-related research questions. These - when well-posed - tell us why such transnational mobilizations become possible or sustained.