Campus Reform | UMass courses promote 'resistance' to capitalism, patriarchy

UMass courses promote 'resistance' to capitalism, patriarchy

The University of Massachusetts-Amherst “Resistance Studies Initiative” teaches students strategies for “resistance” against “capitalism’s exploitative practices” and “patriarchal hierarchies.”

“The Initiative seeks to create ‘resistance studies,’ a liberationist social science analyzing and supporting the efforts of activists worldwide that are employing direct action, civil disobedience, everyday resistance, digital activism, mass protest, and other kinds of nonviolent resistance,” the program’s website explains.

The program defines the term “resistance” to mean actions that challenge “all forms of domination—not just ‘the state,’ but capitalism’s exploitative practices (economic injustices, commodification, alienation, and fetishism), the status quo’s discursive truth-regimes and normative orders, and sociocultural patriarchal hierarchies of gender, race, status, caste, and taste.”

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According to an online course listing, the 2017 curriculum features one undergraduate course on “Civil Resistance and Social Change,” along with a graduate-level course with a focus on “Postcolonial and Indigenous Resistance.”

Rather than merely examining the history of revolutions and political struggles, however, the Resistance Studies Initiative explicitly “supports unarmed struggles against all forms of exploitation and violence.”

In addition to studying resistance movements targeting concepts like capitalism, gender, and patriarchy, the initiative also promises to deliver courses that examine resistance in relation to “military occupation, capitalism, campaign strategies and impacts, repression and counter-repression, research methodology, gender and patriarchy, race and ethnicity, queer politics and norms, and more.”

The Resistance Studies Initiative is part of the Resistance Studies Network, an international “forum for scholars” that has also established similar programs at universities in Sweden and the United Kingdom.

At UMass, the initiative is funded by a “generous donation from a Quaker activist family” that also helped create an Endowed Chair in the Study of Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Resistance, and courses will continue to be offered through at least 2021.

[RELATED: Sanders urges grads to 'fight back' against 'oligarchic' society]

While the initiative predates Donald Trump’s political ascendancy, it shares terminology in common with the “resistance” movement that has coalesced to oppose Trump’s policies since his election.

Various student groups, professors, and university administrators have taken steps to promote the anti-Trump “resistance” movement in recent months, providing offerings such as “resistance training” and “strategies for resistance” in the aftermath of his election.

At UMass, controversial pro-Sharia activist Linda Sarsour delivered a lecture in April titled, “The Resistance: Organizing in the Age of Trump,” drawing on her experience as one of the organizers of the anti-Trump Women’s March on Washington.

Spokespersons for UMass-Amherst did not immediately respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment.

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