UMass courses promote 'resistance' to capitalism, patriarchy

Nikita Vladimirov
Investigative Reporter

  • The University of Massachusetts-Amherst offers a “Resistance Studies Initiative” that teaches students how to combat forms of "repression" such as capitalism and "patriarchal hierarchies."
  • The program shares terminology in common with the anti-Trump "resistance" movement, but explicitly disavows the political violence that has been increasingly directed at conservatives.
  • 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 Initiative seeks to create ‘resistance studies,’ a liberationist social science..."   

    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.”

    [RELATED: Harvard 'Resistance School' plots ways to 'fight Trump's agenda']

    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.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @nikvofficial





    Nikita Vladimirov

    Nikita Vladimirov

    Investigative Reporter
    Nikita Vladimirov is an Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. Prior to joining Campus Reform, he wrote for The Hill, where he extensively covered the latest political developments in U.S. and around the world. Vladimirov's work has appeared on the front pages of The Drudge Report and The Hill, and has been featured by several media organizations including Fox News, MSN, Real Clear Politics and others. He has also appeared as a political commentator on numerous programs, including BBC radio.
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