Protest and Punishment seeks to advance current debates and discussions on the criminalization of dissent as a common feature of neo-liberal governance in the current period of capitalist globalization. Demands for greater democratization and equality have been met by conservative calls for a “moderation of democracy” and the use of police to stifle growing social movements. Part of that response has been the reconstruction of police forces and policing to maintain public order while limiting popular mobilization. The period of alternative globalization protests has seen a number of dramatic clashes between police and protesters. The protests against the WTO in Seattle in November 1999 gained the nickname “The Battle in Seattle.” Demonstrations in Quebec City (2001), Genoa (2001), Miami (2003) and London (2009) have seen running street battles between demonstrators and police. Social justice activists who confront and contest neo-liberal governments and global capital have been subjected to tear gas attacks, rubber bullets and concussion grenades, surveillance, illegal searches and seizures, detention, and beatings. The Genoa and London protests also saw the death of civilians due to police actions.
For some critics, state violence against demonstrators or political opponents is viewed as an act of state terrorism, designed to strike fear into potential protesters, dissidents or even observers. Such aggressive policing and state violence is intended to send a message to future activists that political demonstrations will not be tolerated.
The works collected in Protest and Punishment examine developments in the repression of resistance in the neo-liberal context. They examine shifts and transformations in state approaches to dissent from early developments in the last decades of the twentieth century through to the present period of capitalist globalization in the twenty-first century. Through a discussion of a variety of protests and movements in different national contexts (Canada, Netherlands, US, UK) this collection offers a unique perspective on key practices and policies that mark neoliberal governance and changing visions of citizenship and the accompanying shifts in economic and cultural structures in the current age. The works in this collection are based on contributions from engaged scholars, most of whom have direct firsthand experience in the protests that they analyze. The collection offers insights into the complex struggles that underpin the present period through an extensive and diverse examination of protests and punishment in the global era. It provides important resources for understanding the character of community resistance and repression by governments in the contemporary period.
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