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L.A. Kauffman

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Year of Publication: 2018

Kauffman, L.A., How to Read a Protest: The Art of Organising and Resistance, Berkeley, CA, University of California Press, 2018, pp. 152

The author, who has experience of organizing mass demonstrations (for example against the Iraq War in 2003) compares two major protests: the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (when Martin Luther King gave his 'I have a dream' speech); and the Women's Marches in Washington and across the USA in January 2017. She focuses on the different styles of protest -the first highly organized and centrally controlled by Civil Rights leaders (who strictly monitored the slogans on banners and signs), the second decentralized and spontaneous in origin with a multiplicity of demands and slogans. There was also a major contrast in the public role played by women (not allowed to speak at the 1963 rally and prominent in 2017).   Kauffman argues that the mass protests also had contrasting aftermaths - with the 2017 protests leading directly to continuing grass roots mobilization, whereas the 1963 march did not. 

Year of Publication: 2017

Kauffman, L.A., Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism, London, Verso , 2017, pp. 256

Examination of major protests and movements in the USA from  the anti-Vietnam War mass obstruction of Washington DC in May 1971 to the Occupy movement of 2011.  The author discusses the role of feminists and gay activists in launching significant resistance on key public issues: notably the 'Women's Pentagon Action' in 1980 and ACT-UP battling discrimination against AIDS sufferers in the 1980s. The book also examines why some major protests were not well supported by Black activists and how they brought a different focus to others.