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Nonviolent action is a topic of growing political importance and – especially in the form of unarmed resistance to undemocratic regimes – the focus of an increasing literature, as noted in the Introduction to this bibliography. But it is only one aspect of a broad theoretical and moral commitment to nonviolence, which embraces (as in Gandhi’s thought) an aspiration to a new just economic, social and political order, and emphasises conflict resolution at all levels and an ideal of personal living. This broad interpretation of nonviolence is not covered in the bibliography (except where directly relevant to individuals and movements engaged in nonviolent resistance). However, recent (very readable) works that do discuss nonviolence in a broad context are:

Francis, Diana, People, Peace and Power: Conflict Transformation in Action, London, Pluto Press, 2002

(looking in particular at developing skilled nongovernmental leadership in nonviolent approaches to promoting justice and ending destructive conflict)

Hastings, Tom H., Power: Nonviolent Transformation from the Transpersonal to the Transnational, Lenham, MD, Hamilton Books, 2005

(written from the perspective of an activist academic)

Huxley, Aldous, Ends and Means: An Enquiry into the Nature of Ideals and into the Methods Employed for their Realization, London, Chatto and Windus, 1937

which includes some discussion in chapter 10 of nonviolent resistance

A number of classics in the literature of peace and nonviolence also have some relevance to the theory of nonviolent action. These include:

James, William, The Moral Equivalent of War, 1906

a short essay arguing the need for alternatives to military methods and emotions associated with war, later reproduced as a pamphlet and in anthologies

The literature on nonviolent action incorporates a number of distinct strands One is a specific and developing literature on the potential of using nonviolent methods to resist varying forms of oppression and injustice and prevent or end wars. This literature was initially largely inspired by Gandhi’s campaigns, but developed an understanding of what counted as key theoretical contributions from earlier centuries and a sense of a developing history of predominantly nonviolent movements.

Central political and theoretical figures in the evolution of nonviolent practice and thought linked the strategy of nonviolent resistance to strong religious or moral beliefs – notably Tolstoy, Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Early books on nonviolent action also often stressed moral or religious arguments. However, the examples of nonviolent resistance in the early literature – the Hungarian struggle for independence from Austria from 1849-67 for example, or the 1905 revolution in Russia – have often been examples of unarmed resistance adopted for political and strategic reasons and in some cases, as in Russia in 1905, ending in an (abortive) armed uprising. There has therefore been a tension within the literature between a moral case for nonviolent methods and a strategic case. The distinction is not, of course, hard and fast, given the political implications of adopting the moral high ground and the strategic importance for both resisters and oppressors of portraying their opponents as irresponsibly and indiscriminately violent. Indeed, in many political and cultural contexts religious organisations and leaders have been politically influential in resistance, as in the case of the Catholic Church in Poland, the Philippines and (quite often) in Latin America, or of Buddhist monks and nuns in Burma, adding a strong moral dimension to the struggle. Moreover, secular moral commitments can intertwine with political arguments for avoiding resort to violence, as in the debates among East European dissidents in the 1970s and 1980s.

Nevertheless, the tendency since the 1970s, encouraged by the work of Gene Sharp, has been for analysts of unarmed resistance to stress the political and strategic arguments. The increasing sophistication of these debates is indicated by the works under A.1.b. Many books and essays highly relevant to the theory of nonviolent action are usually categorised under quite different headings, such as political philosophy, or sociology. Analysts of nonviolent action have turned to these disciplines, especially in debates about power, justice, obligation and disobedience, and revolution. Some authors do, however, lend themselves especially to incorporation into the canon of writings on nonviolent action, notably Hannah Arendt. One topic on which the tradition of western political thought overlaps most specifically with the literature on nonviolent action – for example in references to Thoreau – is that of civil disobedience. Sub-section 1a draws in particular on broader political and sociological thought to complement specific writings on nonviolent action and unarmed resistance.

The books and essays included in this sub-section are now seen as key texts in the evolution of the theory of civil resistance in the first half of the 20th century. A seminal work by Gandhi on resistance in South Africa is listed here, but his other writings have been indicated under A.2. This sub-section also mentions anthologies incorporating some classic texts.

Ballou, Adin, Christian Non-Resistance, [1846], Ed., with an introduction by Lynn Gordon Hughes, Providence, Blackstone Editions, 2003

 (reprinted in 1910 by the Universal Peace Union, and online at

Ballou distinguishes his brand of Christian moral resistance to evil from both secular interpretations and from the ‘”passive obedience and nonresistance” imperiously preached by despots to their subjects’. He was active in the Anti-Slavery campaign in the USA together with William Garrison. While Garrison changed position and ultimately supported armed struggle to free the slaves, Ballou maintained his commitment to nonresistance. He had a direct influence on Tolstoy, and is therefore part of the broad tradition of nonviolent resistance

Case, Clarence Marsh, Nonviolent Coercion: A Study in Methods of Social Pressure, [1923], New York, Garland, 1972, pp. 423

Early sociological study of nonviolent action in social movements, and of Gandhian strategy.

de la Boetie, Etienne, The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, [1554], Montreal, Black Rose Books, 1997

Frequently cited in discussions of the ‘consent’ theory of power. The accuracy of this ‘Gandhian paradigm’ of Boetie has been questioned (see Randle, Civil Resistance (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) , p. 31), but Boetie has been used in the past by religious dissidents and from the 20th century by exponents of unarmed resistance. For discussion of his Renaissance context, (see Bleiker, Popular Dissent, Human Agency and Global Politics (A. 1.a.ii. Theories of Civil Disobedience, Power and Revolution) pp. 51-73).

Translations: French
de Ligt, Bart, The Conquest of Violence: An Essay on War and Revolution, [1935], New York, Garland, 1972, pp. 308

and London, Pluto Press, 1989 (with Introduction by Peter van den Dungen), pp. 306.

Classic argument for nonviolent resistance from an anarchist anti-war perspective, with a broad historical perspective, and giving more emphasis to examples of unarmed resistance in the socialist tradition (for example 1905 in Russia) than much of the early literature.

Gandhi, Mohandas K., Satyagraha in South Africa, [1925], Ahmedabad, Navajivan, 1950, pp. 348

Gandhi’s account of the seminal civil disobedience campaigns against legislation discriminating against the Indian population, and the evolution of his strategy and theory of ‘satyagraha’.

Gregg, Richard B., The Power of Nonviolence, [1935], revised 3rd edition, London, James Clark, 1960, pp. 192

Classic analysis of ‘moral jiu jitsu’ as the basis of nonviolent resistance, and in particular of Gandhi’s interpretation and strategy of nonviolent action (‘satyagraha’). The updated second edition includes material on unarmed resistance during World War Two in Norway and Denmark, and on the US Civil Rights Movement.

Griffith, Arthur, The Resurrection of Hungary: A Parallel for Ireland, [1904], Dublin, University College Dublin Press, 2003

(The 1918 edition, which includes references to the unarmed campaign for independence in Finland, is now online.)

This brief book – originally a series of articles – was influential in Ireland and translated into a number of Indian languages, and was almost certainly read by Gandhi. Whilst the historical accuracy is questionable, Griffith’s account was important in conveying the idea of nonviolent resistance. Csapody, Tamas and Thomas Weber, ‘Hungarian Nonviolent Resistance against Austria and its Place in the History of Nonviolence’, Peace and Change, vol. 32 no. 4 (2007), pp. 499-519, analyses the influence of Griffith’s interpretation.

Holmes, Robert L. ; Gans, Barry L., Nonviolence in Theory and Practice, [1990], 2nd edition, Long Grove IL, Waveland Press, 2005, pp. 381

Reader with excerpts on religious roots of nonviolence and classic writings on disobedience, including Socrates, as well as Thoreau, Tolstoy and Gandhi on nonviolent resistance.

Shridharani, Krishnalal, War Without Violence, London, Gollanez, 1939, pp. 288

Reprinted by New York, Garland, 1972, pp. 351.

Respected early analysis of satyagraha with emphasis on strategy. Also comments on role of nonviolent action in democratic states in resisting an invasion.

Sibley, Mulford Q., The Quiet Battle: Writings on the Theory and Practice of Nonviolent Resistance, Garden City NJ, Doubleday, 1963, pp. 390

Still useful compilation. Part I ‘Foundations’ includes extracts from ‘ancient religious statements’, Boetie, Godwin and Shelley, Gandhi, Case and Gregg; Part II covers unarmed resistance in classical Roman times, the general strike, Hungary 1849-67, resistance in Norway during the German Occupation and the 1953 Vorkuta (prison camp) strike in the Soviet Union; Part III provides extracts on principled nonviolent power, including colonial Pennsylvania, South African resistance in the 1950s, the US Civil Rights movements, direct action against war preparations and the possibilities of nonviolent national defence.

Thoreau, Henry David, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, 1846

also entitled ‘Civil Disobedience’. Essay available in some editions of Thoreau’s Walden, in many anthologies and online.

Tolstoy, Leo, Writings on Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence, Philadelphia PA, New Society Publishers, 1987, pp. 426

Collection illustrating Tolstoy’s Christian anarchist-pacifist perspective, stresses individual refusal to fight in wars. Omits ‘Letter to a Hindu’, which reflects on why millions of Indians submit to a small number of British rulers and which is available in Peter Mayer, ed.,The Pacifist Conscience, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1966, pp. 166-76. See also Leo Tolstoy, Government is Violence, Phoenix Press, 1990, which includes essays on anarchism and nonviolence.

Zinn, Howard, The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace, Boston, Beacon Press, 2002, pp. 202

Broad historical survey, ranging from Buddha to Arundhati Roy, and including Thoreau and Albert Camus, ‘Neither Victim nor Executioner’.

This sub-section includes a cross section of contemporary books and essays on nonviolent or civil resistance that seek to engage with themes of power, violence, revolution, and the potential for reconciliation or accommodation between opponents (rather than the strategy of nonviolent action or detailed case studies). A key focus of debate within the civil resistance literature is the ‘consent theory of power’ (the view that oppressive regimes can be effectively undermined by the oppressed withdrawing obedience) which has been central to the evolution of the literature, and in recent decades especially associated with Gene Sharp’s work. A number of scholars have elaborated on why withdrawal of consent through non-cooperation is not always relevant. An alternative (although closely related) approach is to alter the will of an oppressor. Gandhi and those influenced by him have emphasized this element in seeking to ‘convert’ opponents through the mode of resistance and voluntary suffering (see Section A.2), but a more strategic emphasis on the importance of altering will can be found in Robert Burrowes, The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense (180, A.4.b), who draws on Clausewitz. Recent analysts of civil resistance have also drawn on scholarly theorizing of power – for example structuralism and post-structuralism (see a.1.iii).

Civil disobedience (a central form of nonviolent resistance) has repeatedly attracted debate, both in traditional and contemporary political theory – especially where protest movements challenge formally democratic or semi-democratic regimes. The terms of debate have continuously shifted, both within movements and in response to their actions.

Books and articles that focus in detail on the dynamics and strategy of nonviolent action, discuss reasons for ‘success’ or ‘failure’, and debate how to respond to key problems (such as ruthless repression, or the oppressor’s lack of reliance on the consent of the oppressed) are listed in sub-section 1b. Some books inevitably overlap between 1a and 1b, for example most include some discussion of the concept of power. Some key references in 1b (or later sections) that discuss the concept of power relevant to nonviolent action are cross-referenced at the end of this section.

Atack, Iain, Nonviolence in Political Theory, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2012, pp. 208

Scrutinises the theories behind nonviolence. Develops his earlier criticisms of consent theory, suggesting the relevance of Foucault’s apporach to ‘micro-resistance’ (See , Nonviolent Political Action and the Limits of Consent Theoria, 2006, pp. 87-97 ).

Bayer, Markus ; Bethke, Felix S. ; Lambach, Daniel, Levelling the Political Playing Field: How Nonviolent Resistance Influences Power Relations after Democratic Transition, Journal of Resistance Studies, Vol. 6, issue 1, 2020, pp. 103-133

This article examines the important question of how far nonviolent resistance promotes peaceful and democratic political outcomes after the overthrow of  a dictatorial or authoritarian regime, as claimed in the nonviolence literature. The authors develop hypotheses about the likelihood of more egalitarian and peaceful relations at a governmental and party political level, and a greater political role for civil society, as a result of use of nonviolent resistance. These hypotheses are examined by comparing post-transition politics in Benin (an impressive example of successful nonviolent resistance) and Namibia (where in 1966 the South West African People's Organization began an armed struggle for independence from apartheid South Africa).

Bedau, Adam, Civil Disobedience: Theory and Practice, Indianapolis, Bobbs Merrill, 1969, pp. 282

Wide range of contributions on case for and against civil disobedience, including classic essays by Thoreau and Martin Luther King, Bertrand Russell on civil disobedience against nuclear weapons, and Noam Chomsky and others on draft resistance to the Vietnam War. John Rawls’ ‘Justification for Civil Disobedience’ is also included (see Rawls, A Theory of Justice (A. 1.a.iii. Social and Political Writings cited in Civil Resistance Literature) below).

Bleiker, Roland, Popular Dissent, Human Agency and Global Politics, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000, pp. 289

Theorizes transnational (‘transversal’) dissent, looking back to de La Boetie’s Renaissance theory of power and tracing evolution of modern collective action. Draws on Foucault to explore a ‘discursive’ concept of power. Critiques Sharp’s theory of power, illustrated by analysis of East German political and cultural dissent culminating in the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

Butler, Judith, The Force of Nonviolence: An Ethico-Political Bind, London, verso , 2020, pp. 224 pb

Judith Butler, an eminent feminist theorist and philosopher, challenges interpretations of nonviolence as either passive, or based on an individualistic ethics. Instead she argues that nonviolence should be understood in a context of social interdependence and seen as a forceful form of political struggle. She also draws on Freud, Fanon, Foucault and Benjamin to explore how official interpretations of 'violence' tend to attribute it to the most subjugated and despised social groups, who in fact are subjected to many forms of violence throughout their lives. She argues, therefore, that nonviolence should be understood in the context of movements demanding social and political equality and fundamental societal change.

Carter, April, Direct Action and Democracy Today, Cambridge, Polity, 2005, pp. 298

Examines a range of justifications for nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience in liberal parliamentary states, and shows the shifts in debate both within protest movements and in response to them. Also discusses unarmed resistance to corporate exploitation and neoliberal economic policies in a global context.

Carter, April, People Power and Political Change: Key Issues and Concepts, London, Routledge, 2012, pp. 207

Focuses on unarmed national movements of resistance to imperial, dictatorial or semi-authoritarian rule in relation to the theories and experience of guerrilla warfare, revolution, concepts of power and links between people power and electoral processes. The discussion, which draws on a range of literatures (including theories of nonviolent action, political thought and democratization) is then set in a global context.

Chakrabarty, Bidyut, Nonviolence: Challenges and Prospects, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 560

Brings together historical and contemporary approaches to nonviolent struggle and theoretical contributions as well as analyses of particular movements. Section 1 on theory includes writings by Thoreau, Tolstoy, Gandhi and Martin Luther King.  Section 2 covers 'Nonviolence as a Political Strategy' and Section 3 'Nonviolence in Contemporary Movements' including a number of contributions on important recent movements in India: environmental campaigns against the Narmada dams and to preserve forests, Gandhian campaigns after Independence and the role of  Jayaprakash Narayan, and the Anna Hazare Movement against corruption. A number of eminent contemporary Indian scholars have contributed.

Deming, Barbara, Revolution and Equilibrium, New York, Grossman, 1971, pp. 269

The title essay confronts the case for violence made by Frantz Fanon, in his critique of colonialism (see 1a.iii), and by many US militants in the later 1960s, and argues that radical nonviolent action can be an alternative. Other essays by this feminist nonviolent activist and writer cover a wide range of protests. (The title essay is also available as a separate pamphlet from A.J. Muste Memorial Institute, New York.)

Galtung, Johan, Peace by Peaceful Means, Oslo, International Peace Research Institute, 1996, pp. 280

Peace studies pioneer aspires to lay ‘theoretical foundation for peace research, peace education and peace action,’ distinguishes between a static definition of peace as ‘an absence of direct, structural, and cultural violence’ and dynamic definition as ‘the state of affairs that makes the nonviolent and creative handling of conflict possible’. More specific contributions on nonviolence are:

  • ‘On the Meaning of Nonviolence’, Journal of Peace Research, No. 3 1965, distinguishing between negative and positive sanctions, and
  • ‘Principles of Nonviolent Action: The Great Chain of Nonviolence Hypothesis’ in Nonviolence and Israel/Palestine, Honolulu, University of Hawaii Institute for Peace, 1989, p. 13-33.

The ‘chain of nonviolence’ concept addresses the problem of social and psychological distance between oppressors and oppressed, and has been taken up in the literature. For instance, Howard Clark’s ‘Afterword’, pp. 214-218, in Clark, ed., People Power (below) briefly explores the concept.

Lipsitz, Lewis ; Kritzer, Herbert, Unconventional Approaches to Conflict Resolution, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 19, issue 4, 1975, pp. 713-733

Gives examples of where ‘consent’ of the oppressed is not necessary to the ends and strategy of the oppressor.

Martin, Brian, Gene Sharp’s Theory of Power, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 26, issue 2, 1989, pp. 213-222

Examines whether a theory of power underlying nonviolent resistance should incorporate a structuralist (Marxist or feminist) interpretation, while noting the limits of structuralism for explaining active resistance.

May, Todd, Nonviolent Resistance: A Philosophical Introduction, Cambridge, Polity Press , 2014, pp. 200

May, a philosopher who has taken part in nonviolent resistance, explores both the dynamics of different types of nonviolent action O (such as moral ju-jitsu and nonviolent coercion) drawing on historical and contemporary campaigns. He then considers the values inherent in nonviolent action, such as respect for dignity, and discusses the role of nonviolent action today.

Reading, Anna ; Katriel, Tamar, Cultural Memories of nonviolent Struggles: Powerful Times, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, pp. 260

This is an acadmeic contribution to memory studies, but shows how preserving knowledge and stories of past movements affects present politics, and how nonviolent activists can learn from past campaigns. Examples examined include the suffragettes, Greenham Common, Polish Solidarity, US struggles against racism and Australian aboriginal campaigns. The authors also illustrate how one movement can influence others and stress the need to make archival and other sources (films, music, etc.) available.

Satha-Anand, Chaiwat, Nonviolence and Islamic Imperatives, Sparsnäs, Sweden, Irene Publishing, 2015, pp. 180

The author surveys the history of Islamic nonviolent movements and their contemporary role, including contextual analysisof sacred texts and examples of Islamic nonviolent action today, challenging false perceptions of violence in Islam. 

Schell, Jonathan, The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence and the Will of the People, London, Allen Lane/Penguin Press, 2005, pp. 435

An argument by US intellectual on historical trends promoting nonviolence as a potential alternative to war. Part 2. ‘Nonviolence’, pp. 103-231, focuses in particular on Gandhi and dissent in Central Eastern Europe in the 1970s and 1980s.

Translations: Spanish
Sharp, Gene, Social Power and Political Freedom, Introduction by Senator Mark. O. Hatfield, Boston, MA, Porter Sargent , 1980

Sharp, whose 1973 three volume The Politics of Nonviolent Action is now a standard reference work on the theory and strategy of civil resistance has here brought together a collection of writings from over 20 years to address key themes relating to social power and popular empowerment. Other topics covered include several essays on civilian-based defence, reflections on the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa (written as a series of articles in 1963), civil disobedience in a democracy, and review essays of Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, and On Revolution.

Sharp, Gene, Sharp’s Dictionary of Power and Struggle: Language of Civil Resistance in Conflicts, New York, Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 345

Offers a set of definitions of the range of terms associated with (and relevant to) nonviolent action and mass unarmed resistance. Includes a brief introductory essay on power, and short summaries of the civil resistance in Serbia 2000 and Tunisia 2011.

Starhawk', ', Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority and Mystery, San Francisco, Harper Collins, 1988, pp. 384

Often cited exploration of issues from an eco-feminist perspective by activist drawing on experiences in 1980s peace movement affinity groups. Explores power along three axes – power-over, power-within and power-with, and provides materials on individual and group empowerment.

Stiehm, Judith, Nonviolence is Two, Sociological Inquiry, Vol. 38, issue 2, 1968, pp. 23-30

Discusses distinction between principled and pragmatic approaches to nonviolent protest.

Vinthagen, Stellan, A Theory of Nonviolent Action: How Civil Resistance Works, London, Zed Books, 2105, pp. 400

Vinthagen develops a new general theory of nonviolent action which embraces Gandhian concepts and commitments, but relates these to modern sociological theory (for example, Haberms's conception of rationality) and reinterprets them within a more contemporary ethos. Four key dimensions explored are: dialogue facilitation; 'power breaking': 'utopian enactment' - Gandhi's constructive programme; and nonviolent training. Theoretical analysis is illustrated by examples drawn from a range of movements such as US Civil Rights, Movimento Sem Terra and radical protests against nuclear weapons. 

Weber, Thomas, Nonviolence is Who? Gene Sharp and Gandhi, Peace and Change, Vol. 28, issue 2, 2003, pp. 250-270

Develops issues raised by Stiehm’s ‘Nonviolence is Two’, see above.

Zinn, Howard, Disobedience and Democracy: Nine Fallacies on Law and Order, New York, Vintage Books, 1968, pp. 168

and London, Pluto Press, 2003,

Well known radical historian and contributor to the literature on nonviolence and disobedience.

This sub-section includes a number of texts by major theorists of the 20th century that bear directly on debates about civil disobedience and civil resistance, and also includes a few important contributions to the theory of revolution that take account of the phenomenon of unarmed or ‘velvet’ revolutions.

Aharony, Michal, Hannah Arendt and the Limits of Total Domination: The Holocaust, Plurality, and Resistance, London, Routledge, 2015, pp. 272

Arendt is one of the most eminent political philosophers often cited by theorists of nonviolent resistance, especially in relation to her 1963 book On Revolution, and also a major theorist of totalitarianism. This book contrasts Arendt's concept of total domination under totalitarianism with the testimonies of both well known and lesser known intellectuals and writers who survived the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, as well as those of unknown survivors of the holocaust. Aharony argues that Nazi domination was less total than Arendt posited (in her 1951 book On Totalitarianism), and that morality and individual choice exist even in the most extreme conditions.

Arendt, Hannah, Crises of the Republic, New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972

The essay ‘Civil Disobedience’ discusses consent and the right to dissent in the context of the US Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam anti-war protests. It distinguishes between disobedience motivated by citizenship responsibility and that motivated primarily by individual conscience. The essay ‘On Violence’, examines the nature of power and violence (with examples from contemporary movements and politics), and argues that power (as she defines it) is not only distinct from violence but its opposite.

Arendt, Hannah, On Revolution, [1963], Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1973

Explores the concept and experience of revolution, drawing on the history of the American and French revolutions in particular, but also Russia, and develops the theme of the ‘lost treasure’ of revolutionary experience, which is the upsurge of creative and organisational energy in forms of direct democracy, and the conflict between popular political cooperation and the centralising tendencies of political parties.

Fanon, Frantz, The Wretched of the Earth, London, MacGibbon and Kee, 1965

Eloquent and influential defence of revolutionary violence as a necessary psychological reaction to the prolonged experience of structural domination by colonialism, and as a socially radicalising experience promoting the possibility of genuine political freedom.

Foucault, MichelKritzman, L.D., Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings, ed. Kritzman, L.D., London, Routledge, 1990

Covers a range of issues, including Foucault’s interpretation of power and resistance, in accessible form (and also includes interesting discussion on the 1977-79 Iranian Revolution). See also Foucault. M., ‘Truth and Power’ in Rabinow, ed., The Foucault Reader: An Introduction to Foucault’s Thought, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1991. For a brief survey of Foucault’s evolving thought see Bleiker, Popular Dissent, Human Agency and Global Politics (A. 1.a.ii. Theories of Civil Disobedience, Power and Revolution) , pp. 530-73.

Frazer, Elizabeth ; Hutchings, Kimberly, On Politics and Violence: Arendt Contra Fanon, Contemporary Political Theory, Vol. 7, 2008, pp. 90-118

Compares views of Arendt and Fanon on the role of violence in politics.

Garton Ash, Timothy, Velvet Revolution: The Prospects, New York Review of Books, Vol. 56, issue 19, 03/12/2009, pp. 20-24

Essay by observer and analyst of many recent movements of unarmed resistance (see later sections). Garton Ash looks back after 20 years on 1989 in the Soviet bloc, but also other movements involving large scale unarmed resistance and culminating in negotiated agreement for a transfer of power (as in South Africa) that suggest a new model of revolution has emerged challenging older models.

Gellner, Ernst, The Price of Velvet: Thomas Masaryk and Vaclav Havel, Czech Sociological Review, Vol. 3, issue 1, 1995, pp. 45-57

Explores the disadvantages of ‘velvet revolutions’ with a specific focus on Czechoslovakia and comparing Vaclav Havel with the earlier president and theorist Thomas Masaryk.

Goldstone, Jack A ; Gurr, Ted Robert ; Moshiri, Farrokh, Revolutions of the Late Twentieth Century, Boulder CO, Westview Press, 1991, pp. 395

Includes chapters by Moshiri on the evolving theory of revolution since Marx, including Tilly, Skocpcol and Goldstone. It also comprises Goldstone’s analytical framework for understanding revolutions, case studies of a range of violent and unarmed movements (chapters on Iran, Poland, the Philippines and the Palestinian Occupied Territories are referenced under appropriate sections later), and a concluding chapter ‘Comparison and Policy Implications’ by Gurr and Goldstone that incorporates reflections on the role of violence and nonviolence.

Habermas, Jürgen, Civil Disobedience: Litmus Test for the Democratic Constitutional State, Berkeley Journal of Sociology, Vol. 30, 1985, pp. 95-116

Habermas, one of today’s major social theorists, is associated with the concept of ‘new social movements’ in the 1970s, and developing the theory of ‘deliberative democracy’. Argues for the potential value of civil disobedience as a means of upholding democratic principles.
Other important essays by Habermas are: ‘Hannah Arendt’s Communicative Concept of Power’ in Steven Lukes ed., Power, Oxford, Blackwell, pp. 75-93, arguing for a structural interpretation of power.
And , What does Socialism Mean Today? The Rectifying Revolution and the Need for New Thinking on the Left New Left Review, 1990, pp. 3-21 , an interpretation of the nature and significance of the 1989 revolutions from a democratic socialist perspective.

Havel, VáclavVladislav, Jan, The Power of the Powerless, ed. Vladislav, Jan, In , Living in Truth: 22 Essays Published on the Occasion of the Award of the Erasmus Prize to Vaclav Havel London, Faber, , 1987, pp. 36-122

(Also available in other collections.)
Influential analysis of ‘post-totalitarian’ society and politics in the Soviet bloc in the 1970s and eloquent argument for individual integrity and acts of dissent by lead Czechoslovak playwright and dissident, who became President after 1989. This text inspired many activists in Eastern Europe and others round the world, including Aung San Suu Kyi, leading figure in the nonviolent resistance in Burma from 1988.

Lukes, Steven, Power: A Radical View, [1974], Basingstoke, Palgrave McMillan, 2005, pp. 192

Substantially expanded second edition (with two new chapters) of his influential 1974 short book. His delineation of ‘three dimensions of power’ has influenced debates about power in the social sciences, and provided a reference point for some debates about resistance to domination.

Luxemburg, Rosa, The Mass Strike: The Political Party and the Trade Unions, [1906], London, Merlin Press, 1963, pp. 87

Also available in Mary Alice Waters, ed., Rosa Luxemburg Speaks, New York, Pathfinder Press, 1970; and in The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, 14 vols, London, Verso Books, 2011.

Discusses the evolution, nature and significance of the (predominantly unarmed) 1905 Revolution in Russia, and reflects Luxemburg’s emphasis on the importance of popular initiative and cooperation, as opposed to centralised party leadership – themes developed in her pamphlets ‘The Russian Revolution’ and ‘Leninism or Marxism’, both republished in 1961 under those joint titles (Ann Arbor paperback, University of Michigan Press). The standard study of Luxemburg is: Peter Nettl, Rosa Luxemburg, Oxford University Press, 1966 and 1969 (abridged edition).

Lyons, David, Moral Judgment, Historical Reality and Civil Disobedience, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 27, issue 1, 1998, pp. 31-49

Explores standard philosophical writings on civil disobedience and queries the assumption of political obligation in contexts of major injustice and oppression, such as slavery and segregation.

Michnik, Adam, Letters from Prison and Other Essays, Berkeley CA, University of California Press, 1985, pp. 354

Influential intellectual oppositionist in Poland from the 1960s to the 1980s argues for adhering to nonviolent methods for moral and political as well as pragmatic reasons (i.e. threat of Soviet military response to a violent uprising).

Pateman, Carole, The Problem of Political Obligation: A Critique of Liberal Theory, [1979], 2nd edition, Berkeley CA, University of California Press, 1985, pp. 222

Critiques individualist liberal theories of civil disobedience, including the notion that civil disobedients should willingly accept punishment (pp. 57-60 and 161-2). Rather ‘political disobedience ... may be the only way in which freedom and equality can be preserved’, and minorities have the right to refuse or withdraw consent.

Rawls, John, A Theory of Justice, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1972, pp. 605

Chapter Six, ‘Duty and Obligation’ (pp. 333-91) of this extremely influential philosophical restatement of liberal principles explores in depth the circumstances in which civil disobedience is justifiable in a liberal democracy. He summarises this argument in ‘The Justification of Civil Disobedience’ in Bedau, Civil Disobedience: Theory and Practice (A. 1.a.ii. Theories of Civil Disobedience, Power and Revolution) , pp. 240-55.

Sassoon, Anne Showstack, Gramsci’s Politics, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1987, pp. 261

Antonio Gramsci, the prominent Italian Marxist activist and thinker who died in 1937, is known for his elaboration of the Marxist theory of ideology and hegemony, and has been consulted by students seeking inspiration from Marxist thought – for example in Poland and South Africa in the 1980s. Gramsci’s major work, Prison Notebooks, is by its nature long and disjointed, and its interpretation subject to debate.

Singer, Peter, Democracy and Disobedience, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1973, pp. 150

Concise philosophical examination of disobedience within types of democracy by scholar now better known for writings on animal rights and radical arguments about responsibilities of the wealthy to the poor. Ends by briefly applying the principles to Northern Ireland in the late 1960s.

Skocpol, Theda, Rentier state and Shi’a Islam in the Iranian Revolution, Theory and Society, Vol. 11, issue 3, 1982, pp. 265-283

Skopcol is well known for her theoretical contribution to the theory of revolution, stressing the role of the state (States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia and China, Cambridge University Press, 1979), here she applies her framework to the Iranian Revolution of 1977-79.

Tilly, Charles, European Revolutions, 1492-1992, Oxford, Blackwell, 1993

Well-known exponent of the theory and history of resistance and revolt. In later part of book discusses whether the events in the Soviet bloc in 1989-91 count as revolutionary, and the possibility of nonviolent revolution.

Walzer, Michael, Obligations: Essays on Disobedience, War and Citizenship, Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press, 1973

Series of essays discussing issues of obligation and disobedience from a standpoint emphasising citizens’ obligations and with an awareness of the traditions of the labour movement (‘Civil Disobedience and Corporate Authority’ for example discusses the right to strike) and concepts of honour and solidarity.

See also:

April Carter, Direct Action and Democracy Today, (A. 1.a.ii. Theories of Civil Disobedience, Power and Revolution), Chapters 5 and 6 for overview of classical and contemporary political theorists on resistance and civil disobedience.

The entries in this section indicate the very wide range of unarmed resistance movements that have occurred over the last 150 years, and in particular since the 1980s. Many of them also reflect a growing sophistication within the literature on nonviolent action in trying to explain the internal logic and political impact of such movements through comparative analysis. Some of the books are influenced by the wider literature of military strategic studies and refer to Clausewitz, Liddell Hart and other classics of strategic theory, but the emphasis is on developing a specific understanding of strategy in the context of unarmed resistance – and problems of combining armed and unarmed rebellion. Some of these issues are also developed in the literature exploring ‘civilian’ or unarmed defence strategy – see sub-section A.4.

Special issue of Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, no. 34, 2012, ‘Nonviolent Conflict and Civil Resistance’, edited by Lester Kurtz and Sharon Erickson Nepstad who comment on the rapid growth of academic interest in the past decade.

Ackerman, Peter, The Checklist to End Tyranny: How Dissidents Will Win 21st Century Civil Resistance Campaigns, Washington D.C., International Center for Nonviolent Conflict Press, 2021, pp. pb

This ICNC publication is designed to help opponents of autocratic regimes 'become more strategic and more skillful' in their struggle for democracy. The booklet is also directed towards professionals in democracy promotion and foreign policy to assist their understanding of the issues involved. Ackerman founded ICNC and is the author of important books on civil resistance.

Ackerman, Peter ; Duvall, Jack, A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict, New York and Basingstoke, Palgrave, 2000, pp. 554

Analysis of a selection of predominantly nonviolent struggles from Russia 1905 to Serbia 2000, arguing against ‘the mythology of violence’. Some of the case studies are standard in books on civil resistance, others – for example the 1990 movement in Mongolia – less familiar. Each chapter has a useful bibliography. The book arose out of a 1999 US documentary television series ‘A Force More Powerful’, now available on DVD, and therefore includes, in the more recent cases, information from interviews.

Ackerman, Peter ; Kruegler, Christopher, Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: The Dynamics of People Power in the Twentieth Century, Westport CT, Praeger, 1993, pp. 366

Focuses on the importance of resistance strategy in determining the outcome. Outlines 12 principles of strategic action and assesses five movements (Russia 1905, Ruhr 1923, the Indian independence campaign,, resistance in German-occupied Denmark, and Solidarity in Poland) in relation to these principles.

Bartkowski, Maciej J., Recovering Nonviolent History: Civil Resistance in Liberation Struggles, Boulder, CO, Lynne Rienner, 2013, pp. 436

Ambitious volume in historical and geographical range (from 1765 to current struggles, and in every continent). Individual chapters feature in relevant sections of this bibliography.

Chenoweth, Erica, The Future of Nonviolent Resistance, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 31, issue 3, 2020, pp. 69-84

Important article addressing the question why, when there have been so many examples of impressive nonviolent resistance around the world - especially since 2019, the success rate has been so low.  Chenoweth notes the impact of Covid since 2020 as well as 'savvier state responses', but suggests the key reasons lie in the need to focus on building coalitions, grassroots organizing, strategy and planning.

Chenoweth, Erica, Civil Resistance: What Everyone Needs to Know, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 2021, pp. 256

This study, by one of the authors of the acclaimed Why Civil Resistance Works, is designed as an accessible overview of what civil resistance is, how it is effective, its use around the world, and its long term impact. It covers the theory and history of civil resistance, and includes chapters on the problems of violence against movements and violence within them.    

Chenoweth, Erica ; Cunningham, Kathleen Gallagher, Understanding Nonviolent Resistance, Special Issue, Journal of Peace Research, vol. 50 no. 3 (May), 2013

After introductory essays by the editors and by Kurt Schock, there are sections on: ‘Explaining Nonviolent Resistance’, ‘Dynamics of Nonviolent Contention’ and ‘Outcomes’. Topics covered include self-determination disputes, gender ideologies and forms of mobilisation in the Middle East, role of mutiny in the Arab Spring, transitions in autocracies and transitions from armed to unarmed struggles.

Chenoweth, Erica ; Stephan, Maria J., Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, New York, Columbia University Press, 2011, pp. 296

Combines statistical analysis with case studies of unarmed resistance to argue that since 1900 nonviolent resistance campaigns have been strategically more effective than violent campaigns. Also analyses factors that promote success or failure of nonviolent campaigns. An earlier version of their overall argument was published as , Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict International Security, 2008, pp. 7-44 , including useful case studies of East Timor, the Philippines and Burma 1988-1990.

Clark, Howard, People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Global Solidarity, London, Pluto Press, 2009, pp. 237

The Introduction and Afterword discuss key strategic questions and Part I consists of five case studies of nonviolent resistance from 5 continents. But the major focus is on forms of transnational support for resistance campaigns and the possible problems (as well major advantages) of not only governmental, but also nongovernmental support and intervention. Some of the main chapters in Part II and Part III are therefore listed separately under A.5.

Cortright, David, Gandhi and Beyond: Nonviolence for the Age of Terrorism, Boulder CO, Paradigm Publishers, 2006, pp. 265

Offers a contemporary analysis of Gandhi, while tracing how subsequent US figures and campaigns have applied and enhanced an understanding of ‘applied nonviolence’ that is an effective methodology rooted in values, including feminist values.

Della Porta, Donatella, Mobilizing for Democracy: Comparing 1989 and 2011, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 384

Expert on social movements combines analysis of movements with theory of democratisation, and using comparative framework discusses causes and outcomes of 1989 movements in Eastern Europe with the Middle East and North Africa from 2011. Particular, but by no means exclusive, focus on GDR and Czechoslovakia and on Tunisia and Egypt.

Dudouet, Véronique, Nonviolent Resistance in Power Asymmetries, revised and updated 2011, In , Berghof Handbook for Conflict Transformation [2004] Berlin, Berghof Research Centre for Constructive Conflict Management, , 2011, pp. 237-264

Summarises evolution of nonviolent resistance in theory and practice and explores its role in redressing structural asymmetry and as a prelude to reconciliation and peace building.

Explores the context and conditions in which nonviolent resistance can contribute to successful and sustainable conflict transformation processes. The author introduces the concept, aims and methods of nonviolent action and explores conceptual and empirical developments throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. She illustrates its potential and limits, both in transforming asymmetric power structures and in encouraging democratic practices, using the example of the Palestinian first intifada in the Israeli/Palestinian struggle. (updated and revised for 2011 print edition)

Dudouet, Véronique, Civil Resistance and Conflict Transformation – Transitions from Armed to Nonviolent Struggle, London, Routledge, 2014, pp. 262

Chapters on: Western Sahara, West Papua, Palestine, South Africa (in 1980s), the Zapatistas. Egypt, Nepal and on indigenous armed struggle and nonviolent resistance in Colombia.

Engler, Mark ; Engler, Paul, This is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt is Shaping the Twenty-First Century, New York, Nation Books, 2016, pp. 368

The book examines how contemporary movements are using strategic nonviolent action to promote social change, covering a range of protests including climate change, immigrant rights, gay rights, Occupy and Black Lives Matter. The authors argue that nonviolent uprisings are becoming more common than violent rebellion, and look back to twentieth century antecedents in the Indian Independence and US Civil Rights movements, examine the nature of effective strategy and discuss organizational discipline. Their analysis includes the Arab Spring, but notes its discouraging implications.

Falk, Barbara, Rethinking the Revolutionary Recipe: 1989 and the Idea of Non-Violent Revolution', Visegrad Insight, 2020

Falk assesses the nature of the 1989 revolutions, which she delineates as the collapse of communist regimes across Eastern Europe in a context of commitment to nonviolence by key players (with the exception of Romania) and of restraint by both Gorbachev in the USSR and western leaders. Year 1989 appeared to usher in a new concept of peaceful revolution, which could be applied to challenge other repressive regimes. But, Falk argues, these attempts, as in the '2009 Green Revolution' in Iran and the 'Arab Spring' in 2011 in Egypt and elsewhere, have resulted in defeat.  The author also notes other factors, which militate against successful nonviolent revolution. These include the greater ruthlessness (compared with the East European Communist regimes of the 1980s) of many of today's dictatorships, the declining respect for the US and for liberal democracy as an ideal, a rise in barbaric violence (represented by ISIS) and the complex role of today's communication technologies, which can mobilize protest but promote lack of leadership capable of formulating negotiable demands. The article references a number of other interesting recent perspectives on revolution today.   

Ganz, Marshall, Why David Sometimes Wins: Leadership, Organisation, and Strategy in the California Farm Worker Movements, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 344

Uses the struggle of Latino farmworkers in California in the 1960s to illustrate the concept of ‘strategic capacity’ – how strategic resourcefulness can sometimes compensate for lack of resources.

Gee, Tim, Counterpower: Making Change Happen, Oxford, New Internationalist Publications, 2011, pp. 222

Lively discussion of the strategies and methods popular movements can use to win struggles against various forms of oppression and to undermine elites. Includes brief accounts of the struggles for Indian independence, the ending of apartheid and the overthrow of Mubarak, as well the extension of the franchise in Britain, opposition to the Vietnam War, and resistance to corporate power.

Hardiman, David, The Nonviolent Struggle for Indian Freedom- 1905-19, London, C. Hurst & Co., 2018, pp. 280

This is the first volume in a study of Gandhi's role in relation to the broader history of Indian movements for justice and independence, by a British historian who has specialised in Indian history and peasant struggles. The book includes important and little known material on Indian 'passive resistance' movements from 1905-1909, charts Gandhi's role in the 'passive resistance' in South Africa 1906-14, and after his return to India his varied links to different forms of peasant resistance in Bijoliya, Champaran (often covered in literautre on Gandhi) and Kheda. This volume concludes with an assessment of Gandhi's evolving theory of nonviolence in relation to other theories of the time, and his leadership role in the 1919 resistance to the Rowlatt Acts.

Hare, Paul ; Blumberg, Herbert H., Nonviolent Direct Action: American Cases: Social-Psychological Analyses, Washington DC, Corpus Books, 1968, pp. 575

Discusses earlier and contemporary theoretical analyses of nonviolence from a social psychological standpoint, and combines this with examples of nonviolent action and peace campaigns in the USA.

Helvey, Robert L., On Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: Thinking about Fundamentals, Cambridge MA, Albert Einstein Institution, 2004, pp. 178

Retired US Army colonel, now colleague of Gene Sharp, examines the basis of political power and the methods and strategy of nonviolent struggle. His guidelines for preparing a Strategic Estimate are also included in Sharp, Waging Nonviolent Struggle.

Kurtz, Lester ; Smithey, Lee, The Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements, Syracuse, NY, Syracuse University Press, 2018, pp. 368 pb

The focus of this study is on how movements using nonviolent tactics can respond to repression, and increase the potential for repressive and violent measures to backfire.  The contributors include both social scientists and activists who have experienced repression, providing an analysis of the different forms of repression possible, and of methods protesters might use in response.

Lakey, George, Powerful Peacemaking: A Strategy for a Living Revolution, [1973], Philadelphia PA, New Society Publishers, 1987, pp. 246

Analyses revolutionary popular movements (such as Guatemala and El Salvador 1944, and France 1968) and issues of cultural preparation, organisation and tactics from a committed nonviolent standpoint. Also discusses how to develop and defend revolution by decentralizing power and use of nonviolent civilian defence.

Maney, Gregory M. ; Kutz-Flamenbaum, Rachel V. ; Rohlinger, Deana A. ; Goodwin, Jeff, Strategies for Social Change, Minnesota, University of Minnesota Press, 2012, pp. 360

Investigates strategic choices of a range of social movements.

Martin, Brian, Nonviolent Struggle and Social Defence, ed. Shelley Anderson and Janet Larmore, London, War Resisters' International, 1991

Analysis of nonviolent action and case studies of people power in Asia, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Central and South America and South Africa.

Martin, Brian, Justice Ignited: The Dynamics of Backfire, Lanham MD, Rowman and Littlefield, 2007, pp. 236

Analysis of how violent attacks can (but do not always) backfire on the perpetrators. Not solely about unarmed resistance movements, but the theoretical framework is relevant to nonviolent strategy and there are chapters on Sharpeville, South Africa 1960. the 1991 Dili massacre in East Timor, and the 1930 salt works protest in Dharasana, India. Many of Brian Martin’s publications are online at

Martin, Brian, Nonviolence Unbound, Sparsnäs, Sweden, Irene Publishing, 2015, pp. 354

Explores how methods of nonviolent action can be used effectively in contexts where unfamiliar: verbal abuse, online defamation, and struggles in relation to euthanasia and vaccination.

Miller, William Robert, Nonviolence: A Christian Interpretation, London, Allen and Unwin, 1965, pp. 380

Discusses the nature and dynamics of nonviolent action and briefly covers several unarmed resistance movements (the accuracy of the account of the Danish resistance in World War has been questioned).

Nepstad, Sharon Erickson, Nonviolent Revolutions: Civil Resistance in the Late Twentieth Century, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 178

Compares ‘unsuccessful’ and ‘successful’ movements against Socialist regimes (Tiananmen and East Germany 1989), against military regimes (Panama and Chile in the 1980s) and against personal dictators (Kenyan opposition to Moi and the Philippines struggle against Marcos). Draws some fairly brief general conclusions.

Nepstad, Sharon Erickson, Nonviolent Struggle: Theories, Strategies, and Dynamics, New York, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 264

Designed as a textbook, it covers history, theoretical developments and debates about the results of nonviolent movements. It categorizes nine types of nonviolent action, which are illustrated by case studies.  A separate chapter explores key issues of why and when sections of the armed services defect from a regime challenged by a nonviolent movement. 

Pinckney, Jonathan, Making or Breaking Nonviolent Discipline in Civil Resistance Movements, Washington, D.C., International Centre on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC Monograph Series), 2016, pp. 102

The book discusses what factors encourage or undermine nonviolent discipline, including the reactions of the government and the way the movement is itself organised. 

Pinckney, Jonathan, When Civil Resistance Succeeds: Building Democracy After Popular Nonviolent Uprisings, Washington, D.C., International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, 2018, pp. 104 (pb)

Examines why some nonviolent revolutions result in democratization, while others do not, and discusses how protesters can promote democratic outcomes. Focuses in particular on the role of civil society both before and after the revolution.

Popovic, Srdja ; Miller, Matthew, Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanise Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World, Melbourne and London, Scribe, 2015, pp. 282

Popovic, an activist against the Milosevic regime in Serbia in the 1990s, went on to find CANVAS, which has offered advice and nonviolent training to activists in former Soviet states and other parts of the world, including Egypt before Tahrir Square and Syria. The book emphasizes the role of CANVAS (but does not address criticism of its role) and foregrounds the author's own experiences and interpretation of nonviolent action. It covers many varied campaigns with examples of how to mobilize successfully and use humour and imaginative forms of protest. It also addresses how to make oppression 'backfire' and the need to persevere in one's effort after apparent success. Written for activists rather than for scholars of nonviolence. 

Randle, Michael, Civil Resistance, (Online at, London, Fontana, 1994, pp. 259

Chapters 1-4 focus on the history and dynamics of nonviolent resistance, and its increasing use in recent decades, within a framework of broader historical analysis. The main emphasis is on national resistance to oppressive regimes. The second half of the book analyses civilian (nonviolent) defence (see A.5.b.)

Translations: Spanish
Randle, Michael, Challenge to Nonviolence, (Online at, Bradford, Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, 2002, pp. 304

A wide-ranging compilation of papers presented to the Nonviolent Action Research Project in Bradford from 1994 to 1999, with extensive notes on the group discussion.

Roberts, Adam ; Garton Ash, Timothy, Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 407

The Foreword to the 2011 paperback comments on the Arab Spring.

Succinct analytical case studies (organised around a set of questions) of movements of unarmed resistance from Gandhi to Burma in 2007, with incisive introductory and concluding assessments. Particular emphasis on the impact of external governmental pressures in promoting the success of resistance. One chapter analyses the role of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe up to 1989.

Schock, Kurt, Unarmed Insurrections: People Power Movements in Nondemocracies, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2005, pp. 228

Seeks to address the lack of explicitly comparative analysis of how nonviolent methods promote political transformation. Examines success of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa (1983-90), and pro-democracy movements in the Philippines (1983-86), Nepal (1990) and Thailand (1991-92), and explores failure of such as movements in China (1989) and Burma (1988). Lists major actions in each movement. Includes analysis and criticism of ‘consent’ theory of power.

Translations: Spanish
Schock, Kurt, Civil Resistance Today, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2015, pp. 232

Survey of historical origins of nonviolent resistance (Gandhi, US Civil Rights) and the numerous recent movements, including both resistance to political oppression and movements for economic and social justice (e.g. Occupy). Schock also analyses the causes of resistance and reasons for success or failure.

Sharp, Gene, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Parts 2 ‘The Methods of Nonviolent Action’ and Part 3 ‘Strategy and Dynamics of Nonviolent Action’, Vol. 2 & 3, Boston, Porter Sargent, 1973, , 3 volumespp. 902

Part 1 of this now classic analysis explores the political and sociological theories underlying nonviolent resistance to develop a 'consent theory of power'; this has since been much debated. Part 1 also discusses nonviolent action as an 'active technique of struggle' and contextualizes Gandhi's contribution within a much wider historical context of major resistance movements dating from the later 18th century to 1968. Part 2 categorises and illustrates the now famous list of 198 methods, while the longest volume, Part 3, elaborates Sharp’s strategic approach.

Sharp, Gene, Waging Nonviolent Struggle: 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential, Boston, Porter Sargent, 2005, pp. 598

An abbreviated and slightly modified version of Sharp’s general argument in The Politics of Nonviolent Action. Includes 23 brief case studies of campaigns from the Russian Revolution of 1905 to the Serbian people power of 2000 (some written by Sharp’s collaborators: Joshua Paulson, Christopher A. Miller and Hardy Merriman).

Sharp, Gene, From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation, [1993], London, Housmans Bookshop, 2011, pp. 94

Also published by London, Serpent’s Tail, 2012, and available from the Albert Einstein Institution (see website).

Written at the request of a Burmese dissident, this is now widely known as a succinct analysis of how nonviolent resistance can overthrow tyrannical regimes.

Translations: Spanish | Italian | French
Stephan, Maria, Civil Resistance vs ISIS, Journal of Resistance Studies, Vol. 1, issue 2, 2015, pp. 127-147

Stephan, co-author of Why Civil Resistance Works, examines the new threat posed by ISIS and its ambition to create an Islamic caliphate based on an extreme and violent interpretation of Islam.  She suggests how civil resistance can help to contain ISIS and undermine its appeal and ability to recruit.

Stephan, Maria J., Civilian Jihad: Nonviolent Struggle, Democratization, and Governance in the Middle East, New York, Palgrave McMillan, 2009, pp. 344

See introduction to Section V.E. Middle East and North Africa for notes.

Summy, Ralph V., Nonviolence and the Case of the Extremely Ruthless Opponent, Pacifica Review, issue May/June, 1994, pp. 1-29

Also available in , Legacy and Future of Nonviolence New Delhi, Gandhi Peace Foundation, , 1996 , pp. 141-57.

Sémelin, Jaques, Freedom Over the Airwaves: From the Czech Coup to the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Washington, D.C., International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, 2017, pp. 312 (pb)

Eminent French historian and theorist of nonviolent resistance explores the links  between media of communication and nonviolent campaigns, focusing on key examples of resistance in Communist Eastern Europe from 1948-1989.

Thompson, Mark R., Democratic Revolutions: Asia and Eastern Europe, London, Routledge, 2004, pp. 180

Essays discussing people power in the Philippines, East Germany and Serbia, comparing the strengths and weaknesses of opposition, and the regime in China with Eastern Europe in 1989, to explain different outcomes, and reflecting on issues such as ‘female leadership of democratic revolutions in Asia’.

Zunes, Stephen ; Kurtz, Lester R. ; Asher, Sarah Beth, Nonviolent Social Movements: A Geographical Perspective, Oxford, Blackwell, 1999, pp. 330

Well-documented accounts of nonviolent action around the world, mostly since the 1970s. (Individual chapters are also cited in the appropriate geographical sections of this bibliography.) Also includes a feminist critique of the masculinist bias of many works on nonviolence (by Pam McAllister) and essay by sociologist Kenneth Boulding on power (cited under A.1.a. ii).

See also:

The mainstream literature on civil resistance and nonviolent action tends to focus on widespread unarmed resistance against internal or external repression, or on major social movements. It has paid less attention to small scale and indirect forms of resistance, although these may be described in the context of the evolution of particular movements, In recent years there has also been growing interest in how ordinary people maintain and express resistance to domination over long periods at either an individual or communal level. Some forms of indirect or small scale resistance can either be a prelude to mass open confrontation, or occur after an unarmed revolt has been (at least temporarily) crushed. In extremely repressive circumstances indirect resistance may be the only possible strategy for a long period: the aim may be to maintain a culture under threat, maintain morale, for example through forms of symbolic action or oblique ridicule of the regime, and to undermine the scope and efficiency of repressive rule. Such resistance can either be highly organised or largely unorganised, and may use official public occasions to make a point, spring out of communal activity such as street parties, or be an individual gesture.

Some of the works below examine indirect or hidden forms of conscious political resistance. But there is also a literature that focuses on largely apolitical ‘everyday resistance’ to various forms of social oppression by peasants and workers, or by women in patriarchal societies. J.C. Scott (listed below) is particularly associated with this approach. Social scientists influenced by Foucault may also study forms of apolitical ‘resistance’. It is not always clear whether dissident subcultures and behaviour are means of making domination tolerable or a prelude to outright political resistance – Scott discusses whether and how the first might mutate into the second. ‘Everyday’ resistance, which may involve contempt for the official laws, can also shade into behaviour that might be categorised as ‘criminal’.

Aouragh, Miriyam, Everyday Resistance on the Internet: The Palestinian Context, Journal of Arab and Muslim Media Research, Vol. 1, issue 2 (Nov), 2008, pp. 109-130

Explores how internet links Palestinians in Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine, creates a Palestine in cyberspace, and has an impact on manifestations of resistance, for example through street candle vigils and ‘lighting a candle’ on the internet.

Crawshaw, Steve ; Jackson, John, Small Acts of Resistance: How Courage, Tenacity and Ingenuity can Change the World, Preface by Vaclav Havel, New York, Sterling Publishing Company, 2010, pp. 240

Interesting range of examples of ingenious forms of indirect or symbolic resistance at individual and group level, as well as more open defiance and protest.

Davenport, Christian ; Johnston, Hank ; Mueller, Carol, Repression and Mobilization, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2005, pp. 258

Explores varied forms of repression and means of response drawing on a wide sociological literature. Particularly relevant is Hank Johnston, ‘Talking the Walk: Speech Acts and Resistance in Authoritarian Regimes’ (pp. 108-37), exploring underground humour, graffiti, hit and run tactics, informal opposition networks, ‘duplicitous organisation’ – using official status for opposition, and role of recreational, cultural and religious groups. Johnston also notes how official political and cultural events can be subverted. (Strong overlap with ch. 4 in Johnston, States & Social Movements (A. 6. Nonviolent Action and Social Movements) .)

Flam, Helena, Anger in Repressive Regimes: A Footnote to Domination and the Arts of Resistance by James Scott, European Journal of Social Theory, Vol. 7, issue 2, 2004, pp. 171-188

Argues against Scott’s thesis that long suppressed anger will one day explode, and suggests instead (drawing on Central European examples after 1980) that protest took indirect, satirical and carnivalesque forms.

Garreton, Manual Antonio, Fear in Military Regimes, In Corradi, Weiss Fagen, and Garreton, eds., Fear at the Edge (719, E.IV.1), Berkeley CA, University of California Press, pp. 13-23

Distinguishes between phases of military regimes: the first of terror not a time for direct confrontation but for survival and assistance to others, although human rights activists may link up with international networks. In the second phase the opposition have more scope for promoting organisation and indirect forms of resistance.

Hollander, Jocelyn A. ; Einwohner, Rachel L., Conceptualizing Resistance, Sociological Forum, Vol. 19, issue 4, 2004, pp. 533-554

Discusses possible confusion in meaning of ‘resistance’ in recent sociological studies and suggests a typology of intended and unintended ‘resistance’. Many references to gender-based resistance, and forms of indirect resistance by slaves, peasants, workers and the unemployed, as well as the direct resistance of the US Civil Rights Movement.

Johnston, Hank, Tales of Nationalism: Catalonia, 1939-1979, New Jersery, Rutgers University Press, 1991, pp. 261

Much-cited in the social movement literature on ‘framing’, Johnston analyses the contribution of resistant sub-cultures under Francoism to the eventual resurgence of Catalan opposition.

Nafisi, Azar, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, [2003], London, Harper Perennial, 2008, pp. 347

A study of quiet resistance through a women’s group reading forbidden western literature. Also includes autobiographical insights into the 1977-79 Iranian revolution – its early stages and aftermath.

Richter-Devroe, Sophie, Palestinian Women’s Everyday Resistance: Between Normality and Normalisation, Journal of International Women’s Studies, Vol. 12, issue 2 (special issue), 2011, pp. 32-46

Focuses particularly on women crossing Israeli-imposed borders to maintain their sense of autonomy and freedom, and argues that although these actions are ‘framed’ as resistance to occupation they also covertly challenge patriarchal controls..

Rings, Werner, Life with the Enemy: Collaboration and Resistance in Hitler’s Europe, 1939-45, New York, Doubleday, 1982, pp. 352

Explores differing forms resistance can take through symbolism and speech and defensive support of those targeted by regime, as well as open ‘offensive’ resistance. Andrew Rigby has argued that creating autonomous organisations from below can be a sixth form of ‘constructive resistance’ that does not necessarily directly challenge the regime: Rigby, Palestinian Resistance and Nonviolence (E. V.A.3. Palestine) , pp. 3-6.

Roitman, Janet, Fiscal Disobedience: An Anthropology of Economic Regulation in Central Africa, Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press, 2004, pp. 216

Anthropological study of resistance to fiscal regulation starts from the open and organised villes mortes campaign in Cameroon in 1992-93 (see E.I.2.1b.i). Main focus is on non-political forms of evading fiscal regulation, such as smuggling across borders.

Scott, James C., Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1990, pp. 251

Much-cited analysis of forms of hidden and indirect resistance, as opposed to overt organised opposition. Develops at a more general level ideas explored in his Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (1985). Scott discusses how everyday resistance might turn into open revolt: an aspect of his analysis that has been critically examined.

Thalhammer, Kristina E. ; O’Loughlin, Paula L. ; Glazer, Myron Peretz ; Glazer, Penina Migdal ; McFarland, Sam ; Shepela, Sharon Toffey ; Stoltzfus, Nathan, Courageous Resistance: The Power of Ordinary People, Basingstoke, Palgrave McMillan, 2007, pp. 224

Discusses examples of individual and group resistance, with an emphasis on defensive resistance (trying to protect key targets of repression) with a number of examples from World War Two and Nazi Germany; but it also includes the open challenge by the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, and communal struggles to preserve the local environment.

Vinthagen, Stellan, The Journal of Resistance Studies Interview with James C. Scott, Journal of Resistance Studies, Vol. 6, issue 1, 2020, pp. 136-155

Vinthagen provides  a useful brief introduction to Scott's pioneering work on forms of small scale or 'hidden' resistance by subjugated classes. The interview then seeks clarification about the development of Scott's research and key elements in his theory.

See also:

Maciej J. Bartkowski, Recovering Nonviolent History: Civil Resistance in Liberation Struggles, (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements), especially Maciej Bartkowski, ‘Poland – Nonviolent Resistance in Partitioned Poland’, pp. 259-278

Gandhi played a crucial role in demonstrating the potential effectiveness of organised nonviolent campaigns, first in South Africa in the struggle of the Indian population against discrimination, and then in the Indian independence movement against the British. He also developed a very specific understanding of the nature and dynamics of nonviolent struggle, which took due account of the coercive nature of mass strikes and civil disobedience but stressed the potential for winning over opponents. This section focuses on Gandhi’s thought and experience and his concept of Satyagraha (‘truth’ or ‘soul’ force).

There is a huge literature by and about Gandhi, and campaigns that he led or influenced, both in South Africa up to 1914 and in India from 1917 to 1948. M.K. Gandhi, Collected Works runs to 90 chronologically arranged volumes and 10 supplementary volumes. Here only a few key sources are listed, including some recent studies and some well known critical assessments. This section also includes references to the Gandhian-inspired resistance on North West Frontier of India (1930-33) led b y Abdul Ghaffar Khan (the ‘Frontier Gandhi’) important as an example of Muslim resistance not widely known.

Banerjee, Mukulika, The Pathan Unarmed: Opposition and Memory in the North West Frontier, Oxford and Karachi, Oxford University Press, 2000, pp. 256

Bondurant, Joan V., Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict, [1958], Revised edition, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1969, pp. 271

Analysis of Gandhi’s approach to conflict and struggle and of three of his campaigns in India; the 1918 Ahmedabad textile workers strike; the 1919 resistance to the repressive Rowlatt Bills, and the 1930-31 Salt March.

Brown, Judith M., Gandhi’s Rise to Power: Indian Politics 1915-1922, Cambridge MA, Cambridge University Press, 1972, pp. 382

First of three books by leading Gandhi scholar. Followed by:

Brown, Judith M., Gandhi and Civil Disobedience: The Mahatma In Indian Politics 1928-1934, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1977, pp. 414

Brown, Judith M., Gandhi: Prisoner of Hope, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1989, pp. 440

Sympathetic yet objective biography with an emphasis on political tactics and organisation.

Brown, Judith M., The Essential Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, Oxford, James Currey/Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 464

Brown, Judith M. ; Parel, Anthony, The Cambridge Companion to Gandhi, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 296

Copley, Antony, Gandhi Against the Tide, Oxford, Blackwell, 1987, pp. 118

Brief Historical Association study giving historical context and referring to historiographical debates, noting ‘Cambridge school’ argument that internal weaknesses of the British Administration main cause of independence, and ‘subaltern studies’ school which stresses autonomous resistance of peasants and workers.

Dalton, Dennis, Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action, New York, Columbia University Press, 1993, pp. 279

Analysis of Gandhi’s concept of satyagraha, of his political leadership and and of the 1931 Salt Satyagraha and 1947 fast, as well as covering critiques by contemporaries and making comparisons with Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

Fischer, Louis, The Life of Mahatma Gandhi, [1950], London, Granada, 1983, pp. 593

Lively sympathetic biography used as basis for Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film.

Gandhi, Mohandas K.Narayan, Shriman, Selected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, ed. Narayan, Shriman, Ahmedabad, Navajivan, 1968 , 6 volumes

pp. 375, 379-794, 471, 464, 514, 555

Includes Satyagraha in South Africa (vol. 3), as well as Gandhi’s highly personal Autobiography, published 1927 (vols 1-2), important pamphlets such as his translation of Ruskin’s Unto This Last (vol. 4 – influential on Gandhi’s socio-economic thinking), letters on key issues (vol. 5) and speeches on historic occasions (vol. 6).

Guha, Ramachandran, Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World 1914-1948, London, Allen Lane, 2018, pp. 1.104

This is the second volume of massive biography by the eminent contemporary Indian historian re-evaluating Gandhi's life, ideas and role.  It is published at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is rehabilitating the far right Hindu nationalists in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (an individual linked to the RSS assassinated Gandhi), and when Gandhi is often vilified. This volume is broadly sympathetic to Gandhi, though not uncritical, and gives weight to the influence of his secretary Mahadev Desai. 

The first, widely praised, volume Gandhi Before India, which covers all of Gandhi’s life to the end of the South African campaign, was published by Penguin Random House in 2015.

See also Guha, Ramachandra, 'Remembering Vaikom satyagraha in the light of Sabarimala', The News Minute, 6 Januray 2019.

Available at,in%20the%20eyes%20of%20god.

Commentary by prominent Indian public intellectual, and author of books on Gandhi, at the time of  the 2019 mass protest by women in Kerala against a Hindu temple refusing to admit them.  Guha responds by recalling the 1924-25 campaign (in which Gandhi played a role) to persuade the Vaikom temple to admit dalits (untouchables).

Hardiman, David, Gandhi in His Time and Ours: The Global Legacy of his Ideas, London, Hurst, 2003, pp. 356

Sympathetic, but not uncritical, assessment of Gandhi’s style of politics, his conflicts with the Raj and opposition groups and critics within India, and his impact on later movements. The author studied ‘subaltern’ movements in India for many years before engaging with Gandhi.

Johnson, Richard L., Essential Writings by and about Mahatma Gandhi, Lanham MD, Lexington Books, 2005, pp. 408

Selected key texts from Gandhi with essays by Judith Brown, Richard Falk, Michael Nagler, Glenn Paige, Bhiku Parekh and others.

King, Mary, How South Africa Forced Gandhi to Reckon with Racism and Imperialism, Waging Nonviolence, 01/10/2019,

At a time when Gandhi is being widely criticized (for very different reasons) in India, South Africa and the UK, Mary King sets Gandhi in his historical context and also stresses Gandhi's own willingness to confront his assumptions and prejudices.

See also

King, Mary Elizabeth, Gandhian Nonviolent Struggle and Untouchability in South India: The 1924-25 Vykom Satyagraha and the Mechanisms of Change, India, Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 312

Revisionary analysis of Gandhi’s 608 day campaign to secure right of untouchables to use road by a Brahmin temple, challenging claims in earlier accounts that a solution was reached because the Brahmins were ‘converted’. The author criticises both Gandhi’s belief that self-imposed suffering can convert the opponent and his leadership of this campaign.

Moore Jr., Barrington Jr., The Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World, London, Allen Lane, 1967

Chapter 6 ‘Democracy in Asia: India and the price of peaceful change’ argues that Gandhi was ‘the spokesman of the Indian peasant and village artisan’ (p. 178) and comments critically on Gandhi’s desire to return to ‘an idealized past’ of the village community purged of untouchability, and failure to challenge interests of landed aristocracy.

Nanda, Bal R., Gandhi and His Critics, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1985, pp. 178

Nanda, who has also written a balanced biography of Gandhi and studies of other Indian leaders close to Gandhi (including Gandhi’s early mentor Gokhale), here examines controversial aspects of Gandhi’s life and thought.

Orwell, George, Reflections on Gandhi, Partisan Review, Vol. 16, issue 1 (January), 1949, pp. 85-92

Reprinted in A Collection of Essays, New York, Harcourt, 1953.

A frequently cited critical review of many aspects of Gandhi’s philosophy and life, which nevertheless recognizes his positive contribution as a politician.

Overy, Bob, Gandhi as a political organiser, In Randle, Challenge to Nonviolence (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements), Bradford, University of Bradford, pp. 132-162

A chapter from Overy’s unpublished PhD thesis.

Overy, Bob, Gandhi the Organiser, Sparsñas, Sweden, Irene Publishing, 2019, pp. 436

Through detailed analysis of Gandhi's campaigns from 1915 to 1922 the author illuminates the evolution of Gandhi's thinking and strategy. Overy stresses the importance of Gandhi's constructive programme, promoting local empowerment, and its interconnectedness with resistance campaigns against imperial rule.

Pandiri, Ananda M., A Comprehensive, Annotated Bibliography on Mahatma Gandhi, Foreword by Dennis Dalton, Vol. 1, Westport CT, Greenwood Press, 1995, pp. 424

Pandiri, Ananda M., A Comprehensive, Annotated Bibliography on Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 2, Westport CT, Greenwood Press, 2007, pp. 653

Parekh, Bhikhu, Gandhi’s Political Philosophy: A Critical Examination, Notre Dame IN, University of Notre Dame Press, 1989, pp. 284

Political theorist and Gandhi scholar Parekh has also written a brief account of Gandhi’s life and work: , Gandhi Oxford, Oxford University Press, , 1997, pp. 111 .

Scalmer, Sean, Gandhi in the West: the Mahatma and the Rise of Radical Protest, Cambridge MA, Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 254

Primarily discusses the US civil rights and the British nuclear disarmament movements.

Sharp, Gene, Gandhi Wields the Weapon of Moral Power: Three Case Histories, Ahmedabad, Navajivan, 1960, pp. 316

Main focus on 1930-31 independence campaign, but also covers peasant struggle in Chamaparan 1917-18, and Gandhi’s 1948 fast in Delhi against inter-communal killings linked to partition.

Sharp, Gene, Gandhi as Political Strategist, Boston, Porter Sargent, 1980, pp. 384

Tidrick, Kathryn, Gandhi: A Political and Spiritual Life, [2006], London, Verso, 2013, pp. 380

Scholarly critical biography drawing on 90 volumes of Gandhi’s writings, arguing Gandhi aspired to be a world saviour. Author comments on inaccuracies in Gandhi’s own account of the South African campaigns, and provides incisive analysis of Gandhi’s political role and campaigns in India.

Weber, Thomas, Gandhi as Disciple and Mentor, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp. 294

Part II discusses various influences on Gandhi, and Part III Gandhi’s influence on Arne Naess (ecology), Johan Galtung (peace research), E.F. Schumacher (economics as if people mattered), and Gene Sharp (nonviolent action as a method).

Woodcock, George, Gandhi, London, Fontana/Collins, 1972, pp. 108

By respected writer on anarchist theory and movements.

See also:

Gene Sharp, Waging Nonviolent Struggle: 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential, (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements), pp.101-12 ‘Indian Independence Campaign -1930-31’, and pp.113-34 ‘The Muslim Pashtun Movement of the North-West Frontier of India -1930-34’ by Mohammad Raqib (also in Stephan, Civilian Jihad: Nonviolent Struggle, Democratization, and Governance in the Middle East (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) ).

The US Civil Rights Movement is included in this introductory Section A because the movement, especially in the years from 1955-1963, has become an iconic example of the the role of nonviolent action, the range of methods available and its potential for success. Martin Luther King Jr is also one of the key leaders and theorists of nonviolent action. The challenges later posed by black power militants to adherence to nonviolence raised questions about the limits of nonviolent methods, for example in undermining entrenched socio-economic inequality, and the attractions of violence.

Peniel, Joseph, The Sword and the Shield, New York, Basic Books, 2020, pp. 384

This book focuses on the role of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in the movement for rights for Black Americans. The author contests the standard view that they were rivals, and that Malcolm X was the radical exponent of violence challenging King's more moderate and peaceable approach. The author, a historian at the University of Texas, argues that their view of the United States and their strategies for achieving justice tended to converge over time, as King grew more radical in his later years and Malcolm X moved towards a more nuanced political approach. But they had separate power bases and styles of communication.

Gandhi’s promotion of nonviolent resistance to western colonialism had a direct influence on the earlier stages of this US movement. Various books have charted this influence, and/or made comparisons between Gandhi and his campaigns and civil rights leaders and campaigns (see for example Dalton, Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action (A. 2. Gandhi and Gandhian Campaigns) ). Three relevant books are:

Chatfield, Charles, The Americanisation of Gandhi: Images of the Mahatma, New York, Garland, 1976, pp. 802

Kapur, Sudarshan, Raising up a Prophet: The African American Encounter with Gandhi, Beacon, Beacon Press, 1992, pp. 222

King, Mary Elizabeth, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr: The Power of Nonviolent Action, Paris, UNESCO, 1999, pp. 539

2nd edition New Delhi, Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Mehta Publishers, 2002, pp. 520.

The Civil Rights Movement inspired a range of later social movements in the USA and elsewhere – and continues to do so, as shown in 2012 by the Palestinian “freedom riders”. The US New Left and pioneers of the women’s liberation movement were deeply involved with Civil Rights, as were key organisers of ‘Chicano’ farmworkers. Their example encouraged Native Americans to assert and campaign for their rights. Overseas, Aboriginal rights campaigners in Australia looked to the example of the freedom rides, but also the ideas of black power. The campaign for the rights of the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland, launched in 1967, was also influenced by the US model in its rhetoric and nonviolent tactics.

The movement has also been perhaps the most intensively studied social movement, beginning with contemporary reportage and often ‘top-down’ histories centred on Martin Luther King, later including a variety of memoirs, and most recently studies of particular communities, oral history projects and the compilation of datasets. Its importance in the development of ‘social movement theory’ is well illustrated in McAdam; Snow, Readings on Social Movements: Origins, Dynamics and Outcomes (A. 7. Important Reference Works and Websites) , where at least 10 of the 39 articles discuss the Civil Rights movement (three of these are mentioned below).

‘Jim Crow’ – the system of racism and segregation in the southern states – was legally enforced from the late 19th century until the 1960s. A classic account of the emergence and consolidation of Jim Crow, after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, is

, The Strange Career of Jim Crow [1955] updated and reissued by Oxford University PressOxford, Oxford University Press, , 1966, pp. 272

In the 1940s and 1950s, Jim Crow practices were outlawed at the federal level, partly through the legal challenges pursued by National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) – culminating in the 1954 ruling that segregated schools were unconstitutional – and the pressure exerted by A. Philip Randolph, leader of the black trade union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. However, in practice Jim Crow remained in force, Southern blacks suffered not just from segregation and exclusion from voting and other rights, but from organised white violence and intimidation.

The year-long 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, which brought Martin Luther King to prominence and gave rise to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), began the more militant movement of nonviolent direct action. There had been earlier, small scale, direct action challenges to southern segregation, especially by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) which organised the first freedom rides, but in 1960 large numbers of African American students began to engage in sit-ins and occupations of of segregated facilities, and many other forms of civil disobedience. These tactics spread throughout the South, taken up by all sections of the black population, including school pupils, and were supported by white sympathizers, often from the North. From 1964 there was also a concerted attempt, despite racist violence and intimidation, to register black voters. From 1961 onwards, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which played a major role in organising lunch counter sit-ins and other protests, was active in vote registration, including organising the 1964 Freedom Summer School in Mississippi.

The March on Washington in 1963, where MLK made his ‘I have a dream’ speech, perhaps represented a peak in the mobilization for civil rights Subsequently, especially after 1965, the movement splintered. The 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act failed to address the discrimination, unemployment and poverty of the African American ghettoes in the north, or the disproportionate numbers of poor blacks drafted and killed in the Vietnam War. From 1966 onwards, ‘Black Power’ became a dominant slogan. Both SNCC and CORE began to restrict the involvement of whites and also moved away from advocacy of nonviolence, many SNCC activists joining the Black Panther Party (founded in 1966).

Civil Rights and Black Power have been exceptionally well documented by journalists, contemporary historians, social movement theorists and many activists themselves. The books listed below try to cover key political and theoretical issues, represent a range of important organisations, campaigns and personalities in the struggle for African American equality, give a voice to women activists, and reflect differing ideological perspectives. There are now increasing numbers of local studies, including oral histories, that indicate the extent of activism and suffering. See for example The complete works of Martin Luther King Jr are available at:

Abernathy, Ralph D., And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, New York, Harper, 1989, pp. 638

One of King’s closest associates from 1955 onwards, Abernathy took on greater prominence after King’s assassination.

Anderson, Jervis, A. Philip Randolph: A Biographical Portrait, Berkeley CA, University of California Press, 1986, pp. 398

Study of black trade union leader who played key role in pressuring presidents Roosevelt and Truman to ban discrimination in federal and defence employment. In 1963 headed the March on Washington.

Baldwin, James, The Fire Next Time, [1963], New York, NY, The Dial Press, 1992, pp. 120

This now famous work contains two essays written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation - "My Dungeon Shook. Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of Emancipation," and "Down At The Cross. Letter from a Region of My Mind". It provides a three-point dissection on "The Negro Problem", an expression not owned by Baldwin that he refers to while discussing the roots of racial tensions of his time and how to overcome them. (To know more about the use of and debate on this expression by Baldwin himself, please see:,9171,830326,00.html and

In the first essay, Baldwin focuses on the central role of race in American history, and specifically addresses himself to his 14 year-old nephew who was confronted with anger and outrage. Through his nephew, Baldwin aims to address any Black young Afro-American.

In the second essay, Baldwin discusses relations between race and religion. He addresses Christianity with particular regard to its meaning for US society and to its use for the oppression of Black people.

A common thread to the whole book is Baldwin’s call to both Whites and Blacks to use compassion, communication and mutual understanding to transcend tensions and overcome the legacy of racism. 

James Balwin was an iconic essayist, novelist, playwright and critic, who worked primarily about the Black American experience, racial tension, homosexuality and religion. He was active in the Civil Rights Movement, but spent his last years in the more congenial society of France.

Branch, Taylor, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63, Vol. 1, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1988, , 3 volumespp. 1064

Part 1 of the trilogy. Episodes extracted from this readable narrative have been compiled into one volume – Taylor Branch, The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement, New York, Simon and Schuster, pp. 256.

Branch, Taylor, Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-1965, Vol. 2, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1998, , 3 volumespp. 746

Part 2 of a trilogy. Episodes extracted from this readable narrative have been compiled into one volume – Taylor Branch, The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement, New York, Simon and Schuster, pp. 256.

Branch, Taylor, At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68, Vol. 3, New York, Simon and Schuster, 2006, , 3 volumespp. 1056

Part 3 of a trilogy. Episodes extracted from this readable narrative have been compiled into one volume – Taylor Branch, The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement, New York, Simon and Schuster, pp. 256.

Brinkley, Douglas, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: The Life of Rosa Parks, London, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 2000, pp. 248

(published in the USA as Rosa Parks, New York, Viking, 2000)

Parks is famous for her role in sparking the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, but had a long history of engaging in the struggle for civil rights.

Carawan, Candie ; Carawan, Guy, Sing for Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement through its Songs, [1992], Montgomery AL, NewSouth, 2008

Combines two earlier collections of songs and participant memoirs, We Shall Overcome (1963) and Freedom is a Constant Struggle (1968). Compiled by veterans of the Highlander Folk School (later Center), Tennessee – the adult education centre described as an ‘incubator’ for the Civil Rights movement.

Carbado, Devon W. ; Weise, Donald, Time on Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin, San Francisco, Cleis Press, 2003, pp. 354

Rustin was an influential adviser to MLK and the coordinator of the 1963 March on Washington. These writings on civil rights and gay politics from 1942 to 1986 include his important 1964 essay ‘From Protest to Politics’ arguing for a policy shift towards mainstream politics through voter registration and involvement with trade unions. Rustin’s later attempts to achieve his goals through the Democratic Party made him a contentious figure in some radical circles.

Carmichael, Stokeley ; Hamilton, Charles V., Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America, London, Jonathan Cape, 1968, pp. 198

Makes case for black separatism in the struggle for equality, to enable black people to lead their own organisations and create their own power bases. Describes the attempts to achieve these aims through the Mississippi Freedom Democrats in 1964, and the role of SNCC in voter registration 1965-66. There is also a chapter on the northern ghettoes.

Carson, Clayborne, In Struggle, Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press, 1981, pp. 359

Admired study of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) by an activist in the Civil Rights Movement.

Carson, Clayborne ; Garrow, David J. ; Gill, Gerald ; Harding, Vincent ; Hine, Darlene Clark, The Eyes on the Prize - Civil Rights Reader: Documents, Speeches and Firsthand Accounts from the Black Freedom Fighters, 1954-1990, New York and London, Penguin, 1991, pp. 764

Comprises documents, speeches and firsthand accounts of from the black freedom struggle during this period. Published to accompany Eyes on the Prize TV series.

Cone, James H., Martin, Malcolm and America: A Dream or a Nightmare, London, Fount/Harper Collins, 1993, pp. 358

Compares two contrasting African-American leaders. Initially totally opposed, they moved closer together in the later 1960s, as King came out against the Vietnam War and Malcolm X moved away from black messianic separatism. They also worked with different constituencies: the black communities of the south and the alienated residents of the northern ghettoes.

Crawford, Vicki L. ; Rouse, Jacqueline ; Woods, Barbara, Women in the Civil Rights Movement: Trailblazers and Torchbearers – 1941-1965, Bloomington IN, Indiana University Press, 1993, pp. 290

Articles presented at 1988 conference.

D’Emilio, John, Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin, New York, Freedom Press, 2003, pp. 568

Shows how Rustin’s gay lifestyle was repeatedly brought up by public enemies intent on discrediting the movement and by political rivals wanting to marginalize him.

Farmer, James, Lay Bare the Heart: An Autobiography of the Civil Rights Movement, New York, Arbor House and Plume, 1998, pp. 370

Central figure in CORE outlines its origins and later campaigns (chapters 9, 10 and 19).

Forman, James, The Making of Black Revolutionaries, New York and Washington DC, MacMillan and Open Hand, 1972, pp. 568

Memoirs of SNCC Executive Secretary, 1961-65.

Hill, Lance, Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement, Chapel Hill NC, University of North Carolina Press, 2004, pp. 363

Documents emergence of armed self-defence groups in Louisiana and Mississippi in the mid-1960s to counter the Klan and enforce civil rights legislation.

King, Martin Luther, Stride Towards Freedom: The Montgomery Story, London, Victor Gollanez, 1958, pp. 216

Account of year-long 1955 bus boycott which heralded a new stage of nonviolent direct action against segregation and launched King’s leadership.

King, Martin Luther, Letter from Birmingham City Jail, Philadelphia PA, American Friends Service Committee, 1963, pp. 15

Answer to critics during the major campaign to desegregate Birmingham Alabama. President Kennedy intervened to get King released.

King, Martin Luther, Why We Can’t Wait, New York, Harper and Row, 1963, pp. 159

Answer to white leaders urging less militant confrontation and greater patience.

King, Mary Elizabeth, Freedom Song: A Personal Story of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, New York, William Morrow, 1987, pp. 592

Insider account by white woman working in SNCC office. Meticulously detailed, with extensive quotes from key documents.

Lewis, John ; D’Orsa, Michael, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement, ed. D’Orsa, Michael, with Michael D’Orsa, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1998, pp. 496

Lewis, who was born in Alabama, played a major role in the Freedom Rides and sit-ins, in the 1963 March on Washington and in the March on Selma that led to the Voting Rights Act. He also helped to found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

McAdam, Doug, Freedom Summer, New York, Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 368

A detailed study of SNCC’s Mississippi summer project in 1964.

McAdam, Doug, Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930-1970, [1982], Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1999, pp. 304

McAdam, a leading social movement theorist, has written widely on various aspects and interpretations of the Civil Rights Movement, including , The US Civil Rights Movement: Power from Below and Above, 1945-70 In Roberts; Garton Ash, Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements)Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 58-74 . His influential article  McAdam, Doug , Tactical Innovation and the Pace of Insurgency American Sociological Review, 1985, pp. 735-754  (reprinted in McAdam; Snow, Readings on Social Movements: Origins, Dynamics and Outcomes (A. 7. Important Reference Works and Websites) ) highlights how innovative tactics of mass action broke through institutionalised powerlessness.

Meier, August ; Rudwick, Elliot, CORE: A Study on the Civil Rights Movement 1942-1968, [1973], Urbana IL, Illini Books, 1975, pp. 563

Extensive analysis of rise and fall of CORE drawing on interviews with key members and CORE archives. Covers the 1960 sit-ins, 1961 Freedom Ride, mass campaigns in 1963 to desegregate Southern cities, and the impact of black power ideology.

Morris, Aldon, Black Southern Student Sit-in movement: An Analysis of Internal Organisation, American Sociological Review, Vol. 46, issue 6 (December), 1981, pp. 744-767

(reprinted in McAdam; Snow, Readings on Social Movements: Origins, Dynamics and Outcomes (A. 7. Important Reference Works and Websites) )

Describes the expansion of organisational capacity for direct action between 1956 and 1960.

Morris, Aldon, The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Communities Organising for Change, London, Collier Macmillan, 1984, pp. 563

Details continuity with pre-civil rights movement generations of protest, and studies organisational infrastructure of protest in black communities.

Payne, Charles, I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organising Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle, [1995], 2nd edn. with new preface, Berkeley CA, University of California Press, 2007, pp. 525

Thorough study of grass-roots activism in Mississippi, with useful bibliographical essay.

See also commentary by Francesca Polletta in Goodwin; Jasper, Contention in Context: Political Opportunities and the Emergence of Protest (A. 6. Nonviolent Action and Social Movements) , pp. 133-152.

Peck, James, Freedom Ride, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1962, pp. 170

Firsthand account by white activist who participated in both in the 1947 ‘Journey of Reconciliation’ organised jointly by the Fellowship of Reconciliation and CORE, and the 1961 Freedom Ride organised by CORE at the height of the Civil rights Movement.

Polletta, Francesca, ”It Was Like a Fever...” Narrative and Identity in Social Protest, Social Problems, Vol. 45, issue 2 (May), 1998, pp. 137-159

(reprinted in McAdam; Snow, Readings on Social Movements: Origins, Dynamics and Outcomes (A. 7. Important Reference Works and Websites) ).

Discusses the contagious impact of the sit-ins and the spirit they generated among participants.

Raines, Howell, My Soul is Rested: Movement Days in the Deep South Remembered, [1977], New York, Penguin, 1983, pp. 496

A range of recollections from 1955 to MLK’s assassination in 1968.

Ransby, Barbara, Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision, Chapel Hill NC, University of North Carolina Press, 2003, pp. 470

Recounts the life and work of black woman activist who played key role in three major organisations: the NAACP, SCLC and SNCC.

Robinson, Jo Ann Gibson, The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It: The Memoir of Jo Ann Gibson Robinson, edited and with afterword by David Garrow, Knoxville, University of Tennessee Press, 1987, pp. 208

Robnett, Belinda, How Long? How Long?: African-American Women in the Struggle for Civil Rights,, New York, Oxford University Press, 2000, pp. 272

X, Malcolm, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, [1965], (with assistance of Alex Hayley), with introduction by Paul Gilroy, Penguin, 2001, pp. 512

See also:  Malcolm X, Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements New York, Grove Press, , 1966, pp. 226 .

Youth of Rural Organising and Culture Center, Minds Stayed On Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle In The Rural South – An Oral History, Boulder CO, Westview, 1991, pp. 198

Oral histories from Holmes County, Mississippi, voter registration campaign, which Payne (above) says ‘suggests what we may hope for’ in future historical research, identifying ‘themes important from an organising perspective’ and based on the collective work of teenagers – ‘a powerful reminder of what the movement’s values were’.

Zinn, Howard, SNCC: the New Abolitionists, Boston, Beacon Press, 1964, pp. 246

An important role for unarmed resistance has been for people to mobilize in defence of their existing government against illegal attempts by military and political groups to seize power. Key examples have become part of the literature on civil resistance – for example the civilian mobilization on behalf of the socialist government in the newly created Weimar Republic in 1920. Whilst unarmed resistance to coups is sometimes treated as part of a wider debate about the possibility of defending existing governments and society against military attack, its importance is in many ways distinct from the case for abandoning weapons for national defence, and can be seen as central to debates about democratization.

Frank, Dana, The Long Honduran Night: Resistance, Terror and the United States in the Aftermath of the Coup, Chicago, IL, Haymarket Books, 2018, pp. 344 pb

The immediate popular resistance to the military coup in 2009, that ousted the democratically elected President Manuel Zelava, did not defeat the coup, but a sustained and impressive movement continued under the National Front for Popular Resistance, which brought together trade unions, church leaders, academics and teachers and others, despite violent repression by the military and police. Frank also examines the role of  the US government in supporting the coup and  describes the support offered to the resisters by the US organization she founded.

See also: Main, Alexander, 'Honduras: The Deep Roots of Resistance', Dissent, Spring 2014,

Focuses particularly on role of the National Front of Popular Resistance in creating in 2011 a new political party Liberty and Refoundation with the aim of winning power and creating a new constitution.  Main sets this development in the context of socialist parties winning power through elections in other Latin American countries.

See also: Portillo, Suyapa, ''Honduran Social Movements: Then and Now', Oxford Research Encylopedia of Politics, 28 September 2020.

Examines historic bases of social movements: political parties, both moderate and radical unionism and land struggles, the reaction against neoliberal economic policies of the 1990s  undermining earlier economic and political gains. The article concludes by assessing the remarkable mobilization against the 2009 coup by almost all sections of society, including feminists, Black and indigenous groups.

Gorbachev, Mikhail, The August Coup: The Truth and the Lessons, London and New York, Harper Collins, 1991, pp. 127

Gorbachev’s own brief account of the attempted coup against him and his reformist programme in August 1991, with some appended documents.

Harsch, Ernest, Unsung Hero: Popular Resistance Key to Defeating Burkina Faso Coup, World Politics Review, 06/10/2015, pp. 1-8

The attempt by the previous president, Blaise Compaore (forced to resign a year earlier) to topple President Kafando. was defeated within a week.  The role of neighbouring states, the African Union and UN in condemning the coup and threatening sanctions played a part. But the immediate resistance by young people and civil society groups, together with unions calling a ten day general strike, played a key role.  (For further analysis of wider struggle for democracy in Burkina Faso see Vol.1. E.1.2.3.)

Martin, Brian, Lessons in Nonviolence from the Fiji Coups, Gandhi Marg, Vol. 10, issue 2 (Sept), 1988, pp. 326-339

(also in Martin, Nonviolent Struggle and Social Defence (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) ), Ch. 5.

McCaughan, Michael, The Battle of Venezuela, London, Latin America Bureau, 2004, pp. 116

Examines thwarting attempted coup by the right against Hugo Chavez in 2002. (See also the works under Venezuela in E IV.12)

Norden, Deborah L., Military Rebellion in Argentina: Between Coups and Consolidation, Lincoln, NE, University of Nebraska Press, 1996, pp. 242

Studies military rebellions after return to civilian government in 1982.

See also: Lopez Levy, Marcela , We Are Millions: Neo-Liberalism and New Forms of Political Action in Argentina London, Latin America Bureau, , 2004 . Includes brief reference to millions demonstrating in support of President Alfonsin after a military uprising in a barracks in Argentina, Easter 1987, against trials of military for the ‘Dirty War’ (pp. 41 and 122), and explains broader context.

Remnick, David, Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1994, pp. 586

Part 4, pp. 433-90, covers the August Coup, emphasizing popular support for the resistance as well as the mistakes of the plotters. For a contrasting interpretation see:

Roberts, Adam, Civil Resistance to Military Coups, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 12, issue 1, 1975, pp. 19-36

Discusses resistance to Kapp Putsch in Germany 1920 and attempted coup in France by generals based in Algeria in 1961.

Sharp, Gene ; Jenkins, Bruce, The Anti-Coup, Cambridge MA, Albert Einstein Institution, 2003, pp. 64

Summary analysis of potential for popular nonviolent resistance to defeat coup attempts, recommendations for organised strategy and advance preparations to prevents coups, and with very brief description of resistance to Kapp Putsch in 1920, the Algerian Generals in 1961 and to attempt to overthrow Gorbachev in 1991.

Steele, Jonathan, Eternal Russia: Yeltsin, Gorbachev and the Mirage of Democracy, London, Faber and Faber, 1994

Chapter 4, pp. 59-70, gives an eye witness account of the coup and stresses the inefficiency of the plotters and the limited popular response to Yeltsin’s call for popular defiance and a general strike.

Talbott, John, The War Without a Name: France in Algeria 1954-62, New York, Alfred Knopf, 1980, pp. 305

Ch. 9 examines the generals’ putsch in 1961 and notes responses to it both by the left and by De Gaulle, and their conflicting claims to have quashed the coup.

Taylor, Richard, Training Manual for Nonviolent Defense against the Coup d’Etat, revised edition with introduction by Hardy Merriman, Washington DC, Nonviolence International, 2010, pp. 76

Zunes, Stephen, Civil Resistance against Coups: A Comparative and Historical Perspective, ICNC Monograph Series, Washington D.C., ICNC, 2017, pp. 104 pb

Zunes provides detailed case studies of civil resistance to military coups in recent decades.  His aim is to advance an analysis of the role of civil society and nonviolent movements in resisting such takeovers, and the role of international pressure and solidarity by both governments and activists. Eight coup attempts defeated by popular resistance are analyzed, including Bolivia, 1978, the USSR 1991, Thailand 1992 and Burkina Faso 2015, as well as four in which resistance did not succeed. Available in PDF at:


See also Vol.1. E.II.1.c. Burma: Resisting the 2021 Coup, which covers the mass popular mobilization against the February 2021 coup by the Burmese military junta.

See also:

Adam Roberts, Civil Resistance in the East European and Soviet Revolutions, (C. I.2.c.i. Comparative Studies), Includes brief assessment of the August 1991 coup attempt in the Soviet Union and popular resistance to it.

Nonviolent action has been primarily a means of protest or of popular resistance to unjust and repressive regimes. However, there have also been proposals to adopt unarmed resistance to a military occupation – plans to undermine occupying forces might themselves deter aggression. Proposals for nonviolent or ‘civilian’ defence go back to the 1920s and 1930s, but it became a subject for more thorough academic and political debate from the 1950s in the light of the new strategic situation posed by nuclear weapons. Commander Sir Stephen King Hall proposed a nonviolent defence policy for Britain in his book Defence in the Nuclear Age, London, Gollancz, 1958. Later studies drew on earlier historical campaigns, in particular the movement for Indian independence, but also on examples of resistance to Nazism (especially in occupied Norway and Denmark). Academic analyses of the potential for nonviolent forms of defence were commissioned by the Danish, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish governments, and it was discussed by post-Soviet Baltic governments (which had achieved independence through unarmed resistance). Radical pacifists have also debated this approach using the concept of ‘social defence’.

This section includes books covering unarmed resistance to Nazi policies in German-occupied Europe in World War Two, because of its importance in debates about nonviolent defence. For a more detailed list of sources published before 1970 see Carter, April ; Hoggett, David ; Roberts, Adam , Nonviolent Action: A Selected Bibliography London, Housmans, , 1970 .

Alternative Defence Commission, Defence Without the Bomb, London, Taylor and Francis, 1983

Chapter 7 ‘Strategies against occupation: 2. Defence by civil resistance’, pp. 208-48, analyses the implications and applicability of nonviolent defence and its applicability to Britain.

Boserup, Anders ; Mack, Andrew, War Without Weapons: Nonviolence in National Defence,, London, Frances Pinter, 1974, pp. 194

Originally commissioned by the Danish Department of Foreign Affairs, this examines the theory of nonviolent defence, strategic and organisational issues, historical examples and the possibility of combining nonviolent and military forms of defence.

Burrowes, Robert, The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach, Albany NY, State University of New York Press, 1996, pp. 367

Reinterprets Clausewitz’s classic work on war and discusses nature of power underlying nonviolent strategy, the concept of ‘human needs’ and the potential for social change.

Clark, Howard, Nonviolent resistance and social defence, In Chester, Gail ; Rigby, Andrew , Articles of Peace: celebrating fifty years of Peace News Bridport, Dorset, Prism, , 1986, pp. 46-49

Traces peace movement debates on social defence, including critiques.

Galtung, Johan ; Ejlers, Christian, On the strategy of nonmilitary defense, ed. Ejlers, Christian, In Peace, War and Defence: Essays in Peace Research,, Vol. 2, Copenhagen, pp. 378-426

Hoffman, Peter, The History of the German Resistance, 1933-1945, [1977], 3rd edn, Montreal, McGill-Queens University Press, 1996, pp. 872

Standard work covering all aspects of the internal German resistance, including various forms of nonviolent protest, though with a major focus on the 1944 Generals’ Plot.

Hæstrup, Jørgen, European Resistance Movements 1939-1945: A Complete History, Westport CT, Meckler, 1981, pp. 568

Expert on the Danish resistance extends his scholarship to other resistance movements in Occupied Europe.

International Peace Research Association, ; Research Institute, International Peace, Bulletin of Peace Proposals, no.4, Vol. 9, Oslo and Boston MA, Universitetsforlaget, 1978

Issue devoted to reconsideration of nonviolent defence with contributions by leading exponents, including Sharp, Roberts and Galtung, and articles on its role in Sweden’s Total Defence strategy, and on a Dutch government research project.

Johansen, Jorgen ; Martin, Brian, Social Defence, Sparsñas, Sweden, Irene Publishing, 2019, pp. 174

Two authors with a longstanding interest in nonviolent alternatives to military force restate the case for social defence, given the damage caused by military systems, and summarize examples of popular resistance  in the past to coups and invasions. They also consider the relevance of political changes and social movements since the end of the Cold War.

Keyes, Gene, Strategic nonviolent defense: The construct of an option, Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 4, issue 2 (June), 1981, pp. 125-151

Martin, Brian, Social Defence, Social Change, London, Freedom Press, 1993, pp. 157

Anarchist perspective on civilian (nonviolent) defence.

Paxton, George, Nonviolent Resistance to the Nazis, Bishops Castle UK, YouCaxton Publications, 2016, pp. 252

The author draws on existing literature to summarise a wide range of hidden, semi-open and overt nonviolent forms of resistance to Nazism inside Germany itself and in German-occupied Europe. Examples range from hiding and rescuing Jews (on an individual basis inside Germany and elsewhere, but also rescuing almost all the Jewish population in Denmark), graffiti, leaflet distribution, underground newspapers, boycotts, and  the demonstration by non-Jewish wives of Jews against the deportation of their husbands.  Not a scholarly treatise, but a source for important examples of  courageous resistance  (though their effectiveness is sometimes debatable). Paxton argues success would have been most likely if resistance tactics had been adopted at an early stage in the rise of Nazism.

Roberts, Adam, Civilian Resistance as a National Defence, [1967], 2nd edn, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1969, pp. 367

[Previously The Strategy of Civilian Defence]

Discusses campaigns of national unarmed resistance to military occupation (e.g. the Ruhr in 1923) and to both Nazi and Communist regimes. Basil Liddell Hart (pp. 228-46) compares guerrilla and nonviolent resistance to occupation. The 1969 edition analyses Czechoslovak resistance to Soviet occupation.

Schmid, Alex P., Social Defence and Soviet Military Power: An Inquiry into the Relevance of an Alternative Defence Concept, Leiden, Centre for the Study of Social Conflict, State University of Leiden, 1965, pp. 469

A generally sceptical assessment of social defence as an alternative to military preparations against a putative Soviet attack. Concludes that it could supplement but not replace nuclear deterrence or military defence. Useful discussion of 10 conditions favourable to (or crucial for) success of social defence.

Sharp, Gene, Civilian-Based Defense: A Post-Military Weapons System, Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press, 1990, pp. 166

Examines theoretical case for relying on the power of society to deter and defend, rather than weaponry, cites examples of Ruhr 1923 and Czechoslovakia 1968-69 as examples of improvised civilian defence, and explores strategy and possibility of ‘transarmament’. Sharp’s 72-page Self-reliant Defense Without Bankruptcy or War, 1992, written for Soviet successor states (especially the Baltic states) can be downloaded from

Stoltzfus, Nathan, Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany, [1996], Piscataway NJ, Rutgers University Press, 2001, pp. 418

In February 1943, Nazis rounded up 2,000 Jews married to Aryans and held them in Rosenstrasse, Berlin, pending deportation to Auschwitz. This sparked an initially successful campaign of public protest for their release. (A summary account appears in Thalhammer; O’Loughlin; Glazer; Glazer; McFarland; Shepela; Stoltzfus, Courageous Resistance: The Power of Ordinary People (A. 1.c. Small Scale, Hidden, Indirect and 'Everyday' Resistance) )

Sémelin, Jacques, Unarmed Against Hitler: Civilian Resistance in Europe, 1939-43, [1989 in French], Westport CT, Praeger, 1993, pp. 198

Examines the main traits of Nazi occupation of Europe, the complexities of non-cooperation, and the role of social cohesion and public opinion in mounting effective opposition. Chapter on civilian resistance to genocide considers why the Final Solution was hampered, or even prevented, in certain countries.

Translations: German | French

Nonviolent intervention by members of social movements or transnational networks has become an increasingly common way to oppose forms of militarism, injustice or oppression, and/or to express solidarity with those suffering. Some of these protests, for example sailing into nuclear testing zones, are covered later in this bibliography in relation to peace and green movements.

Intervention to prevent war – Maude Royden’s proposal for a ‘Peace Army’ to create a barrier against Japanese aggression in China in the 1930s is an early example – has proved difficult to implement for political, strategic and practical reasons. But plans to provide ‘human shields’ and to interpose between the two sides were attempted in relation to both the 1991and the 2003 Gulf War.

Intervention to demonstrate transnational solidarity has since 2000 resulted in a range of projects designed to support Palestinians against Israeli repressive measures and in some cases has helped to increase international awareness of the issue. Several references are included in this section.

Intervention with limited objectives, such as monitoring conflict or providing protective accompaniment to threatened individuals has also increased in recent years with some success. The interventions organised by Peace Brigades International and the Nonviolent Peace Force are intended to ‘create space’ for civil society actors. While raising human rights concerns with the local authorities and also internationally, those intervening avoid making condemnatory statements. Studies of individual organisations are appended to relevant entries.

This section includes a number of comparative studies of intervention and accounts of some specific cases. A major source, surveying the practices of recent peace teams in the field, as well as selection, training and support of personnel, only available in electronic form is:

An overview of types of nonviolent intervention undertaken by different organisations, and theoretical discussion of the role it can play is provided by Section II of Clark, People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Global Solidarity (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) . Theoretical contributions are:

Andoni, Ghassan ; Arraf, Huwaida ; Blincoe, Nicholas ; Khalili, Hussein ; McLaughlin, Marissa ; Sainath, Radhika ; Sandercock, Josie, Peace Under Fire: Palestine and the International Solidarity Movement, London, Verso, 2004, pp. 240

Collection of news reports, web-logs and diaries of International Solidarity Movement activists engaged in nonviolent resistance to Israeli military action in the occupied territories, including contributions relating to Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall, who were both killed.

Bbatia, Bela ; Dreze, Jean ; Kelly, Kathy, War and Peace in the Gulf: Testimony of the Gulf Peace Team, Nottingham, Spokesman Books, 2001, pp. 181

Account by participants of transnational team which went to Iraq to try to intervene between the two sides in the 1991 Gulf War. (See also Robert J. Burrowes, ‘The Persian Gulf War and the Gulf Peace Team’ in Moser-Puangsuwan and Weber, Nonviolent Intervention Across Borders, pp. 305-18 – 209 below.)

Blumberg, Herbert H.Hare, Paul, Liberation without Violence: A Third Party Approach, London, Rex Collings, 1977, pp. 368

Covers both ‘partisan’ nonviolent action, e.g. against extension of a military camp on Larzac plateau in France, and ‘nonpartisan’ nonviolent intervention to try to prevent violent conflict, e.g. the role of the Gandhian peace brigade (Shanti Sena) in the Ahmedabad riots of 1969. Parts 3 and 4 analyse examples of partisan and nonpartisan intervention by international teams operating a transnational level. Several chapters are listed later in the bibliography. Part 5 analyses processes of change through the third party approach. With extensive bibliographical guide, pp. 288-341.

Boardman, Elizabeth F., Taking a Stand: A Guide to Peace Teams and Accompaniment Projects, Philadelphia PA, New Society Publishers, 2005, pp. 177

Chapters on Christian Peacemaker Team, Voices in the Wilderness project in Iraq, Peace Brigades International and the International Solidarity Movement. Descriptions by participants of work done by these groups, who runs them and what is involved in joining them.

Coy, Patrick G., “We Use it, but Try not to Abuse it”: Nonviolent Accompaniment and the Use of Privilege by Peace Brigades International, American Sociological Association, 2000

See also Coy, Patrick G., Cooperative Accompaniment in Sri Lanka with Peace Brigades International In Smith, Jackie ; Chatfield, Charles ; Pagnucco, Ron , Transnational Social Movements and Global Politics: Solidarity Beyond the State Syracuse NJ, Syracuse University Press , , 19971997 .

Eguren, Luis Enrique ; Caraj, Marie, New Protection Manual for Human Rights Defenders, (supersedes 2004 edition), Brussels, Protection International, 2009, pp. 213

Griffin-Nolan, Ed, Witness for Peace: A Story of Resistance, Westminster, John Knox Press, 1991, pp. 237

Account of border and conflict monitoring in Nicaragua in 1980s (in attempt to restrain the US-backed Contras and gather evidence on impact of foreign policy), and also of accompaniment of Guatemalan refugees returning home in 1989. (Extract in Moser-Puangsuwan; Weber, Nonviolent Intervention Across Borders: A Recurrent Vision (A. 5. Nonviolent Intervention and Accompaniment) , pp. 279-304 – see 209 below). The approach adopted in Nicaragua was extended to other parts of Central America and to Colombia in the 1990s. See also: Witness for Peace, Ten Years of Accompaniment, Washington DC, Witness for Peace, 1994.

Kelly, Kathy, Other Lands Have Dreams: From Baghdad to Pekin Prison, Petrolia CA, Counterpunch, 2006, pp. 173

Kelly participated in the Gulf Peace Team and later co-founded Voices in the Wilderness, breaking sanctions against Iraq. See also: ‘Kathy Kelly and Milan Rai, ‘Voices in the Wilderness: Campaigning against Sanctions on Iraq 1995-2005’, in Clark, People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Global Solidarity (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) , pp.143-49.

Keyes, Gene, Peacekeeping by Unarmed Buffer Forces: Precedents and Proposals, Peace and Change, Vol. 5, issue 2/3, 1978, pp. 3-10

Mahony, Liam ; Eguren, Luis Enrique, Unarmed Bodyguards: International Accompaniment for the Protection of Human Rights, West Harford CT, Kumarian, 1997, pp. 288

Authoritative account by former-volunteers-turned-researchers of work of Peace Brigades International (PBI) in countries in Central and South America and in Asia. The authors interviewed generals connected with the Guatemala death squads to see how far PBI had inhibited the squads. See also: Liam Mahony, Human Rights Defenders Under Attack, London, Peace Brigades International-UK, pp. 20, marking PBI’s 25th anniversary, downloadable from: For one volunteer’s more recent account; Louise Winstanley, ‘With Peace Brigades International in Colombia’, Clark, People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Global Solidarity (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) , pp.108-11.

Moser-Puangsuwan, Yeshua ; Weber, Thomas, Nonviolent Intervention Across Borders: A Recurrent Vision, Honolulu, Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace, 2000, pp. 369

Analyses different kinds of ‘intervention’ and notes history of earlier 20th century attempts. It provides accounts of transnational actions round the world designed to mobilize protest, provide assistance, promote reconciliation and development, witness human rights violations and ‘accompany’ endangered individuals, highlight danger (e.g. of nuclear testing), demonstrate solidarity, or to prevent or halt war. Includes chronology and summary of actions with suggestions for further reading.

News, Peace, Special issue on ‘interventions’, Issue 2441, December 2000 - February 2001, 2000

Examines different types of interventions, including nonviolent direct action, and reviews some relevant books.

Olson, Theodore, The World Peace Brigade: Vision and Failure, Our Generation Against Nuclear War, Vol. 3, issue 1, 1961, pp. 34-41

The World Peace Brigade was founded in 1962 to develop the potential of transnational action. Its first project in Central Africa was planning a march in support of Zambian claims to independence (the march became unnecessary); the second was the Delhi Peking Friendship March to promote understanding at the time of the brief border war between India and China.

For more on the Brigade, see Prasad, Devi, War is a Crime Against Humanity: The Story of War Resisters’ International, London, War Resisters’ International, 2005, pp. 325-31.

Rigby, Andrew, Unofficial nonviolent intervention: Examples from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 32, issue 4 (November), 1995, pp. 453-467

Also available (with discussion of issues raised) as ‘Nonviolent intervention’ in Randle, Challenge to Nonviolence (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) , pp. 51-74 (online at

On more recent interventions in Palestine (excluding International solid-arity) see also Ann Wright, ‘The Work of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)’ and Angie Zelter ‘International Women’s Peace Service in Palestine’ in Clark, People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Global Solidarity (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) , pp. 135-42.

Schweitzer, Christine ; Howard, Donna ; Junge, Mareike ; Levine, Corey ; Stieren, Carl ; Wallis, Tim, Nonviolent Peace Force Feasibility Study, 2002

Wallace, M.S., Security Without Weapons: Rethinking Violence, Nonviolent Action, and Civilian Protection, London, Routledge, 2016, pp. 264

Exploration of discourses that legitimate violence and importance of challenging them in the practice of nonviolent intervention.  The author focuses on the civil war in Sri Lanka between the Government and the Tamil Tigers, and then analyzes the peacekeeping role of the Nonviolent Peaceforce Sri Lanka in 2008.

Weber, Thomas, From Maude Royden’s Peace Army to the Gulf Peace Team: An Assessment of Unarmed Interpositionary Peace Forces, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 30, issue 1, 1993, pp. 45-84

Weber, Thomas, Gandhi’s Peace Army: The Shanti Sena and Unarmed Peacekeeping, Syracuse NJ, Syracuse University Press, 1996, pp. 293

Foreword by Elise Boulding. Examines how the Gandhian movement in India developed Gandhi’s idea that nonviolent volunteers should act in place of armed police (for example to quell riots) and provide a nonviolent alternative to the army. Includes substantial bibliography pp. 267-84.

Since the 1950s nonviolent forms of protest such as boycotts, civil disobedience, sit-ins, occupation of public spaces and forming of human chains have become central to a wide range of social movements, including those against racial, ethnic and gender discrimination, resistance to wars and conscription, environmental campaigns, opposition to government or corporate corruption and mobilization against economic injustice. In response to the range and significance of these movements and their tactics many books and articles have been published. These include personal and more scholarly accounts of particular movements. Analysts of nonviolent action have also noted the imaginative extension of the already wide range of possible methods of protest developed in earlier centuries.

A specific academic literature has also developed since the 1970s that analyses and compares particular movements, debates the underlying social trends encouraging their emergence, their social composition, organisational modes and tactics, and transmission of protest ‘repertoires’. This literature has developed a variety of theoretical frameworks and a new vocabulary to explain what is now often called ‘contentious politics’. Theorists of social movements have not generally shown much interest in the theory and strategy of nonviolent action per se, but a younger generation of scholars has begun to bridge this gap: see for example Schock, Unarmed Insurrections: People Power Movements in Nondemocracies (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) , Chapter Two ‘Political Process and Nonviolent Action Approaches to Political Contention’.

Whilst some of the social movement literature does encompass national resistance to political oppression (people power), much of it focuses on protest for more specific causes. The primary criterion for inclusion in this section is a focus on the role of nonviolent tactics, but the books here range from ‘insider’ accounts of social movements, collections of documents on such movements, comparative studies of movements and a few key contributions to the academic theory of social movements that do take account of nonviolent campaigns. It includes a few references on the impact of globalisation and the increasing role of transnational activist networks and movements. Specific studies of the US Civil Rights Movement are excluded because they are covered in section A.3. Literature on specific movements is listed in section G of the first edition of this bibliography and will be included in Volume 2 of the revised version when published.

Burgmann, Verity, Power and Protest: Movements for Change in Australian Society, St Leonards NSW, Allen and Unwin, 1993, pp. 302

See also Burgmann, Verity , Power, Profit and Protest: Australian Social Movements and Globalization Crows Nest NSW, Allen and Unwin, , 2003, pp. 393 .

Cohen, Robin ; Rai, Shirin M., Global Social Movements, London, Athlone Press, 2000, pp. 231

Essays examining aspects of indigenous peoples’, women’s, labour, religious and Islamic movements, as well as human rights, environmental and peace movements.

Della Porta, Donatella ; Tarrow, Sidney, Transnational Protest and Global Activism, Lanham MD, Rowman and Littlefield, 2005, pp. 287

Collection of essays exploring globalization and its varying impact on social movements, comparing today’s movements with earlier movements and examining specific examples.

Epstein, Barbara, Political Protest and Cultural Revolution: Nonviolent Direct Action in the 1970s and 1980s, Berkeley CA, University of California Press, 1991, pp. 327

Covers environmental/peace/feminist protest in the USA, analysing key ideas and organising methods, as well as evolution of some major campaigns, for example against the Seabrook nuclear energy plant and the Livermore nuclear weapons laboratory.

Escobar, Arturo ; Alvarez, Sonia E., The Making of Social Movements in Latin America, Boulder CO, Westview Press, 1992, pp. 383

Essays on conceptualizing and understanding social movements in Latin American context, as well as on indigenous, peasant and urban protests, and feminist and ecology movements. See also: Oxhorn, P. , From human rights to citizenship rights: Recent trends in the study of Latin American social movements Latin American Research Review, 2001, pp. 163-182 .

Goodwin, Jeff ; Jasper, James M., Contention in Context: Political Opportunities and the Emergence of Protest, Stanford CA, Stanford University Press, 2012, pp. 341

Designed as a series of ‘empirical tests’ to identify the role of political opportunities in the rise of protest movements.

Goodwin, Jeff ; Jasper, James M. ; Polletta, Francesca, Passionate Politics: Emotions and Social Movements, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2001, pp. 370

Hall, Mitchell, Opposition to war: An Encyclopedia Of U.S. Peace And Antiwar Movements, Two volumes, Santa Barbara, CA, ABC-CLIO, 2018, pp. 846

Investigates this historical tradition of resistance to involvement in armed conflict. In particular, it discusses peacemaking efforts in the United States. It also examines the entirety of American history, from the colonial era to modern times and reveals the multiple religious and secular motivations of peace seekers in the US. Finally, it examines how war and those who oppose war have been portrayed in popular media over the centuries.

Hauck, Robert J-P., Symposium on Nonviolence – A Force More Powerful, PS: Political Science and Politics, Vol. 33, issue 2 (June), 2000

Peter Ackerman and Jack Duvall, ‘Nonviolent Power in the Twentieth Century’; Doug McAdam and Sidney Tarrow, ‘Nonviolence as Contentious Politics’; Ted Robert Gurr, ‘Nonviolence in Ethnopolitics: Strategies for the Attainment of Group Rights and Autonomy’; Gay W. Seidman, ‘Blurred Lines: Nonviolence in South Africa’; Allison Calhoun-Brown, ‘Upon This Rock: The Black Church, Nonviolence, and the Civil Rights Movement’; Anne N. Costain, ‘Women’s Movements and Nonviolence’; Stephen Zunes, ‘Nonviolent Action and Human Rights’.

Jasper, James M., The Art of Moral Protest: Culture, Biography, and Creativity in Social Movements, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1997, pp. 514

Takes up the challenge that ‘most academic theories of social movements are not prepared to explain the full range of protest goals and activities, especially those of privileged rather than oppressed citizens’, specifically drawing on the US environmental, anti-nuclear energy, and animals rights movements.

Johnston, Hank, States & Social Movements, Cambridge, Polity, 2011, pp. 230

Johnston edited the journal Mobilization 1996-2007. Chapters on protest both in contemporary democracies and repressive states, on revolutions, and on globalization.

Kolb, Felix, Protest and Opportunities: The Political Outcomes of Social Movements, Frankfurt Main, Campus Verlag, 2007, pp. 360

Derives propositions about social movements and political change from detailed analyses of the US Civil Rights Movement compared with movements against nuclear power.

Lynd, StaughtonLynd, Alice, Nonviolence in America: A Documentary History, [1966], Maryknoll NY, Orbis Books, 1995, pp. 530

The 1966 anthology included writings by opponents of slavery, anarchists and ‘progressives’ in the 19th century, and trade unionists, conscientious objectors and peace campaigners in the 20th century, up to the Civil Rights Movement and anti-Vietnam War protests. The revised edition covers radical Catholic resistance, nonviolent trade unionism, resistance to US imperialism in Central America in the 1980s and assistance to Central American refugees, opposition to the 1991 Gulf War and environmental protests.

McAdam, Doug ; Tarrow, Sidney ; Tilly, Charles, The Dynamics of Contentious Politics, Cambridge and New York, Cambridge University Press, 2001, pp. 407

Book by three important authors in the field of social movements who also have some interest in nonviolent action – they address the role of nonviolent action more directly in their contribution to the ‘Symposium on Nonviolence’ (see below).

McAllister, Pam, Reweaving the Web of Life: Feminism and Nonviolence, Philadelphia PA, New Society Publishers, 1982, pp. 440

Examines feminism, pacifism and nonviolence and anti-nuclear protests in the USA.

Piven, Frances Fox ; Cloward, Richard A., Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail, [1977], New York, Vintage Books, 1979, pp. 408

Compares the efficacy of defiance and disruption with constitutional methods in four US movements.

Ram, Senthil ; Summy, Ralph V., Nonviolence: an Alternative for Defeating Global Terror(ism), New York, Nova Science Publishers, 2007, pp. 296

Routledge, Paul, Terrains of Resistance: Nonviolent Social Movements and the Contestation of Place in India, Westport CT, Praeger, 1993, pp. 196

Introduces radical geography perspective on spatial components to sites of resistance. Chapter 1 looks at the developing resistance to aspects of economic development (industrialization, dams, deforestation) and the numerous movements since independence among tribal peoples, peasants, women and squatters. Chapters 3 and 4 analyse the Baliapal movement against a missile testing range, and the Chipko movement against logging.

Rucht, Dieter, The Strategies and Action Repertoires of New Movements, In Dalton, Russel J.; Kuechler, Manfred , Challenging the Political Order: New Social and Political Movements in Western Democracies Oxford, Oxford University Press, , 1990, pp. 156-175

Solnit, Rebecca, Hope in the Dark; The Untold History of People Power, London, Canongate Books, 2005, pp. 181

Brief personal reflections on activism and the potential for change, touching on Zapatistas, the social justice movement, indigenous peoples’ actions and the transnational opposition to war in Iraq. No index.

Tarrow, Sidney, Power in Movement: Social Movements and Contentious Politics, [1993], 2nd edn, Cambridge and New York, Cambridge University Press, 1998, pp. 271

Tarrow, Sidney, The New Transnational Activism, Cambridge and New York, Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp. 258

A survey by one of the major theorists of social movements, that includes some reference to the role of civil resistance.

Tilly, Charles, From Mobilization to Resistance, Reading MA, Addison Wesley, 1978

A classic of the social movement literature and the developing concepts of ‘repertoire’ and ‘contentious politics’.

Tracy, James, Direct Action: Radical Pacifism from the Union Eight to the Chicago Seven, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1996, pp. 196

Examines how a small group of radical pacifists (such as Dave Dellinger, A.J. Muste and Bayard Rustin) played a major role in the rebirth of US radicalism and social protest in the 1950s and 1960s, applying nonviolence to social issues and developing an experimental protest style.

Bartkowski, Maciej J. ; Merriman, Hardy, Civil Resistance, In in Patrick James (ed.) Oxford Bibliographies in International Relations, New York, Oxford University Press, pp. 34-33

Annotated bibliography, with an emphasis on recently published books and articles, compiled by two researchers in the field of nonviolent resistance, organised under useful analytical subheads.  These include: 'Power and People: The Consent-Based View of Political Power', 'Structure, Agency and Civil Resistance Movements',  'Repression, Backfire and Defections', 'External Actors, Civil Resistance and International Law' 'Civil Resistance against Extreme Violence and Violent Nonstate Actors' and Civilian-Based Defense against Foreign Invasion and Coups' d 'Etat'. Ends with a list of multimedia resources.

Available online at

Goodwin, Jeff ; Jasper, James M., The Social Movements Reader: Cases and Concepts, [2003], 2nd edition, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, pp. 472

McAdam, Doug ; Snow, David A., Readings on Social Movements: Origins, Dynamics and Outcomes, [1997], 2nd edn, New York and Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010, pp. 821

McCarthy, Ronald M. ; Sharp, Gene, Nonviolent Action: A Research Guide, New York, Garland, 1997, pp. 720

An exhaustive, annotated, bibliography, very strong on earlier history of nonviolent action, but also including many recent nonviolent campaigns up to the mid-1990s. Part I covers cases of nonviolent action. Part II the methods and dynamics of nonviolent action and theories of conflict, power and violence. NB the index is seriously flawed (a correct version should be available on the Albert Einstein Institution website), but it is possible to trace campaigns through the list of contents.

Ness, Immanuel, International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest: 1500 to the present, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, , 7 volumespp. 4280

Powers, Roger S. ; Vogele, William B. ; Kruegler, Christopher ; McCarthy, Ronald M., Protest, Power and Change. An Encyclopaedia of Nonviolent Action from ACT-UP to Women’s Suffrage, New York, Garland, 1997, pp. 610

Valuable guide to both the theory and practice of nonviolence, summarizing 104 nonviolent campaigns and actions, listing methods of protest, and examining relevant organisations and personalities.

Randle, Michael ; Sharp, Gene, Annotated Bibliography on Training for Nonviolent Action and Civilian-Based Defence, In UNESCO Yearbook on Peace and Conflict Studies, Westport CT and Paris, Greenwood Press and UNESCO, pp. 63-180

Introductory essay by Randle on training and another by Sharp on civilian-based defence.

Snow, David A. ; Soule, Sarah A. ; Kriesi, Hanspieter, The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements, Wiley-Blackwell, 2007, pp. 776

Young, Nigel J., The Oxford International Encyclopedia of Peace, New York, Oxford University Press, 2010, , 4 volumespp. 2848

Although wide ranging in its theoretical approach to peace and in content, the Encyclopedia includes a strong focus on nonviolence, nonviolent action and groups and movements employing nonviolent methods.

Zunes, Stephen ; Merriman, Hardy ; Stephan, Maria, Nonviolent Struggle, In in Denemark, Robert A., The International Studies Encyclopedia, Robert A. Blackwell Publishing, pp. 31-31

Analytical article with extensive references to literature on nonviolent struggle, examining definitions and strategy of nonviolent action, and covering a wide range of relevant topics. These include the Gandhian legacy, comparison of violent and nonviolent struggles, theories of power and dependency relationships, backfire and  security force defections, nonviolent third party intervention, democratization, transnational networks, and collections of case studies and data bases. 

Republished by Oxford Research Encyclopedia of International Studies, International Studies Association and Oxford University Press.

See also: Steinweg, Reiner with Saskia Thorbecke,  Gewaltfreie Aktion, Ziviler Ungehorsam, Sociale Vertedigung  (Nonviolent Action, Civil Disobedience, Social Defence), 2011, online.  It is primarily a bibliography of German writings, but includes some titles in English and other languages.  For more detail on contents and online link see: Vol.2. Addendum 2. German Titles.

Websites recommended

Albert Einstein Institution - ,

This organization was created by Gene Sharp to disseminate knowledge of the basic theory, strategy and tactics of nonviolent resistance (elaborated in his books) and has been a key internet resource for accessing his writings, especially the shorter pamphlets designed to help activists round the world. Gene Sharp died in February 2018 (an obituary is on the website). However, the organization is still promoting his ideas and publications.

Global Nonviolent Action Database - ,

A project of Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, and includes summaries of nonviolent action campaigns from around the world with additions every week.

International Center on Nonviolent Conflict - ,

The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict provides numerous free sources of information, both about the theory and strategy of civil resistance and about campaigns using various forms of non violent protest around the world. These resources include webinars, videos, translations, monographs and ICNC blogs. The Resources Library has materials in over 70 languages and dialects, and ICNC's Academic Online Curriculum offers resources on over 40 topics. In 2020-21 ICNC collaborated with the American Society of International Law to discuss the possible role of international law in relation to civil resistance. ICNC is proposing a legal doctrine of a 'Right to Assist' democratic and human rights movements, drawing on research by Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth on how far external support aids movements.

New Tactics in Human Rights - ,

Includes database of new tactics, tactical notebooks describing particular campaigns, a list of training tools, and monthly ‘online dialogues’.

Peace Insight - ,

Peace Insight, lunched in 2007 by Peace Direct, links local groups engaged in peacebuilding in conflicts around the world - about 2,000 in 2021- with each other and with international bodies.  It also provides expert analysis and commentary on conflicts.

Peace News - ,

Monthly Peace News plus additional material.

Peace News reports on major peace, environmental, anti-racist, social justice and other protests to assert rights or resist oppression.  It also carries critiques of movement, radical political analysis, theoretical debates and book reviews.

Resistance Studies Network - ,

The Resistance Studies Network is a forum for scholars engaging with practices of resistance. The Journal of Resistance Studies (main editors Stellan Vinthagen and Jorgen Johansen) is published by Irene Publishing, University of Gothenburg. It is an international academic journal with a primary, but critical, focus on nonviolent resistance. It includes many articles and debates of theoretical interest, but also carries articles and book reviews relating to specific movements round the world. In 2020 the editors reached an agreement to offer two free e-issues of the journal during the year to members of the International Peace Research Association, the European Peace Research Association and the Peace and Justice Studies Association. The journal also cooperates with the Waging Nonviolence website (see below) and asks authors also to provide shorter and more accessible versions of their JRS contributions, suitable for the activist-oriented users of that website. Visit

Waging Nonviolence - ,

The Waging Nonviolence website provides extensive information about past as well as present movements and protests, and also about key figures in the practice and theory of nonviolent action. It includes discussion of strategy and tactics in campaigning. Between its foundation in 2009 and 2020 the website carried reports from contributors in over 80 countries, giving special emphasis to often under-reported movements in the Global South and to issues not covered in mainstream media.