Resistance in Practice - PO936

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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7 20 (10) DR I MacKenzie







This module will look at how ideas of resistance are translated into political action. What are the modalities, costs and consequences of this process? We will look at specific instances of resistance to political authority and examine the techniques of resistance employed, the assumptions that underpin these techniques, and the tensions and problems that arise as ideas are actualised in political reality. Studying historical examples of resistance will help us reflect on the complex relationship between theory and practice in political reality.

As part of the Resistance in Practice module, students can choose between submitting an academic essay on a historical instance of resistance and performing a practice of resistance. We envision that such practices of resistance could involve poetry, theatre, painting, sculpture, video, film, photography, music and other forms of artistic expression. The practice has to be a documented practice, which means that students have to submit not just the performance but also a portfolio in which they reflect on what they did and why. Early on in the module, students interested in submitting a documented practice for assessment discuss their ideas with the module convenor, and they will continue to work on their projects with the help of a supervisor.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

11 two-hour lecture/seminars

Method of assessment

100% coursework. Two tracks: (Track 1: 1000 word critcial commentary (20%), 4000 word essay (80%)). Track 2: (1000 word critical commentary (20%), A documented practice of resistance as chosen by the student in consultation with the teaching staff (80%))

Indicative reading

Benjamin, W. The Work of Art in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction, London: Penguin, 2008.
Debord, G. Society of the Spectacle, London: Rebel Press, 1992.
Gandhi, M.K. The Story of My Experiments with Truth: An Autobiography, London: Penguin, 2007
Kamalipour, Y.R. Media, Power and Politics in the Digital Age: The 2009 Presidential Election Uprising in Iran, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010
Kotkin, S. (with a contribution by Jan Gross) Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment, New York: Random House, 2009
Kubik, J. The Power of Symbols against the Symbols of Power, Philadelphia: Penn State University Press, 1994
Pleyers, G. Alter-Globalization. Becoming Actors in the Global Age, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011
Ranciere, J. The Politics of Aesthetics, London: Continuum, 2006.
Soelle, D. The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001
Weigel, G. The Final Revolution: The Resistance Church and the Collapse of Communism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of the module students will be able to
(i) reflect critically upon the relationship between political theory and specific practices of resistance,
(ii) articulate the theoretical foundations of specific instances of social and political resistance,
(iii) analyse the relationship between practices of resistance and different models of the political,
(iv) critically explore the relationship between art practices, resistance and political theory.

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