Eirini Karamouzi and Benjamin Ziemann win Max Batley funding for new project on protest with colleague from Politics

Dr Eirini Karamouzi (Principal Investigator) and Professor Benjamin Ziemann (Co-Investigator) – both from the Department of History – along with Dr Maria Grasso (Co-Investigator, the Department of Politics) were successful in their bid on ‘Protest as democratic practice: peace movements in southern Europe, 1975-1990’ (c. £90,000) for the Max Batley Fellowship Awards scheme.

The mobilisation against the deployment of US Pershing and Cruise Missile atomic warheads in the wake of the NATO Dual Track Solution in 1979 was a watershed moment in the recent political history of Western Europe. The anti-nuclear protests of the 1980s activated civil society, renegotiated the parameters of political participation and redefined the understanding of (international and domestic) security. The contours and implications of the 1980s anti-nuclear protests are well researched for key western European countries. Developments on the southern European periphery, however, have not yet been substantially studied. The key objective of the project is to analyse anti-nuclear and anti-militarist peace protests in selected southern European countries during the late 1970s and 1980s. The focus will be on Greece, Spain and Italy, three countries that were involved in the 1980s mobilisation cycle in different ways. Italy had been selected for the deployment of Pershing missiles and was thus a key battleground of conflicts over the Dual Track Decision. But the country had also seen a wave of left and right-wing terrorism during the 1970s and a concomitant crisis of parliamentary democracy. Spain and Greece had just returned to parliamentary democracy from military dictatorship in 1975 and 1974, respectively. They were not directly involved in the conflict over the Dual Track Decision, but experienced intensive protests against the presence of US military bases or against NATO membership more generally. Thus, all three countries were involved in conflicts over security that entailed a complex renegotiation of democratic practices in the widest sense. The project will investigate these developments through the lens of peace movement mobilisation.

Considering both national peculiarities and the shared framework of a difficult transition to a renewed democratic practice, the project will consider the following research questions: How did the protest movements of the 1980s differ from previous (Italian and Greek) peace protests of the 1960s? What mobilised the peace activists of the 1980s, and which shared perceptions and collective symbols – such as anti-Americanism, a sense of national victimhood or socialist anti-militarism – framed their protests? How did the state and key parties respond to the protests? And, ultimately: to what extent were these peace protests a crucial element of the transition to and transformation of democratic practices in southern European countries?

The project is generously funded by an award in the context of the Max Batley Peace Studies Post Doctoral Fellowships. Starting in the autumn of 2016, a fully funded postdoctoral fellow will collaborate with the project leaders in conducting empirical research with regard to Italy and Spain, preparing an international conference on the topic, and writing-up the findings of the project in articles for peer-reviewed journals. The fellow will receive substantial interdisciplinary research training by the three project leaders/investigators.

The project will be employing a Post-Doctoral Associate for two years. For further information, please contact Dr Eirini Karamouzi.

Read more on the Peace Centre here.