One goal of nonviolent resistance movements is to legitimize themselves in opposition to governments by undermining the latter’s leadership. We argue nonviolent groups that can ‘own’ the national identity are more likely to succeed, as they can assert the legitimacy of their vision for the state, and persuade other sectors of society to support their cause. Our argument is supported by the Arab Spring uprisings, where those resistance movements that were able to identify and claim ownership over a homogeneous national identity were more successful in pressing their claims. We view national identity as a component of symbolic power in both successful and unsuccessful nonviolent revolutions. We supplement our argument via a comparison of the Arab Spring uprisings featuring Egypt, Bahrain, and Libya, with nonviolent movements of the past: the ‘early’ cases (Northern Ireland, Iran, and the Philippines) and the color revolutions (Serbia, Georgia, and the Ukraine). We posit that the role of national identity, while not a determinant of success, can play an important role in the struggle for legitimacy, which may help determine the prospects of success for these movements.
Nonviolence, National Identity, Color Revolutions, Arab Spring
Hancock, Landon E. and Gurung, Anuj
"Capturing the Flag: The Struggle for National Identity in Nonviolent Revolutions,"
Peace and Conflict Studies: Vol. 25:
2, Article 2.
Available at: https://nsuworks.nova.edu/pcs/vol25/iss2/2