The History of Disruption

The History of Disruption:Social Struggle in the Atlantic World

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Challenging our understanding of social struggles as movements, Mehmet Dösemeci traces a 300-year counter-history of struggle predicated on disruption.

Why do we think of social struggles as movements? Have struggles been practiced otherwise? Not as motion but as, interruption, occupation, disturbance, arrest? If so, what are struggles trying to stop? Looking at 300 years of Atlantic social struggle kinetically, Mehmet Dösemeci questions the axiomatic association that academics and activists have made between modern social struggles and the category of movement. Dösemeci argues how this movement politics has privileged some forms of historical struggle while obscuring others and, perhaps more damningly, reveals the complicity of social movements in the very forces they have struggled against.

Challenging this association, Dösemeci begins the story with the 18th century establishment of a transatlantic regime of movement that coerced goods and bodies into a violent and ceaseless motion. He then details the resistance to this regime over the next three centuries, interweaving disparate social struggles such as food riots, Caribbean maroon communities, Atlantic pirates, secret societies and syndicalism, the student New Left, Black Power, radical feminism, operaismo, and the Zapatistas into a history of politics as disruption. Dösemeci convincingly argues that their stories are both key to understanding the resurgence of disruptive politics in the 21st century and offer valuable guidance for future struggles seeking to overturn an ever-intensifying regime of movement.