Clone of Translating Rebellion: The spread and localisation of Extinction Rebellion worldwide

Lunch seminar
PETER GARDNER, University of York
Translating Rebellion: The spread and localisation of Extinction Rebellion worldwide

 

The transnational spread of social movements is commonly conceptualised in terms of diffusion, adaption and adoption. In this working paper, we argue that "translation" offers a productive alternative. Drawing on 100 semistructured interviews with Extinction Rebellion activists from 17 countries worldwide, we contend that the localisation of social movements always involves some element of translation. Employing insights from critical linguistics, we view translation as an inherently political, cultural and relational process in which "literal translation" is an impossibility. Hence, in the context of social movements, translation is at play even when activists themselves perceive their own actions as simple adoption. Through a thematic analysis of the data, five themes in the translation of Extinction Rebellion were identified: (1) differences in the connotations of the terminology used in the movement, (2) debates over the cultural appropriateness of conventional and disruptive repertoires, (3) diverse police responses, (4) the impact of physical and economic geography, and (5) histories of racial and ethnic injustice and related struggles for social justice.