Fall 2023 - IS 305 E100

Challenging Power Around the Globe: Political Resistance and Protest (4)

Class Number: 4540

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Fri, 5:30–8:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 8, 2023
    Fri, 2:00–2:00 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Examines various forms of resistance and protest, including everyday resistance and organized activism, with an emphasis on civil resistance. Investigates the conditions and outcomes of protest, focusing on a range of cases which may include Solidarity in Poland, the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, and the American Civil Rights Movement. Students who have taken POL 339 or IS 309 with this topic may not take this course for further credit.


Protest and civil resistance have shaped large-scale social and political transformation throughout history. The “Protestant” Reformation upended the socio-political order in medieval Europe — just as modern anticolonial movements remade the societies of Asia & Africa. No less significant are protests that failed to effect substantial change, or appeared to have fizzled out, like the 1968 Prague Spring, the 1987-93 Palestinian Intifada, and the 1989 Tiananmen Square events. What explains the different outcomes? When does nonviolence succeed as a political strategy? How should we assess success? 

In recent years, “contentious politics” in the form of protests and other forms of civil (and uncivil) resistance have grown in scope and frequency — across class, gender, and generation. This is true of both democratic and undemocratic contexts.  More and more citizens see “extra-parliamentary” action as the only path to urgent economic, social & political change (including those who protest for their privileges). In a globalized world, local & transnational action have a fluid relationship, as in the clamor on environmental justice. Why have these developments occurred now — and what are the implications amid the rise of populist politics and democratic disenchantment? We focus on two specific cases in responding to those questions: the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa (to its post-1994 legacy), and the 2010-11 “Arab Spring” uprisings for democracy.


  • Class Presentation 20%
  • Participation 10%
  • Review Paper 30%
  • Final Exam 40%


Written work for this course will be submitted both in hardcopy and via Turnitin, a third party service licensed for use by SFU. Turnitin is used for originality checking to help detect plagiarism. 
Students will be required to create an account with Turnitin, and to submit their work via that account, on the terms stipulated in the agreement between the student and Turnitin. This agreement includes the retention of your submitted work as part of the Turnitin database.
Students who are concerned about using the Turnitin service may opt to use an anonymous identity in their interactions with Turnitin. Students who do not intend to use Turnitin in the standard manner must notify the instructor at least two weeks in advance of any submission deadline. It is the responsibility of any student using the anonymous option (i.e. false name and temporary e-mail address created for the purpose) to inform the instructor such that the instructor can match up the anonymous identity with the student.
For more information see the Protection of Privacy section of the SFU calendar.
Additional information on using Turnitin at: https://www.sfu.ca/tlc/technology/turnitin.html



Tilly, Charles & Tarrow, Sidney. Contentious Politics. Oxford, 2015.
ISBN: 9780190255053

Additional readings will be posted on Canvas


  • Asef Bayat. Revolutionary Life: The Everyday of the Arab Spring.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2021.
  • William Beinart & Marcelle Dawson, eds. Popular Politics and Resistance Movements in South Africa.  Johannesburg, SA: Wits University Press, 2001.
  • Maria Ressa. How to Stand Up To a Dictator. New York: HarperCollins, 2022.
  • Gene Sharp, From Dictatorship to Democracy. New York: New Press, 2012.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.