'Everything Changed after the 26th': Repression and Resilience against Proposed Phulbari Coal Mine in Bangladesh

Date: Jan, 2011
ODID Working Paper No. 193
Author(s): Samina Luftha (Department of Sociology, University of Oxford)

Impact of repression on follow up protests is an area in social movement literature shadowed with contradictory findings. Whether any repression would result in a 'backlash' that increases protests instead of dampening it - is difficult to support or refute, due to the availability of findings that supports both effect.

By exploring the aftermath of violent repression of a community resistance against an open cast coal mine in Bangladesh, this working paper supports 'backlash' under certain conditions. The case illustrates that even after violent repression by state forces, protestors did not refrain from 'costly' high-risk protest behaviours.

This paper provides two explanations: first, emotions over-shadowed costs of high-risk behaviours leading protestors to ignite sparks of risky protests. Second, after being violated; protestors' community obligation to stay together and keep protest alive was a crucial determinant of further mobilization. By using qualitative interviews of activists, supporters and company beneficiaries, I illustrate how after the violent repression - emotion, community obligation, strategic leadership and media performance helped the protestors to use the weakness of the regime's unplanned violence.

ODID Author(s)