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When Your Gandhi is Not my Gandhi: Memory Templates and Limited Violence in the Palestinian Human Rights Movement

Nonviolent Conflict and Civil Resistance

ISBN: 978-1-78190-345-2, eISBN: 978-1-78190-346-9

Publication date: 19 September 2012


The frequent occurrence of stonethrowing by Palestinian boys presents a dilemma pulling activists in disparate directions, provoking contested interpretations of this tactic and forcing international human rights workers (HRWers) to weigh their relative commitments to nonviolence, noninterference, and solidarity with Palestinians. In tactical discussions, local activists and HRWers often frame stonethrowing by referencing historical nonviolent templates, sometimes to legitimize “limited violence” and sometimes to condemn it. Building from fieldwork and interviews, I argue that memory templates serve as master frames that aid in interpreting protest actions, perhaps especially in settings where heterogeneous teams of international activists seek common frames of reference as they negotiate a developing praxis in a new context. Nevertheless, these templates were sometimes constructed through highly selective readings of the multilayered discourse and complex biographies of such figures as Gandhi and King. While the “hermeneutic circle” anticipates such selective readings, I argue that even the multivocal, sometimes contradictory, Gandhi and King texts can be remembered and applied in patterns that appear co-optive to the opposing camps of principled and pragmatic nonviolent adherents. Grounded in HRWer deliberations in the field, the core theoretical contribution of this paper maps out discursive strategies activists employ as they leverage memory templates in tactical debates.



Eddy, M.P. (2012), "When Your Gandhi is Not my Gandhi: Memory Templates and Limited Violence in the Palestinian Human Rights Movement", Erickson Nepstad, S. and Kurtz, L.R. (Ed.) Nonviolent Conflict and Civil Resistance (Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Vol. 34), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 185-211.



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