ERC Starting Grant: LOOPS


image by Sven Ballenthin

In an effort to substantially expand my research focus within the area of autocratization and autocratic stability, I started to work on the question of the logistics of protest camps in competitive authoritarian regimes. The core of this research endeavor is the ERC Starting Grant (LOOPS) that I was recently awarded. In this research project, I will study the core logistics that are required for large scale protests. All over the world people protest under difficult and often even dangerous conditions. Facing these conditions, protesters began to establish protest camps that serve as a visual point of the demonstration as well as an
organizational headquarter – often in an urban setting.

These camps and their social fabric keep the people engaged and at the very place of the uprising. The camps at Gezi Park in Istanbul, on the Maidan in Kyiv, in the Mong Kok District in Hong Kong or on the Tahrir Square in Cairo became the focal point of anti-regime protests. While research has engaged with the causes, consequences and characteristics of revolutions and social uprisings quite extensively, scholarly accounts of the so-called backstage (i.e., the provision of the necessary logistics) for these protests has been ambiguous: either these protest camps are normatively treated as self-serving spaces with a high level of agency by the people or they are not discussed at all. Yet, from a comparative perspective and with a substantive research interest, we do not have real empirical information on simple things like the quantity and type of these logistics. Nor do we have more specific knowledge, such as where these logistics come from.

Expanding our knowledge on the backstage of popular uprisings, will allow us to engage with important and fundamental questions about the course, the legitimacy, and the impact of popular uprisings in authoritarian settings.