"Courageously Dedicated for the Long Haul": Highlander and the Micro Mobilization of Social Movements -- October 23, 2019

Event Date: 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Event Location: 

  • Asian American Studies Conference Room - HSSB 5024

Event Contact: 

Diane Fujino, Dept. Chair - fujino@ucsb.edu

Cora Danielson, Dept. Assistant - cora@ucsb.edu

Social movements rarely materialize the emancipatory visions they set out to achieve and require creative, intergenerational forms of struggle. How might organizations support individuals to adapt, refine, and sustain social movements over time?

In this talk, Ethan Chang investigates the Highlander Research and Education Center (formerly, the Highlander Folk School) to conceptualize how organizations might cultivate sustainable social movement leadership. Chang argues that Highlander designed a residential learning ecology that invited participants to commit their lives to struggle; what Highlander co-founder, Myles Horton, described as living a life “courageously dedicated for the long haul.” At Highlander, students engaged in shared labor, cultural song, and dialogic meaning-making activities rooted in their everyday ways of knowing and being. By actively participating in these social practices, students learned to articulate private troubles as public problems and author identities in solidarity with social others. It was through this self-determined and flexible learning design that Highlander succeeded as a “movement halfway house” since the 1930s. Chang considers what Highlander might contribute toward multi-issues struggles for racial justice today, as well as studies of organizations, participatory learning design, and equity-oriented leadership.

Ethan Chang, Ph.D., is an Asian settler who grew up on the unceded territory of the Native Hawaiian people. He is critical sociologist of education and Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Asian American Studies and Department of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research explores the intersections of place, race, social movements, and organizations in struggles to redress inequities of educational opportunity. Ethan is also a collaborative, community-based researcher committed to knowledge building projects that emanate from and are responsive to Indigenous and minoritized communities.