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Learning Solidarity: Activist pedagogies and transnational knowledge production in Cuban and Iranian diasporic democracy movements

  • Author(s): McKibben, Susan Elizabeth
  • Advisor(s): Torres, Carlos A
  • et al.
Abstract

This study critically examines the digital knowledge production of one Iranian and one Cuban diasporic social movement organization in transnational solidarity with democracy movements in Iran and Cuba respectively, with an eye to the (geo)politics of transnational knowledge production. Each organization's diagnostic and prognostic collective action frames are analyzed as sites of knowledge co-constructed by diasporic social movement actors with counterparts in the homeland country. I use qualitative content analysis of internet and social media texts (including websites, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter) to identify each organization's diagnostic and prognostic frames, as well as whether and how knowledge produced by homeland activists is deployed to construct these frames. Interviews with organization members elicit these activists' understanding of their role(s) as solidarity activists and their perceptions of the appropriate relationship between a solidarity movement in diaspora and the homeland movement(s) it endeavors to support. The effects of geopolitical power relations between homeland (Iranian/Cuban) and U.S.-based diaspora activists on the frames were analyzed using Kaplan and Grewal's Transnational Feminist Cultural Studies approach, which centers the (geo)politics of knowledge inherent in the relationship between homeland and diaspora activists.

Based on the knowledge production practices observed in the case study organizations, I reframe the structure of transnational technologically-connected social movement networks as learning networks in which social movement actors learn, produce knowledge, and teach. I offer the term "activist pedagogies" to describe how social movement actors engage in these processes based on their self-perceived role in the social movement network(s) in which they are embedded, a role derived from their goals, audience, geopolitical context, and relationship to the movement with which they are in solidarity. I then propose a typology of four activist pedagogies, including how such pedagogies may be used to enact (or not) truly liberatory and critical teaching, learning, and knowledge production in transnational social movements.

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