Research event

Effective for Whom? Ethnic Identity and Nonviolent Resistance

Devorah Manekin, assistant professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, presents a study on the perception of ethnicity in the success of nonviolent movements. Based on a paper coauthored with Tamar Mitts of Columbia University, this event is part of the International Security Research Colloquium hosted by the Centre for International Security.

A growing literature finds that nonviolence is more successful than violence in effecting political change. In their paper, Manekin and Mitts suggest a focus on this association obscures the crucial impact of ethnic identity on campaign outcomes. They argue that because of prevalent negative stereotypes associating minority ethnic groups with violence, such groups are perceived as more violent even when resisting nonviolently, increasing support for their repression, and ultimately hampering campaign success. They show that, cross-nationally, the effect of nonviolence on outcomes is significantly moderated by ethnicity, with nonviolence increasing success only for dominant groups. Manekin and Mitts then test their argument using two experiments in the U.S. and Israel.

Study 1 finds that nonviolent resistance by ethnic minorities is perceived as more violent and requiring more policing than identical resistance by majorities. Study 2 replicates and extends the results, leveraging the wave of racial justice protests across the U.S. in June 2020 to find that white protest participants are perceived as less violent than Black participants. These findings highlight the importance of ethnic identity in shaping campaign perceptions and outcomes, underscoring the obstacles that widespread biases pose to nonviolent mobilization.


About the speaker

Devorah Manekin is an assistant professor in the Department of International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research focuses on conflict processes, contentious politics, and intergroup relations. Most recently she is the author of Regular Soldiers, Irregular War: Violence and Restraint in the Second Intifada (Cornell University Press, 2020).