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#Resist Syllabus: Cultural Histories of Resistance in the U.S

Kate Carpenter
U.S. History Scene

This is a syllabus that suggests readings for a course exploring histories of cultural resistance and activism in the United States from the colonial period to the present. Our hope is that teachers could use these readings to help their students understand the long historical context for present-day cultural movements. Dakota Access Pipeline Protests, kneeling Colin Kaepernick, and strikes by Uber drivers–all such modern movements are all a part of a long genealogy of cultural resistance.

Though histories of resistance movements often give in to the temptation of presenting a tale of progress and triumph, we have taken a different approach with the readings for this course. As the primary and secondary sources listed here demonstrate, resistance as a trajectory of step-by-step progress is oversimplified, naïve, and even dangerous, as it suggests that once a “victory” has been achieved, we can relax into complacency. But it is also not our goal to suggest that resistance is hopeless. These readings also demonstrate that activists have used whatever cultural means available to them to effect genuine change across generations.

In general, we see “resistance” as any kind of response to a cultural threat–a reaction to a perceived power that might undermine, absorb, or destroy a group’s cultural values. Resistance can operate at any scale, from tiny daily subversions to mass movements. Resistance does not only lie in the domain of the oppressed–the powers that be can (and have) mobilized their cultural power in response to perceived threats, too.

To access the complete syllabus, please click on the online version of the #Resist syllabus.

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