From the Peasants Revolt in 1381, to the French Revolution in the late 1700s, and the recent protests in – among many places – Chile, Lebanon, Hong Kong and the US, the disruption of society to demand change has a long and powerful history. Protests have historically come in waves, with momentum being carried across borders and transcending communities, but, while the right to protest peacefully is protected, the consequences do not always reflect this.
Drawing on contemporary and historical examples from across the globe, this panel will consider the tradition of protests and assess how we move beyond protest to enact meaningful change.
What is the historical symbolism behind the occupation of public spaces to demand political and structural change?
In what ways are political and civic systems and structures susceptible to pressure?
What is the capacity of existing political, societal and civic structures to accommodate the kind of systemic change protests demand and what impediments are there to doing so?
And how conducive is the law to the intentions and demands of protests and protesters?
This event is part of a series, held in the context of the Chatham House Centenary in 2020, bringing together historians, practitioners and current policymakers to discuss contemporary problems of international relations.