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This paper analyzes strategic choices by the 2006-2014 Indigenous Peoples’ resistance movement opposing construction of a coal mine in Phulbari, Bangladesh. The campaign successfully prevented the mine’s construction. However, conflicts over land use in Bangladesh persist. This case study examines how closely the strategic choices of the campaign adhered to Ackerman and Kruegler’s Principles of Strategic Nonviolent Conflict, and how those choices furthered or impaired the campaign.
Fostering collective identities to mobilize supporters and resources was integral to the campaign’s strategy, as was integration of diverse voices. Promoting powerful female voices furthered the campaign’s goals and contributed to advancing women’s status. Combining extra-institutional methods with traditional politics also enhanced the movement’s strategic potential. Managing perceptions and demonstrating autonomy allowed resistors to maintain collective power, despite holding less traditional sources of power. The campaign also found success in using external supporters to weaken their oppressors, while organizers inside the country set the vision of the movement.
The campaign provides an example of how the Principles may be applied in contemporary campaigns against corporations across cultural contexts. The outcomes suggest that the Principles are still a relevant framework for nonviolent resistance. However, more research is needed to determine the conditions under which some principles apply
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