Academics and Social Movements: Knowing Our Place, Making Our Space


  • Kelvin Mason Cardiff University, School of City and Regional Planning


academics, social movement, activism, militant particularism, convergence space, global justice networks, Climate Justice Action, COP15, radical, reformist, social change, seminar blockade


This paper considers the place of academics in social movements, not as (predominantly) researchers or individuals but as activists acting collectively (Autonomous Geographies Collective, 2010). The notions of militant particularism and convergence space (Routledge, 2003; Cumbers et al. 2008) are deployed in relation to global justice networks, to analyze the discussions between academics planning direct action collectively and potentially with the network Climate Justice Action during the UN COP15 climate change summit in Copenhagen in December 2009. A notable tension in these debates centered on ‘radical’ versus ‘reformist’ action and how either might contribute to transformative social change. The discussions ultimately led to the action of an academic seminar blockade, analyzed as a form of constructive resistance based on mutable particularisms flowing between shifting scales of convergence space. The paper concludes with the proposal that scholar activists should make a long-term commitment to act collectively, develop our own militant particularisms, and bring these to the convergence spaces of global justice networks.


How to Cite

Mason, K. (2015). Academics and Social Movements: Knowing Our Place, Making Our Space. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 12(1), 23–43. Retrieved from