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Framing, Transnational Diffusion, and African-American Intellectuals in the Land of Gandhi

  • Sean Chabot

Abstract

Most of the contentious-politics scholars who pioneered the study of framing in social movements now also recognize the importance of transnational diffusion between protest groups. Interestingly, though, they have not yet specified how these two processes intersect. This article, in contrast, explores the framing-transnational diffusion nexus by highlighting three historical moments of interaction between African-American intellectuals and Gandhian activists before Martin Luther King, Jr traveled to India in 1959. After briefly reviewing the relevant literature, it illustrates how three different types of “itinerant” African-American intellectuals – mentors like Howard Thurman, advisors like Bayard Rustin, and peers like James Lawson – framed the Gandhian repertoire of nonviolent direct action in ways that made it applicable during the American civil rights movement. The final section considers possible implications for social movement theory and fertile areas for further research.

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Framing, Transnational Diffusion, and African-American Intellectuals in the Land of Gandhi

  • Sean Chabot

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