Past Research Workshops

On January 25, 2024, Tilburg Law School hosted a conference on "Protest under Pressure." The conference was organized by Daniel Augenstein, Michiel Bot, and Phillip Paiement of the Department of Public Law and Governance, with Jeff Handmaker of the International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Marthe Heringa of the Legal Mobilization Platform.

In recent years, policing and prosecution tactics have dramatically impacted activists and members of social movements working on issues such as environmental and climate justice, racial justice, LGBTQI+ rights, migrant rights, indigenous rights, and anti-apartheid campaigns. The increasing risks of violence, detention and surveillance faced by these communities raise fundamental concerns about the constitutional space for legitimate political speech and action, including civil disobedience. The conference provided a forum for discussing the challenges that these communities face, as well as strategies - legal, political and organizational - for confronting this crackdown. We also discussed the impacts that these repressive actions have had on public forums of political speech and action and democratic institutions.

The conference departed from traditional academic formats in various ways. The seventy-five participants roughly included equal numbers of academics, activists, and legal practitioners, which allowed both for a productive exchange of experiences, perspectives, and strategies and for a lively discussion of the relation between academia, legal practice, and activism. The program did not include any formal presentations, let alone keynote lectures, but consisted of in-depth workshops in which all participants participated equally. The morning workshops were organized around specific causes: climate and environmental justice; justice for Palestine; racial justice and migration; and gender and queer justice. The afternoon sessions thematized different modes of legal and political pressure and protest: digital surveillance; securitization; SLAPPs and other forms of lawfare, and transnational activist networks.

Thanks to generous financial support from Tilburg Law School, the Department of Public Law and Governance, the ERC project Translitigate, the International Institute for Social Studies, the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Consortium, and the Netherlands Network of Human Rights Research, we were able to invite various participants from the Global South, which decentered Eurocentric perspectives on global issues, and allowed us not only to discuss how new modes of repressing protest “travel” transnationally and can be forms of legal mobilization in their own right, but also to learn from and connect modes of resisting these modes of repression through other forms of legal mobilization.