Horizontal Dynamics in Transnational Activism: the Case of Nu River Anti-Dam Activism in China

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This case study of transnational activism against the Nu River hydropower dam plan in China describes a horizontal dynamic in global-local relations, whereas the predominant literature in social movements assumes a vertical or hierarchical conception. The forms and operations of transnational activism were analyzed in order to understand the connectivity of domestic environmental NGOs in China to alliances, venues, and discourses. The case reveals that the "translocal" nature of local activism helped create linkages with global partners and establish a horizontal dynamic of transnational activism via the development of transnational solidarities and local empowerment. Local activists today should not automatically be viewed as the bottom feeders in a vertical topography, dependent upon global patronage. The study proposes a preliminary set of observable and/or measurable characteristics for assessing the degree to which any case of global-local relations expresses a horizontal dynamic. © 2011 Mobilization: An International Journal.

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