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Resistance Micro Website

John Simkin

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I have been asked to create a Resistance Micro site for E-HELP.

A good starting point is to look at the concept of resistance. One definition of the word resistance is “the action of opposing something that you disapprove or disagree with”. The idea of these series of lessons is to look at the different ways people in the past have resisted things they have disapproved of such as war, foreign occupations and human rights violations.

I have created a simulation on resistance. The idea is to create an emotional experience that would give students an insight into what it is like to suffer a foreign occupation. It could be used while studying the Second World War. Another possibility is to use it for teaching Citizenship. The simulation can be found here:


The first case study concerns the resistance to slavery. I would suggest that the students take a look at the different types of people who resisted slavery. This should include at least one slave who resisted. One possibility is to give every member of class a different character to study. They should then make a list of the different ways that this person used to bring an end to slavery. This could then be debated in the class. You will find a full list of those who resisted slavery can be found here:


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Above ability students could look at a few characters who opposed nationalism and war in the 19th century:

Victor Hugo


Henry David Thoreau


Ralph Waldo Emerson


Resistance to Male Only Voting

It is worth considering the different methods that were used to resist male only voting. See the following:






Another way is to look at the different tactics used by the three main organizations involved in the campaign in the UK: National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, Women's Social and Political Union and Women's Freedom League. Details of these and other institutions involved in the struggle can be found here:


It might be a good idea to look at the role that art played in the campaign. See Women Writers Suffrage League and the Actresses' Franchise League.



You might like to use the following cartoon by Kenneth Chamberlain. It has the caption:


Man: The War's Over. You can go home now, and we'll run things.

Woman: You go put up that gun, and perhaps we'll let you help.


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Literary and Artistic Resistance and the First World War

The obvious way to study resistance to the First World War is via the anti-war groups like the Union of Democratic Control or No-Conscription Fellowship.



Another way is to look at the way poets and artists attempted to bring an end to the slaughter. This was difficult while the war was on as artists were expected to promote the war effort. For example, Charles Nevinson’s painting Paths of Glory was not shown during the war (see below).




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The same was also true of poets. Those written by poets like Siegfried Sassoon, Ivor Gurney and Wilfred Owen were not published until the war was over.




Some cartoonists in America managed to get their anti-war work published. However, people like Robert Minor and Boardman Robinson, whose work appeared in The Masses were charged with violating the Espionage Act (two examples below):

Robert Minor


Boardman Robinson


If you want students to look at individual case-studies you can see lists of artists and writers who tackled the subject of war here:





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It is worth spending some time looking at resistance to fascism in Europe. Today marks the 70th anniversary of the day that Jews, communists, trade unionists, Labour party members, Irish Catholic dockers and the people of the East End of London united in defiance of Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists and refused to let them march through their streets. See the following for information on this:


Another possibility is to look at the international volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War. This page will give you links to a large number of biographies of people who took part in the struggle against fascism in Spain.



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Resistance to Nazism and the Second World War

You will find some examples of resistance to Nazism during the war here:


I have also started another thread on the role that teenagers played in this resistance.


Dan Lyndon has created a simulation on the July Bomb Plot here:


Another possibility is to look at the Warsaw Uprising:



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The Civil Rights Movement

It is important to look at a recent example of resistance to tyranny. One possibility is the Civil Rights movement in the United States.

Although the struggle reached it height in the 1960s it actually dates back to the early 19th Century. See for example see the work of the early civil rights campaigners or the Nat Turner rebellion.



The campaign came to a temporary halt after the Civil War but after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln the new president, Andrew Johnson, re-established the Black Codes.




One approach is to look at the issue through the organizations that campaigned for equal civil rights: National Association of Colored Women (NACW), National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).






All these organization believed in “Non-Violent Resistance” as a means of obtaining their objectives.


You might want to compare this approach with the one advocated by the Black Panthers and the Black Power movement.



One possible strategy is to look at music and the civil rights movement. For example, you can find an account of the song Strange Fruit here:


Other songs are covered here:


A large number of biographies of civil rights campaigners can be found here:


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