Glossary of Civil Resistance: A Resource for Study and Translation of Key Terms

ACTIVISM, 1 Mar 2021

Hardy Merriman and Nicola Barrach-Yousefi | International Center on Nonviolent Conflict

Jan 2021 –The field of civil resistance is dedicated to understanding how people can fight for rights, freedom, and justice, without the use of violence. This glossary provides definitions and expansive commentary on civil resistance terminology to support sharing of lessons learned and research across different languages.

It is intended to support translation of materials, but non-translators will also find value in it, as a great deal can be learned about the concepts in the field that underlie each term.

Drawing on extensive international experience in the field, Hardy Merriman and Nicola Barrach-Yousefi developed this glossary to support translation of civil resistance resources from English into other languages. Nearly six years in the making, it is now published and available to all.


Civil resistance is everywhere. Virtually every country and society in the world has instances in their past—and sometimes their present—where people protested, boycotted, petitioned, went on strike, or engaged in other nonviolent actions to advocate for their rights. No one culture created civil resistance or owns it. It belongs to all of humanity.

Yet, this history is frequently unrecognized and not taught in schools. Resources to learn how to successfully organize, strategize, and engage in nonviolent struggle are often not widely available. In fact, some governments deliberately suppress or ban this knowledge.

The study of civil resistance focuses on how people can fight for—and win—their rights, freedom, and justice, without violence. There is great value in developing and sharing best practices, research, and educational resources about how to do this. The more people know, the more effective they can be as they adopt nonviolent strategies to challenge oppression.

The amount of English-language literature in this field has rapidly expanded in recent decades, and demand for materials in languages other than English has also risen. We created this glossary to help make this knowledge more available to people around the world. Its primary goal is to help with the translation of information on civil resistance from English into other languages.i We also believe that non-translators will find value in it, as a great deal can be learned by reading the definitions and commentary on each term.i

We would also love to see knowledge and case accounts that were originally published in other languages translated into English, and we encourage others to develop their own glossaries for their particular languages.

The Glossary features:

  • Over 150 key terms defined.
  • Term usage in a sentence.
  • Extensive commentary and Introduction.
  • Links to translations of civil resistance terminology in 31 languages.

RELATED: Read author Hardy Merriman’s blog post announcing the launch of the Glossary.

To read full text DOWNLOAD PDF file

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