Activists locked in their role? Young protesters in the face of repression in Belarus

By Tatyana Shukan

Using the example of youth protest activism in Belarus, this article analyzes the diversity of the effects of repression on youth collective action. By focusing in particular on the lived experience of risk situations by the young activists and on their first confrontation with repression – soutki, i.e., short-term sentences – as well as on the imprints that these experiences leave on their social and militant trajectories, it highlights the mechanisms behind the socialization to the repression, which takes place gradually during their activism. The article also shows that while repression reinforces young activists’ determination to challenge the authorities and strengthens their collectives, in the long run it locks them into a social and political marginality from which it is difficult to escape. In this respect, exile offers them a way out of this repressive universe, along with the possibility to continue their fight for the promotion of democracy in Belarus from abroad.

  • protest activism
  • youth movements
  • activism and repression
  • socialization to repression
  • Belarus
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