Rethinking quiescence: “hidden transcripts” of community agency

John Gaventa reflects on his early conclusions about the role of quiescence in the Clearfork Valley, recognizing now that he may have under-appreciated ongoing forms of resistance, such as through storytelling, music, and other invisible acts. He pulls on political sociologist James Scott’s concept of “hidden transcripts” to further explain how people may exercise agency in ways those in power do not take note. Gaventa also observes that quiescence isn’t a constant, citing the Coal Wars of the 1920s and 30s as an excellent example of protest amidst a period of declining company power. He closes with recognition, too, of how much the region has changed over the past 50 years, citing several examples of community organizing, including Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM), the Model Valley Group, and a number of community-run health clinics. Follow this link for access to the full-length interview.

Recorded October 2021.