Writing a book is challenging enough, but it becomes especially tricky when the subject matter is constantly shifting with the news cycle. That’s why Dana R. Fisher, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Program for Society and the Environment at the University of Maryland, is trying a new tactic: letting readers join her along the writing journey.
Her book-in-progress, “American Resistance,” highlights the ways in which Americans are resisting the Trump Administration and its policies. Following Donald Trump’s inauguration, Fisher and UMD colleagues Dawn M. Dow and Rashawn Ray, compiled a team of graduate and undergraduate students to survey participants at large-scale protest events in the Washington, D.C. area. The data and analysis from these protests has been in high demand, as journalists, political commentators and scholars seek to understand the impact of the social movement many refer to simply as “the Resistance.” The team’s findings from the Women’s March on Washington were published recently in Science Advances.
Now, Fisher is working to compile the insights she has gained throughout the last eight months into a comprehensive book. As developments related to the movement occur on an almost daily basis, however, she set up a website where she is releasing parts of the book a little bit at a time through blog posts.
“The idea is for it to be an interactive tool,” Fisher said. “The blog format enables me to comment on current events as they happen and frame my findings around real-world events in real-time. My intention is for the site’s content to contribute to the conversation about the Resistance as it is happening in the US.”
In addition to blogging on the site, Fisher will post full chapter drafts once they have gone through a peer-review process at Columbia University Press. The book will focus on what Fisher calls the three phases of the American resistance:
· Resistance in the streets: the elevated number of protests happening in the nation’s capital and around the country
· Resistance in the districts: heightened participation in the districts including at Town Hall meetings
· Resistance from within: when U.S. government employees resist the Administration through tactics like rogue social media accounts, public resignations and covert data preservation.
Following the mid-term elections in the fall of 2018, Fisher will revise and finalize the book to send to press. Hard copies will be available from Columbia University Press in the summer of 2019.
“Instead of writing about something that will be outdated in 18 months when the world has changed, this format allows me to continue to stay relevant throughout the writing process,” Fisher said. “I hope this approach will become more common and revolutionize the way we write books.”
Fisher has been studying activism and protest around the world since 2000. Her recent work related to the Resistance has been featured in The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Time magazine, and Science Magazine, among others.