Stellan Vinthagen

Stellan Vinthagen is a Professor of Sociology and a scholar-activist. Vinthagen is the Inaugural Endowed Chair in the Study of Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Resistance at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, U.S.A. He is also a researcher in his native Sweden at Dep. of Sociology, University of Gothenburg, where he is leading the Resistance Studies Program. Vinthagen got his PhD in Peace and Development Research from University of Gothenburg (2005). He is also Editor of the Journal of Resistance Studies (, Co-Editor of the Rowman & Littlefield book series on Resistance Studies, Co-Leader of the Resistance Studies Group at University of Gothenburg, Sweden and co-founder of the international Resistance Studies Network (, as well as a Council Member of War Resisters International, and academic advisor to the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC).

Vinthagen researches resistance, power, social movements, nonviolent action and social change. He has written or edited ten books, among them Conceptualizing Everyday Resistance – A Transdisciplinary Approach (Routledge, 2020, with A. Johansson), and A Theory of Nonviolent Action – How Civil Resistance Works (ZED Books, 2015). Vinthagen is also author or co-author of numerous articles, e.g. “Sovereign Power, Disciplinary Power and Biopower: Resisting What Power With What Resistance?” 2014 (with M. Lilja) in Journal of Political Power; and “Legal Mobilization and Resistance Movements as Social Constituents of International Law”, Finnish Yearbook of International Law 2013.

Having been active in many different social movements since 1980 (environmental, migrant rights, anti-arms trade, peace, Palestine solidarity, etc.), he has participated in more than 30 nonviolent civil disobedience actions. He has been an educator, organizer and activist in several countries, and has served in prison totaling more than one year in Sweden, Germany and the UK, among other nations. Between 1986-2000 he was one of the key organizers of the European Plowshares Movement, a movement that carries out nonviolent direct disarmament actions at military bases or arms factories.

Since 2000 he has been an active participant at several protests within the Global Justice Movement and at most of the gatherings of the World Social Forum. Additionally, he was one of the initiators of the Academic Conference Blockades 2007 at the Trident nuclear submarine base in Faslane, Scotland. During two blockades more than 50 academics from different countries and varied scientific disciplines blockaded the entrance of the nuclear base, while they conducted a typical academic conference, read out their research papers, and held discussions with students. Both blockades ended with police arrests.

Vinthagen became a member of the Council of War Resisters’ International (WRI) in 2010. He is one of the initiators of the Swedish Ship to Gaza, a coalition member of the Freedom Flotilla. In May, 2010 the Flotilla tried to break the siege of Gaza with several ships bringing hundreds of humanitarian workers and desperately needed aid to the politically created humanitarian crisis in Gaza. When the Israeli military killed ten of the participants and wounded several others, the action became wide-spread international news. The world-renowned journalist John Pilger says “The Freedom Flotilla is one of the most important direct actions of my lifetime”. Vinthagen was subsequently responsible for the nonviolent action trainings of the Flotilla in 2011 and 2012. Among those seized by the Israeli military in international waters in October 2012, he was subsequently jailed and deported from Israel. 2016 Vinthagen took part in the mass-action Ende Gelände in Germany, when 4 000 activists closed down one of the largest coal mines in Europe for two full days, by occupying the coal fields, machines and train-tracks.

Vinthagen lives in rural communities in the US and Sweden: the Pioneer Valley Cohousing, Amherst, and the Irene Community, Dals-Ed.

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