The cases in this book were selected in an attempt to represent major geographical areas, historically different periods, diverse cultures, distinct religions, and varied systems of governance and political control ranging from the dominance of an ethnic group within a multiethnic state to countries that were subject to conquest, colonialism, occupation, partition, foreign domination, and indirect forms of foreign rule through co-opted or coerced domestic proxies.
The choice of case studies emphasizes historical examples that have been relatively underresearched from the perspective of civil resistance. This is why there is no chapter on the independence struggle most commonly associated with nonviolent resistance, namely, India. That is not to say that the Indian independence movement does not warrant further study, but the authors of this volume came to believe that lesser-known instances of nonviolent resistance need to be brought to light in order to inform and expand empirical and theoretical knowledge and identify areas for further inquiry. Other cases of nonviolent independence struggles not present in this book include those of the Baltic countries, whose national resistance against Soviet occupation has been described elsewhere. Latin America— Cuba apart—also remains underrepresented in this book and there is an obvious need for future research to ascertain the role of nonviolent resistance against colonialism and during independence in that region. Yet another study not included in this volume but important to consider for future research— given continued violence in the region—is that of the Pashtuns who, under the leadership of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, organized an unarmed militia of one hundred thousand people known as “Red Shirts” (from the color of their military-like uniform) that fought the British nonviolently throughout the 1930s in what is now the western tribal areas of Pakistan.
Another important criterion used for case selection in this book was the presence in a given society of narratives that glorify military might and violent insurrection. Several chapters refer to the presence of an exaggerated narrative of violent resistance as a significant reason explaining the historical oblivion to which many stories of nonviolent resistance have been relegated. The consequences of such marginalization and amnesia surrounding nonviolent history were apparent when a respected mainstream media columnist sincerely, though naïvely, offered his recommendations about nonviolent resistance to none other than the Palestinians —a population that, as Chapter on Palestine shows, has a rich tradition of popular nonviolent struggle and a much longer historical experience with peaceful resistance than many contemporary commentators who were mesmerized by the 2011 Arab Spring realize. Chapter on Palestine and Chapter on West Papua stand out as representing ongoing conflicts with largely hidden records of non violent resistance. West Papua warrants further comparative analysis with other struggles for independence from Indonesia, notably in East Timor and in the Aceh region.