Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Bologna Process and Struggles in the Transnational Space (Paris)

The Bologna Process, Transformations of the University, and Struggles in the Transnational Space
Paris meeting: Thursday, May 4 – 4pm – Paris 1-Tolbiac (Amphi K)

Participants:

Gigi Roggero (edu-factory)

Alexei Penzin (Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow; Chto Delat)

Carlo Vercellone (Université Paris 1)

Judith Revel (Université Paris 1)

militants of Sud étudiant

militants of Italian university movement

www.edu-factory.org

www.sud-etudiant.org

www.euroalter.com/transeuropa/bologna-process/

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The Potosí Principle (Madrid)

How can we sing the song of the Lord in an alien land? / The Potosí Principle

May 12 – September 6, 2010

Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid

The Potosí Principle (Principio Potosí in Spanish) can have two meanings. The first of these is temporal in the sense of an origin or beginning. On the other hand, the “Potosí Principle” can describe in a rather technical way a mechanical function that follows the principle of repetition.

But the Potosí Principle is also the name of a contemporary art project that will be presented in an exhibition and a series of talks in and around the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid.

In the beginning of the 17th century Potosí was one of the largest cities in the world – comparable to London or Paris. It is said that all the the silver mined there would be enough to build a bridge from the Andes over the Atlantic Ocean that reached Cadiz – the harbour in Spain where the silver arrived. The work in the mines, the treasures of gold and silver which were shipped to Europe initiated such a tremendous increase of accumulation that it can be seen as the birth of the modern capitalist system. Marx analyzed the principle of “primitive accumulation” in England which took place at the same time: the “disposal” of human beings from a feudal system, just to liberate and at once eliminate them in the process of exploitation. We think that this “primitive accumulation” is not a historical case. It happens virtually everywhere in the globalized world, now, at the same time and in all historical shapes. So one of the main questions of the project is to reflect on the fact that the roots of modernity and its art production do not lie in Enlightenment and rationalism, but in the process of colonialization, which has not yet come to an end.

The colonialization and proselytization of South America was a laboratory of the tremendous ideological function which – under the Counter-Reformation’s compulsion to act – was imposed on images after the Council of Trent. We claim that there are quite obvious parallels and interrelations between this ideological function of colonial painting and the function that art now takes on to vest the new elites of globalization with legitimacy. These connections form no linear, historical narrative. One can perhaps retrace a straight line drawn from the Conquista to the dominance of Euro-American corporations in South America and the persisting subordination of colonial/ex-colonial culture. But there is also a simultaneity and an unfinished aspect of history, allowing one to raise questions as to present artistic production using this painting. If parallels exist between the wealth and magnificence, as surplus value of meaning, in the 17th-century boomtown of Potosí and the current hotspots of accumulation of totalitarian capitalism and its biennales, then this also affects our own involvement in them.

The Exhibition: About 20 paintings of the Potosí painting school from the 17th–18th century have been answered by contemporary artists from La Paz, Beijing, Moscow, Madrid, Berlin, Huelva, Sevilla and London, taking into account the different political conditions in the surroundings their day-to-day, labour, and productions are located.

The Curators and the Correspondents: A team of curating artists-researchers, relying on an informal network of friendships, collaborations, correspondents, and travels. So-called correspondents were invited to transfuse the “Potosí Principle” into their local context and own political experience.

The Project is an ongoing process, which is not finished with the first exhibition in Madrid. After Madrid, the show will be presented at Haus der Kulturen der Welt / Berlin (October 2010), and Museo Nacional de Arte and MUSEF / La Paz (April 2011).

Artists and collaborators: Sonia Abian (Barcelona); Anna Artaker (Vienna); Christian von Borries/Alice Creischer/Andreas Siekmann (Berlin); Matthijs de Bruijne (Amsterdam/Beijing); Chto Delat (Moscow/St Petersburg); Stefan Dillemuth/Konstanze Schmitt/Territorio Doméstico (Munich/Berlin/Madrid); Ines Doujak (Vienna); Elvira Espejo (La Paz); Marcelo Esposito (Barcelona/Buenos Aires); Harun Farocki (Berlin); León Ferrari (Buenos Aires); Maria Galindo/Mujeres Creando (La Paz); Isaias Griñolo (Huelva); Dmitry Gutov/David Riff (Moscow); Rogélio Lopez Cuenca (Barcelona); Eduardo Molinari (Buenos Aires); Migrant Workers Museum Beijing (Beijing); PRPC Plataforma de Reflexión sobre Políticas Culturales (Seville); TIPPA (London); Zhao Liang (Beijing) + guests (Monika Baer, Quirin Bäumler, Luis Guaraní, Sally Gutierez Dewar).

Correspondents:  David Riff (author and art critic, Moscow); Matthijs de Bruijne (artist, Beijing/Amsterdam); Anthony Davies (author and cultural critic, London).

Curators: Alice Creischer (artist, Berlin); Max Jorge Hinderer (author and art critic, Berlin/Santa Cruz de la Sierra); and Andreas Siekmann (artist, Berlin).

Opening: May 11, 2010

Exhibition: May 12 – September 6, 2010, Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid

Debates:

May 7–8, 7:00 p.m. Traficantes de Sueños

May 10, 7:00 p.m. Eskalera Karakola

May 12, 6:00 p.m. Museo Reina Sofía, Edificio Nouvel, Auditorio 200. Debate with the artists and exhibition presentation

September 2, 7:30 p.m. Museo Reina Sofía, Edificio Nouvel, Auditorio 200. Catalogue presentation

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We Don’t Need No Education (Middlesex University)

Middlesex University in the UK has decided to close its stellar philosophy department. Nina Power is one of the folks leading the charge to reverse this pathetic decision.

Now you know what you have to do. Sign the Save Middlesex Philosophy petition. Join the campaign’s Facebook group. E-mail Dean Edward Esche at e.esche@mdx.ac.uk, and send a copy and any reply to savemdxphil@gmail.com.

UPDATE. Nina Power in Comment Is Free (The Guardian):

Interest in philosophy has in fact grown massively in recent years. This is, in part, due to the increased numbers of students taking A-level philosophy, but is also the result of the widespread desire for critical thought and analysis in the face of an increasingly disorienting world. Closure at Middlesex would be a step back to the bad old days when philosophy meant a few young, white and almost entirely male students at privileged institutions discussing the finer points of formal logic over sherry. Middlesex University must be prevented from dismantling one of the finest philosophy departments in the country: fight to keep philosophy alive.

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Ainur Kurmanov: The State of the Unions in Kazakhstan

In our previous post, we wrote about the recent arrest and jailing of Kazakh social activist and journalist Ainur Kurmanov, and the international solidarity campaign that has sprung up in his defense. We thus have decided it is a good time to publish a report written by Ainur late last year on the recent history of the labor movement in Kazakhstan and the prospects for militancy and consolidation within this movement. The successful strike in March of this year by KazMunayGas workers in Zhanaozen seems to prove many of the points Ainur makes in the following article.

The Current State of the Trade Union Movement in Kazakhstan

The situation in the trade union movement in Kazakhstan is complex and quite difficult. The processes under way within the organizations and amongst the working masses are in many ways reminiscent of the changes taking place in Russia. In essence, there is no unified labor movement in the country. The old Soviet-era trade unions have collapsed, turning into an aging, parasitic bureaucratic caste. Likewise, the free trade unions that emerged in the early 1990s have seriously deteriorated and thus do not offer a real alternative for union activists who want to engage in genuine struggle. At the same time, the economic crisis, which has staggered many sectors of the economy, has stimulated the growth of a new trade union movement. The signs of this new movement have begun to emerge everywhere and are a cause for optimism. Continue reading

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Free Ainur Kurmanov!

http://www.ikd.ru/node/13296

On April 27, Ainur Kurmanov, leader of Socialist Resistance Kazakhstan and the public association Talmas (“Tireless”) was sentenced to fifteen days in jail by a court in Almaty.

The reason for Kurmanov’s arrest and illegal detention was the fact that, during an officially permitted demonstration held by the Kazakhstan 2012 movement, he read aloud the text of a petition addressed to the Kazakh authorities which stated that if they did not meet the demands of protesters, protest actions would be carried out all over Kazakhstan.

The response of the authorities was not long in coming. At approximately 11:30 a.m. on April 27, policemen detained Ainur Kurmanov without explanation in the offices of the organization Leave Housing to the People. During the so-called trial against Kurmanov, judge Arman Turgunbayev and prosecutor Dauletbayev fabricated a case against him (committing crude legal violations in the process), and Kurmanov was thus sentenced to fifteen days in jail. During the trial the most elementary democratic norms were not observed. The authorities have also promised to subject other members of Kazakhstan 2012 to such kangaroo courts. This is an obvious case of political repression. And all this is happening in a country that currently holds the chair of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE).

Socialist Resistance Kazakhstan, Talmas, Kazakhstan 2012, Zhastar 2012, and the organizing committee of initiative groups call on all democratic and progressive forces within Kazakhstan and around the world to show their solidarity with Kurmanov and put pressure on the dictatorial Kazakh regime, which “puts people in prison for the mere fact that they speak out, speak the truth, and dare to demand that the authorities do what they are obliged to do.”

In their communiqué, the organizers of the Kurmanov solidarity campaign write: “Don’t stand on the sidelines! Today it is Ainur Kurmanov, but tomorrow other people will be illegally jailed in Kazakhstan. We will defend freedom together! Say no to the dictatorial regime!”

***

Here is more information on this case from our comrades at the Vpered Socialist Movement:

http://vpered.org.ru/index.php?id=508&category=4

Ainur does not deny his participation in the demonstration. He emphasized, however, that the demonstration was permitted by the authorities and that he attended it in the capacity of a moderator, not an organizer. As for the picket at Temir Bank, Kurmanov was there n his capacity as a journalist: armed with a dictaphone and camera, he stood along with other members of the press corps. This did not interest the court, however. It is worth noting that only a month ago, Ainur was convicted by a court for similar actions – his performance of his duties as a journalist – at a picket by workers from the May First Machine Shop held outside the offices of ATF Bank. True, he was then fined the equivalent of 200 USD. This time, however, the court has decided that fifteen days in jail is the appropriate punishment.

[…]

During the hearing, the court summoned no witnesses for the defense and refused to admit as evidence video recordings that prove Ainur’s innocence. It is quite likely that the political authorities ordered his arrest. The annual Eurasia Media Forum took place April 27–28 in Almaty. OSCE representatives and President Nazarbayev were scheduled to attend, and the authorities thus had no desire to see superfluous protest actions. Moreover, May Day is approaching. Depriving the city’s labor and social movements of one of their recognized leaders is an excellent way for Kazakh authorities to ease tensions and intimidate needlessly active oppositionists.

***

You can get more background on the case and the general situation with civil and labor rights in Kazakhstan on the website of the Committee for a Workers’s International (SocialistWorld.Net):

***

After his sentence was announced, Ainur declared a hunger strike to protest this miscarriage of justice. You can support him by sending protest letters to the Kazakh authorities.

Here is a sample of a letter you can send to the akim (mayor) of Almaty, Akhmatzhan Esimov, and his deputy, Serik Seidumanov:

Mr. Esimov:

I was shocked to learn that journalist and civil rights activist Ainur Kurmanov, leader of Social Resistance Kazakhstan and Talmas, was illegally arrested and unlawfully sentenced to fifteen days in jail on April 27.

At approximately 11:30 a.m. on April 27, four policemen burst into the offices of the Leave Housing to People organization, where Ainur Kurmanov was at that moment. The police officers seized Kurmanov, smashed his mobile phone, and arrested him without explanation. Later that same day, the Bostandyksk district administrative court in Almaty sentenced him to fifteen days in jail. The sentence was based on two incidents: Kurmanov’s proclamation of a resolution adopted at a legally sanctioned demonstration of the Kazakhstan 2012 movement (the resolution stated that if the protesters’ demands were not met, similar protests would take place throughout Kazakhstan) and his alleged involvement in organizing an unsanctioned picket of Temir Bank on April 22, which Kurmanov attended in his capacity as a journalist. Kurmanov’s innocence is corroborated by video recordings and eyewitness testimony, evidence that was not admitted by the court.

To protest this miscarriage of justice, Kurmanov declared a hunger strike immediately after his sentence was read out.

Kurmanov is constantly subjected to pressure, perscution, and intimidation on the part of law enforcement and the authorities.

This case is especially outrageous in light of the fact that Kazakhstan currently holds the chair of the OSCE, an organization that guarantees democratic freedoms and civil rights.

I ask you to do everything in your power to put an end to the persecution of opposition activists in Almaty and to defend the lives, safety, and freedom of expression of all citizens of Kazakhstan.

You can fax your letter to the Akimat of Almaty at +7 (727) 271-65-79 or sent it by e-mail: press_center@a-a.kz

Here is a sample of a letter you can send to the Almaty prosecutor’s office and the Kazakhstan prosecutor general’s office:

Mr. Prosecutor (General):

I was shocked to learn that journalist and civil rights activist Ainur Kurmanov, leader of Social Resistance Kazakhstan and Talmas, was illegally arrested and unlawfully sentenced to fifteen days in jail on April 27.

At approximately 11:30 a.m. on April 27, four policemen burst into the offices of the Leave Housing to People organization, where Ainur Kurmanov was at that moment. The police officers seized Kurmanov, smashed his mobile phone, and arrested him without explanation. Later that same day, the Bostandyksk district administrative court in Almaty sentenced him to fifteen days in jail. The sentence was based on two incidents: Kurmanov’s proclamation of a resolution adopted at a legally sanctioned demonstration of the Kazakhstan 2012 movement (the resolution stated that if the protesters’ demands were not met, similar protests would take place throughout Kazakhstan) and his alleged involvement in organizing an unsanctioned picket of Temirbank on April 22, which Kurmanov attended in his capacity as a journalist. Kurmanov’s innocence is corroborated by video recordings and eyewitness testimony, evidence that was not admitted by the court.

To protest this miscarriage of justice, Kurmanov declared a hunger strike immediately after his sentence was read out.

Kurmanov is constantly subjected to pressure, perscution, and intimidation on the part of law enforcement and the authorities.

This case is especially outrageous in light of the fact that Kazakhstan currently holds the chair of the OSCE, an organization that guarantees democratic freedoms and civil rights.

I ask you to do everything in your power to put an end to the persecution of opposition activists in Almaty and to defend the lives, safety, and freedom of expression of all citizens of Kazakhstan.

I also ask you to investigate the legality of Kurmanov’s sentence and the actions of the police officers who arrested him on April 27.

Send your letters to:

Kazakh Prosecutor General’s Office

Fax: +7 (727) 263-05-68; E-mail: procuror@nursat.kz or akparat@prokuror.kz

Almaty Prosecutor’s Office

E-mail: gp-rk@mail.online.kz

Ainur’s legal representatives can deliver messages in person. Please send copies of your protests to:

denver76-76@mail.ru and admin@socialismkz.info

Please also send your protests to the Secretariat of the OSCE via their online e-mail or by fax: +43 1 514 36 6996.

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Solidarity with Priama Dija (Kyiv)

[Adapted from the solidarity appeal originally published at lib.com]

Dear Comrades!

We are an independent student union, Priama Dija (“Direct Action”) and we ask for your support.

The case is that for over the last six months, the union has been under unprecedented pressure. Everything started with our series of successful actions (together with other youth organizations) against the establishment of fees for previously free services in the universities, against cutting funds for scholars and against plans to suspend scholarships for students who received even a single grade of “3” (C). Ever since then, the intelligence services, together with the administration of the National Taras Shevchenko University of Kiev, have been carrying out a campaign of pressure against the union’s activists. All available measures are used against them, including intimidation and repression.

During this period:

1) pressure has been used against activists by threatening to sack their parents from work;
2) activists were expelled from the university;
3) intimidation and face-to-face “talks” have been held with anyone who somehow helped us;
4) the intelligence services have engaged in a deterrence campaign against us.

It is worth mentioning that a number of administrators in private conversations made it absolutely clear that they were being “pressured from above.” Some officials have directly called it a “war.” There are those, however, who won’t stop at anything just to keep their positions. Thus, the Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Mr. A.E. Konverskii, stated outright  that he would “crush anyone who would challenge his career into the pavement.” Soon afterwards, even such an insignificant project as the film club in the faculty was closed for no particular reason and without explanation.

The administration also distinguished itself by instructing security guards to prohibit activists from entering the Red (main) corpus of the university, regardless of the legitimate right of free entry for union members.

In general, an atmosphere of total control has been established in “the best university in the country.” Any signs of dissatisfaction are rooted out immediately. Thus the very flickering of a protest against a rise in dormitory fees was brutally suppressed, and the students who initiated this campaign were expelled.

The present state of affairs is connected to an appalling fact. The Kiev National University is virtually run by Vice-Rector V.A. Bugrov, who has also been, according to our information, an SBU officer since 1989. (The SBU, the Ukrainian Security Service, was previously known as the KGB.)

“Vladimir Bugrov: Have a ‘Prophylactic Talk’ with Your Wife!”

We should also mention that the former chief of the SBU, Volodymyr Nalyvaichenko, swore that he had recalled all the agents from institutions of higher education during the “de-KGBization” campaign.

The facts enumerated above constitue a disgraceful precedent for both the University and Ukraine as a whole. The University should stand for the free development of the individual and not for the totalitarian production of security service agents.

We call for your solidarity!

We ask you to send letters of protest to the Ukraine minister of education, the Ukraine parliament’s human rights ombudsman, and the administration of Kyiv University. You may use the following sample letter:

We ask you to intervene in the situation with the student union Priama Dija (“Direct Action”). According to the information we have received, for over six months now pressure has being used against the union by the administration of the Kyiv National University and the SBU (Ukraine Security Service).

Regardless of the official status of the union, representatives of the SBU and the University have taken repressive actions against activists and intimidated all those who are somehow connected to the union. These actions violate the Ukraine  law “On Unions, Their Rights and Guarantees for Activity.” They also violate the Criminal Code of Ukraine (Article 170).

We appeal to you to take action in this situation.

Please mail, fax or telephone your protests to the following officials:

Minister Dmytro Volodymyrovych Tabachnyk
Ukraine Ministry of Education and Science
10, Prospekt Pobedy
01135 Kyiv, Ukraine
Telephone: +380 (44) 486-24-42
E-mail: ministry@mon.gov.ua
Fax: +380 (44) 236-10-49

Rector Leonid Vasiliovich Hubersky
Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
64, Volodymyrs’ka St.
01601 Kyiv, Ukraine
E-mail: stationery@univ.kiev.ua
Fax: +380 (44) 239-33-88

Nina Ivanivna Karpachova
Ukraine Parliament Ombudsman for Human Rights
21/8, Instytutska St.
01008 Kyiv, Ukraine
Telephone: +380 (44) 253-22-03
E-mail: omb@ombudsman.gov.ua

For more information or to tell us about your solidarity actions (including letters), write to: priamadija@gmail.com

Kyiv: Priama Dija Pickets SBU Headquarters

On April 21, the Priama Dija student union picketed the headquarters of the Ukraine Security Service (SBU). Around fifty union activists demanded an end to repressions against students, their parents, and their comrades.

The young people submitted “case files” with information about themselves. They announced that they had decided to make the work of SBU agents easier by submitting a detailed dossier on each activist.

Union activists claim that the SBU agents have engaged in a campaign of coercion against Priama Dija, its members, their parents, and mere sympathizers for over six months. This campaign has been especially intense in the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, where the administration has joined with SBU agents in a campaign against the student union, openly calling it a “war.”

Union activists say that the most underhanded methods have been employed against them. Aside from threatening and expelling students themselves, the university administration has practically taken parents hostage by promising to cause them “problems” and threatening that they will be fired from their jobs.

The protesters demanded an end to all repressions against union activists, their families, and friends, and an internal investigation into the collaboration of SBU agents with the administration of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv in its repression of the student union.

Actions in support of Priama Dija also took place in Germany, Poland, Portugal, Russia, and a number of other Ukrainian cities. Earlier, the International Workers Association, trade union organizations in Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Germany, and Venezuela, the International Youth Human Rights Movement, Ukrainian civil rights activists, and a number of Ukrainian student and youth organizations expressed their support for Priama Dija.

______________

On April 22, members of the Committee for Academic Solidarity and the Street University held a series of solo pickets in support of Priama Dija outside the Ukrainian Consulate in Saint Petersburg.

On April 21, two solidarity rallies took place outside the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow. These were organized, respectively, by Autonomous Action, with support from the Vpered Socialist Movement, Left Front, and the All-Russian Confederation of Labor (VKT); and by the Confederation of Revolutionary Anarcho-Syndicalists (KRAS).

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Communism’s Afterlives (Brussels/Paris)

COMMUNISM’S AFTERLIVES

The seminar will take place in Brussels and Paris, in both cases at The Public School.

Brussels, April 23rd, 3-6pm
Participants: Agency, Dessislava Dimova, Albert Heta, Olga Kisseleva
For more information: http://brussels.thepublicschool.org/class/2336

Paris, April 24th, 3-6pm
Participants: Pietro Bianchi, Renata Poljak, Société Réaliste, Oxana Timofeeva
For more information: http://paris.thepublicschool.org/class/1773

Organized by Elena Sorokina and Natasa Petresin-Bachelez

After the collapse of the Soviet bloc, communism as idea, image or problem has been regarded as “outmoded, absurd, deplorable or criminal, depending on the case.” Today, it is often presented by the mainstream media as a parenthesis of history, an aberration of the 20th century, as “a completely forgotten word, only to be identified with a lost experience.” Although the communist hypotheses of previous eras may no longer be valid, their histories, narratives and key notions have never ceased to spark attention and inform recent discussions such as the communal versus the common, and material versus immaterial property, to name just a few. Perceived from a greater distance today, communism has re-emerged as a topic for investigation in artistic and exhibition production, that reflects it in diverse ways, addressing the relevance of the term today or inviting provocative comparisons with the present.

This seminar aims at presenting various works that recast ideas related to communism and revisit it as a complex and diverse arena of political and aesthetic attitudes, which varied between nations, communities and historical periods. By no means does the seminar intend to take a nostalgic tour through the past decades, but rather seeks to address the topic through concrete art and exhibition projects realized recently. All of them are trying to deconstruct the idea of monolith, still very present in today’s reception, and to recuperate various episodes, stories and notably, the “communist apocrypha” – texts, music, visual production – which have never been part of the established ideological canon, and whose intellectual patterns shed new light on what the contemporary uses of the notion of communism might be. Instead of treating communism as pure political abstraction, the projects presented by the seminar deal with concepts, events and/or particular personalities related to communism and its history which have survived the Bildersturm of the recent past and can be artistically reactivated.

Facebook event:

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=532787364#!/event.php?eid=101896426520537&ref=mf

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