Category Archives: alternative education

Godfull: Shape Shifting God as Queer (New York)

www.utsnyc.edu

The Institute for Art, Religion and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York presents:

Godfull: Shape Shifting God as Queer
A performative symposium convened and moderated by artist Carlos Motta and minister Jared Gilbert

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Participants: Lovett/Codagnone, Darnell L. Moore, Ernesto Pujol, Robert Sember, Union Queer Caucus and FIERCE, Samita Sinha and Linn Tonstad

Friday, April 12, 2013, 7:00–11:00pm

James Chapel
Union Theological Seminary
3041 Broadway at 121st Street, New York, NY, 10027, USA

Admission is free but reservation is required, please visit this link to reserve.

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The Institute for Art, Religion and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary presents Godfull: Shape Shifting God as Queer, a performative symposium convened by artist Carlos Motta and minister Jared Gilbert featuring performative lectures and performances by a group of academics, activists, artists and theologians to explore the intersections of queer politics, spirituality and social justice.

The regulation of sexual activity is the primary system for controlling bodies within religions and the societies they influence. Such regulations often authorize violence against bodies as well as the depravation and social stratification of gender and sexual identities. As lesbians and gays have gained unprecedented visibility and in some cases legislative recognition, American faiths have by and large opened their doors to those homosexuals who manage to comply with institutionalized systems of social respectability. These faiths are now unwittingly complicit in new forms of heteronormative oppression.

Queer sexuality, bodies and activism form the ground from which queer art, spirituality and political narratives nurture new visions of a just society. At the same time queer communities remain in constant tension with these visions, always exploring the evolving and deviant backside of spiritual, political and social spaces.

Godfull: Shape Shifting God as Queer explores queerness as a constant force of disruption in theology and sexual politics. The participants speak of a “queerness” in theology that is particular and explicit of the queer body, a “queerness” that represents a constant pursuit of new social and spiritual revelations through deviant, subversive and indecent affirmations that will continue to challenge repressive notions of morality and respectability.

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The Institute for Art, Religion and Social Justice was founded in the spring of 2009 under the leadership of AA Bronson and Kathryn Reklis. The Institute’s mission is to explore the relationship between art and religion through the lens of social justice. In particular, the Institute is concerned with creating dialogue between the worlds of contemporary art and religion, and between artists and theologians. The Institute commissions and supports contemporary art projects and practices that focus attention on the interdependent themes of art, religion and social justice.

 

Image: Lovett/Codagnone, For You, 2003, performance, courtesy of the artists

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Chto Delat Summer School: Slavoj Žižek and Mladen Dolar

A SERIES OF LECTURES BY SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK AND MLADEN DOLAR
Chto Delat Summer Educational Program
 August 20—23, 2012

Monday, August 20
National Center of Contemporary Art
Moscow, Zoologicheskaya, 13
11.00—14.30
– Mladen Dolar, OFFICERS, MAIDS AND CHIMNEY SWEEPERS
– Slavoj Žižek, WHY PSYCHOANALYSIS MATTERS MORE THAN EVER
16.00—18.30 – THE URGENCY OF THOUGHT: PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS, PSYCHOANALYSIS (panel discussion)

Chinese Pilot Jao Da (Lubyansky proyezd, 25)
22.00 – Concert by the band Arkady Kots

Tuesday, August 21
Institute of Philosophy of Russian Academy of Sciences
Moscow, Volkhonka, 14
15.00—18.00 – Slavoj Žižek, IS IT STILL POSSIBLE TO BE A HEGELIAN TODAY? (lecture introduced by Mladen Dolar)

Wednesday, August 22
European University in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg, Gagarinskaya, 3
17.00—19.00 – Mladen Dolar, WHAT, IF ANYTHING, IS AN ATOM?
20.00 – Chto Delat film screening

Thursday, August 23
European University in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg, Gagarinskaya, 3
12.00—14.00 – Slavoj Žižek, WELCOME TO THE DESERT OF POST-IDEOLOGY
16.00—19.00 – IS THERE A REASON IN HISTORY? STATE AND REVOLUTION TODAY (panel discussion)

* Advance registration required to attend the events at the European University in St. Petersburg: e-mail sociopol@eu.spb.ru or phone +7 812 3867633
* Advance registration required to attend the events at the National Centre of Contemporary Art in Moscow: e-mail pr@ncca.ru or phone +7 (499) 254 84 92
* For all organizational questions and press inquiries, phone +7 903 5931935 or e-mail oxana_san@yahoo.com
* All events in Moscow (August 20-21) will be accompanied by translation
* All events in St. Petersburg (August 22-23) will be conducted in English

 

 

 

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Tidal: Occupy Theory, Occupy Strategy

Editor’s Note. By way of introducing our readers to Tidal, a journal and web site focused on the theory and strategy of the Occupy Wall Street movement, we are reprinting, below, Conor Tomás Reed’s excellent article on the movement, public education, and the right to the city, from the Tidal web site. You can find out how to donate to Tidal here. (Thanks to Comrade O. for the heads-up.)

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On the City as University: Occupy and the Future of Public Education
Conor Tomás Reed

For quite a long time now, we precariously situated students and faculty in CUNY have been practicing the art of what Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o calls “poor theory”—“maximizing the possibilities inherent in the minimum… being extremely creative and experimental in order to survive.” Unable to isolate ourselves within the velvety quicksand of armchairs and seminar table solipsism, we have instead pursued a kind of crowd scholarship that jettisons “interest” for “involvement.” Discussions among crowds of people—in and out of assemblies, street marches, virtual forums, shared meals, space-transformations, and yes, even jail stints—have assembled critical lessons and experiences not yet valued by scholastic frameworks of singularly rendered knowledge. Thousands have co-authored this document itself.

We are engaged in a process of defending our educational and social futures from a threadbare past and present. US student debt has surpassed $1 trillion—a third of this debt is held by graduate students. Crippling tuition increases and education cuts in some cases triple tuition and erase whole departments. Meanwhile, our campuses become increasingly militarized. As recently spotlighted in UC-Davis and CUNY’s Baruch and Brooklyn Colleges, administrators unabashedly welcome the surveillance, intimidation, and brutal arrests of students and faculty who peacefully dissent. But after our pulses shudder from being followed by armed officers, after our indignation roils from reading lies that presidents and chancellors print about our political acts, and after our bruised bodies heal from being treated like enemy combatants on our own campuses, we gather in crowds again because we have no other choice. In spite of these grim circumstances, we’re also witnessing and creating major explosions of resistance through education movements across the world—Quebec, Chile, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Spain, England, California, and around CUNY. Suppression of dissent is being met in resourceful ways. These struggles have demonstrated the power of creative action to mobilize millions—including street theater, public visual art, alternative models and sites of education, music, viral performance videos, and more. For activists in NYC, a few significant developments have arisen out of our own work—to conceive of education itself as a potential form of direct action, to rethink how we approach the call to strike, and to focus more acutely on dialectically connecting student/faculty work with wider community efforts at social change.

In the City University of New York and around the metropolis more broadly, our experiences in the Occupy movement taught us decades of lessons in a matter of months. As Tidal readers know, many CUNY folks were an active part of Occupy Wall Street, helping to maintain a multitude of working groups during the swift upsurge in city-wide radicalization. We facilitated thousands-strong public conversations and direct action trainings, built the People’s Library, and connected a global art and design community through Occuprint. At the CUNY Graduate Center, we began to hold regular general assemblies using the OWS model of direct participatory democracy. We claimed campus spaces that had otherwise not been used for political discourse (such as the recent week-long “Transforming Assembly” interactive exhibition at the James Gallery), and encouraged deeper undergrad students/grad students/faculty collaboration (including multiple open letter campaigns).

We worked on outside free public education initiatives, such as the People’s University series in Washington Square Park, as well as multiple-week open forums on the general strike leading up to May Day, all the while engaging in constant discussions of how to alter our pedagogies and institutional structures. Students and faculty explored consensual direct democracy in our classroom settings. This semester, several graduate student adjuncts team-taught a course at Brooklyn College entitled “Protest and Revolution: Occupy Your Education,” in which the students and facilitators together shaped how each class was used. 

And yet, after the White House-directed nationwide eviction of Occupy encampments this winter, the movement’s future was by no means foreseeable. Furthermore, when the May Day general strike call came out, a serious schism arose in activist circles in NYC and around the United States about whether to frame our efforts as a general strike when we knew that this was an actual impossibility. We queried whether this political action term could be used more as an act of prescriptive manifestation, rather than of descriptive demonstration. Students and faculty in the CUNY movement decided to build for the day with affinity for the language of striking, but not going to such lengths as setting up picket lines at our schools. We considered more fruitful ways to engage in a strike action that wriggled out of the negation-driven rhetoric that dominated initial May Day calls. “No/stop/don’t/shut down” left very limited visions of what the day would actually look like. We recognized that Occupy’s spring coming out party couldn’t be simply a long laundry list of what we opposed.

In early 2012, several graduate students wrote a short piece entitled “Five Theses on the Student Strike” in Occupy Wall Street’s Tidal journal, which set useful initial terms of the kind of affirmational, go-power, strike-as-on-switch tactics and political vision we wanted to create for the day. We sought to invoke the most dynamic and capacious political rhetoric to envision our specific goal of educational direct action, while using the weeks leading up to May 1 to theoretically and practically build for this, instead of standing still to debate whether the day’s actions should be called a strike or not.

By the time May Day had arrived, we had amassed a coalition of students and faculty from almost a dozen schools to produce the Free University: a “collective educational experiment” that ended up drawing almost 2000 participants in what is now delightfully considered the sleeper hit of the day’s event in NYC. We wanted to provide the best of Zuccotti Park’s legacy—unpermitted reclamation of public space, heterogeneous gatherings for radical discussion, and, what is still one of the best organizing tools out there, free food. The big secret is that around forty people coordinated this event within about a month. Our call for anyone to sign up to hold any kind of class or skill share was met with a deluge of exciting workshop submissions. Our call for anyone to attend meant that tuition, ID cards, costly books, security checkpoints, and many other chains tied to higher education were easily dissolved.

Educators conducted over forty workshops, classes, and collective experiences during the five hours we occupied and transformed the park. Over a dozen faculty members contractually prohibited from striking moved their entire classes off campuses and into the park in solidarity with the call to strike. Attendees shared and learned from front-lines movement experiences on occupying foreclosed housing, student organizing and debate skills, indigenous environmentalism, open access academic publishing, and anti-capitalist approaches to math and science. Collective poetry readings brushed up alongside figure drawings and collage projects. We welcomed such luminaries as Drucilla Cornell, David Harvey, Neil Smith, Ben Katchor, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Wayne Koestenbaum, and Chris Hedges to join large crowds that gathered and mixed freely.

However, our ambitions mustn’t be misunderstood as creating a Free University to be a temporary utopian enclave, full stop. We promoted these outside classrooms as areas for generating rooted political content that could be catalyzed into movement activity. Indeed, at 3pm, our whole Free U campus marched to the main Union Square rally location, and then later swarmed the financial district, book shields and banners in hand. To focus on education itself as direct action suggests that we can transform public space into mobile classrooms—in public parks and community centers, as well as in street intersections, board rooms, and bridges. Future Free University initiatives can include radical think-tanks, hosting classes inside other classes, projecting our stories on various walls around the city, and performing pop-up Free U’s at annual city-wide events. We’re establishing the foundations for future attempts at dual power with such projects as People’s Boards of Education that decide and implement our own education plans while refusing those dictated from above.

Crowd scholarship of education outside walls can focus on such anti-disciplinary subjects as the compositional practice of street writing. Science lessons can observe as well as counteract neighborhood environmental devastation. Social geography can be taught through power-mapping areas of surveillance and gentrification, as well as routes for resistance. Poetry writing as a social and bodily practice can be differently imagined when we see ourselves as stanzas marching in the street, enjambing past police barricades, and breathing new life into words made collectively resonant through mic-checks. We can crowd-source syllabi in becoming students of urban revolutionary life—featuring Michel de Certeau, Jane Jacobs, Samuel Delany, and David Harvey alongside community texts and memoirs that academia has long overlooked. Harvey demonstrates the reflexive power in embracing our entire cities as universities when he says: “The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city.”

This work must also boomerang back into the academy walls in the process of ultimately decentering university spaces as the sole, tightly guarded sites where knowledge is made and trafficked. Each conference is a space to differently occupy, establish networks, and debate living strategies.  Each thesis and dissertation is an opportunity for multi-author, multi-modal scholarship to be evaluated by a committee of peers. Cross-department/cross-borough gatherings and actions can replace the vacuous insularity of academia. Our libraries can become true active repositories of 21st century movement life that is being daily archived in posts, streams, pamphlets, and feeds. Such participatory archive sources as occupycunynews.org and Interference Archive are excellent models for librarian archivists today.

Moreover, faculty nationwide will have to heed UC-Davis professor Nathan Brown’s recent challenge: “Student activists have understood the simple point that forms of action which do not pose an immediate and concrete barrier to the normal functions of the university will be ignored, deferred, and displaced. So they organize occupations and blockades. If faculty want to confront the totalitarian conduct of administrations, we will also have to organize and participate in occupations and blockades.” His jibe that faculty can organize international conferences, but not a twenty-person faculty sit-in, demonstrates how academics’ priorities will have to shift and grow, or else risk social irrelevance. I welcome our own CUNY professors to meet this challenge by considering the incredible power that mass faculty direct actions would contribute to our movement.

Occupy is at a crossroad, its development is not inevitable, we can become another mysterious blip (especially as the election season approaches), or we can do the patient and painstaking work of building a mass movement that will flourish in the face of what is an inevitable reality of further violence, crackdowns, and surveillance by the state. Academia has a role to perform in Occupy’s future, but one that employs both a step forward and a step aside. Academia must cede intellectual space for community members—the exiles of our current university systems—to raise their own critical voices while we listen and learn. And academia must also reconcile its own demons of the past 30+ years of significant yet extremely disillusioned and defensive theoretical positions. The current international spotlight on higher education can offer us the chance to make dramatic advances towards community control of our daily lives. Now that’s the  kind of education no school but ourselves can provide.

First printed in CUNY Graduate Center’s The Advocate.

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Truth Is Concrete 24/7 Marathon Camp (Graz)

Truth Is Concrete
24/7 Marathon Camp, September 21—28, 2012, Graz
truthisconcrete.org

We are now on the final lap to firming up the programme of the Truth Is Concrete 24/7 Marathon Camp (which has already become a marathon for all of us organising it). We have had some great talks, suggestions and criticisms and everyone is looking forward to seeing things take clear shape very soon – even though the detailed programme won’t be published until September 11, 2012. This newsletter gives you a brief update about what is happening.

Travel & accommodation grants
As part of our Truth Is Concrete 24/7 Marathon Camp we are inviting some 100 students, artists, activists and theorists interested in artistic strategies in politics from all over the globe. The open call for the travel & accommodation grants ended on May 15. We were overwhelmed by more than 600 applications from around 50 countries that came in – thank you all for your interest. Applicants are chosen according to qualifications but also with the aim of achieving a productive mix of people. We will notify all applicants about the selection asap.

Truth in Context – a graphic design project for the 24/7 Marathon Camp
Truth is concrete in many ways, the contexts define the fields of action. And so the visual appearance of Truth Is Concrete is a platform for graphic designers and artists who devote their work to a social, political cause. Censored cartoonists, Egyptian sprayers, graphic designers from the Serbian student movement, newspaper-makers from Belarus, photographers from Brazilian favelas, concept artists from Palestine… a series to be continued until September on postcards, as advertisements, on posters, on the Internet …

With Absent (GR), Anton Litvin (RUS), Ganzeer (ET), Iconoclasistas (AR), Khaled Jarrar (PS), Jisun Kim (ROK), Leo Lima (BR), Marina Naprushkina (RUS/D), Dan Perjovschi (RO), Seth Tobocman (USA), Aseem Trivedi (IND), Tzortzis Rallis (GB), Josef Schützenhöfer (A) et al.
http://truthisconcrete.org/graphic-project

The Camp venue – a living and working environment
While we have started working on the programme schedule of the marathon camp, meeting more people to be invited and looking through the hundreds of grant applications, the camp venue and some of the side projects have already been finalised.

Berlin-based artist-architects raumlaborberlin are creating the camp venue, linking the two buildings Thalia and Opernring 7 in Graz. They are giving the marathon camp a flexible form, creating a landscape for working and living, a landscape that wants to be used. Not a turnkey facility handed over when the festival begins, but one that is constantly changing during the course of the marathon camp. The camp is a temporary habitat with contributions by many different artists: here the sleep areas, there the Herbst exhibition, over there the kitchen and next to it the bookshop. The video library alongside the hairdresser’s. Camp radio, speech karaoke, plenum. Open all the time and for everyone, day and night.
http://truthisconcrete.org/programme

Now online is the general programme of the Steirischer Herbst festival, in the context of which the Truth Is Concrete 24/7 Marathon Camp is taking place: www.steirischerherbst.at

For more information, news and tips on the 24/7 Marathon Camp, you can follow us now also on Facebook and twitter:
http://www.facebook.com/events/382453651806743/
https://twitter.com/#!/Truthisconcrete

All the best, and see you soon in Graz!

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Brian Holmes: Three Crises: 30s-70s-Today (Occupy Berlin/Autonomous University)

Autonomous University • Tue, 2012-06-12

The Autonomous University is hosting a one-week long seminar on the crises of capital and possible futures after it taught by Brian Holmes starting this Sunday at 6pm. Everyone is welcome! Ideally, though, participants are expected to attend seminars on a regular basis and be prepared to participate in group discussions based on Brian’s lectures and the suggested readings (see below).

Three Crises: 30s-70s-Today

A seminar with Occupy Berlin

The Autonomous University is an old dream that finds new expressions in every period of systemic change and political upheaval. This seminar  is part of a global constellation of parallel efforts to establish a new basis for militant research, educational experimentation and public political debate. At its heart are lectures and group discussions at the intimate scale of a self-organized classroom, relayed and augmented by the use of Internet resources. The sessions have been planned in collaboration with members of Occupy Berlin. Their aim is to produce useful knowledge about the historical roots and possible futures of the current political-economic crisis.

GOALS: The seminar seeks to develop a framework for understanding the present political-economic crisis and for acting within and beyond it. Historical study is integrated with activist experience and artistic expression. The seminar is part of the autonomous university program developed by Occupy Berlin. It includes Internet resources for sharing research notes and reference materials. All of this builds on a similar experiment at Mess Hall in Chicago (http://messhall.org), with inspiration from the Public School, the Edufactory network and other autonomous education initiatives.

FORMAT: An introduction, six core sessions and a conclusion, compressed into one intensive week (see calendar for dates/times). Readings can be done in advance or later, as desired by each person. The first hour of each session will be a lecture/slideshow by Brian Holmes, an autonomous researcher and cultural critic living in the US. The second hour is a group discussion, seeking to integrate the North American perspective with European historical experiences. The respondent for the first five sessions will be Armin Medosch, a Vienna and London-based researcher with whom the theoretical framework of the seminar was developed. Other respondents will be sought in the course of the event.

CONCEPT: The development of capitalism is marked, every thirty or forty years, by the eruption of extended economic crises that restructure the entire system in organizational, technological, financial and geopolitical terms, while affecting daily life and commonly held values and attitudes. In the course of these crises, conditions of exploitation and domination are challenged by grassroots and anti-systemic movements, with major opportunities for positive change. However, each historical crisis so far has also elicited an elite response, stabilizing the worldwide capitalist system on the basis of a new integration/repression of classes, interest groups, genders and minority populations (whose definition, composition and character also change with the times). In the United States, because of its leading position within twentieth-century capitalism, the domestic resolution of each of the previous two crises has helped to restructure not only national social relations, but also the international political-economic order. Nothing ensures that the same thing will happen again. By examining the crises of the 1930s and the 1970s along with the top-down responses and the resulting hegemonic compromises, we can try to cut through the inherited ideological confusion, gain insight into our own positions within contemporary neoliberal society, identify the elite projects on the horizon and begin to formulate our own possible agency during the continuing period of instability and chaos.

SESSIONS (suggested readings for the sessions can be downloaded here http://dl.dropbox.com/u/43467036/Readings_1-5.zip):

1. June 17th: Introduction: techno-political paradigms, crisis, and the formation of new hegemonies.

How to grasp the potential for systemic change that lies hidden in the turbulence of a major crisis? How to symbolize it and express it through intellectual and artistic means? The seminar begins with a theoretical concept of more-or-less coherent “long waves” of capitalist development, understood as techno-political paradigms. These waves are typically generated in specific geographical regions, but they extend their influence across the globe. For twenty- to thirty-year periods, technologies, organizational forms, social institutions and global economic and military agreements find a working fit that allows for growth and expansion, up to a limit-point where the paradigm begins to encounter conditions of stagnation and internal contradiction. In some cases, known as regulation crises, the resolution of the crisis stabilizes a social order corresponding to an entrenched productive system. In other cases, technological bifurcations and even shifts of global hegemony may occur. So far, the resolution of each major crisis has added another new technological-organizational-cultural layer to the previously existing ones. That’s what makes world society so damn complicated!

2. June 18th: Working-class movements and the socialist challenge during the Great Depression

This session begins with an analysis of the assembly-line mass production paradigm in the United States, then turns to economic and social conditions following the Crash of ‘29. We follow the interaction between labor movements and communist doctrines, while examining the major institutional innovations of the Roosevelt administration (and contrasting them to German history in the discussion). Can the 1930s be understood as a “regulation crisis” of Taylorist mass production? What are the forces that provoked the crisis? Who emerged as its major actors? Where were the initial solutions found? How did the New Deal become an idealized figure of class compromise for succeeding generations, far beyond the United States?

3. June 18th: The Council on Foreign Relations during WWII and Keynesian Fordism

Only after 1938 was the economic crisis resolved in the US, through the state orchestration of innovation and production effected by wartime institutions. Corporate leaders from the Council on Foreign Relations were directly inducted to the Roosevelt government and planned the postwar monetary and free-trade order later enshrined in the Bretton Woods treaties. What kinds of technological and organizational changes were brought by wartime planning? How was the intense labor militancy of the 1930s absorbed into the Cold War domestic balance? To what extent did an American hegemony shape the industrial boom in the Keynesian social democracies of Western Europe and Japan? How were the industrial welfare states supported and enabled by neo-colonial trade relations and resource extraction? Why do people continue to see postwar society as a positive norm?

4. June 20th: The ‘60s revolts, Third-World self-assertion, counter-revolution

The brief convergence of labor movements, student revolts and minority rights campaigns in 1968 was a global phenomenon, spurred on by Third World liberation and the war in Vietnam. This session begins with anti-systemic struggles and then zooms in on the SDS, Black Power and Feminist movements in the United States. Participants in the discussion will fill in the comparisons and contrasts with Germany and other countries. Did the US and Europe internalize global socioeconomic contradictions during this period? Which aspects of the political and cultural revolts posed real obstacles to the existing economic structure? Which ones later became raw materials for the formation of a new hegemonic compromise? What were the elite reactions to grassroots insurgencies?

5. June 20th: The Trilateral Commission and Neoliberal Informationalism

Wildcat strikes, welfare claims and high resource prices imposed by producer countries (notably OPEC) all contributed to the crisis of the 1970s. But there was more: the breakdown of Bretton Woods in 1971 and the conquest of relative autonomy by Western Europe and Japan, along with the Third World push for a New International Economic Order. The launch of the Trilateral Commission in 1973 was an elite response to the crisis, laying the basis for an expanded hegemony whose sovereign expression was the G7 group, founded in 1975. The coming of “postindustrial society” was announced by sociology, while innovations like the microprocessor went into mass production. Cooperation among trilateral elites was paralleled by financialization and the rise of computer networks. In the US, the Treasury-induced US recession of 1980-82, the hi-tech “Star Wars” military buildup and the emergence of a distinct, university-based innovation system became the linchpins of a new techno-political paradigm: Neoliberal Informationalism. We will consider the major features of the new paradigm and discuss the way it became hegemonic in the US, Western Europe and Japan.

6. June 22nd: 1989 and the roots of current crisis.

With the breakdown of the USSR in 1989, followed by the first Gulf War, the world-space was opened up for transformation by the Trilateral economic system, based on information processing and just-in-time production. The 1990s witnessed the largest capitalist expansion since the postwar boom. With the collapse of the USSR and the integration of the former Communist world, both the capitalist market and labor force were doubled in size. Transoceanic fiber-optic cables ringed the earth and production lines became regional and global, circumventing national labor regulations. After tracking the Trilateral expansion of Neoliberal Informationalism we’ll focus on the rise of the Gulf states and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), as well as the political challenges to the Washington Consensus that took form in the 1990s: the anti-globalization movement, Latin American Leftism, Salafi Jihad. Did these challenges signify the end of the Trilateral hegemony?

7. June 22nd: Financial crisis and elite attempts to stabilize Neoliberal Informationalism

Finally we examine the inherently volatile dynamics of the informational economy, culminating in the Asian crisis of 1997-98, the dot-com bust of 2000 and the credit crunch of 2008, followed by the ongoing fiscal crisis of the neoliberal state. Little has been done in the US to control financial capital, but across the Trilateral countries the debt crisis has massively punished the low-income sectors of society and eroded the status of the middle classes, with a major attack on the public university system and a move to cut all remaining welfare-state entitlements. Have we entered a regulation crisis of Neoliberal Informationalism? How have the EU and Japan responded? What paths have been taken by the Gulf states, Russia, Latin America and China? Are new alliances forming among international elites, outside the Trilateral arenas? What could make the grassroots resistance stronger?

8. June 23rd: Perspectives for egalitarian and ecological social change in the upcoming decade

In the absence of reform and redistribution, continued financial turmoil is certain, along with a decline of the Trilateral countries and a reorganization of the monetary-military order. Meanwhile, climate change is already upon us, advancing much faster than anticipated. We face a triple crisis, economic, geopolitical and ecological, with consequences that can’t be predicted on the basis of past experience. What are the central contradictions that will mark the upcoming years? Which institutions and social bargains have already come under severe stress? In what ways will the ecological crisis begin to produce political responses? How will class struggles within the US and Europe interact with the cross-border and worldwide struggles heralded by the Arab Spring? Can grassroots movements seize the chances of the crisis? On what basis could new anti-systemic movements be forged?

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How can you be at home in an alien world? (Call for participation)

How can you be at home in an alien world?             

On the occasion of SKOR’s symposium Social Housing – Housing the Social, the members of Chto Delat and Ultra-red invite you to participate in a two-day seminar prior to the symposium and to perform a collaborative learning play on the first evening of the symposium.

DATES OF SEMINAR: 2–3.11.2011 (from 10 AM till midnight)

Learning Play on 4th of November at 9 PM

DATES OF SYMPOSIUM: 4–5.11.2011

LOCATION: Felix Meritis, Amsterdam

  … the metropolis is now the point of massive collision—dare we call it class struggle?—over the accumulation by dispossession visited upon the least well-off and the developmental drive that seeks to colonize space for the affluent . . . democratization of [the right to the city], and the construction of a broad social movement to enforce its will is imperative if the dispossessed are to take back the control which they have for so long been denied, and if they are to institute new modes of urbanization.

– David Harvey

The conditions within which Chto Delat and Ultra-red will take up their work on the theme of the social are those of the global financial crisis. The latter is often used to justify the dismantling of welfare states and the withdrawal of commitments to the notion of the commons that underlay their development in the first place. Now it is every atom for itself, situated in a vortex driven by the fatal master-slave dialectic between the private and the common.

The social is currently acknowledged as being a luxury we simply cannot afford. Thus, it must be sacrificed along with other public goods including education, health care, infrastructure and housing. This is more than simply a retreat from the social. It also permits the commodity value of former public goods to be realized and circulated within the systems of capitalist speculation. Volunteerism and self-help, once signatures of the social, are now co-opted to fill gaps resulting from the privatizing of property and services. In reaction to these dispossessions, citizens of cities in countries across the globe are occupying strategic urban spaces. These occupations – temporary productions of common space by the deterritorialized and expropriated on enemy terrain – are to be understood as an emphatic reclamation of rights repressed for decades. They direct us toward some fundamental questions. What is the social today? How has its construction changed? Why has it become so vulnerable to the attacks of capital and privatization? Why are ideas of the social so indispensable for the imagination of freedoms? How can we be at home in an alien world?

This seminar breaks with the conventions of discussions and conferences in order to promote a dialogical and investigative relationship to knowledge production. As we eat, talk and rehearse together, we will address and investigate ideas around collectivity and the politicized subject of “the social.” We will explore what political stakes may serve to bind us in solidarity to each other. And we will turn our surroundings into what Henri Lefebvre called a “representational space configured and changed to underscore our temporary occupation.”

The seminar will culminate in a staging of a Brechtian learning play during the first evening of the symposium. Using Bertolt Brecht’s learning-play model, Chto Delat and Ultra-red invite participants to collectively develop an educational didactic performance. Centered around the theme of the social but without fixed texts, participants are asked to develop and articulate their own position through the process of acquiring and advocating their attitudes.

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ABOUT THE ARTISTS COLLECTIVES

Chto Delat (What is to be done?)

The platform Chto Delat was founded in early 2003 in Petersburg with the goal of merging political theory, art and activism. The platform’s activity consists in developing a network of collective initiatives in Russia and setting them into an international context. The platform is coordinated by a workgroup of the same name. The collective initiatives developed inside the platform engage in a variety of art projects, including video works, installations, actions in public space, radio programs, and different forms of artistic research. During this seminar the platform will be represented by David Riff, Tsaplya (Olga Egorova) and Dmitry Vilensky.

Ultra-red

Founded in 1994 by two AIDS activists, Ultra-red has expanded to include artists, researchers and organizers from different social movements including the struggles of migration, anti-racism, participatory community development, and the politics of HIV/AIDS. By exploring acoustic space as enunciative of social relations, Ultra-red utilizes sound-based research to directly engage political struggle. With ten associates working in North America and Europe, Ultra-red pursue a dynamic exchange between art and political organizing producing radio broadcasts, performances, recordings, essays, and installations. Ultra-red members are currently conducting investigations in Los Angeles, New York, London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Berlin and Oslo. During this seminar Ultra-red will be represented by Elliot Perkins, Robert Sember and Leonardo Vilchis.

NOTE: The seminar is limited to 20 participants. Participants must commit to attending the full seminar, which includes discussions, rehearsals and the staging of a learning play as a collective act on Friday, 4th of November. The organiser will provide only food for the duration of the seminar and entrance to the symposium. Sorry, but no support for accomodation is available because seminar is focused on local participants.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: October 23, 2011

Please send your motivation letters to:

Robert Sember: robert.sember@gmail.com (Ultra-red)

Dmitry Vilensky: dmvilen@gmail.com (Chto Delat)

Fleur van Muiswinkel: fleurvanmuiswinkel@gmail.com (curator affiliated with SKOR)

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Filed under activism, alternative education, critical thought, open letters, manifestos, appeals, urban movements (right to the city)

Freedom University (Georgia, USA)

MISSION / MISIÓN

Founded in 2011, Freedom University is a volunteer-driven organization that provides rigorous, college-level instruction to all academically qualified students regardless of their immigration status. Our faculty are fully committed to providing our students with college courses equivalent to those taught at the state’s most selective universities. We believe that all Georgians have an equal right to a quality education. Separate and unequal access to higher education contravenes this country’s most cherished principles of equality and justice for all.
Fundada en 2011, la Universidad de la Libertad es una organización impulsada por voluntarios que ofrece rigurosa instrucción universitaria a todos los estudiantes académicamente calificados, independientemente de su estatus migratorio. Nuestros profesores están enteramente comprometidos a proporcionarles a nuestros estudiantes cursos universitarios equivalentes a los que enseñan en las universidades más selectivas del estado de Georgia. Creemos que todos los habitantes en Georgia tienen derecho a una educación de calidad. Acceso separado y desigual a la educación superior contraviene los más preciados principios de este país de igualdad y justicia para todos.

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To the University System of Georgia Board of Regents:

We the undersigned oppose the Board of Regents’ decision to ban undocumented students from the state’s most selective universities, including the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, the Medical College of Georgia, and Georgia College and State University.

The ban represents a formal step towards the re-segregation of higher education in our state. Banishing Georgia’s high school graduates to separate and unequal educational facilities tarnishes the state’s reputation, squanders talent, abets hostility towards immigrants, and makes it harder to recruit and retain top faculty and students. 

The long-term economic and ethical costs of discrimination are immense. Please rescind the ban on undocumented students and do everything in your power to ensure that all Georgians have equal access to higher education. The Board of Regents should support in-state tuition for all Georgia students regardless of their immigration status. Nebraska, Texas, California and nine other states now charge in-state tuition to undocumented high school graduates and Georgia should follow their example.

SIGN HERE.

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Filed under activism, alternative education, immigration, open letters, manifestos, appeals, student movements