“Private Capital for Public Good”: Social Impact Bonds and the New Market-Based ‘Public Responsibility’ Initiatives

“Private Capital for Public Good”: Social Impact Bonds and the New Market-Based ‘Public Responsibility’ Initiatives

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Sociology Lounge, Room 6112

Presentation by Robert Ogman, Doctoral Researcher at De Montfort University (U.K.)

March 10, 2015
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Sociology Lounge, Graduate Center, CUNY.

This presentation focuses on Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) as part of an emerging crisis governance strategy. Against many expectations, post-2008 developments did not follow a “postneoliberal” trajectory (Brand and Sekler 2009), but rather deepened modes of market governance through the policies of fiscal austerity (Peck 2012) and the associated insulation of public authority in a “post-democracy” (Jessop 2013; Crouch 2011). However, this has exacerbated the social crisis and further eroded political legitimacy. As a result, we’re witnessing the growth of policy focused on “social impact” and “public responsibility”, yet, not through the roll-back of markets, but through the development of a “social investment market”. This presentation focuses on a critical example of this, the “Social Impact Bond” (SIB), as a “new [initiative] of ‘public responsibility’ within market modes of governance” (Sprague 2010).


Introduced in 2010, more than 100 SIBs now exist across the globe, concentrated mostly in the U.S. and U.K. These promise to “blend fiscal and social returns” through a financial product based on the performance of targeted social policy interventions. In times of austerity, these claim to leverage private capital for public good, by offering private returns to investors when programs effectively lower levels of recidivism, unemployment, homelessness, and hence lower government expenditures.

This presentation takes a Cultural Political Economy approach (Sum and Jessop 2014) to situate SIBs within the processes by which hegemony is restored and reshaped. I will describe therefore both institutional structure of this policy instrument and its associated discursive repertoire, and consider its broader political significance as a crisis governance strategy. SIBs will be situated as part of a “hegemony project” (Kannankulam and Georgi 2014) that explicitly responds to the problems of “trickle-down economics”, yet which simultaneously rejects a politics of redistribution and decommodification. My presentation will therefore focus on how SIBs construct “crisis narratives” and “imagined recoveries” (Sum and Jessop 2014), and shape and limit the institutional “corridors” for political action (Brand 2014).

Robert Ogman is a doctoral researcher at the Department of Politics and Public Policy at De Montfort University (Leicester, U.K.), where he focuses on Social Impact Bonds as part of an emerging crisis governance strategy in the U.K. and U.S. He previously focused on social movement responses to the crisis, and published a study for the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (Berlin), “The U.S. Occupy Movement – Since the Eviction from the Squares” ( He received his MA in Political Science from The University of Potsdam, and his BA from The New School. Originally from the U.S., he now resides in Berlin, Germany.


Food Security Governance: Empowering Communities, Regulating Corporations

Food Security Governance: Empowering Communities, Regulating Corporations

5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Skylight Conference Room, 9th Floor

The University Food Policy Collaborative of New York City presents

A panel discussion celebrating the release of a new book by Nora McKeon:

Food Security Governance: Empowering Communities, Regulating Corporations

Today’s global food system generates hunger alongside of land grabs, food waste, health problems, massive greenhouse gas emissions. Nora McKeon’s just-released book explains why we find ourselves in this situation and explores what we can do to change it. In her talk she will contrast how actors link up in corporate global food chains and in the local food systems that are considered to be “alternative” but in fact feed most of the world’s population. She will describe how communities around the world are protecting their access to resources and building better ways of food provision and discuss how the Committee on World Food Security – a uniquely inclusive global policy forum since its reform in 2009 – could be supportive of these efforts. The talk will conclude with a call to blow the whistle on predatory capitalism by building effective public policy instruments for accountable governance and extending their authority to the realm of regulating markets and corporations.

March 10, 2015
5:00-6:30 PM
Skylight Conference Room 9th Floor
Graduate Center, CUNY.

Food book


Respondents will include:

Thomas Forster, New School Food Studies, Post 2015 Food and Agriculture Cluster

Saulo Araujo, Director of the Global Movements Program at WhyHunger

Moderated by Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor of Public Health, CUNY School of Public Health & Hunter College, and Faculty Director, NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College

For more information and to order Food Security Governance: Empowering communities, regulating corporations, please visit:

*To activate your 20% discount, visit the book’s page and simply enter the code LRK69 at check-out. This applies only to books purchased on the website and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.

About the author:

Following studies at Harvard and the Sorbonne and a career at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Nora McKeon is now engaged in teaching, writing and advocacy on food issues and social movements

The University Food Policy Collaborative of New York City is a network of food policy focused-faculty, students and staff from learning institutions city-wide, including CUNY, Teacher’s College, Columbia University, NYU and The New School.

Please RSVP here





All Day
Skylight Conference Room, 9th Floor

On the heels of the international conference on “Slavery in Africa” held in Kenya and Kwasi Konadu’s Transatlantic Africa, which tells the story of transatlantic slaving through African optics and voices, this symposium brings together leading thinkers of global slaveries in the African world to share their work through a full-day of engaged dialogue, offering new perspectives and directions.

March 6
9 a.m.
Skylight Room, Graduate Center, CUNY.



This program is sponsored by the Advanced Research Collaborative and the Ph.D Program in History. The symposium is free and open to the public. Seating is limited.

Film Screening: Rezoning Harlem

Film Screening: Rezoning Harlem

7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Room 5414

Rezoning Harlem follows longtime members of the Harlem community as they fight a 2008 rezoning that threatens to erase the history and culture of their legendary neighborhood and replace it with luxury housing, offices, and big-box retail. A shocking expose of how a group of ordinary citizens, who are passionate about the future of one of the city’s most treasured neighborhoods, are systematically shut out of the city’s decision-making process, revealing New York City’s broken public review system and provoking discussion on what we can do about it.


The screening will be followed by a discussion and Q&A with filmmaker Tamara Gubernat, Urban Affairs and Planning Professor Tom Agnotti (The Graduate Center and Hunter College), M. Ndigo Washington (founder of Take Back Our City), and will be moderated by CUNY scholar Pilar Ortiz (Sociology).

March 5
7:00 pm
Doctoral Students’ Council Lounge (Room 5414).

Stories of Struggle: Histories of Childcare Activism at CUNY

Stories of Struggle: Histories of Childcare Activism at CUNY

6:00 pm
Sociology Lounge, Room 6112
Tahir Butt, Sujatha Fernandes, Alyssia Osorio, James Small, LaTrella Thornton will join us.
What can we learn from CUNY’s past? Join scholars and activists who were involved in the fight for childcare during the period of open admissions at City College in the 1970s as they explore the history of childcare activism at CUNY. Students fighting to preserve those spaces today will add to the discussion, moderated by Sujatha Fernandes.This event will be LIVESTREAMED: Go to Click on “Live Videos” on the upper hand side of the page.


struggle picture


Wednesday March 4
Sociology Lounge, Room 6112

Sponsored by the Center for Place, Culture and Politics, the Center for Globalization and Social Change, and the Mellon Seminar in Public Engagement and Collaborative Research.

This event is open and free to the public.  More information:

Feminist Perspectives on Resistance and Solidarity in Palestine and Israel

3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Room C201

The Center for the Study of Women and Society
Feminist Perspectives on Resistance and Solidarity in Palestine and Israel


Rabab Abdulhadi and Simona Sharoni met over twenty five years ago and have collaborated on multiple projects. They will discuss the following topics: the distorted dominant media coverage of the assault which ignored the power disparities between Palestinians and Israel; the racist and gendered images and statements deployed by Israeli officials and citizens to legitimize the violence; the impact of the violence on, and the responses of Palestinian and Israeli women; the response of the international community and the growing visibility and impact of the global movement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), the efforts to hold Israeli officials accountable and investigate possible violations of human rights and international conventions; and prospects for a just and lasting peace in the region in the aftermath of the Israeli war on Gaza and the earlier repressive campaign in the West Bank.

Friday, February 27, 2015
Room C201
The Graduate Center, CUNY.

Rabab Abdulhadi is Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies/Race and Resistance Studies and the Senior Scholar of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative at the College of Ethnic Studies, San Francisco State University. She is a co-founder of the Islamophobia Studies Journal, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Associations in North America (UPWA), and the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC).

Simona Sharoni is Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the State University of New York in Plattsburgh. Sharoni is the founding Executive Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA), a founding member of the Feminist Theory and Gender Studies Section (FTGS) at the International Studies Association (ISA), and co-founder of Faculty Against Rape (FAR).

Co-sponsored with the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics.

The event is free and open to the public.
For more information see the Women’s Studies website:\

Maiz y el Pais: Political Violence in Mexico and Corn’s Lessons for Justice

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Room 9204

Luz Rivera Martinez of the Consejo National Urbano Campesino (CNUC) and George Caffentzis in conversation.

Friday, February 20, 6-8PM. Room 9204


Headlines about Mexico are wildly divergent. While business magazines proclaim “the Mexican Moment” emerging from a slate of recent reforms, news of the murder and disappearance of nearly 50 rural teacher’s college students by police quickly silenced the applause.

Attacks on the Zapatistas, imprisonment of indigenous leaders defending water, and cover-ups of military executions all point to a rise in extra-judicial violence. Add to this the fact that the recent “reforms” were no less than the privatization of oil, communications, and education resources left pending after NAFTA, and you can see the extent of the turmoil.

But instead of a “troubled neighbor south of the border,” Mexico is home to inspiring movements building autonomy and justice with dignity against great obstacles.

Join Luz Rivera Martinez as she speaks about her 20 years of experience constructing autonomy, organizing outside the electoral system, and resisting genetically modified corn while protecting millennia-old varieties. She works with peasant families in Tlaxcala, Mexico – a state where corn originated, whose name means “place of the corn tortilla,” and where 52 natural varieties of corn are planted. This bountiful grain was created over thousands of years, primarily by women, and has now come to feed the world.


Just as corn is a gift of sustenance and rejuvenation Mexicans have given to all of humanity, Mexican movements such as Luz’s Consejo Nacional Urbano Campesino (CNUC) are guiding us toward daybreak after the long, cold night of neoliberalism.

George Caffentzis will join Luz in conversation with an update on the present status of the Zapatistas’ project



Luz Rivera established CNUC in the early 1990s to coordinate resistance to the impending North American Free Trade Agreement, especially regarding its dismemberment of Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution, which enshrined the Mexican Revolution’s battle cry that “the land belongs to those who work it.” Luz and the members of CNUC knew that NAFTA would decimate the small-scale agricultural sector that the Revolution had established at such a great cost.

As CNUC’s lead organizer, Luz has worked tirelessly to demand government accountability, defend family farms, resist the use of GMO seeds, and build inspiring, community-based autonomous projects. CNUC has a long history of disposing of corrupt leaders, democratizing the budget, coordinating community-driven infrastructure projects, including peoples’ history in education, and expanding access to healthcare.

CNUC also joins voices with organizations around Mexico and around the world denouncing State-sponsored violence and rebuilding the social fabric. As an adherent to the Zapatistas’ Sixth Declaration – an international network of organizations struggling against neoliberalism and for autonomy from the grassroots – Luz and CNUC fight tirelessly to build “a world where many worlds fit,” a world for the people of all the colors of corn.

George Caffentzis is an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern Maine, and a member of the Midnight Notes Collective and Strike Debt. He has written extensively on commoning and enclosures, especially since teaching at the University of Calabar in Nigeria for five years in the mid-1980s. That is where and when he realized that primitive accumulation of capitalism is an on-going process and that commoning has been an essential weapon in class struggle. His articles on the commons and commoning include “Commons Against and Beyond Capitalism” (with Silvia Federici), and “The Future of ‘The Commons’: Neoliberalism’s ‘Plan B’ or the Original Disaccumulation of Capital?”

The Mexico Solidarity Network is an organization dedicated to popular education and autonomous community organizing. In addition to our community work in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood and speaking tours, MSN also administers a unique, social justice-oriented study abroad program that allows students to learn about grassroots movements in Mexico by living with the families that comprise them, including members of CNUC. For more information, visit

This event is sponsored by The Mexico-US Solidarity Network and Center for Place Culture and Politics, Graduate Center, CUNY.  The event is free and open to the public.


The People, Place, and Space Reader: Book Launch

6:30 pm
Skylight Conference Room, 9th Floor

The People, Place, and Space Reader Book Launch
with editors Jen Jack Gieseking, William Mangold, Cindi Katz, Setha Low, and Susan Saegert
February 19th, 2015
6.30-8.30 pm
Skylight Room (8th Floor), Graduate Center, CUNY.

feb event

The People, Place, and Space Reader brings together the writings of scholars from a variety of fields to make sense of the ways we shape and inhabit our world. The included texts help us to understand the relationships between people and place at all scales, and to consider the active roles individuals, groups, and social structures play in a range of environments. The Reader includes both classic writings and contemporary research, connecting scholarship across disciplines, periods, and locations via the work of writers such as Harvey, Smith, Lewin, Gilmore, Koolhas, Lynch, Proshasnky, Benjamin, Jacobs, and de Certeau. Essays from the editors introduce the texts and outline key issues surrounding each topic. This companion website,, provides additional reading lists covering a broad range of issues. An essential resource for students of urban studies, geography, design, sociology, and anyone with an interest in the environment, this volume presents the most dynamic and critical understanding of space and place available.
This event is open and free to the public.

Film screening: My Brooklyn February 17, 7PM

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Skylight Conference Room, 9th Floor


Join us for a screening of My Brooklyn

February 17th, 2015 at 7:00 pm / Skylight Room.

Followed by a discussion with Kelly Anderson (Filmmaker and Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies at Hunter College), Sharon Zukin (Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center), and Sara Martucci (Doctoral Candidate in Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center).

My_Bklyn_Shabazz_still (2)

My Brooklyn is a documentary about Director Kelly Anderson’s personal journey, as a Brooklyn “gentrifier,” to understand the forces reshaping her neighborhood along lines of race and class. The story begins when Anderson moves to Brooklyn in 1988, lured by cheap rents and bohemian culture. By Michael Bloomberg’s election as mayor in 2001, a massive speculative real estate boom is rapidly altering the neighborhoods she has come to call home. She watches as an explosion of luxury housing and chain store development spurs bitter conflict over who has a right to live in the city and to determine its future. While some people view these development patterns as ultimately revitalizing the city, to others, they are erasing the eclectic urban fabric, economic and racial diversity, creative alternative culture, and unique local economies that drew them to Brooklyn in the first place. It seems that no less than the city’s soul is at stake.



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