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11/06 DOUBLE BOOK LAUNCH: CULTURES OF ANYONE AND IMPROPER NAMES

Please join us for a double book launch

DOUBLE BOOK LAUNCH: CULTURES OF ANYONE AND IMPROPER NAMES

November 6, 2015, 6-8 PM. Room 6112.

The international wave of revolts that began with the Arab Spring, the Spanish 15M movement, and Occupy Wall Street in 2011 has had the effect of revitalizing grassroots social movements all over the world. Expressing cooperative modes of living that materialize alternatives to the competitive model of neoliberalism, these movements have also produced collaborative knowledge networks and experimented with the production of new forms of subjectivity.

Activists and researchers Luis Moreno-Caballud and Marco Deseriis, who met and became friends in the initial stages of Occupy Wall Street, have recently published two books that sum up long-term research projects investigating the knowledge networks that have emerged out of the Spanish 15-M social movement and the political use of shared pseudonyms such as Luther Blissett and Anonymous, respectively.

In this double book launch, Deseriis and Moreno-Caballud will present their work and engage in conversation on the potentiality and legacy of these radical experiments in culture and politics.

Improper Names: Collective Pseudonyms from the Luddites to Anonymous

Marco Deseriis

University of Minnesota Press, 2015

https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/improper-names

Improper Names is the first comprehensive analysis of the shared pseudonym, a collective strategy to build symbolic power that challenges established forms of political and aesthetic representation

Bridging gaps among the history of the labor movement, cinema studies, art history, media activism, and hacking, this book examines the contentious politics and the struggles for control of a shared alias from the early nineteenth century to the age of networks. Although collective pseudonyms are often invented to pursue a specific authorial, artistic, or political strategy, they are soon appropriated for different and sometimes diverging purposes. This book examines the tension arising from struggles for control of a pseudonym’s symbolic power.

After examining the use of shared pseudonyms for collective bargaining and to undermine bourgeois notions of authorship in art, the longest chapter of Improper Names is devoted to the contemporary hacktivist group Anonymous, which protests censorship and restricted access to information and information technologies.

Lastly, Deseriis examines a rich philosophical debate on the community of those who have nothing in common to conclude with a reflection on how the politics of improper names may affect contemporary anticapitalist social movements such as Occupy and 15-M.

 

Cultures of Anyone: Studies on Cultural Democratization in the Spanish Neoliberal Crisis

Luis Moreno-Caballud

Liverpool University Press, 2015

Freely available online at: http://www.modernlanguagesopen.org/index.php/mlo/issue/view/16

Cultures of Anyone studies the emergence of collaborative and non-hierarchical cultures in the context of the Spanish economic crisis of 2008.

It explains how peer-to-peer social networks that have arisen online and through social movements such as the Indignados have challenged a longstanding cultural tradition of intellectual elitism and capitalist technocracy in Spain. From the establishment of a technocratic and consumerist culture during the second part of the Franco dictatorship to the transition to neoliberalism that accompanied the ‘transition to democracy’, intellectuals and ‘experts’ have legitimized contemporary Spanish history as a series of unavoidable steps in a process of ‘modernization’. But when unemployment skyrocketed and a growing number of people began to feel that the consequences of this Spanish ‘modernization’ had increasingly led to precariousness, this paradigm collapsed. In the wake of Spain’s financial meltdown of 2008, new ‘cultures of anyone’ have emerged around the idea that the people affected by or involved in a situation should be the ones to participate in changing it. Growing through grassroots social movements, digital networks, and spaces traditionally reserved for ‘high culture’ and institutional politics, these cultures promote processes of empowerment and collaborative learning that allow the development of the abilities and knowledge base of ‘anyone’, regardless of their economic status or institutional affiliations.

Marco Deseriis is Assistant Professor in Media and Screen Studies at Northeastern University. A former participant in the Luther Blissett Project, Deseriis has collaborated with art-activist collectives such as 0100101110101101.org and The Yes Men. He is also the co-author of Net.Art: L’arte della Connessione (Shake, 2003 and 2008) the first Italian book on Internet art. Deseriis’ articles on social movements have appeared in The Journal of Communication Inquiry, Theory & Event, Journal of Critical Communication/Cultural Studies, Subjectivity, and Mute magazine.

Luis Moreno-Caballud is a researcher, writer, and activist. He is an Assistant Professor of Spanish Contemporary Culture at the University of Pennsylvania. He participated in the gestation of Occupy Wall Street, and now collaborates with different political groups (including Marea Granate NY), focusing mostly on building dialogues between anti-neoliberal social movements in Spain and the US. He has published articles about the Spanish 15M movement and its aftermath in several journals and magazines. He maintains the blog “Culturas de cualquiera”.

 

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