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Insurgent Solidarities: CPCP Annual Conference (April 13–14th)

The Center for Place, Culture and Politics
Annual Conference 2018

Friday April 13 and Saturday April 14

Insurgent Solidarities
histories, formations, futures

 

Given the political challenges of the present, the necessity for radical solidarity appears more pressing than ever. Yet while an understanding of solidarity has been pivotal to social change since at least the Haitian Revolution, how it is articulated has never been less than problematic. Is it a process of political change? Is it its goal? How does solidarity define what it is against without excluding forms of political difference that might enhance it? What can be learned from solidarity in the past, especially when contingent solidarity in the present regards such a history with justifiable incredulity? There can be no doubt that notions of solidarity continue to impact creatively how one understands political opposition and change, as well as how one interrogates constituency and allies, goals and timelines. The differences of solidarity and a respect for the specificity of particular struggles clearly invigorates how solidarity is now engaged, but solidarity can also be more than negotiated coalitions and fragmented alliances. This conference brings together activists, scholars, activist scholars, and radical thinkers all to consider the meanings of solidarity for political work. What makes solidarity insurgent? Is it its composition or the kind of change it struggles to affect? What are its scales and modes and what are their significance today?

The spring 2018 Center for Place, Culture and Politics conference features presentations on crucial aspects of solidarity that include examples of its historical prescience, current formations, and ideas for its future elaboration. Individual political movements continue to provide a powerful inspiration for other activists, and perhaps by discussing them a further solidarity may be implied, but in general the conference wants to encourage creative dialogue over gestural affiliations. The conference will be composed both of panels that introduce positions on these questions, and breakout sessions that will permit all attendees to more actively engage in their articulation. The goal is not to codify what might constitute insurgent solidarities, but is to actively encourage their possibility.

PANELS
DAY 1: Friday April 13th | 12:30pm to 8:30pm
Elebash Recital Hall
The Graduate Center, City University of New York
365 Fifth Avenue (between 34th and 35th Street)
New York, NY 10016

12:30pm–12:45: WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS

12:45pm–2:20: ECONOMIES AND SOLIDARITIES

There are rich traditions of solidarity within, across, and between states around the politics of economic forms and processes. For instance, in the period of post-independence decolonization there were several attempts in the Global South to find working alternatives to the perquisites of capitalist global integration. Such a genealogy continues right through the alterglobalization movements of the present. This panel explores the continuing political possibilities of such conjunctions, but also examines the scale of solidarity, particularly when thinking of the power of the local and community creativity, like the worker cooperatives of Mondragon or Cooperation Jackson. Are the lessons of such cooperation generalizable? How can such solidarity be networked in the present?

Yasmin Lopez (National Coordinator of the Inclusive Development of Peasant Women,Honduran National Coordination of the National Articulation of la Via Campesina)

Giovanni Roberto (Comedores Sociales de Puerto Rico)

Mark Winston Griffith (CEANYC, Brooklyn Movement Center)

Moderator/Discussant: Abby Scher (Research|Action Cooperative)

2:20–4:30pm: LAND, WATER, TERRITORY

Social movements from around the world have been working to direct conversations about the right to land and water. Emerging from dialogues across the continents, analysis has taken shape that focuses on the contrast between land and water as commodities, as opposed to land and water that support the lives of communities. These dialogues bring the role of transnational corporations, which seek to control these resources for purposes of profit and speculation, into the spotlight, and challenge them via arguments about the need for community control and sovereignty. How do these social movements conceive of and practice solidarity across borders? How do they collaborate—and construct ways to shift the power to the people—to work on different scales? This panel will discuss the ways in which movements share analysis, tactics, and resources through popular and political education that challenge capitalist structures and worldviews, and put forth a vision in which land, water, and other natural resources are not commodities.

Francia Marquez (Proceso de Comunidades Negras, Colombia)

William Sacher (Minka Urbana / Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar, Ecuador)

Alexania Rossato (People Affected By Dams In Brazil-MAB)

Nick Estes (The Red Nation)

Moderator/Discussant: Rob Robinson (National Economic and Social Rights Initiative)

4:30-5:00pm: Coffee Break

5:00-7:15pm: HISTORICAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL SOLIDARITIES

This panel looks at different ways that particular movements have struggled to pursue the ends of solidarity under particular historical and geographical conditions. We explore how these historically and geographically situated solidarities can serve as a basis for thinking and practicing solidarity today.

Saygun Gökariksel (Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey; LeftEast)

Robyn C. Spencer (Lehman College and Graduate Center, CUNY)

Jasmina Husanovic (University of Tuzla, Bosnia)

Oscar Otzoy (Coalition of Immokalee Workers)

Moderator/Discussant: Peter Hitchcock (Baruch College and Graduate Center, CUNY)

7:15–8:30pm: KEYNOTE: Liberated Zones Were Real

Corsino Tolentino (University of Cape Verde and Amilcar Cabral Foundation)

 * * *

DAY 2: Saturday April 14th| 11am to 3:50pm
Room 6112
The Graduate Center, City University of New York
365 Fifth Avenue (between 34th and 35th Street)
New York, NY 10016

11:00 Check in

11:30–12:40 BREAK OUT SESSIONS 1

• “Material inequalities and asymmetries of power and unreal relations of solidarity” (Moderators: Saygun and Sónia)
• “Exploring the role of NGO in the building of transnational solidarities with grassroots and social movements”(Moderators: William and Mamyrah)

12:40–1:40 BREAK OUT SESSIONS 2
• “Affective politics and alienation in grassroots movements” (Moderators: Jasmina and Giovanni)
• “Identity politics and internationalism” (Moderators: Rob and Alexania)

1:50–3:50 LUNCH AND SHARING

* * * *

PARTICIPANTS
Nick Estes (The Red Nation)
Mark Winston Griffith (The Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City; Brooklyn Movement Center)
Saygun Gökarıksel (Boğaziçi University, Turkey; LeftEast)
Peter Hitchcock (Baruch College and Graduate Center, CUNY)
Jasmina Husanovic (University of Tuzla, Bosnia)
Yasmin Lopez (la Via Campesina, Honduras), beczabethlopez14@gmail.com
Francia Marquez (Proceso de Comunidades Negras, Colombia)
Oscar Otzoy (Coalition of Immokalee Workers)
Giovanni Roberto (Comedores Sociales de Puerto Rico)
Rob Robinson (National Economic and Social Rights Initiative)
Alexania Rossato (People Affected By Dams In Brazil-MAB)
William Sacher (Minka Urbana / Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar, Ecuador)
Abby Scher (Research|Action Cooperative)
Robyn C. Spencer (Lehman College and Graduate Center, CUNY)
Corsino Tolentino (University of Cape Verde and Amílcar Cabral Foundation)

BIOS
Nick Estes (The Red Nation)
Nick Estes is Kul Wicasa from the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. He holds a PhD in American Studies from the University of New Mexico and is currently the American Democracy Fellow at Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History. Estes is the author of the forthcoming book Our History is the Future: Mni Wiconi and the Struggle for Native Liberation (Verso 2019) and a coeditor with Jaskiran Dhillon of the forthcoming volume #NoDAPL and Mni Wiconi: Reflections on Standing Rock (University of Minnesota Press 2019). In 2014 in Albuquerque, NM, Estes cofounded The Red Nation, an organization dedicated to Native liberation.

Mark Winston Griffith (CEANYC, Brooklyn Movement Center)
Mark Winston Griffith is the founding Executive Director of the Brooklyn Movement Center (BMC), a community organizing body that builds power in Central Brooklyn. Over the decades he has run policy, community organizing and community development organizations, and has served as a journalist. Mark teaches a graduate course in community organizing at the Murphy Institute and serves on the board/leadership bodies of the Central Brooklyn Food Coop, the Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union, the National Black and Food Justice Alliance, the Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City, Free Speech TV, and Communities United for Police Reform.

Saygun Gökarıksel (Boğaziçi University, Turkey)
Saygun Gökarıksel is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Boğaziçi University, affiliated with the LeftEast collective, and involved in Solidarity Academy Istanbul. He got his Ph.D. in Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His research and writing concerns the issues of historical capitalism, communism, revolutionary politics, as well as the politics of history, law, security, and rightwing populism. His writings and commentaries appeared in journals and forums across Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S. He’s currently working with the Solidarity Academy of Istanbul, which is a platform that engages in solidarity practices related to the ongoing purges at universities and explores alternative modes of producing transformative knowledge against the neoliberal academy.

Peter Hitchcock (Baruch College and Graduate Center, CUNY)
Peter Hitchcock is Professor of English at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is also on the faculties of Women’s Studies and Film Studies at the GC. He is the author of several books, including Labor in Culture, or, Worker of the World(s), The New Public Intellectual and The Long Space. He is currently working on two research projects: one about seriality in politics and culture; the other on the aesthetics of commodities and financial instruments.

Jasmina Husanovic (University of Tuzla, Bosnia)
Jasmina Husanović is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a Chair of Cultural Studies. She earned her PhD in 2003 at University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK. Her research interests are in cultural and political theory dealing with the politics of witnessing, equality and solidarity, governance of life and culture of trauma, as well as emancipatory politics with a focus on intersecting public spaces of cultural and knowledge production She has been engaged in or initiated various activist initiatives and platforms regionally and internationally In the academic 2017/2018 she is a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at CREEES, Stanford University.

Yasmin Lopez (Inclusive Development of Peasant Women, Honduran National Coordination of the National Articulation of la Via Campesina)

Francia Marquez (Proceso de Comunidades Negras, Colombia)
Francia Marquez was born in the Yolombó Consejo Comunitario la Toma, an Afro-descendant, inter-ethnic and intercultural territory in Colombia that dates back to 1636, located in the municipality of Suarez department of Cauca. Organizing since the age sixteen, she works in arts, music, dance and theater to express the violence of anti-Black racism in the country. Her focus is on the care of the territory, for the care of nature, and for the reaffirmation of the ethnic and cultural identity as an Afro-descendent people.

Marquez has organized against the forcible removal of these communities from their ancestral lands by the Salvajina dam mega projects. In 2015, Sueca Diakonia awarded Marquez the National Prize as Human Rights Defender. She is part of the Proceso de Comunidades Negras and electoral candidate for the House of Representatives for Special Circumscription of Afro-Descendant Communities. Francia Marquez is a student of law of the University Santiago de Cali and mother and head of her family.

Oscar Otzoy (Coalition of Immokalee Workers)
Oscar Otzoy is a senior staff member and leader of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). Mr. Otzoy is a farmworker himself, with over 6 years of experience working in the fields of Florida. As part of the CIW, Oscar and his colleagues conduct worker-to-worker education sessions on human rights in the fields of farms participating in the CIW’s groundbreaking Fair Food Program. Mr. Otzoy’s work at the CIW includes hosting daily radio shows on the CIW’s community radio station, leading weekly worker meetings, handling complaints of abuses in the fields, managing wage theft claims, and investigating cases of sexual violence and modern-day slavery.

Giovanni Roberto (Comedores Sociales de Puerto Rico)
Giovanni Roberto is a puertorrican social activist and organizer for the Center for Political, Educational and Cultural Development. Roberto is a former student leader during the 2010-2011 mobilizations and strikes. CDPEC and its Community Kitchens programs have been pioneer of the new resistance to austerity organizing solidarity food distribution since 2013. CDPEC have organize Mutual Aid Centers after Hurricane Maria to distribute food and help the population in need. This MAC are now working to be permanent popular spaces.

Rob Robinson (National Economic and Social Rights Initiative)
Rob Robinson is a member of the Leadership Committee of the Take Back the Land movement and a staff volunteer at the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI). After losing his job in 2001, he spent two years homeless on the streets of Miami and ten months in a New York City shelter. Rob has worked with homeless populations in Budapest Hungary, Berlin Germany and is connected with housing movements in South Africa and Brazil. He works with the European Squatters Collective, International Alliance of Inhabitants; MST and the Movement of People Affected by Dams in Brazil.

Alexania Rossato (People Affected By Dams In Brazil-MAB)
Alexania Rossato is daughter of small farmers affected by the hydro-power dam Dona Francisca, in the south of Brazil. She studied journalism and since 2004 is an active member of the Movement of People Affected by Dams in Brazil, called MAB (acronym in Portuguese). In MAB she started coordinating the social movement’s communication collective. Today her task within MAB regards the articulation with allies in the state of Rio de Janeiro, where in 2017 MAB’s 8th National Encounter took place.

William Sacher Freslon (Minka Urbana / Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar, Ecuador)
William Sacher Freslon is Professor of the Climate Change Program at Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Quito, Ecuador. He holds a PhD in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences from McGill University and a PhD in Development Economics from Flacso, Quito. Additionally, he trained as an engineer in fluid dynamics and hydraulics at the INPG in Grenoble, France.
Sacher is author of various books on large-scale mining from a political philosophy, political economy and political ecology perspective. He is an active member of Minka Urbana, a urban social movement against transnational mining based in Quito, Ecuador, and collaborates with many others in Ecuador, Canada, France and other Latin American countries.

Abby Scher (Research|Action Cooperative)
Abby Scher is a New York-based sociologist and journalist who is a partner with the Research|Action Cooperative. She writes about the solidarity economy for progressive outlets, and is a member of the Union-Coop Council of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives supporting ties across different sectors of the labor movement.

Robyn C. Spencer (Lehman College and Graduate Center, CUNY)
Robyn C. Spencer is a historian that focuses on Black social protest after World War II, urban and working-class radicalism, and gender. Her first book The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland, analyzes gender and the organizational evolution of the Black Panther Party in Oakland. She has contributed essays connecting history to current events to The Washington Post, Black Youth Project Blog, Vibe Magazine, Colorlines, Truthout, and Black Perspectives. She is a committed activist and is a member of The Campaign to Bring Mumia Home and Black4Palestine. Robyn Spencer is Associate Professor of History at Lehman College and the Graduate Center, CUNY.

Corsino Tolentino (University of Cape Verde and Amílcar Cabral Foundation)
Corsino Tolentino (born André Corsino Tolentino) has a PhD in comparative education on university and social transformation in Cape Verde. This research is considered foundational for the creation and development of the University of Cape Verde (Uni-CV).

Tolentino was born in the island of Santo Antão (in 1946) and attended school in Cape Verde, Portugal, and internationally (Belgium, Russia, and the United States. He was a freedom fighter under the Amilcar Cabral’s PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde), Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cape Verde from the independence in 1975 up to 1977), Member of Parliament (1978-1981), Ambassador to Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy (1981-1984), Minister of Education (1984-1991), UNESCO and World Bank consultant (1993-1999), and director in the Gulbenkian Foundation (2000-2006).

Ambassador Tolentino launched the West Africa Institute (WAI /IAO) and the Academy of Science of Cape Verde. He researches, teaches, and writes on politics, education, and migration. Tolentino is the author of Cabo Verde – Janelas de África (Cape Verde islands: Windows of Africa), 2016, and the recent Breve Ensaio Biográfico sobre Aristides Maria Pereira, on the first President of Cape Verde.

This conference is organized and sponsored by the Center for Place, Culture and Politics; and cosponsored by The Advanced Research Collaborative; The Art, Activism, and the Environment Research Group from the Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research; The Center for the Humanities; The Department of Anthropology; and the Department of Sociology, Graduate Center at the City University of New York. 

For more information, please visit www.pcp.gc.cuny.edu or find our event on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/events/181306185982342/

This conference is lovingly cared for by Mary N. Taylor, Malav J. Kanuga, Sonia Vaz Borges, Mamyrah Dougé-Prosper, Rob Robinson, Maria Luisa Mendonca, Esra Padgett, and Peter Hitchcock. Special thanks to Sampson Starkweather and Jordan Lord from the Center for the Humanities; to Erika Ceruzzi for poster design and Kevin Caplicky for the limited hand print editions; and those accompanying for translations.

This event is free and open to the public.

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