A regular gathering since September 2015 to share and discuss texts, videos, strategies, movements, skills, etc. Organized and facilitated by those present on a rotating, meeting-to-meeting basis, it will occasionally host presentations by members of the group, as well as people passing through New York. Open to all who wish to participate.
We hope this can be an opportunity for both old friends and those we’ve yet to meet to think and talk together about our shared present; to raise and answer together the questions of the time; to actively implicate ourselves in the conclusions; to initiate an open collective inquiry for building autonomy in the Anthropocene.
Archive of Past Meetings:
Building on a long tradition of self-determination and economic justice for Afrikan people in the south, Cooperation Jackson’s mission is to build a broad network of cooperatives in Jackson, Mississippi, inspired by the examples of Emilia Romagna in Italy and Mondragon in Spain.
The work of Cooperation Jackson is happening in a political moment when majority-Black cities are seeing their political/economic power being challenged by “emergency management decree” on the one hand, and on the other, large-scale Black unemployment and rising incarceration, and automation as a result of an age of disposability in regards to Black lives.
We will talk with Kali Akuno, co-director of Cooperation Jackson, and Kazembe Balagun, member of NYC Friends of Cooperation Jackson, on the work of building cooperatives today for racial and economic justice.
Kali Akuno is the Producer of “An American Nightmare: Black Labor and Liberation”, a joint documentary project of Deep Dish TV and Cooperation Jackson. He is the co-founder of Cooperation Jackson and a co-writer of “Operation Ghetto Storm”, better known as the “Every 28 Hours” report.
Kazembe Balagun is a writer/activist living in The Bronx. He works for the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung New York Office.
Readings for Discussion:
–Kali Akuno, “The Jackson-Kush Plan: A Struggle for Self-Determination, Participatory Democracy, and Economic Justice” (2012)
–Kali Akuno, “Until We Win: Black Labor and Liberation in the Disposable Era” (2015)
–Kali Akuno, “Casting Shadows: Chokwe Lumumba and the Struggle for Racial Justice and Economic Democracy in Jackson, Mississippi” (2015)
This Wednesday we will have a discussion on Community Land Trusts in New York City, featuring Demetrice Mills, gardener and member of Brooklyn Queens Land Trust; and Melora Hiller, Co-Executive Director of the National Community Land Trust Network. This follows a number of sessions on governance and access to land, inside and outside of the city.
Readings for Discussion:
–Oksana Mironova, “The Value of Land: How Community Land Trusts Maintain Housing Affordability” (2014)
–Annette Lorraine, “Legal mechanisms when considering co-ownership of land or co-housing” (2011)
–Sam Miller, “Homelessness, Community Land Trusts, and the Future of NYC Neighborhoods” (2014)
–Peter Marcuse, “Community Land Trusts as Transformative Housing Reforms” (2014)
–Kirby White, “The CLT Technical Manual” (2011)
As a follow-up to recent discussions on administration and sovereignty, and institutions of governance – as well as recent presentations on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – we will continue to think through international economic agreements as they relate to autonomy. Participants of the working group will present on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Export Processing Zones (EPZ) & Special Economic Zones (SEZ), and the proposed Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).
We welcome our friends Darcy and Bernardo for a special presentation on waste infrastructure in New York City. This session continues our collaborative research into the logistical and infrastructural underpinnings of our lives, undertaken as part of a broader investigation into revolutionary strategies adequate to the present.
What happens after you put your trash on the curb? How is the city organized to deal with the tremendous amounts of waste we produce? At what cost do these complex systems operate? Join us for an in-depth look at how waste is handled in NYC, tracing its journey from collection and processing to the surprising places it can end up. Beyond learning about critical systems supporting our urban existence, this will also be an opportunity to think about our toxic legacy – plastic swirling in the ocean, particulate matter in the air, whole cities built on landfill – and the material conditions of life in the Anthropocene.
Suggested readings on the political history of waste:
Ellyn Krevitz, “Not in my Landfill: Virginia and the Politics of Waste Importation”
Garrick Louis, “Historical Context of Municipal Solid Waste Management in the US”
Darcy Bender is a designer of urban systems interventions. Her research focuses on understanding the discarded things, people and places that result from our current social and economic relations. Her master’s thesis at Parsons aims to use travel as a tool to reimagine our interactions with the material environment.
Bernardo Loureiro is an urban designer. He is mainly interested in the intersection of cities and landscapes, and in the materials and flows that underpin this relationship. As his master’s thesis at Parsons he’s building a digital tool to explore New York City’s waste system and propose alternatives for the future.
Following recent conversations on governance and constitutions, we now turn to Ivan Illich’s idea of “convivial society.” Illich (1926-2002), who we previously encountered in our sessions on alternative education, wrote extensively about the destructive effects of modern society and outlined what he believed necessary for a world better suited to human needs. In this selection, he argues for building “convivial” tools – meaning technologies and techniques as well as institutions and social relations – that maximize freedom and self-determination through ethical, politically-engaged communities.
Reading Illich’s provocative work, we ask: how can his notion of conviviality help us understand autonomy? How can we “invert” politics, wresting control away from elites and actualizing our own power? What kinds of technologies and institutions should we build in the society we are fighting for?
Reading for discussion:
–Ivan Illich, “Convivial Reconstruction” (1973, Tools for Conviviality)
We decided for this week as well to encourage everyone to attend presentations during the 3-day series, “The Extraordinary Kurdish Revolution Against Patriarchy and the State: A First in World History”, featuring Bülent Küçük, Michael Taussig, and Nazan Üstündağ, and taking place at the School of Visual Arts, the New School, and Columbia University this Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
REPEAT: We won’t have our normal weekly meeting this Wednesday (3/2) at Woodbine!
–Michael Taussig, “The Mastery of Non-Mastery” (2015)
–Abdullah Ocalan, “Declaration of Democratic Confederalism in Kurdistan” (2005)
–Murray Bookchin, “The Meaning of Confederalism” (1990)
Thursday 2/25 (at Interference Archive in Brooklyn)
We won’t have our normal weekly meeting this Wednesday at Woodbine, but encourage everyone to go to this report-back presentation on Thursday about democratic autonomy in Rojava
–Petar Stanchev, “From Chiapas to Rojava – more than just coincidences” (2015)
–Charlotte Maria Sáenz, “Women Up In Arms: Zapatistas and Rojava Kurds Embrace a New Gender Politics” (2015)
–Zeynep Gambetti, “Politics of Place/Space: The Spatial Dynamics of the Kurdish and Zapatista Movements” (2009)
After looking at a number of historical constitutions, and inspired by Rojava’s declaration of self-administration, this week we pursue collaborative research on the existing institutional structures and agreements that govern our lives.
Taking up the question of autonomy, we ask: through what bodies is power currently organized, and what are their protocols and mechanisms for enforcement? What are the possibilities for strategically interacting with these structures? What could alternative institutional arrangements look like that call into question the very notion of governance?
Several participants of the Working Group will present on various topics, including local city and state political representation, international trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the curious role of “social clubs” in NYC history. We are happy to hear from others as well, so please get in touch if there’s an issue related to administration and governance that you would like to discuss.
As a follow-up to our discussion of Simone Weil’s World War 2-era writings on obligations, rights, and eternal human needs, we decided to look at a selection of governmental constitutions, social contracts, and agreements in our ongoing inquiry into the implications of autonomy. Starting with the Iroquois Confederacy’s 15th century Great Law of Peace as a predecessor to the United States Constitution of 1789, and then looking at the 1989 Taif Agreement which ended Lebanon’s Civil War (1975-1990) alongside Rojava’s recent Social Contract, drafted in the midst of the Syria’s Civil War.
–excerpts from Hannah Arendt, “Constitutio Libertatis” (1963, On Revolution)
Following our conversations on land, memory, and community, this week we turn to the work of Simone Weil (1909-1943). An idiosyncratic thinker, Weil wrote extensively about the dispossession we have experienced throughout modernity in its material, social, and spiritual aspects: the disconnection from our past, the loss of community, and the tremendous uprooting of our lives. Writing amidst the war, she posited “the need for roots” and sought to show how our ties to one another could form the basis for another way of life. Together we’ll look at Weil’s diagnosis of modern society and discuss what she believes to be fundamental for leading meaningful lives in the world.
Our reading will focus specifically on the first section of Weil’s book, ‘The Needs Of The Soul’, in which she outlines 14 experiences fundamental to a dutiful, collective maturation: Order, Liberty, Obedience, Responsibility, Equality, Hierarchism, Honour, Punishment, Freedom of Opinion, Security, Risk, Private Property, Collective Property, and Truth. Each participant is welcome to select one of these benchmarks of social initiation, and instruct a brief lesson, formulated around, or drawing from, any aspect of their lived experience. In this way, we hope to manifest some of the directives established by texts read in previous weeks, most notably, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s “Land as Pedagogy” (2014), which articulates the limitations of the West’s cultural acceptance of and dependency on state education systems, and argues for the development of diverse and locally defined alternative sites and systems of education, where relationships with land function as pedagogy.
As a reminder: our weekly sessions are open and participatory, and they aim to stimulate thinking, reflection, and conversation among a diverse group of people. All are welcome to attend when able and interested, and we plan to continue our conversations in the long term.
Reading for Discussion:
–Simone Weil, “The Needs of the Soul” (pages 1-38)
“Paula Gunn Allen said it well once–that a people without history, without collective memory, has no capacity for resistance. Collective memory is an amazing power of resistance.” -Silvia Federici, from our discussion in November
This Wednesday we meet to consider the power of collective memory. To guide us, we read Paula Gunn Allen’s “Who Is You Mother? Red Roots of White Feminism” (1984) and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s “Land As Pedagogy” (2014).
Collective memory is a way of honoring our histories and preserving that which is valuable in them. It is a pedagogy–a way of teaching and learning, showing and seeing–that allows us to unfold the plenitude of where we come from and what we bring and build together. It is in this spirit that we read and draw inspiration from these indigenous feminist histories and traditions. We ask what it means to remember histories that are marginalized and erased and how we can draw on them to cultivate practices of learning and engagement that are suited to the project of building autonomy.
In addition to a discussion of the readings, we invite (but do not require) stories of origins, lost practices, and engagements with land and learning.
Readings for Discussion:
–Paula Gunn Allen, “Who Is Your Mother? Red Roots of White Feminism” (1984)
–Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, “Land as pedagogy: Nishnaabeg intelligence and rebellious transformation” (2014)
We can also discuss Ivan Illich’s “Rebirth of Epimethean Man” from Deschooling Society (1971), which was circulated last week, but which we did not find occasion to discuss
This week we welcome the El Rebozo collective in a discussion on Education Autonomy as encountered in their experience with La Escualita Zapatista in Chiapas, their longterm collaboration with Universidad de la Tierra in Oaxaca, and their creation of the El Rebozo collective.
Over the last 20 years, the revolution of everyday life in the autonomous Zapatista communities has entailed the creation of an alternative form of education, rooted in indigenous culture, that unfolds not only in the classrooms, but also in the fields, women’s cooperatives, and health centers.
How can we understand the role of education in autonomous communities, as a form of resistance, decolonization, and creation of alternative forms of life? What importance does education have when communities in resistance commit to an intergenerational struggle?
Education Autonomy means departing from commoditized parcels of information and institutionalized services. It means returning to the body as the ground of knowledge, practice, and cooperation. It means learning to learn through sensing, feeling, and acting collectively.
–Gustavo Esteva, “Reclaiming Our Freedom to Learn” (2007)
–T. Francene Watson, “Review: Escaping Education: Living as Learning within Grassroots Cultures by Madhu Suri Prakash and Gustavo Esteva” (2010)
–Raul Zibechi, “Autonomous Zapatista Education: The Little Schools of Below” (2013)
–First Grade Zapatista Textbooks (2014)
–Ivan Illich, “Learning Webs” and “Rebirth of Epimethean Man” from Deschooling Society (1971)
El Rebozo is an independent editorial cooperative in close collaboration with Unitierra in Oaxaca. It operates under the principles of autogestion: a form of self-management with an implied horizontalism and collectivism; collective learning: seeing the book not as so much as merchandise, but rather a form of sharing knowledge; accessibility: amplifying access to knowledge and learning opportunities; the creation of new relationships: seeing the book as an intermediary, as a bridge to political/social relationships, and to seek out those with political affinities. As adherents to the Zapatista’s Sixth Declaration, we depart from there as a form of doing politics. For us, the cooperative is therefore much more than the material printing of texts and serves as a platform to awaken our imaginations. We also believe that the social relationships necessary for a well functioning cooperative, (both internally, and externally, in how we engage with others, groups, collectives, etc.) is a reflection of those that we dream of and believe are necessary to reweave the social fabric and build a world in which many worlds fit.
Confronted with a massive housing crisis and deepening austerity, people across Spain have been creatively organizing against the destructive policies that created this very crisis through popular demonstrations, eviction resistance, and plaza occupations. Especially in urban centers, they have simultaneously sought to build new forms of living together by constructing alternative spaces, founding cooperatives, and launching numerous squats. This week we will hear from a comrade about new forms of communal life emerging in Madrid, specifically La Barraka, an autonomous living and organizing space started in 2008.
Recommended background materials:
–“Infographic: Spain’s housing crisis” (2014)
–Julia Ramírez Blanco and StudentNation, “Madrid’s Renaissance of Occupied Spaces” (2013)
–“Pain in Spain” (Dateline, 2012)
This session broadens our investigations into autonomy as the comprehensive self-organization of collective life, touching on everything from food and energy, to housing and forms of organization, to social relations and everyday life.
We want to begin the New Year with a special session dedicated to storytelling. Storytelling is an ancient custom and something of a lost art for us, an exercise of collective memory, weaving together our ties to people, places, and histories across generations.
This week we decided to research together food production and circulation within and around New York City. We’ll have short presentations on the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center in the Bronx; the city’s foodshed in upstate New York and Pennsylvania; and more. If you’d like to research and present on something this Wednesday along with us, get in touch. This follows recent discussions and readings on subsistence, food sovereignty, and land struggles; and is a shift towards the group working to better understand the infrastructures around us–as we think together the question of autonomy today.
Discussion with Luhuna Carvalho on the state of Portugal: under the imposed austerity measures of the Troika (European Union, IMF, European bank), several strategies of resistance were drafted the streets. The country saw its biggest demonstrations since 1974’s Carnation Revolution, and these often escaped the expected plot of institutional protest. Among the new forms of protest and organization, several autonomous spaces surfaced, answering to the specific needs of those involved, rather than the ideological reproduction of a given clique or tendency.
Even though social antagonism reached its highest point in decades, Portugal was still pinpointed as austerity’s good pupil, and the anti-austerity movements in the streets failed to derail the government’s intentions. To understand this situation, we need to look further than just the correlation of political forces. One way to do this would be to look into the territorial composition of Lisbon, and try to understand which dynamics of resistance and autonomy emerge outside of central mechanisms of power.
–Ricardo Noronha, “Portugal: All Quiet On the Western Front?” (2015)
–Edições Antipáticas, “On the passage of a few thousand people through a brief period of time” (2014)
For this week’s meeting, we are looking at theorizations of autonomy within Migration and Mobility. Foregrounding the question of mobility in thinking autonomy calls attention to existing territorial forms of power–the terms of inclusion and exclusion which dictate who can live in what spaces. It also means creating a material base of support that allows for freedom of movement, freedom to stay, and the right of return–the constitution of the “mobile commons” that is part of struggles for migrant justice, decolonization, and against gentrification.
Readings for Discussion:
–Sandro Mezzadra, “The Gaze of Autonomy: Capitalism, Migration and Social Struggles” (2010)
–Dimitris Papadopoulos & Vassilis S. Tsianos, “After citizenship: autonomy of migration, organisational ontology and mobile commons” (2013)
–Nicholas De Genova, “The Queer Politics of Migration: Reflections on ‘Illegality’ and Incorrigibility” (2010)
–Nicos Trimikliniotis, Dimitris Parsanoglou, Vassilis Tsianos, “Mobile Commons, Migrant Digitalities and the Right to the City” (2015)
–Nicholas De Genova, “Spectacles of Migrant “Illegality”: The Scene of Exclusion, the Obscene of Inclusion” (2013)
Following our recent conversations with Silvia Federici, Elizabeth Povinelli, and friends from the ZAD in France and Fukuoka, Japan, we will continue thinking together about land, social reproduction, and (food) sovereignty. To begin, we will discuss a short selection from Maria Mies and Veronika Benholdt-Thomsen’s book The Subsistence Perspective: Beyond the Globalised Economy (1999), which introduces subsistence as an alternate mode of organizing life. In addition, we will look at the Declaration of the Forum for Food Sovereignty (held in Nyeleni, Mali in 2007), as well as an essay on the subject by Mariarosa Dalla Costa.
We also plan to use this session to reflect on key themes we have covered together, and discuss the broader trajectory of the working group.
Readings for Discussion:
–Maria Mies and Veronika Benholdt-Thomsen, “The History of the Subsistence Approach” (1999)
–“Declaration of the Forum for Food Sovereignty, Nyeleni” (2007)
–Mariarosa Dalla Costa, “Food Sovereignty, Peasants, and Women” (2007)
–Out of the Woods, “Contemporary agriculture: climate, capital, and cyborg ecology” (2015)
This Monday we welcome Elizabeth Povinelli, author of Economies of Abandonment: Social Belonging and Endurance in Late Liberalism (2011), a member of the Karrabing Film Collective, and Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. We will show some short videos by the Karrabing Film Collective, and discuss some of her writings on autonomy (links below).
The Karrabing Film Collective (http://www.karrabing.com) is a grassroots indigenous based media group, most of whom live on a rural community in the Northern Territory, Australia with low or no income. Their most recent project, Salt, comprises five ten minute films, shot by Karrabing members on iPhones. For them, filmmaking is a technique of self-organization and social analysis and, through screenings and publications, a means to articulate themselves. Their filmmaking becomes a form of survival, a means of investigating contemporary social forms of inequality, and a refusal to relinquish their country.
Suggested readings for our discussion:
–“Interview with Elizabeth Povinelli” – Mat Coleman & Kathryn Yusoff (2014)
–“Holding Up the World, Part III: In the Event of Precarity … A Conversation” – Lauren Berlant & Elizabeth A. Povinelli (2014)
–“Dear So and So of So, I write regarding toxic sovereignties in Windjarrameru” – Elizabeth A. Povinelli (2015)
And a trailer from Salt
NYC Solidarity With #4thprecinctshutdown In Minneapolis: Meet us at the chess tables in the South-West corner of the park.
This week we welcome Silvia Federici to give a presentation and reportback from her recent visit to Mexico, where last month she participated in the 1st International Congress of Communality in Puebla (http://www.congresocomunalidad2015.org/), before going on to visit comrades in Chiapas.
In preparation for her visit, here are some recommended readings on women, land, and food:
–“Women, Land-Struggles and the Valorization of Labor” – Silvia Federici, 2005
–“On capitalism, colonialism, women and food politics” – Interview with Silvia Federici, 2009
Silvia Federici was born in Parma, Italy, in 1942 and lives in Brooklyn, New York. In 1972, she was co-founder of the International Feminist Collective, which launched the Wages for Housework (WfH) campaign internationally. She was a founding member of the New York Wages for Housework Committee (1973-1978), an organization that helped build WfH mobilizations and committees across the U.S. and Canada. After a period of teaching and research in Nigeria in the 1980s, she co-founded the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa, an organization dedicated to generating support for the struggles of students and teachers in Africa against the structural adjustment of African economies and educational systems. She is also a founding member of the Radical Philosophy Association’s Anti-Death Penalty Project, as well as the Midnight Notes Collective. From 1987 to 2005, Federici taught international studies, women studies, and political philosophy courses at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, NY, where she is Emerita Professor of Philosophy and International Studies. Among her books are Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle (2012) and Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation (2004).
This week we’ll look at the work of Raúl Zibechi, a Uruguayan political theorist who has written extensively about recent social movements in Central and South America. We will focus on his discussions of urban autonomy, from the self-organization of everyday life to spectacular moments of collective resistance. One essay provides an overview of autonomous organizing in Mexico City; another chronicles a communal uprising in El Alto, Bolivia. A selection of Zibechi’s shorter, journalistic articles from the Americas Program of the Center for International Policy are also highly recommended, investigating other manifestations of urban autonomy in Argentina, Colombia, and Venezuela, respectively.
With this week’s session we will continue analyzing autonomy as a global movement, deepening our practical and conceptual understanding of the term, as we figure out together what it could look like in New York City.
Readings for Discussion:
–“Mexico: Challenges and Difficulties of Urban Territories in Resistance” (Raul Zibechi, 2014)
–“Everyday Life and Insurrection: Undivided Bodies” (Raul Zibechi, 2006)
–“Autonomy in Buenos Aires’ Villa 31” (Raul Zibechi, 2013)
–“Rebuilding Community in Medellin’s Violent Slums” (Raul Zibechi, 2015)
–“La Legua: Building Community in Small Spaces” (Raul Zibechi, 2015)
This week we’ll continue our discussion on the Kurdish freedom movement, focusing on its emphasis on women’s liberation and feminism. In addition to Ocalan’s 2013 pamphlet “Liberating Life: Woman’s Revolution,” we’ll look at Dilar Dirik’s presentation from April’s “Dissecting Capitalist Modernity–Building Democratic Confederalism” conference in Hamburg, as well two short recent reports she’s written on the role of women in Kurdish refugee autonomy.
–Liberating Life: Woman’s Revolution – Abdullah Ocalan, 2013
–Feminism and the Kurdish Freedom Movement – Dilar Dirik, 2015
–From Genocide to Resistance: Yazidi Women Fight Back – Dilar Dirik, 2015
–Forget the UN! Meet the Self-Determining Refugees in Kurdistan – Dilar Dirik, 2015
This Wednesday we will begin discussing the Kurdish freedom movement and its conception of autonomy, which over the last year has received intense international interest. This follows two recent talks in the city by Kurdish activist and scholar Dilar Dirik on the revolution in Rojava, and is in advance of the November 1st general election in Turkey. This upcoming Turkish election comes just months after a June 2015 general election in which the “pro-Kurdish” Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) entered parliament for the first time, breaking the majority held by President Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). This has resulted in a significant escalation of violence within Turkey, specifically in the country’s majority Kurdish region in the south-east, and the breakdown of a ceasefire between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
We will start with some writings by Abdullah Ocalan (1948-) himself, co-founder in 1978 of the PKK, who has been imprisoned by the Turkish state since 1999. They are two short pamphlets published in English in 2011 and 2013, compiling materials from many of Ocalan’s as yet untranslated books.
Discussion on Native Sovereignty with John Kane
In South Africa many “New Social Movements” emerged in the late 90s and 2000s, disappointed with the State and the ANC, and frustrated by the inability of these institutions to provide for basic needs like housing, sanitation, water and electricity. For next week we decided to work through some materials on shack-dwellers movements across South Africa (like Abahlali baseMjondolo). They are mostly short and written in vernacular, so don’t be alarmed by the number (.pdf bundle here: https://www.mediafire.com/?s7zcug3cwkt5a9u)
–“Celebrating a Decade of Struggle” (TJ Ngongoma, Zandile Nsibande, Ndabo Mzimela, 2015)
–“To Resist All Degradations & Divisions” (An interview with S’bu Zidoke, 2009)
–“Reluctantly Loud: Interventions in the History of a Land Occupation” (Kobi Benson & Faeza Meyer, 2012)
–“To: All poor Americans and their communities in resistance” (Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign (AEC), 2009)
–“The Politic of Freedom without Land” (S’bu Zikode, 2014)
We decided to look at an essay by French anthropologist Pierre Clastres (1934-1977) on the state and Amerindian societies. And as a bonus, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s essay on Clastres, from the introduction to 2010’s edition of Archeology of Violence (1980).
–“Society Against the State” (Pierre Clastres, 1974)
–“The Untimely, Again” (Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, 2010)
During the series of revolts and mass mobilizations that shook the Arab world in 2010/2011–initiating a series of political reverberations that continue to redefine power relations and even state formations today–Lebanon was conspicuously silent. Oddly and poetically enough a series of small protests surrounding garbage disposal in July, known as the YouStink movement (in Arabic directly translated as “Your Stench Rises”), has morphed from demands about state disposal of trash to demands about corruption more generally in Lebanon. The uprising has even developed into demands directed towards abolishing Lebanon’s infamous sectarian system. In these various metamorphoses of the movement, important social and economic fault lines in Lebanese society have been exposed.
For this week’s meeting we have three texts that discuss the recent upheavals, as well as the roots of sectarianism and the role of the State in post-independence Lebanon. With a presentation by Malek, who recently returned from Beirut.
–Quick Thoughts: On Lebanon’s Garbage Crisis and Protest Movement (Moe Ali Nayel, 2015)
–The Modernity of Sectarianism in Lebanon: Reconstructing the Nation-State (Ussama Makdisi, 1996)
–Then and Now: Lebanese State Institutions During the Early Years of Independence (Ziad Abu-Rish, 2015)
For those who have more time, an hour long interview on the current protests:
–A Perfect Metaphor? The Trash Crisis in Lebanon (An Interview with Ziad Abu-Rish, 2015)
From a self-described “forgotten” part of Mexico, the scream of “basta ya” (enough is enough) has reverberated around the world. On Jan 1st 1994, the day that NAFTA began its slow dismemberment of Mexico, the Zapatistas rose up in arms and declared themselves the latest incarnation of over 500 years of indigenous struggle. Today the EZLN and the Zapatista movement has come to represent for many of the dispossessed of the world a third way forward; not to reproduce state power nor to reform existing structures, but to work towards the ideal of autonomy. To create the foundations on which a struggle can be won through self organization and self sustenance. As their struggle moves into the third decade, come hear about the evolution of their program, resistance after two decades of counter insurgency, and how we can bring the “Zapatista heart” to the struggles we face.
The event will feature a reportback on the situation on the ground from Sam and Frank, both of whom have recently been in Chiapas.
–Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle (EZLN, 2005)
–Political Economy from the Perspective of the Zapatista Communities (Subcomandante Insurgente Moises, 2015)
–The Humility of Love: A Lesson from Chiapas (Frank Coughlin, 2014)
For those with a little more time, a documentary:
–Zapatistas: Chronicle of a Rebellion (Victor Mariña & Mario Viveros, 2007)
”Submission is death, autonomy is life.”
selections from Pedro Neves Marques’ edited “Apocalypsis” section from e-flux’s Supercommunity series:
–LOOK ABOVE, THE SKY IS FALLING: HUMANITY BEFORE AND AFTER THE END OF THE WORLD (Pedro Neves Marques)
–IS THERE ANY WORLD TO COME? (Déborah Danowski & Eduardo Viveiros de Castro)