Posts Tagged ‘Activism’

Currently I’m in the process of reading for my comprehensive exams. Admittedly it is a little unusual for a two-year MA to have both a thesis and comps, but I am actually pretty excited to have the opportunity to do both; it’s good preparation for a PhD program and also just good academic practice in general. Today’s article is “From Public Sphere to Public Screen: Democracy, Activism, and the ‘Violence’ of Seattle” by Kevin Deluca & Jennifer Peeples. This work expands on DeLuca’s book Image Politics: The New Rhetoric of Environmental Activism by utilizing the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle as a site of analysis. DeLuca & Peeples state:

Image events are dense surfaces meant to provoke in an instant the shock of the familiar made strange. They suggest a Benjaminian sense of time, where any moment can open up on eternity, any moment can be the moment that changes everything, the moment that redeems the past and the future.

While I have not read Walter Benjamin (much to my chagrin), the ability to conceptualize of a moment in time, particularly a image-laden performative moment, as a potential site of intervention strikes me as a frame that ties into the ways in which activists articulate goals. My immediate thoughts on this quotation relate to the many times that I have seen activists engage in spectacle, and many times that those activists have been told they are being too confrontational or distracting. But those spectacles allow access to the corporate controlled public screen. The failing that activists risk, though, is engaging in spectacle without meaning; of demanding attention when there is no other substance to be seen.


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The more democratic a group or campaign is, the more effective it is, as all people involved can have an input and feel a part of the project.

Although often basic, this information is essential for the smooth-running of an organisation and sticking to these simple guidelines can make the difference between a long lasting successful group and a failure.

Below find tips on many aspects of organising, from facilitating meetings and financing your group, to structure and making decisions.

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The industry tends to colour the environmentalists “radical”. The reality is that 95% of the standing native forests of the United States have been cut down. It’s not radical to try and save the last 5%. What’s radical is logging 95%. This is radical.

If A Tree Falls (via drawnfreckles)

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So to the students at Dartmouth—and to the rest of us involved in protest politics—when “allies” chastise you for choosing a too public venue for protest, or for behaving in a manner they call obnoxious or (that favorite slur of the moderate) alienating, remember that being courteous and being effective aren’t necessarily compatible. You know what’s a graver sin than being rude? Not using every tool at your disposal to fight for what’s right.

Travis Mushett, Get Rude: In Praise of Obnoxious and Annoying Activism (via lagertha-lodbrok)


(via stfueverything)

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Further, though, the TOMS campaign — like the million shirts — misses the fundamental point that not having a pair of shoes (or a shirt, christmas toy, etc.) is not a problem about not having shoes. It’s a problem of poverty. Shoelessness, such as it is, is a symptom of a much bigger and more complex problem. And while donating a pair of shoes helps shoelessness, it does not help poverty.

Things like jobs help poverty. Jobs making things like shoes, for example. But TOMS doesn’t make its shoes in Africa, it makes them in China where it’s presumably cheaper to make two pairs of shoes and give one away than it is to get people in a needier community to make one pair of shoes.

The result of this setup, as Zizek explains most succinctly, is that on a big-picture level, TOMS (and other buy-my-product-and-donate companies) are busy building the exploitative global structure that produces economic inequality, while on the other hand pretending that supporting them actually does something to fix it.

It doesn’t. It just gives people shoes.

The 7 Worst International Aid Ideas   (via ifonechitiri-g)

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Dress suitably in short skirts and strong boots, leave your jewels in the bank, and buy a revolver.

Countess Markievicz, 19th century Irish revolutionary, dispensing eternally relevant fashion advice (via guttersouls)

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Happy Bday Angela!

Activist, Scholar, Writer, Professor and FBI’s most wanted

When Angela Davis strode on the political stage with her fist raised high and her iconic Afro standing higher, people noticed. She is a rebel and a revolutionary, a bookish philosopher who has lived out her theories with action and purpose.

Smart, stylish, eloquent and fearless, Davis never lets her style get in the way of the substance. Her life’s work has been built around issues of race, community and the criminal justice system. In the 70s, she was involved with The Black Panthers, but much of her energy was focused on what she termed the Prison-Industrial Complex, the systematic privatization of prisons as profit-making machines. This means the more people in prison, the more lucrative the business. Hence, the absurd increase in men (mostly poor, young, black) sent to U.S prisons in the last two decades.

Davis herself was on the run from the law in the 70s, following the murder of a California judge. Innocent, she went into hiding, which sparked a nationwide search and worldwide media attention, propelling her to the FBI’s most wanted list. Two months later, she was arrested in a motel in midtown Manhattan. Despite pressure from famous rightwing fear-mongers – Richard Nixon (who branded Davis a “terrorist”), the then California governor Ronald Reagan and rat-bag FBI director J Edgar Hoover – Davis became an international cause celebre. A global campaign called for her release and Aretha Franklin offered to post quarter of a million dollars in bail. She was acquitted in the end.

Angela Davis inspired people all over the world, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who recorded their song “Angela” on their 1972 album, Some Time in New York City. The Rolling Stones also wrote about Davis, recording the song “Sweet Black Angel” on their 1972 album, Exile on Main Street.

Davis is now a retired professor with the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz and is the former director of the university’s Feminist Studies Department. She is also the founder of Critical Resistance, an organization working against the Prison-Industrial Complex.

I’m going to see a presentation by Angela Davis next week!! Can’t wait. 🙂

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