Conference: Winning the Crisis | Debt * Narrative * Movements * Counter-Archives | March 21 & 22

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Winning The Crisis: Alternatives, Possibilities and Organizing for the Future

March 21-22, 2012

A two-day conference of academics, activists, artists, and organizers

Brandworkers * George Caffentzis * Silvia Federici * Jim Fleming * Fran Ilich * Matthew Frye Jacobson * Monica Johnson of EDU Debtors Union * Aaron Levy * Movement for Justice in El Barrio * Tavia Nyong’o * Cheryl Payer * Amy Roberts of Occupy Wall Street Archival Project * Andrew Ross * William Scott * Shanté Paradigm Smalls * Jack Tchen * Trade Justice * Gregory Wilpert
Department of Social & Cultural Analysis, NYU
20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10003 (map)

Panels will be held from 1-5:30 pm March 21 & 22

Refreshments provided * Free and open to the public


Another world is, indeed, possible. But another world will not arrive fully formed, nor will it arrive without deliberate action on our part. The deliberation has begun, and the time has come to gather — to think together about the struggle we share, to discuss the painstaking work of collaboration and co-creation, to engage in acts of political imagination capable of transcending the past and transforming the present.

Toward just such an end, we have organized a two-day discussion among academics, activists, artists and organizers (by no means mutually exclusive categories) with the aim of imagining what “Winning The Crisis” might look like for workers, students, debtors — in short, for the 99 percent.

A panel on debt will address a key root of contemporary crises. Panelists will discuss the varied modes of exploitation and dependency that structure both social and international relations. If our current dilemma stems from the rampant proliferation of debt, winning the crisis requires re-imagining debt and resistance against it. From macro discussions of debt forgiveness and re-structuring to more micro appeals for refusal and debt unionization, this panel will help us see beyond the false horizon imposed by a world system premised on arrears.

A panel on narrative will explore long historical perspectives that exceed the immediate origins of the contemporary crisis, as well as imaginaries and forms of futurity that can sharpen our understanding of the present and allow us to think more capaciously about what organizing and strategies of resistance might look like. It will include discussions of speculative fiction, representations of popular power (as well as the crises such power may cause for representation), and creative experiments in social infrastructure.

A panel on movements will bring together perspectives on and from within active social and political movements within New York and beyond. It will traverse multiple spaces and scales of struggle — from workers’ rights in transnational production chains, to local neighborhood-based organizing against the displacement of immigrants and low-income communities in El Barrio, to activist action against the advance of neoliberal “free trade” agreements, to the construction of a new socialism in Venezuela. This panel will also bring together varied perspectives on, and experiences with, different forms of envisioning and enacting systemic change — from analyzing the dialectics of social movements and State power in nation-wide structural transformation, to building a local movement around principles of horizontalism and autonomism; from lobbying and campaigning for the accountability of elected officials, to the intersections of worker-led organizing and institution-based advocacy and training.

Finally, if the document constitutes a “passageway in and across time,”* carrying residue of the past into the future, then, rather than serving as a mere repository of the past, the archive concentrates the potential of any movement, becoming a point of departure for possible futures. Archives have always been entangled with power, functioning to maintain hierarchies of knowledge, to control fields of legibility, and to subordinate collective memory to Histories penned by power. Looking forward, then, we must turn to counter-archives, collections and compositions that can move us beyond such epistemic enclosures, that point us to those desires, possibilities and collocations of memory that lie at the “border of invisibility.”** A roundtable of historians, curators, editors and rogue archivists will take up these questions of archives, counter-archives and an-archives toward framing a new future.

Organized by Jen Ayres, A.J. Bauer, Jennifer Flores Sternad, Andrew González and Justin Leroy
for the Department of Social & Cultural Analysis, New York University.

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