Activist organizing and organizing activism: A post-pandemic world in the making

Last updated, 8 Mar 2021
Additional info: 
CfP for ephemera conference
Deadline: 
02/04/2021

Activist organizing and organizing activism: A post-pandemic world in the

making

 

31 May - 1 Jun 2021

 

*Organizers*: Yousra Rahmouni Elidrissi, Ozan Nadir Alakavuklar, Ekaterina

Chertkovskaya and Christos Giotitsas

 

As we find ourselves in the midst of yet another crisis that undermines the

ecological, political and economic bases of our lives, alternative forms of

organizing are gaining renewed attention, and calls for a critical

engagement with them are more urgent than ever. In response to this

imperative, the conference will explore the current challenges and

opportunities opened up by activist forms of organizing. In particular, the

conference aims to expand on how these alternatives challenge dominant

power relations and prefigure a more democratic, ecologically sustainable,

and socially just society in the here and now.

 

From civil society organizations to grassroots initiatives and

neighbourhood groups, progressive social movements constitute contentious

spaces of reflection, action, and transformation. By intertwining theory

and practice, social movements offer a range of emancipatory alternatives

for organizing our economy and society. Efforts to rethink the way we live

and work include, for example, the social solidarity economy (e.g. World

Fair Trade Organization), the mutualist movement (e.g. Coop banks), local

currencies (e.g. Bristol Pound), transition towns (e.g. Transition

Network), intentional communities, and eco-villages.

 

As we witness growing mobilizations of people for climate justice, against

anti-austerity policies, as well as gender and socio-economic inequality in

radical forms such as global school strikes, occupations of forests and

factories, we also find insider activists disrupting the status quo and

promoting change within their organizations. Finally, other organizational

and social experiments that seek to blur traditional boundaries between the

public, the private, and the civil society, such as social enterprises and

non-growing companies, emerge with the promise of incremental social

change. Beyond their diversity, these alternative forms of organizing,

working and living embody not only a world already in the making, with its

own tensions and paradoxes, but also contain the seeds of a post-pandemic

future that is yet to come, bursting with hope and possibility.

Therefore,  we wish to learn from various forms of activist

organizing, their bottom-up practices, strategies, tensions and

transformative potential but also from academics’ role and engagement with

these struggles.

 

Indeed, following the activist turn in the field of critical organization

studies, scholars are pointing to the need to develop a radical praxis that

goes beyond discursive types of interventions. Acknowledging the power

relations embedded in research relationships and reproduced in modes of

knowing, such scholarship explores how research practices can become tools

of resistance for transforming society and subverting the politics of

knowledge production. This continues to pose numerous theoretical and

methodological questions worth reflecting on as we do research

*about/for/along* activist movements. How can academics and activists build

non-exploitative, accountable and ethical relations on equal terms? What

kind of methodologies can we develop together? How do academic-activists

negotiate their multiple identities and work in and outside the field?

 

Meanwhile, and against the background of increasing threats by

corporate-conservative agendas aiming at silencing all critical and

heterodox perspectives within universities[1], critical scholars continue

blurring the boundaries between research and organizing, drawing from the

traditions of academic activism and its heritage in critical theories. To

this extent, they seek to pursue situated and practically engaged knowledge

that both emerges from and feeds into progressive social, political and

economic struggles. We would like to hear about the theoretical and

experiential interventions of academics involved in organizing activism.

 

We invite activists, artists, practitioners and researchers to join us in

the ongoing dialogue on activism, organizing, and socio-ecological

transformation. We encourage participation in a variety of formats,

including articles, notes, photo essays, short films, artistic

performances or any other experimental contributions. Possible topics might

include, but are not limited to:

 

   - Activist organizing and emerging transformative subjectivities

   - Self-management, collective ownership and other practices of activist

   organizing such as solidarity, autonomy, shared leadership, etc.

   - Collective action and mobilization within, against and beyond

   capitalist practices

   - Organizing activism by building alliances to transform institutions

   - Challenges of/to academic-activist forms of engagement and the

   politics of knowledge co-production

   - Contribution of critical theories to activist organizing (e.g. diverse

   economies, social movements theory, the commons, queer theory,

   anarchism(s), Marxism(s), feminism(s), post/decolonialism(s), etc.)

 

*The deadline for submitting abstracts is* *2 April 2021*

 

Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be submitted in a PDF/word

document, and any questions addressed to Yousra Rahmouni Elidrissi (

y.rahmounielidrissi@uu.nl) and Ozan Nadir Alakavuklar (o.n.alakavuklar@uu.nl

).

 

The conference will be online and free for participants.

 

An open call for a special issue in *ephemera *will follow the conference

to which participants and non-participants will be able to submit their

contributions.