5/13  CONSCIOUSNESS AND REVOLUTION Conference at Graduate Center (CUNY)

Center for Place, Culture, and Politics Conference

Friday, May 13th, 2016
9:30am to 7:30pm

Elebash Recital Hall

The complex and dynamic relationship between consciousness and revolution is essential to the strategic analysis of the hegemonic forms of politics, economics, thought, and action we are currently caught in. It is also central to the collective imagination and realization of other worlds. This conference reflects on legacies of revolutionary thought and practice and considers how these can be reimagined and reenergized within current contingencies. How has internationalism come to terms with new regimes of globalization and polity? How do the logics of financialization, the working of institutions, and money itself mediate our daily lives and sense of possibility with regard to social change? With major foundations investing in and influencing struggles for social justice, the question arises, who owns these movements? What does an anticapitalist critique of “social justice” entrepreneurship models look like? How are we, activists and scholars alike, forging new connections between consciousness and revolution building?


9:30am–10:00am | Welcome
10:00am–12:00pm | Internationalism
12:00pm–2:00pm | Money
2:00pm–3:00pm | Lunch Break
3:00pm–5:00pm | Whose Movement?
5:00pm–5:30pm | Coffee Break
5:30pm–7:30pm | Consciousness and Revolution
7:30pm–9:00pm | Reception

What are the varied political consistencies of internationalist consciousness? What revolutionary assumptions underlie “internationalism”—a term coined in the early nineteenth century by Jeremy Bentham during the rise of liberalism, but taken up most forcefully in twentieth century liberation struggles? What general principles can we discern from multiple topographies, and between and across different scales of the capitalist space-economy?

Money mediates our lives and structures our relationships. Under capitalism, money is not politically neutral. This panel explores key questions about money and the institutions to which it is attached: who has it and who does not, who controls it, and how that control is maintained and reproduced.

Whose Movement?
This panel explores worker-led resistance to the trends of strategic philanthropy, market language, and entrepreneurial projects, each of which has influenced worker organizations in the U.S. over the last fifteen years. Worker organizers will discuss the development of an anti-capitalist critique of “social justice” entrepreneurship models, and how they have navigated this shifting political landscape to build their own organizations. We will also hear from labor leaders outside of the US, where philanthropy has had less influence, and workers are shaping the direction of their movements through mass mobilization and political education.

Consciousness and Revolution
The relationship of consciousness to revolution has often been at its most creative in grassroots organization and activism. This panel will not only explore its current parameters but also imagine how it might be rearticulated for the future. What do contemporary practices suggest?

Jesse Quizar
Sujatha Fernandes
Miguel Robles-Durán
Wendy Cheng
Peter Hitchcock (Moderator)

Conference Participants
Wendy Cheng is Assistant Professor of Asian Pacific American studies and justice and social inquiry in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. Her research focuses on race and ethnicity, comparative racialization, critical geography, urban and suburban studies, and diaspora. Her book The Changs Next Door to the Díazes: Remapping Race in Suburban California (University of Minnesota Press, 2013) develops a theory of regional racial formation through the experiences and perspectives of residents of majority nonwhite, multiracial suburbs, and won the 2014 Book Award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Asia and Asian America. Her coauthored book A People’s Guide to Los Angeles (with Laura Pulido and Laura Barraclough; University of California Press, 2012), for which she was also the photographer, is a guide to sites of alternative histories and struggles over power in Los Angeles County. Cheng is a founding member of Arizona Critical Ethnic Studies and the Arizona Ethnic Studies Network. She was recently named a Diverse: Issues in Higher Education 2016 Emerging Scholar and is the recipient of the 2016 Early Career Achievement Award from the Association for Asian American Studies.

Juan De Lara is Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He received his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley. De Lara’s current research interests include: social justice and social movements, racial capitalism, urbanization, labor, California and the American West, Los Angeles, and the US/Mexico border. His forthcoming book The State of Logistics: Race, Space, and Capital in Inland Southern California will be published by University of California Press later this year. The book uses logistics and commodity chains to unpack the black box of globalization by showing how the scientific management of bodies, space, and time produced new labor regimes that facilitated a more complex and extended system of global production, distribution, and consumption.

Sujatha Fernandes is Professor of Sociology at Queens College and the Graduate Center. She holds joint appointments in the Center for the Study of Women and Society and American Studies at the Graduate Center. Her research combines social theory and political economy with in-depth, engaged ethnography of global social movements. Her first book, Cuba Represent! (Duke University Press, 2006) looks at the forms of cultural struggle that arose in post-Soviet Cuban society. Her second book, Who Can Stop the Drums? (Duke University Press, 2010) explores the spaces for political agency opened up for barrio-based social movements by a hybrid postneoliberal state under radical left wing leader Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. In her third book Close to the Edge (Verso, 2011), she explores whether the musical subculture of hip hop could create and sustain a new global cultural movement. Her latest book entitled, Curated Stories: How Storytelling is Hindering Social Change is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. It looks at how the restructuring of personal stories as easily digestible soundbites mobilized toward narrow goals by non-profits, the immigrant rights movement, and the state has been an obstacle to building deeper movements for social change in the United States and globally.

Ruth Wilson Gilmore is Director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics and Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and American Studies at the Graduate Center. She has many honors and awards, and has delivered invited lectures at universities and cultural institutions around the world. Among many publications, her prize-winning book is Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (University of California Press, 2007). Current projects include a second edition of Golden Gulag, as well as several other book projects: Fatal Couplings: Essays on Motion, Racial Capitalism, and the Black Radical Tradition; and Big Things: Reconfigured Landscapes and the Infrastructure of Feeling. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and The Caribbean (IRADAC), and serves on the boards of many social justice, cultural, and scholarly formations in the United States, Europe, and West Asia. She was a founding member of Critical Resistance, California Prison Moratorium Project, and other grassroots organizations. In 2012, the ASA honored Gilmore with its Angela Davis Award for Public Scholarship, an award that recognizes scholars who have applied or used their scholarship for the “public good.” In 2014, she received the Harold M. Rose Award for Anti-Racism Research and Practice from the Association of American Geographers. She is the 2015–16 inaugural recipient of the Eugene V. Grant Distinguished Scholar Prize awarded by SUNY Purchase for her innovative work on the environment.

David Harvey is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at the Graduate Center and author of various books, articles, and lectures. He is the author of Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism (Profile Books, 2014), one of The Guardian’s Best Books of 2011, The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism (Oxford University Press, 2010). Other books include A Companion to Marx’s Capital, Limits to Capital, and Social Justice and the City. David Harvey has been teaching Karl Marx’s Capital for nearly forty years. His lectures on Marx’s Volumes I and II are available for free download on his website.

Christina Heatherton is Assistant Professor of American Studies at Trinity College. She is completing her first book, The Color Line and the Class Struggle: The Mexican Revolution, Internationalism, and the American Century (under contract, University of California Press). With Jordan T. Camp she coedited Policing the Planet: How the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter (Verso Books, 2016). Her work appears in places such as American Quarterly and in The Rising Tides of Color: Race, State Violence, and Radical Movements Across the Pacific, edited by Moon-Ho Jung (University of Washington Press, 2014). She previously coedited Freedom Now! Struggles for the Human Right to Housing in LA and Beyond (Freedom Now Books, 2012) with Jordan T. Camp and also edited Downtown Blues: A Skid Row Reader (Freedom Now Books, 2011). She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics at the Graduate Center between 2012–2014.

Peter Hitchcock is Associate Director of the Center for Place, Culture and Politics and Professor of English at Baruch College and the Graduate Center. He is also on the faculties of Women’s Studies and Film Studies at the Graduate Center. His many books include The Long Space (Stanford University Press, 2009) and most recently, a coedited collection called The New Public Intellectual (Palgrave, 2016). Other recent publications include, “Viscosity and Velocity” for an anthology on oil (Cornell), “The Leninist Hypothesis” for Poetics Today, “Accumulating Fictions” for Representations, “Immolation” for the Routledge Companion to Literature and Human Rights, “How to Read a Discipline” for Comparative Literature, “Defining the World” in an anthology on Literary Materialisms and “Everything’s Gone Green: The Environment of BP’s Narrative” for Imaginations. Forthcoming articles include an essay, “The Worker Subjects” for Cultural Critique and “Serial Affect: Notes on the Cyborganic Synchrony of Ghost in the Shell(s)” for an anthology on Noir Affect. Forthcoming book projects include a monograph on the cultural representation of labor and another monograph on worlds of postcoloniality, both due out later this year. 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.

Cindi Katz is Professor of Geography, Environmental Psychology, Women’s Studies, and American Studies, and heads the Earth and Environmental Sciences Program at the Graduate Center. Her research addresses social reproduction, global economic restructuring and everyday life, the intertwined spatialities of homeland and home-based security, and the politics of knowledge. She’s held fellowships from the National Science Foundation, Association of University Women, National Institute of Mental Health, Center for the Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture at Rutgers, and Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. Katz was the 2011–12 Diane Middlebrook and Carl Djerassi Visiting Professor of Gender Studies at University of Cambridge. She’s author of the award-winning Growing Up Global: Economic Restructuring and Children’s Everyday Lives (University of Minnesota Press, 2004) and coeditor of Full Circles: Geographies of Gender over the Life Course (with Janice Monk, Routledge, 1993), Life’s Work: Geographies of Social Reproduction (with Sallie Marston and Katharyne Mitchell, Wiley-Blackwell, 2004), and The People, Place and Space Reader (with Jen Jack Gieseking, William Mangold, Setha Low, and Susan Saegert, Routledge, 2014). She is currently working on two book projects—one focused on the crisis of social reproduction through the lens of childhood as spectacle and the other on ‘minor theory.’

Mahoma López is a Mexican immigrant who came to United States at the age of eighteen. López led his workplace justice campaign at Hot and Crusty Bakery, resulting in the formation of an independent union, depicted in the award-winning documentary “The Hand that Feeds.” After leading his own campaign, he became the president of the union. A strong advocate for workers’ rights and leadership development, he is involved in labor organizing in NYC, fighting for low-income communities and immigrant workers. Today López is training and inspiring other workers on ‘know your rights’ and organizing issues. His professional interest is focused on social justice through education and self-determination. He serves as Co-Executive Director of Laundry Workers Center, a not-for-profit organization that addresses the need for community-based leadership development geared toward improving the living and working conditions of socioeconomically disadvantaged families. Laundry Workers Center’s political philosophy is rooted in organizing workers and building their leadership skills and political power through a variety of worker-led tools and tactics.

Carolina Bank Muñoz’s work focuses primarily on immigration, globalization, labor and work. Her book, Transnational Tortillas: Race, Gender and Shop Floor Politics in Mexico and the United States (ILR Press, 2008), is the winner of the Terry Book Award. She currently finished a book manuscript about Wal-Mart in Chile which is under review at Cornell University Press.

Sandra Neida Robles is both the president of the Federation of Autonomous Unions of Wal-Mart Chile as well as the Sindicato Lider Matucana that was recognized in 2010. The Federation was created in March 2011 as a result of the nonexistent participation of women and the low level of commitment to justice and democracy demonstrated by the existing unions in Wal-Mart Chile. It has brought together thirteen unions across Chile and negotiated three collective bargaining agreements with benefits and rights won for members. After successful recent contract negotiations the Federation is currently bargaining over the possibility of a productivity bonus. The organization represents over two thousand workers in the various Wal-Mart Chile formats. This year the Federation is planning a major organizing campaign to recruit more members and develop leaders. It is also planning a political education project to participate in the current debates that are affecting Chile.

Jessi Quizar is a scholar of racial political ecology and centers her work in the areas of critical food studies, urban land and resource struggles, and social movements. Her current research focuses on urban agriculture and race, mass water shut-offs in Detroit, and gentrification. Quizar received her Ph.D. in American Studies and Ethnicity from the University of Southern California, where she researched food sovereignty and Black-led urban agriculture in Detroit. Previously, she earned her M.A. in Sociology with emphasis in Global and Regional International Development from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has been the recipient of awards and fellowships including a Ford Dissertation Fellowship, a USC Provost Fellowship, and the Ninfa Sanchez award for best graduate paper in American Studies at USC. Quizar is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in African American Studies at Northwestern University.

Miguel Robles-Durán is an urbanist, faculty member in the Design and Urban Ecologies graduate program at The New School/Parsons, Senior fellow at Civic City, a post-graduate design/research program based in HEAD Geneva, Switzerland and cofounder of Cohabitation Strategies, an international non-profit cooperative for sociospatial development based in New York and Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Robles-Durán has wide international experience in the strategic definition/coordination of transdisciplinary urban projects, as well as in the development of tactical design strategies and civic engagement platforms that confront the contradictions of neoliberal urbanization. He recently coedited/authored the book Urban Asymmetries: Studies and Projects on Neoliberal Urbanization (nai010 publishers, 2011) that reviews the dire consequences that neoliberal urban policies have had upon the city and discusses possible alternatives to market-driven development. Robles-Durán’s areas of specialization are design/research interventions and strategies in uneven urbanization and areas of social urban conflict, urban political economy, and urban theory.

Rob Robinson is cofounder and 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. He eventually overcame homelessness and has been in the housing movement based in New York City since 2007. In the fall of 2009, Rob was chosen to be the New York City chairperson for the first official mission to the United States of a UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing. He was a member of an advance team coordinated by the US Human Rights Network in early 2010, traveling to Geneva Switzerland several times to prepare for the initial appearance of the United States in the Universal Periodic Review. Rob has worked with homeless populations in Budapest, Hungary and Berlin, Germany and is connected with housing and land movements in South Africa and Brazil. He works with the European Squatters Collective, International Alliance of Inhabitants (IAI), Landless People’s Movement (MST), and the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB); and is the coordinator of the USA Canada Alliance of Inhabitants, sister organization to IAI. In December 2008, he completed a course with People’s Production House and the Community News Production Institute and has been a member of a social justice media collective that produces and airs a weekly radio show over WBAI in New York City called Global Movements Urban Struggles.

Joyce Khadijeh Romain is a postpartum doula, nanny, babynurse, fabric designer, organizer, ecofriendly housecleaner, and an active member of Domestic Workers United. She loves the outdoors, writing, and sharing “old folk wisdom,” and has a passion for cooking West Indian food. A mother of eight, Joyce also feels she is mother to all children without discrimination. She loves children and calls them a “labor of love” because, with the darnedest things they will say and do, they make anyone happy. She also cares for the elderly. Growing up in the Caribbean has made her a champion of multitasking. Domestic Workers United is an organization of Caribbean, Latina and African nannies, housekeepers and elder caregivers in New York, organizing for power, respect and fair labor standards, and to help build a movement to end exploitation and oppression for all.

David Stein is the Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics at the Graduate Center. Trained in interdisciplinary methods, he is a historian whose work focuses on the interconnection between social movements and political and economic relations in post-1865 United States history. He is currently working on his book manuscript, Fearing Inflation, Inflating Fears: The Civil Rights Struggle for Full Employment and the Rise of the Carceral State, 1929–1986, which focuses on the political economy of surplus labor during that period. The project details the efforts of Black freedom movement organizers to create governmental guarantees to jobs or income, and how such efforts were stifled. His scholarship has appeared or is forthcoming in Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Culture, Politics, and Society; Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict and World Order; and Lateral: The Journal of the Cultural Studies Association. He also cohosts and produces Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast with Betsy Beasley.

For more information email pcp@gc.cuny.edu.


This daylong conference is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Center for Place, Culture and Politics, the Center for Humanities, Advanced Research Collaborative, Graduate Center, CUNY.

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