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Social Justice Contrasts: Fancy Hotels & Grungy Mutual Aid November 26, 2018

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism.
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My experience at the recent American Studies Association (ASA) conference in Atlanta, GA highlights the tensions in the social-justice (SJ) scene. From the start, walking past folks sleeping on the street on my way to the conference location in a posh hotel unsettled me. Helping with a Food Not Bombs Atlanta meal further brought the contradictions into focus. Is our only choice between affluent academic professionalism & meager mutual aid? I hope not.

One of the folks at Atlanta FNB drew a clear theory-practice distinction. When I mentioned that the conference was people talking social justice in a fancy hotel, this FNBer told me they were doing it (SJ). The poverty & marginality of FNB Atlanta stood out. Like many FNBs, this one preps in a messy collective house. Its anarchist decor awed me: such an assortment of stickers & posters! The food comes from donations & includes the common array of weary veggies.

By my (petty bourgeois?) standards, the whole FNB Atlanta affair seemed a bit desperate, even as far as FNBs go. I’m impressed by how they used their limited resources, but I sure wish they had greater access to nice things.

How come society allocates so much more time & energy to SJ academic conferences than to SJ practice on the ground that serves folks in need?

I’m guessing the potential for SJ humanities disciplines like American studies to entertain & enlighten members of the professional & elite classes gives them the nod over anarchist mutual aid to unsheltered folks.

Needless to say, I’m not the only person to run in both academic & nonacademic radical circles. Various American studies scholars participate in organizing, mutual aid, etc. Some live in poverty themselves.

While I want American studies to thrive, I remain uncomfortable with conferences in high-class venues that charge to enter. These events aren’t accessible or welcoming to many poor/low-income people.

I long for vastly increased resources for mutual aid & for academic conferences that meaningfully engage with local class struggles.

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My University Celebrates Colonialism September 30, 2014

Posted by Summerspeaker in Anti-imperialism, Decolonization, Transhumanism.
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Courtesy of Nick Estes:

UNM Seal

The University of New Mexico – where I study – isn’t just a colonial institution, it’s blatantly and unapologetically so. The official seal celebrates two iconic Indian killers: the Anglo frontiersman and Spanish conquistador.

See the seal without Nick’s caption here. It’s the “most formal symbol of the University” and “is reserved for use on documents or forms of the highest official rank from the University President, the University Secretary, and the University Board of Regents such as diplomas, certificates, certain invitations, legal documents, and other printed materials.” Furthermore, according UNM policy, the “seal may never be distorted.”

This is what living inside a settler-colonial society looks like. Everything that comes out of the United States – specifically the technoscience we transhumanist so adore – relies on stolen land and the structural genocide of Native peoples. Colonialism isn’t incidental or unrelated to the transhumanist project, but foundational to it. Transhumanism needs to work toward decolonization to have any hope of being a positive force in the world.