I’m hoping that this page will be a place to stash more academic writing and papers. I’m starting the PhD program in Queen’s Cultural Studies in September 2012 so I’ll be writing a few papers. If you have the patience to read some academic writing, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts, ideas, criticisms, or whatever!
My MA thesis is done, and it’s long, unwieldy, and highly abstract. I still don’t have a good summary of what my thesis is… I got pretty obsessed with a very abstract set of problems around intelligibility and representation, and how those concepts might be used to think about radical social movements. I’ve tried to use some concrete examples in there, including Food Not Bombs, multiculturalism, and professional sports. These examples, along with the final chapter on the UVic guerrilla gardens, are meant to get at a series of questions around representation, intelligibility, universality, and political change. What does it mean to do radical theory about social movements? Can theory do more than just explain what’s going on, or classify, or take positions, or tell people what they should do? It has become a cliche within many corners of academia to announce that theory is also a practice, that it functions, rather than merely representing. So how can we make theory do the work it’s reputed to do? This is my attempt at doing something radical with theory, by mushing it together with radical activism, but like I said, it’s pretty fuckin academic. You can decide for yourself whether this thesis is doing something interesting.
Two key terms used throughout the thesis are ‘molarization’ and ‘singularization’. These are a relational dualism stolen from Deleuze and Guattari, which help to get at the intersection of processes of fixity, classification, structuring, and representation; and fluidity, problematization, and transformation. This can easily be misleading, because the aim isn’t to sort out reality into two sides. Instead, the hope is that they help to think about the intersection of different processes, which aren’t in opposition, but in a much more complicated set of relationships.
A paper I wrote about the anti-Olympics movement is exploring a lot of the same issues. A lot of the mainstream discourse about the movement was focused on what demonstrators were ‘protesting’. Protest reproduces typical relationships between activists and others: inside/outside, for/against, good/evil. Getting at the more complex politics of the anti-Olympics movement means decentering questions about what protestors ‘want’, and focusing instead on events and practices like the Teach-Ins, where people are coming together to discuss a complex set of intersecting problems and processes: colonialism, gentrification, surveillance, corporatization, and environmental destruction to name a few. It’s in these spaces where that -isms and -ations get far beyond buzzwords and there’s time and space to grapple with how they actually work, how they’re being resisted, and how we might intervene politically.
I presented this paper at a conference, and a couple of panels ended up being turned into a book, so now the article can be found in an obscure German publication: Prevent and Tame: Protest under (Self)Control