Things Unseen: Building Autonomy in a Time of Crisis

An enormous political crisis is emerging in the United States, involving the privatization of public goods, the elimination of public space, the marketization of political representation, the displacement of poor communities — in short, the privatization of wealth and the socialization of misery. All evidence seems to suggest that these watershed transformations resulting from global capitalism are picking up speed. If one were to listen to prevalent media discourse, however, the global supremacy of the US, our dysfunctional party-political system, and the power of neoliberalism will survive the coming crisis unscarred. The perspective from below is somewhat different. History teaches us, and the debacle of the current financial crisis bears out, that the brunt impact of these changes will fall hardest on working class and people of color communities. Furthermore, it was from below that the “modern world” was made possible, and it is here (away from the cameras and microphones of those above) that another world is already under construction. In this context, the El Kilombo community speaker series provides us with a space to think strategically about the struggles that must be continually developed in the face of this gathering storm. We will examine these transformations through multiple lenses, in conversation with national and international guest speakers on issues including: the relation of movements to electoral politics; gentrification, the logic of racialized power, and the central importance of territorial control; and the inspiration of global struggles for dignity and autonomy.

Part 1: GENTRIFICATION AND THE STRUGGLE AGAINST IT
January 23, 2009 (Friday)

  • GLEN FORD, co-founder and executive editor of Black Agenda Report, the journal of African American political thought and action (www.blackagendareport.com), to discuss the process of gentrification in city development
  • KENNETH SALTMAN, Associate Professor of Educational Policy Studies at DePaul University, and author most recently of Capitalizing on Disaster: Taking and Breaking Public Schools, to speak on Obama’s appointment of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education, and the role that charter schools play in the displacement of poor communities
  • DANIELLA ANN COOK, the current Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Network on Racial and Ethnic Inequality at Duke University, and Project Coordinator for The National Coalition for Quality Education in New Orleans (www.ncqeno.com), to speak about the relationships between school reform and gentrification in post-Katrina New Orleans.
  • EL KILOMBO  will discuss our effort to build community in the midst of Durham’s ongoing citywide gentrification process.

Part 2: THE ARTIST AND REVOLUTION
February 19th, 2009 (Thursday)

  • FRED MOTEN, Department of English at Duke University; author of In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition
  • ROBIN D. G. KELLEY, Department of American Studies and Ethnicity; author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination and Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

Part 3: THE END OF AN ERA: THE NEW UNREST AND THE EMERGING COMMONISM
March 3, 2009 (Tuesday)

  • GUSTAVO ESTEVA, “Deprofessionalized intellectual”; founder of the Universidad de La Tierra in Oaxaca; author of Grassroots Post-Modernism: Remaking the Soil of Cultures

Part 4: GLOBAL MOVEMENTS FOR AUTONOMY–EUROPE
April 4, 2009 (Saturday)

  • ANGEL LUIS LARA, Musician and sociologist; Lara conducts research at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid

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