CFP: Constructing Social Change (Netherlands) (4/30/06; 6/22/06-6/26/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Boletsi, M.
contact email: 

CASA meeting 2006

Desire and Utopia, Art, Knowledge and Direct Action

Date: 22 June 2006 - 26 June 2006
Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The Cultural Analysis Summer Academy (CASA) came into existence in=20
2003 as an international forum that seeks to discuss the shifting=20
functions of academia and the scholar in a globalized society. Until=20
now CASA organized two meetings to provide a platform for these=20
discussions. Two years ago people from seventeen countries all over=20
the world engaged in the discussions under the broad headline of=20
'Acting - Spectating'. The meeting proved to be successful and=20
created on-going debates that have resulted in an e-journal and a=20
proposed book publication. In 2005 a second meeting was organized=20
that focused on the intersection between academic research and=20
activism by discussing three thematic threads: borders, markets and=20

CASA continues to be an interrogatory process on the continuum of=20
activism and academia. The CASA meeting 2006 will focus on debates=20
around the construction of social change.

The leftist tendency of embracing change as intrinsically positive,=20
as if all transformations were emancipatory, veils two important=20
facts. First of all, it presents the world as manageable. While=20
change is inevitable it is not always the result of rational choices=20
within collective action processes. Secondly, when human agents=20
attempt to give change a certain direction, they still need to take=20
into consideration that the effects of their actions cannot always be=20
predicted and anticipated, but are subject to contingent factors and=20
can take surprising turns. The unpredictabilities inherent in a=20
project of transformation make it necessary that change becomes a=20
reflexive and ongoing process.

Social relations
The project of changing social relations has been related to the=20
transformation of material dimensions of class relations and given=20
form by a politics of redistribution. Yet a long tradition of=20
criticism has shown that class is not the only social organizing=20
principle that constitutes our position in a complicated and wide web=20
of power relations. When we speak about oppression or exclusion we=20
equally have to mention gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, health,=20
age, etc and social, economic and symbolic/discursive relations that=20
construct and sustain the norm. Accordingly, knots of resistance and=20
social transformation are generated from these different positions=20
reflecting different forms of labor, different ways of living,=20
different views of the world and differing desires.
Departing from such fragmented subject positions we would like to=20
open up a discussion about the possibilities and limitations of and=20
strategies for creating more equal and inclusive social relations.=20
Inclusion involves changing these social ordering principles by=20
deconstructing the norms that nourish the production of social=20
hierarchies without constructing new exclusive norms. Equality does=20
not refer to sameness but to the acceptance and negotiation of=20
differences that can be articulated in dialogic processes. To strive=20
for equality in social relations involves the creation of the=20
conditions that would allow everyone to take part in the process of=20
social change, from her own particular social context.

Constructing social change
Dialogic processes for change in a world that is not manageable=20
cannot flourish when one departs from the concept and practice of=20
'directing change'. 'Vanguardism' is no valid option for a=20
participatory collective process. Therefore, we would like to speak=20
about constructing change, which refers to a collective participative=20
process that involves the articulation of differences by creating=20
permeability and mutual contamination between different struggles and=20

CASA 2006: Constructing social change

CASA 2006 will be centered on four interrelated strategies for social=20
transformation, focusing on a different strategy each day. These are:=20
desires and utopia, art, knowledge, and direct action.
All these themes can -and hopefully will- be discussed from many=20
different angles. Possible questions are (but should not be limited to):

Desire and utopia
How does desire relate to social change? How can reflections on our=20
own desires for change and its implications be developed? Can desire=20
be changed or directed? What is the role of desire in research? Can=20
desires for alternatives help to shape an effective research=20
strategy? What is the role of utopian writing for the stimulation of=20
social change? What can be considered as utopian movements? What are=20
the utopian aspects of social movements and knowledge construction?
How can art contribute to emancipatory change? Is art merely=20
reflecting social change, or can it be transformative in itself? How=20
are art, knowledge and desire interrelated? How should we imagine the=20
agency and autonomy of art in the age of global culture industries?=20
Can art be a form of direct action? In what way is art related to the=20
social? What is the role of the artist, and what is the role of the=20
public in both the production and experience of an artwork? How can=20
we discuss social responsibility of the artists?
In what ways can knowledge be used for social change towards more=20
inclusiveness and emancipation? Which agents or parameters determine=20
different types, modes and sites of knowledge production and=20
transmission, knowledge hierarchies, the organization of knowledge=20
and of academia? What alternatives are available concerning the=20
production, distribution/sharing and use of knowledge? What is the=20
role of education in processes of transformation?
Direct Action
What kind of interruptions and interventions are useful for reaching=20
emancipatory transformation? How and by whom are direct action=20
interventions carried out and to what ends? What kind of knowledge is=20
produced by direct action? Can direct action also be used for=20
knowledge construction and the interruption of hegemonic academic=20
practices? Can we talk about "aesthetics" of direct action as a way=20
of politicizing and mobilizing aesthetic experience?

The format of the CASA meeting is as crucial as its content. We want=20
to ask all of you to engage in a construction of interactive spaces=20
that contribute to constructing emancipatory change that is inclusive.
Interactivity, here, means acknowledging that knowledge construction=20
and knowledge transmission are not one-directional but rather=20
collective processes. Thus participants of all kinds (presenters,=20
discussants, facilitators, technical assistants, and organizers)=20
should actively engage in collaborative processes rather than in a=20
mere conveying of knowledge. We are open to alternative formats -=20
from workshops to performances - that would open spaces for=20
participation and collective production.
Inclusiveness, here, means open to variety. We want a large diversity=20
of contributions to the CASA meeting by inviting academics, artists,=20
artist projects and collectives, utopians, utopian writers, non-
institutional intellectuals, activists engaged in direct actions, and=20
other interested individuals to share and exchange thoughts and=20
practices. We also anticipate a diversity of practices to open debate=20
and reflection. CASA 2006 can be a continuum of debating,=20
intervening, thinking, reflecting, inspiring, inventing and=20
constructing inclusive emancipatory initiatives.

Proposals for contributions within the four outlined topics are very=20
welcome and can be submitted until April 30, 2006.

For further questions, contributions or participation please mail to:=20
mailto: <> =

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Received on Tue Mar 21 2006 - 14:13:40 EST