Inventions of Activism
Call For Papers
Michael Benton, Alan Clinton, Wes Houp and Danny Mayer
Inventions of Activism
"Creative acts of social justice fulfill every function that can be asked of a work of art.
They inspire us, make us think in new ways, and birth new beauty and dignity in our world."
--Rebecca Alban Hofberger, "True Visions"
"Screw Hope; Let's Act"
--Walker Lane "Nope to Hope: False Capital and the Spectacle Triumphant"
This issue of _Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture_ solicits a variety of work which looks to activism as a broad array of creative practices yet to be defined. We seek not to revisit debates between theory and practice, but to view activism as a form of invention which may lead to new cultural formations.
What challenges do activists face as practicing utopians? What more or less local examples of activism can be looked to as models for further practice? How can activism as performance, as technology, as art lead to the production of new political and social theory? How is activism the art of the possible?
We would like this issue itself to be a form of activism inasmuch as it brings together a set of theorized practices in the form of case studies from the present and the past, a community of minds in both its contributors and subsequent readers. We also encourage contributors to look to problem areas that have not yet been addressed or not addressed sufficiently, and to propose new models of cultural intervention.
Some areas of particular interest expressed by editors should serve as a starting point:
1. Testimonials of individuals and/or groups that document the structures of collective action and resistances (both external and internal) to these movements.
2. Activism as a form of social and political creativity. Considerations of how theory can promote or become activism, or how theories of political and social invention derive, post facto, from such activities.
3. The rhetoric of activism in its statements and endeavors.
4. Narration and development of (potential) actions with respect to labor (broadly defined).
5. Activism as a form of education, as supplement to or alternative for traditional educational theories. Educating activists. Activating educators. Theoretical and practical issues within "the academy."
6. Resistance to resistance: fatigue, Bruce Robbins' "sweatshop sublime," institutional reprisals from the most oppressive (violence, termination) to the most frustrating (hypocrisy and lip service from those in power, mainstream media misinformation, public indifference), mythologies (of the American dream, of freedom of choice, of the free market, etc.)
7. Reform from within the institution vs. revolution from without.
8. What is (non)violence and what roles do violence or nonviolence play in activism?
9. Issues of activism in different social and historical contexts, what can we learn (from Obama's vision of service to the most dangerous underground resistance movements)?
10. Psychologies of activism. For instance, do activists and/or organizers of activism benefit more from an openness to depaysement (the process by which the ethnographer/observer becomes altered and/or mediated by the culture under investigation) or dissociation/dispassion (the idea of "objective" or "critical" distance from the subject under study as providing a "better" vantage point).
11. What are the benefits or disadvantages of "traditions" in activism? Marx notoriously stated that he was not a Marxist, with that in mind, what kind of problems derive from the institution of founders and followers in activism? Even more fundamental, what is the problem of what Eric Hobsbawm called the "inner conflict of traditions," the inevitable conflict between universal rules and specific, ever-changing circumstances/situations.
12. J.K. Gibson Graham asks in Postcapitalist Politics "If we want other worlds and other economies, how do we make ourselves a condition of possibility for their emergence (7)?"
We hope that activists of all kinds will view this issue as a form of potlatch that may lead to new practice and theory, new activist communities. While we encourage the use of anecdote as example and extended narratives as models for inventing activism, we do not want this issue to be primarily about smoking guns and personal beefs. In the light of the sensitive nature of this endeavor we will consider a variety of approaches to publication---including anonymity and/or "fictocritical" accounts which do not name names or present a situation with altered details.
Please send completed papers and abstracts to the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than February 1, 2010. Earlier submissions and queries are welcome as we may be able to collaborate with authors in order to produce work that not only fits with the intent of the issue but with the standards of Reconstruction. Also, we encourage you to forward this CFP to interested parties and lists.
Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture (ISSN: 1547-4348) is an innovative online cultural studies journal dedicated to fostering an intellectual community composed of scholars and their audience, granting them all the ability to share thoughts and opinions on the most important and influential work in contemporary interdisciplinary studies. Reconstruction publishes three themed issues and one open issue per year. Send open submissions (year round) to email@example.com and submissions for themed issues to the appropriate editors listed on the site at www.reconstruction.eserver.org
Reconstruction also accepts proposal for special issue editors and topics. Reconstruction is indexed in the MLA International Bibliography.