Theory & Practice Workshop 1 & 2

Theory & Practice Workshop 1

The first workshop is a place for us to share experiences of being involved in both theory and activism. We often have the goal of integrating the two (and may never see them as separate in the first place) but this is often more complicated than it might seem at first. The working conditions in universities can make it difficult for for academics to be politically active: increasing demands on time, increasingly stringent ‘quality control measures’, including ‘career development’ according to hierarchical, competitive criteria. The message is: publish or perish, never leave the ivory tower, and especially, don’t rock the boat. On the other hand, some of us have also encountered anti-intellectualism within political organising, where engagement with theory is seen as elitist, bourgeois,
colonialist and claiming expert authority: ‘anything you do is pointless because you haven’t read [fill in the blank]’.

This workshop is not about which theories are the most radical or the most suited to activism. Instead, the goal is for us to share our experiences and have an honest discussion about our attempts to integrate theory and activism, both inside and outside academia. What challenges have we faced, and what experiences do we feel have been more productive? What are the structures and practices that keep theory and activism separate and how can we create alternatives?

Theory & Practice Workshop 2

By its nature, activism can often be very localised–happening within specific places and sometimes even specific neighbourhoods. How do we then translate these experiences, language and concepts across national borders, and to those involved in different activist practices?This workshop will deal with questions of translation: both in a literal sense (how to work across language barriers or national borders) but also in a broader sense, addressing issues such as:

-the tendency to see our local activist context as universal
-the problem of romanticising other places which we see as more politicised than where we are now
-how to learn from concepts and strategies which have developed in other places without just directly ‘importing’ them (which is often difficult to do as they have developed out of specific local contexts and histories)

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