Activist/Militant Research in the Twin Cities
Are you a leftist activist? Would you like to do collaborative research that helps your activism? Are you open to transforming yourself and your projects through the process of research?
If so, then this class is for you. The purpose of the class is to learn and practice what has been called ‘activist’ or ‘militant research.’ One of its contemporary practitioners, the Colectivo Situaciones from Argentina, defines it as the following:
“Militant research is a concept-tool that works on the premise that all interpretation of the world is linked to some kind of action. Related to practices of co-research and institutional analysis, militant research proposes that all new knowledge production affects and modifies the bodies and subjectivities of those who have participated. Rather than use research as a tool to categorize and separate knowledge from practice, militant research operates transversally, becoming part of the process that organizes relationships between bodies, knowledge, social practices and fields of action.” (http://www.situaciones.org/ )
Some recent examples of activist/militant research include:
• disOrientation Guides for the University of North Carolina
• MigMap, a virtual cartography of European migration policies
• The Carrotworkers Collective's research on precarious working conditions for interns in London’s cultural industries
• Democracy Insurgent’s zine ‘We Are All Workers’: “a documentation of challenges to the university [of Washington] and the struggles engaged by the community to make the university a truly public and democratic place”
This class offers an experimental space for increasing our understandings of, and skills with, militant research approaches through discussions of readings and our projects. The readings for the class will depend on the participants’ interests. Provisionally, the class facilitator (Eli) will recommend some readings based on his condensed selection of a reading list from another class: http://www.thisisforever.org/fall-seminar/readings . Each class will be split into two parts: in the first part, we’ll discuss the readings (probably 20-50 pages per week), and in the second part, we’ll talk about and help each other with our projects. Some of us might bring projects from our activism to the class and some of us might begin new projects during the class. The class will try to provide resources for these projects, including the facilitator’s sharing his access to the University of Minnesota’s libraries, journals, and computer and audio/video technologies.
Your activist project can be based in the Twin Cities or outside of our local area. There are many potentials for this class, including:
• connecting with, and learning about, activist research projects locally, nationally, and globally
• putting different activist researchers in conversation with each other
• fostering new collaborations between our different projects, building solidarities and working together on commonalities in our content and approaches. (For example, we could have a class based around methods of participatory mapping; several groups could collaborate on learning how to use mapping for their purposes, making different maps for their groups and, also, combining them into a big map or a zine for distribution.)
Along with the class, the facilitator (Eli) will act as a participant as well, learning about militant research while developing his own project. His current project is to work with EXCO to foster relationships of mutual aid, free movement, equality, and self-organization between and within the University of Minnesota and its surrounding communities, especially the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
The class will meet once per week for two hours. We will determine the best day and time for the class based on all participants' schedules. If you have any questions or concerns, please email Eli: eli.meyerhoff [at] gmail [dot] com .
I have co-facilitated three EXCO classes before: Theorizing the University, Radical Mapping: a Disorientation Guide for the University of Minnesota, and Radical Pedagogies. I have been a teaching assistant for about ten classes at the U of MN, as a graduate student in the philosophy and political science departments. I am just learning about the topic of this class, 'activist/militant research,' but I have tried to carry out such research in an amateur way: in my work as an organizer with EXCO and the grad student-worker unionization efforts at the U of MN.
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