Thursday, April 29, 2010

Calle 13 Supports The Student Stikers at UPR

In these videos Calle 13 (and a number of prominent Puerto Rican and Latin American artists through video message) support the struggles of of Puerto Rican students fighting against the privatization of the University of  Puerto Rico and state divestment from education.  This video was super powerful for me and really impressive.

Many scholars of neoliberalism are pointing to the ways in which Latin America is at the vanguard of anti-neoliberal struggles.  This video reminds us that Puerto Rico IS also part of Latin America and is also at the forefront of crucial struggles for social justice.

Education is a right and the students at the University of Puerto Ricans are reminding the world of that.

Que Vivan Los Estudiantes!!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

M.I.A.'s "Born Free" (Trigger Warning!!)

"Telephone" has got nothing on "Born Free" that much is certain.

M.I.A's most recent video is a super violent romp in a dystopic future.  The video has come under a lot of fire for its violence, nudity, and profanity.  Red heads are hunted down, brutalized, and systematically (and graphically) killed/executed.  A very young redheaded boy is shot in the head at close range Nguyen Ngoc Loan style.  Another redhead is blown up by a landmine in slow motion.  A chubby couple gets it on in the midst of the mayhem.  And f-bombs go off more than than landmines blowing up aforementioned redheads.  

It's a doozy. 

The 10-minute video directed by French filmmaker Romain Gavras was heavily influenced by Peter Watkin's Punishment Park (1971) and obviously references a certain episode of  South Park.  The video will be getting the feature length treatment (starring Vincent Cassel who I LOVE!), in (wait for it...) Redheads, Gavras' directorial debut. 

So what to make of it? 

M.I.A. is definitely trying to make a political statement... the references are obvious, insurgency, police and military violence, racism, genocide, take your pick...but is the allegory more powerful than the reality?  That is to say, what do redheads do besides stand in for racialized and occupied people? What makes redheads compelling rather just than actually taking on issues of American military violence and occupation? Besides the novelty anyway?

I guess where I land is here... if M.I.A was trying to make a serious political critique I would have taken it more seriously if I wasn't constantly wondering whether they were hunting down the redheaded men because they didn't have souls

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Massive Student Mobilization at University of Puerto Rico

By Guest Blogger Claudia Sofia Garriga Lopez

Last Monday, April 19th,  the students at the University of Puerto Rico declared a strike. By Wednesday hundreds of students occupied the university and closed down all five entrances to the university. They are resisting the 100 million dollar budget cuts, the tuition hikes, and the privatization of the school, that has been put forward by the administration for next semester. These cuts are taking place in a university that is already marked by long lines in administrative buildings and students waiting for years to take classes that are required for graduation because they are often full to capacity. It means a freeze on all promotions, and new hires, as well as a salary reductions for faculty and staff. The tuition will increase but the quality of the services available will be seriously reduced.

Since the occupation, which has been called ocup(arte) the students have participated in street theater, as well as mass bench painting campaigns, puppet making workshops, poetry and music gatherings both inside and outside the university. The riot police has been stationed outside the university, but the students have remained non-violent. They have been assaulted mainly with pepper spray and tear gas, there have been several wounded but a surprisingly small amount of arrests. This is definitely a proud moment in student history for the University of Puerto Rico. The students inside the university have had so much support by their fellow students and other community members that they have had more than enough food, and have subsequently donated to food pantries. Classes have been canceled for the rest of the semester and the strike is indefinite. I will keep you posted as events continue to develop.

For those of you who understand Spanish here is a link of the clown police squad performing outside the university in front of the closed gates. Towards the end of the video Lowell Fiet, Chair of the Interdisciplinary Department of UPR storms the clown police in a dragon mask followed by other dragons chanting "dragones unidos jamas seran vencidos." Its kind of an amazing video.

and here are some interviews with students occupying the university on Saturday


*Photo Credit: Primera Hora/Andre Kang

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Program in American Studies, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis
New York University, 20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor

This symposium is an effort to think through both the past and contemporary history of capitalist development in the United States and beyond. It follows from the recognition, as Cedric Robinson writes, that "the development, organization and expansion of capitalist society pursued essentially racial directions, and so too did social ideology. As a material force then, it could be expected that racialism would inevitably permeate the social structures emergent from capitalism." (Black Marxism, 2) The term "racial capitalism" refuses the idea of a pure capitalism external to, or extrinsic from the racial formation of collectivities and populations. While 'race' may be a key lens through which to consider the relationship between the value-form and the aggregation of socially significant identities in modernity, the term racial capitalism also suggests that capitalism is always more than an economic project. Actually existing capitalism leverages cultural forms, norms and identities: it is lived through the uneven social formations of race, gender, nationality, sexuality and ability, among others. Our goal in this symposium then is to begin to think through relationships between capitalist economy and culture in the United States and beyond, particularly as they develop from histories of racial slavery, colonial expansion, ghettoization, mass incarceration, and overseas warfare, but also as these histories are broadly constituted in the entanglements and intersections of cultural difference.

Thursday April 29, 6-9pm
Introductory Remarks, Andy Cornell

Film Screening and Discussion: "Finally Got the News" and "EP Thompson and CLR James in Conversation"

Friday, April 30th, 9:30am-5pm
9:45-10:00: Opening Remarks, Nikhil Singh

10:00-12:00am: Panel I
David Roediger, Race and the Management of Labor
Alys Weinbaum, Neo-Slavery, Human Reproduction and Biocapitalism
David Kazanjian, Atlantic Speculations
Jennifer Morgan, Comment

2:00-1:30: LUNCH

1:30-3:00pm: Panel II
Betsy Esch, White Rights: What Apartheid South Africa Learned from the US
Penny Von Eschen, Connecting Colonialisms
Michael Ralph, Comment

3:00-5:00pm: Panel III
Marisol LeBron Controlled Access: Mano Dura and the Policing of Space in Puerto Rico, 1993-1997
Stuart Schrader Debt and Credit: Studying Up, Studying Down, and Still Missing Racial Capitalism
Zenia Kish The New 'Scramble for Africa': Food Security, Exploitation, and the Agricultural Land Grab
Comments, Symposium Participants

5:00-7:00pm: RECEPTION

Saturday, May 1, 10am-12pm
10-11:30am: Panel IV
Fred Moten, The Sub-Prime and the Beautiful
Ruthie Gilmore, Life in Hell
Lisa Duggan, Comment

11:30-12: Closing Remarks
Brent Edwards and Nikhil Singh