March 11, 2015 § Leave a comment
December 19, 2014 § Leave a comment
28 December 2014 – 7PM
It’s fucking about a bicycle!
AAB journal launch
@ The STAG
“Traditionally, any departure from the virtues demanded of females becomes the occasion both for male moralistic pedagogy (which asserts social control) and for male romantic musings (which celebrate acts of social transgression). The notion of “abandon” belongs to an economy in which male hegemony relies on the “loose woman” and its cognates of “looseness-as-woman” and “woman-as-looseness” for a projection of that which is subversive, improper, marginal, unspeakable, and so forth.”
– Rey Chow in “Postmodern Automatons”
Please join us in an evening of festivities with the notorious feminist-marxist reading and discussion collective About a Bicycle for the launch of the fourth issue of the journal by the same name. It’s fucking about a bicycle! resists male hegemonic thought in new and impossible ways, featuring new writing and images by members. There will be copies available at the launch.
August 26, 2014 § Leave a comment
July 18, 2014 § Leave a comment
Dear AAB friends,
last week we met for our final meeting of the fourth session. Our time together this round was brief, but very stimulating. We examined the dynamics and intentions of the group as a whole, re-evaluating our values, our politics, and our boundaries. Our readings this round were meant to make more explicit a context that we believed to be already implicit in our analyses of the texts in previous sessions. We dealt with issues of race, sex, gender, structural violence, poverty, and colonialism.
For the last meeting, we read Jackie Wang’s “Against Innocence,” which examines the politics of “innocence” as a legitimising criteria for rallying against unjust violence. She cites incidents of violence against black bodies that caused widespread uproar (the most recent and mainstream example of which would be the Trayvon Martin case), whose victims were viewed as innocent (not carrying a weapon, not violent). She also discusses violence against women of colour, sex workers, poor women, et al. as often using the rhetoric of the “loose woman,” a victim-blaming process in which a woman’s chastity is her only evidence of violence done onto her, and any woman who falls outside of the definition of a “virtuous woman” is not a subject who can give consent and is not considered human (NHI). What is also discussed in the text is the popular, but internalised conception that subjects who are not proper (innocent, defenseless, non-violent) victims cannot be acceptable political actors.
We also examined the phenomenon of “safe space,” and how the safety of already privileged individuals tends to override the needs of others and, in fact, re-introduces structural violence and oppressive hierarchies into what is supposed to be a “radical” space.
Our work this session is to chew on these texts, evaluate our own behaviours and interactions. The meetings were filled with accounts of personal experiences that related to the theories discussed in our readings. We’d like everyone to hang onto those for the time being, and please stay tuned for a call for submissions for the next publication.
July 7, 2014 § Leave a comment
Last week we read texts by Frank B. Wilderson III and Angela Davis. They both open the discourse for radical social movements, explicitly addressing how the interconnection to race and racism has been stifled in prison abolition and anti-rape movements.
For Wilderson civil society itself is what has and continues to destroy Black bodies (he refers to prison-slaves and the prison-slave-in-waiting as well as bodies that “magnetize bullets”), and to concede to its democratization solely perpetuates violence and racism. He unflinchingly calls for disorder and “the disconfiguration of civil society” as this aligns with the essential positionality of the Black subject and corporeality. Demanding the system to reform and repair its historical splinters does not put an end to the hegemonic terror and violence inflicted upon Black bodies. He begs the question: can the junior partners (immigrants, white women, working class) be in unity with Black communities if they concede to policies and small crumbs from the State that are fortified upon anti-Black rhetorical structures?
Davis looks at both particular cases of sexual violence and how official policy and the judicial system is often the perpetrator of violence against women. Rape is used as a political weapon, from racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan, to racist instructions employed by the US military, to the maintenance and upkeep of civil society. The myth of the Black rapist is an image Davis frequently explores in her work whereby white women are socialized to fear black men and desire protection from white men.
There are tendencies in social movements (rooted in Gramscian discourse) to view capitalism as the base rather than white supremacy. We questioned Marxism’s “conceptual anxiety” as it merely demands to democratize production and labour rather than demanding “production stop.” Production itself being the site of death. We were excited to see this interrogation and adjustments to radical discourse, venturing so far as to see possibilities in necessarily excessive language. Davis’ speeches and writing are clear and unashamed, demanding more from everyone.
Join us for our last week as we read Jackie Wang’s “Against Innocence” published in LIES, a journal of materialist feminism. As a young contemporary, Wang makes reference to many of the writers in this session of about a bicycle, and will compliment last week’s discussions. We will look at how the notion of innocence is “just a code for nonthreatening to white civil society” and how “safe space” becomes appropriated in rhetoric in order to redeem whiteness. The journal in its entirety is available on the schedule and definitely worth a read if you haven’t already done so.
July 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
Last week, we encountered Rey Chow’s discussion of postmodernism and its various encounters. Postmodernism’s “global” (though unapologetically occidental) perspective groups feminism with other “marginalised discourses”– a sort of levelling out that erases difference between struggles and material experience. Federici gave us an example of a material struggle taking place in various countries in Africa. Colonialism brought a relation to land that was incompatible with the pre-colonial relation to land. The neoliberal drive to privatise land and sell to outside corporations is acting as a new colonialism. Both processes leave women without land, which means that they cannot subsistence farm, that they cannot feed their families, that they have no income.
This week we’ll be reading Frank B. Wilderson III’s “The Prison Slave as Hegemony’s (Silent) Scandal” and Angela Davis’s “We Do Not Consent: Violence Against Women in a Racist Society,” in which we’ll see the postmodern indifference reproduced in white supremacy, and clashing material struggles within a broadly feminist framework.
June 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s Decolonizing Methodologies posits provocative questions: “Is History Important for Indigenous Peoples?” and “Is Writing Important for Indigenous Peoples?” These questions speak to the totalizing feedback loop of colonialism, as but one expression of imperialism, that become reproduced in the current formations of institutional/economic/political/social systems. Writing/Theory/History have been (and continue to be) predicated on a sense of Otherness connecting to “what is worthy of being history” in the industrial state.
There is a tension between what research is and how indigeneity is implicated in it. As well as a friction: carving out space for alternative knowledges and histories don’t replace the concurrent existence of imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Smith writes something like how there are always collisions with dominant views while also attempting to transform them. All of these things reside in tandem – the hard fact of land rights yet the complete denial of land rights (subsequently the denial of being a settler) – and it is infuriating. “We” talked through this in relation to value systems (beyond the particular/beyond the universally dominant/what is valued and what isn’t/what is legitimated/what becomes legitimated research becomes monetized).
“We”, being settlers in the room, and along with the admission of AAB having yet to formally engage with colonialism discourse head on during sessions, discussed the ways in which the questions directed at researchers (Whose research is it? Who owns it? Whose interests does it serve? Is her spirit clear? What other baggage are they carrying?) are taken up in our collective and individual work. How do we read and interpret a text, like Smith’s, that speaks to a particular subject position where we’re not appropriating the thesis as our own but still internalizing its message in order to decolonize? Speaking for AAB, we talked about how consensus and the mastery of a selected text has never really been of interest, and that the group itself has been structured around encouraging alternative readings of texts – or at least ways of reading and interpretation that are given less traction in the academy.
Naturally there is lots more to say! Best to come join us next week for a reading of Rey Chow’s “Postmodern Automatons” and Silvia Federici’s “Women, Land Struggles, and the Reconstruction of the Commons.” The readings can be found on our schedule. Some of us will be driving northwards, discussing the texts and swatting black flies in tandem!