RAT 2008: Call for Proposals and Ideas

RENEWING THE ANARCHIST TRADITION A Scholarly Conference November 7-9, 2008 in Montpelier, Vermont The ninth edition of the Renewing the Anarchist Tradition (RAT) conference, sponsored by the Institute for Anarchist Studies (IAS), once again aims to provide a participatory and scholarly space in which to reexamine, reinvigorate, and make relevant the social and political tradition of anarchism. Each year, RAT brings together anarchists, anti-authoritarians, and libertarian leftists who want to critically engage both the tradition itself and the world in which we live. Participants and presenters at the conference thereby contribute to developing a more rigorous contemporary theoretical framework for anarchism as well as a stronger basis from which nonhierarchical movements can organize and resist. 2008 is a strange time to be an anarchist in North America. Thomas Friedman is calling for a green revolution, and Bono is at the forefront of a global war on poverty. The bright light of the U.S. presidential election campaign, anointed by Silicon Valley capital, has harnessed massive popular desire for radical social transformation--"Change"--to propel himself toward the White House. The reception he receives abroad articulates a thirst for a genuine internationalism, even as he signals his readiness to command more of the same military interventionism that has devastated people and social movements around the world. As anarchists and anti-authoritarians, it is easy to feel marginal, dissipated, defeated, and irrelevant as we watch some of our dearest ideas co-opted, sucked of content, turned inside out, and projected into the mainstream political scene. What better moment, then, to come together to reflect on and honestly appraise the practices, platforms, convictions, dogmas, truisms, and theories that anarchism offers? What better moment to reimbue that tradition with a crucial sense of urgency and the substance that can genuinely challenge racism, imperialism, sexism, colonial pillage, capitalist exploitation, and the multifold and mutually reinforcing forms of oppression and systems of domination? RAT is also a place to discuss and share theoretical tools from beyond the anarchist tradition that can add to building more sustainable social movements and practices, and eventually a world characterized by freedom, justice, and dignity for all. RAT aims to nurture and support a new generation of anti-authoritarian public intellectuals from different backgrounds and experiences. So when we describe it as "a scholarly conference," we are referring to a quality of the presentations and discussions--not to some professional identity of the participants. You do not have to be an academic to attend or present at RAT. All you have to do is be ready to actively participate in the conversations and debates, as peers who are creating the conference space together. In the past, RAT has served as a forum for organizers, scholars, writers, artists, educators, publishers, and students from a range of anarchist and libertarian left tendencies to come together to engage in challenging yet respectful dialogue. Participants have observed that RAT offers a distinctive social environment in which long-term conversations and relationships between anti-authoritarians from various places and political contexts can be built. The RAT conference is co-organized by IAS board members Andréa Maria, Cindy Milstein, and John Petrovato. CALL FOR PROPOSALS & IDEAS (Due on or before September 1, 2008) We are once again accepting proposals for a limited number of talks and panels. In addition, we will be curating a number of talks and panels that build on previous conversations and provoke even more dynamic debate than at past conferences, and are eager to hear your ideas about what you'd like to see. At previous conferences, presenters have proposed topics that ranged from the character of social change to the ongoing relevance of categories such as class, community, and labor; from the changing shape of the state and capital to emergent forms of both domination and resistance in a globalizing world; from the character of twenty-first-century technology to the functions and potentials of anti-authoritarian art and propaganda; and from anarchism's relation to geopolitical concerns such as terrorism and war to its ability to grapple with issues of identity such as race, gender, and sexuality. If you want to send us ideas for panels in particular, please keep your thoughts short and sweet, but include as much detail as possible--a potential title; a MAXIMUM 150-word description of the panel; and suggested people, including their e-mail addresses, who you'd like to see speak to this question(s) or topic(s). Your ideas will help us shape/curate RAT, so are much appreciated. If you are interested in presenting, please take a look at the RAT archive (currently at http://www.homemadejam.org/renew for RAT 1-7, and http://www.anarchiststudies.org for RAT 8) to get a sense of the topics that have been explored in the past. If you feel alienated when you look at this list, or think that important issues that should be considered through an anarchist lens have been left out, do not panic or decide not to attend. Please send us a proposal. We particularly encourage nonacademics, working people, women, indigenous people, people of color, queer and trans people, and others frequently marginalized in scholarly life to submit proposals. Each presentation proposal should include: a succinct talk or panel title; a MAXIMUM 150-word description of your talk or panel, and specifically the question(s) or topic(s) you wish to address; a MAXIMUM 50-word description of yourself and any other panelists; and your full name and e-mail, along with the full names and e-mails of other panelists. You can submit multiple proposals. Please note that we will be choosing from the proposals by mid-September, and not every proposal will be selected. If your proposal is accepted, you are automatically registered. All presenters must still pay the registration fee, however, since RAT has no funding other than all of us contributing to make this space possible. Send your proposal(s), on or before September 1, to: rat-presentations@anarchiststudies.org. REGISTRATION (TBA, but starting in late September 2008) RAT registration, limited to 150 people, will open sometime in late September (TBA). All presenters are automatically registered, but like everyone else, they must pay the registration fees in full by or before October 15. RAT has no outside or independent funding, so everyone who attends contributes financially to making this conference possible. Those who register for RAT can also book a table(s) for bookstores, infoshops, magazines, and other projects. Once registration opens, we will offer a sliding-scale registration for the following three options: 1. Registration and five meals (for locals and others not requiring housing) 2. Registration, five meals, and 2 nights in shared dorm room 3. Registration, five meals, and 2 nights in single dorm room We're still figuring out the exact cost for these three options, since the cost of renting the space has increased slightly, but last year's sliding scale ranged from $45-65 for option 1, $105-125 for option 2, and $155-180 for option 3. Also, a limited number of partial scholarships will be available to subsidize RAT conference fees for those with financial need. These scholarships, as in the past, will be made possible because of the generosity of other RAT participants who can afford to pay the higher end (or more!) of our sliding scale. SCHEDULE RAT will again open with a single panel on the evening of Friday, November 7, followed by a full day of presentations, panels, and a party on Saturday, November 8, and will wrap up with more presentations and panels until about 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 9. All presenters and participants should plan on attending the entire conference, since RAT is meant as an extended conversation among peers, not a spectator sport, or something you simply zip in to present at and then leave. We are renting space at a small college in Montpelier, Vermont, for meeting rooms, tabling, five meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturday; breakfast and lunch on Sunday), and dorm rooms. Details to follow once you're fully registered.