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Social Movements & Electoral Politics


Saturday, June 30, 2012, 6:00 p.m. A conversation made urgent by the defeated recall in Wisconsin: The Arab Spring signaled a global wave of social movements challenging inequality, repression, austerity, war, & corporate power. Whatever their strengths, these movements have all had to give serious consideration to how they relate to electoral politics. This timely conversation brings together a diverse group of thoughtful activists and engaged scholars who have connections to the #Occupy movement, the World Social Forum, solidarity movements and grassroots organizing. 

Featuring: Sarah Francis, Jeff Juris, Suren Moodliar, Thomas Ponniah, Monica Poole, and Heike Schotten (panel chair). (read more for bios and suggested readings)


A proud native of the People's Republic of Cantabrigia, Sarah Francis has always pursued projects and worked with organizations affiliated with the arts and social justice, from Espresso Theater in Boston to Spitfire Pictures in NYC. She is current working in Film/TV production in the Boston/NYC area and dabbling in the art of building a radio station with Occupy Boston Radio. 

Jeffrey S. Juris is an Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California Berkeley, and is the author of Networking Futures: the Movements against Corporate Globalization (Duke University Press, 2008), Global Democracy and the World Social Forums (co-author, Paradigm Press, 2008), as well as numerous articles on social movements, transnational networks, new media, and political protest in Spain/Catalonia, Mexico, and the U.S. His co-edited volume, Insurgent Encounters: Transnational Activism, Ethnography, and the Political, is forthcoming with Duke University Press, and he is currently working on a new book about free media and autonomy in Mexico. He is also conducting collaborative research on Occupy Boston, and has a recent article in American Ethnologist called "Reflections on #Occupy Everywhere: Social Media, Public Space, and Emerging Logics of Aggregation.

Suren Moodliar founded and helps coordinate encuentro 5--a “movement-building space” in Boston. He is also a coordinator of Massachusetts Global Action and several of its projects including the Majority Agenda Project, the Color of Water, and the Du Bois Forum. Previously he was a coordinator of the North American Alliance for Fair Employment and served as the program coordinator of the Boston Social Forum. He has a background in union and immigrant organizing. His writing has focused on the World Social Forum and networks as agencies and spaces for social change.

Thomas Ponniah is a member of the Network Institute for Global Democratization - one of the founding organizations of the International Council of the World Social Forum. Ponniah is also the co-editor of Another World is Possible: popular alternatives to globalization at the World Social Forum (Zed 2003) and of The Revolution in Venezuela: social and political change under Chávez (Harvard University Press 2011)

Since 2000, Monica Poole has been developing programs using education and the arts to create spaces for children, youth, and young adults to resist oppression, grow as individuals, and invest in their communities. Currently, she serves as Assistant Professor of History and Social Sciences at Bunker Hill Community College, where she teaches history, philosophy, and ethical hacking, and directs a program in the performing arts. As an academic she has studied, written on, and taught a wide range of topics, from utopian constitutions to Enlightenment coffeehouses and from 14th century social movements to 21st century campaign rhetoric. Most recently she undertook study for a Ph.D. at Harvard University specializing in political thought, history, and performance in the English Revolution. She is one of the founders of The Boston Cooperative, a startup formed in Occupy Boston that aims to create a hub for arts and education to build the movement for social and economic justice. 

Heike Schotten, our event chairperson, has been a Palestine solidarity activist since 2006, when she first laid eyes and hands on the Apartheid Wall as a participant in a Birthright Unplugged travel program. She is now the Outreach and Communications Director for Birthright Unplugged and engages in Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) work at the local and national levels. She brings her commitments to rigorous, feminist, anti-racist, radical queer politics to her work as Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she sits on the Executive Committee of the Faculty Staff Union and has participated in organizing, advocacy, and campaign work supporting affordable, accessible public higher education in Massachusetts. 

Event Flyer (large download, approx 1.1MB)1.12 MB

Suggested Readings

Bill Fletcher (2012) "Electoral Politics" in Ask A Socialist (April)

Jeff Juris (2012) "Reflections on #Occupy Everywhere: Social media, public space, and emerging logics of aggregation" in American Ethnologist. 39:2 (May)

Systemic Disorder (2012) "Wisconsin's Recall Proves No Substitute for a Social Movement" (June)

(additional recommendations to be added soon)