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Welcome

Welcome


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Photo/Foto: Alexandre Nunis

From the Director

Welcome to the 9th International Encuentro of the Hemispheric Institute, and thank you to everyone who made this possible.

The last few years have been times of intense, affect-driven social activism. We have only to think of many recent movements driven by outrage against political, social, and economic injustices, such as the diverse movements of the so-called Arab Spring, the Indignados of Spain, Occupy Wall Street, the student movements in Chile, Mexico, Montreal, and the 'Dreamers' who are spearheading immigration reform in the United States. ‘BASTA YA! / ENOUGH!’ the Zapatistas proclaim, a position shared by Idle No More, the Mapuche and other Native groups throughout the hemisphere. These notable examples show us how affects can transcend individual feelings to form transnational conditions (and perhaps unspoken coalitions) of resistance or even revolt. Words like contagion suggest the ways that suddenly, and unpredictably, people can become seemingly not only of one mind but of one body.

The transnational conditions imposed by capitalism in its most virulent varieties might be one common denominator that accounts for the wide-ranging feeling of disenfranchisement. The political has become synonymous with the economic. If what distinguishes neoliberalism is the application of an economic logic to society as a whole, then it should be no surprise that resistance to it partakes in this indistinction. Disenfranchisement, as these MANIFESTS make clear, is not a condition or state of being, but rather a doing and a relationship of power. It has been structurally imposed and economically organized. The interests of the very few trump the needs of the many. The '99%' provides a glimmer of unspoken coalitions. How can resistance counter this active disenfranchisement?

This Encuentro invites us to explore the affective staging of the political—manifestations taking place both within and outside political parties and systems. What are the commonalities? What histories and conditions account for the differences? Is the affective the effective? Must we wait to change governments before forging more equitable social relations? Can utopian dreams of better futures be harnessed into a more expansive politics of the here and now? What do we need to learn in order to grasp the magnitude of the possibilities? What do we need to unlearn in order to address them?

These eight days offer us an opportunity to work together across our linguistic, disciplinary and geographical divides to imagine other forms of world-making. Systems produce disenfranchisement, and other systems and networks can be mobilized to offset some of the debilitating effects and affects.  Hopefully this event helps expand the communities of practice invoked by MANIFEST!  Thank you for being a part of it!

Diana Taylor


From the Convener

Charivaree, rough music, cacerolazo; human microphone, casserole, honk! These are a few terms relating to the sonic occupations of cities and streets that have, since 2011, circulated from south to north and back again as part of resistance movements across the globe. We hope to make some noise during a festive week in June in Montreal, when Concordia University will serve as the hub for an Encuentro that will extend to the calm, tree-lined streets of Outremont, to the PHI Centre in the Old Port, to the Plateau cultural centres of Sala Rossa and Oboro Gallery, and ending with a final performance and party in the cabaret palace, the Rialto. We’ll walk streets and occupy squares animated by the political festivity of student protests in 2012. And we expect that the echoes of these sounds will reverberate in thoughts, affects, choreographic strategies, and digital repositories long after the final Encuentro day in June.

I am pleased and honored to welcome the Encuentro and the Hemispheric Institute community to Concordia University, to Montréal, to Québec, and to Canada. Some are longtime members and Encuentro veterans; many are new to the extended and extraordinarily committed, articulate, and glamorous Hemi family. We hope all participants – scholars, activists, artists, hybrids – will feel at home and inspired during these eight days in Montréal. We also hope locals will perceive the city, province, and nation through new eyes and ears informed by the great variety of manifestations that we will contemplate, discuss, and interrogate on stage, in galleries, and in work groups, screenings, and discussions. The sociologist Marcel Mauss famously wrote of “les techniques du corps.” Here we hope to build together and begin disseminating an archive of shared knowledge: “les techniques des manifs.”

The Encuentro 2014 production team is deeply grateful, first, to the Hemispheric Institute, Diana Taylor, Director, Marcial Godoy-Anativia and Marlène Ramírez-Cancio, Associate Directors, the Hemispheric Institute Council, and Hemi staff for putting their faith in our hosting and organizational abilities and visions. Graham Carr, Vice-President, Research & Graduate Studies, Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost, and Catherine Wilde, Dean, Faculty of Fine Arts have provided critical institutional support at Concordia University. And the Canadian Consortium for Performance and Politics in the Americas, an amazing group of scholars and artists from across the country, has been a major supporter in realizing this first Canadian Encuentro.

This Encuentro would not have taken place without the tireless, masterful, and gracious work of Producer Stephen Lawson (aka Gigi L’Amour), the expert local knowledge of Associate Producer Dr. Shauna Janssen, and the superpowers of la doyenne of Hospitality Concordia, Marie-Josée Allard. Finally, thanks to all the participants who have created and hauled artwork, crossed borders, mobilized thoughts and ideas, and travelled to Concordia’s Montreal campus to be together in manifestation.

Mark Sussman

Concordia University/Great Small Works