Conveners: Natalia Radywyl, Liz Miller, and Allison Schifani


This workshop would explore the larger theme of manifesting mobilization around social justice through an exploration of how groups across the Americas are combining new media strategies with diverse forms of organizing and public performance. How do groups use media and performance to grow, spread, and gain traction? What is the balance of on-ground and off-line activities? What is the capacity of groups for rapid scaling, snowballing memes, growing networks, growing audiences? We will use case studies as a point of departure – with the aim of developing a rich knowledge base of 21st century practices. For example, how is an Argentinian anarchist group combining open source software, mesh networks, and horizontal organizing? How is the feminist Nicaraguan group, Puntos de Encuentro, leveraging its own mainstream television drama to address violence against women? How have recent models of grassroots mobilization in New York, such as Occupy Wall Street, created opportunities for new forms of ‘soft’ infrastructure in cities? How are artists throughout the Americas developing solidarity performances with artists in China such as Ai Weiwei? How do communities of practice form and evolve their methods? How do they share strategies? Where are movement archives and are they managed collectively or individually?


The workshop aims to strengthen communities of practice dedicated to mobilization around social justice. 25-30 participants will participate in an activist hackathon, a dynamic platform for sharing and growing collective knowledge, building tools, and developing practices focused towards the launch of scalable interventions immediately after (or potential even during) the workshop. The ‘hacktavists’ we aim to attract will be a multi-disciplinary group of artists, scholars, community-organizers, programmers, designers, and activists who embrace open source politics and work to exploit the combined strengths of online and street-level action.

In the initial session participants will give a 15-minute presentation about a particular social justice issue they wish to address in the workshop, a powerful social movement strategy that has used media and performance for mobilization, and their own specific skill set/background. As is typical in a hackathon, the bulk of the workshop will be fluid and self-organizing, yet managed by convenors to maximize opportunities for the intimate connection communities of practice need through practices of making, trialing, learning, and sharing meals and experiences. The hackathon will close with a public project launch party in which participants will present projects for exhibition - an opportunity for informal public feedback, celebration and potentially attracting broader support of their projects. Throughout this process the hackathon will be documented online (mainly through social media): an archive, reference point, and online seed for scaling by social justice practitioners around the world.


Applicants are invited to upload brief paper abstracts or performance outlines/rationales detailing their potential contribution to the discussion and a bio. Materials should be uploaded via the online application form before October 9th, 2013.

This working group will be limited to 25-30 participants.

Convener Biographies:

Natalia Radywyl is a Fellow at Project for Public Spaces (New York), Research Associate at the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab, University of Melbourne, and Adjunct Fellow at the Institute for Social Research, Swinburne University (Melbourne). As an advocate for the commons, her current research and public space intervention projects bridge civic engagement, ethnography, urbanism and digital media. Natalia has also coordinated tertiary courses in new media and urban culture, recently co-edited Nanotechnology and Global Sustainability (2011), and regularly donates pro bono time to not-for-profits working in community-oriented urban design. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. See

Liz Miller is a documentary maker, trans-media artist, and professor interested in new approaches to community collaborations and documentary media as a way to connect personal stories to larger social concerns. Liz teaches media production in Communications Studies at Concordia University in Montreal and provides training to human rights, labor, and women’s organizations in media production, digital storytelling, and media advocacy campaigns. Having lived in Central and South America for over six years, she continues to work in the region and her newest project, En La Casa, is a collaboration with the feminist organization in Nicaragua Puntos de Encuentro. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Allison Schifani received her PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara in June. Her dissertation, “Biotechnical Ecologies: Urban Practice and Play in Buenos Aires and Los Angeles,” explores urban intervention and public art in Los Angeles and Buenos Aires. She has worked on Flashmobs, Geocaching, and 20th century urban literature of the Americas during her tenure at UCSB and is currently writing on the Amsterdam-based collective Failed Architecture.

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