Activism Beyond Citizenship and the State

Conveners: Edwin E. Corbin Gutiérrez, Peter Kulchyski, and Sirena Pellarolo

This workgroup explores collective practices, spaces and movements that surface as alternatives to the Modern paradigm and the neoliberal project in particular.

From the experience of the groups that participants work with, this workgroup questions the premise of State-sanctioned rights and focuses on practices that expose and counter the complicit role of governments in the spread of neoliberalism in order to create practices that spark grassroots social transformation. We question the idea of "the citizen," the unchecked universality of human and cultural rights, the State as the ultimate unifying force for social organizing, the fantasy uprooted global thought, and the current meltdown of capitalism.

We hope to reflect on possibilities for the future, looking at examples of social practices that are working today throughout the hemisphere as glimpses of that "other world" that is possible to build. The workgroup will be structured like a popular assembly or community meeting. Each participant will be expected to give a short presentation (which can be a verbal report or story, or formal power point) on their struggles and activities, with an eye to the following questions:

  • • How do grassroots interventions serve as examples to concretize and critique more elusive political and economic forces?
  • • How can communities activate their traditions, and organizational structures and successfully engage in symbolic battles?
  • • How can we think of performance through activism?
  • • How can performing activism activate popular repertoires of self-governance?
  • • How can community activism circumvent/overturn governmental corruption and intransigence?

Our goals involve building on our work in Encuentro 2007 by expanding networks of social justice activists in the hemisphere, exchanging performative tactics deployed in our varied struggles, and identifying critical points of leverage that open opportunities for revolutionary change.


Edwin E. Corbin Gutiérrez is a doctoral student in the Performance Studies department at Northwestern University. Before going to Northwestern, Edwin completed community-based performance research in Caracas and studied Latin American theatre at the Universidad Central de Venezuela as a Fulbright Fellow. He holds a graduate diploma in Cultural Politics and Promotion from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana and a B.A. in Theatre Studies from Emerson College.

Peter Kulchyski grew up in northern Manitoba and was one of the few non-Aboriginal students to attend a government-run residential high school. He has a PhD from York University and is one of the senior Canadian scholars in Native Studies. Head of the department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba.

Sirena Pellarolo is an activist-scholar, published poet and playwright, and educator born in Argentina. Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies at California State University, Northridge. Author of numerous articles on Latin/o/a American performance and gender studies, globalization, and new social movements.



Alexandra Filipak
Amanda Eckerson
Ana Paula Höfling
Andrea Maciel Garcia
Anne Gebelein 
Bethany Riley
Carlos Andrés Meza
Carlos Filipe Guzmán
David Ayala 
Edwin Corbin Gutiérrez
Fabiane Borges
Fabio Salvatti
Gilvanildo Avelino 
Iñaki Ceberio de León
Juliana Escobar
Karina Vanessa Castro Santana
María Amalia Garzón 
Naomi Angel
Peter Kulchyski
Roberta Santaella
Sirena Pellarolo
Sonia Yohana Garay Daza
Tamara Spira
Tiziana Salvatore
Violeta Luna