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Transnational Solidarities Amid Multiple Pandemics

A Conversation Between SWANA and South Asian Artists
October 2, 2020 - 10:00am

The Imagining Transnational Solidarities Research Circle is pleased to announce the launch of a virtual talk series that grapples with the political tensions emerging at the intersections of multiple pandemics -- COVID-19, anti-Black racism, casteism, and anti-Muslim violence -- as well as the revolutionary possibilities and deep challenges that the present moment is revealing to us. Moved by the Black Lives Matter protests in the Twin Cities and elsewhere in the US and globally, we want to delve deeper into the new meanings of civic disobedience in the face of “social distancing” and the COVID-19 pandemic. We seek to explore embodied forms of theorizing that have emerged through protests that cross the limits of quarantines and curfews to reframe racism as a centuries-old pandemic, no less deadly than the virus. The words of George Floyd and Eric Garner, “I can’t breathe,” have become a rallying cry connecting the Black struggle in the U.S. to the struggles of people who are subjected to the violence of the empire. At a time when environmental racism, sanctions, austerity measures, and the U.S.-made weaponry from tear gas to rubber bullets, chemical weapons, and drones, and the U.S. financial and military support of authoritarian regimes make breathing impossible for populations that are deemed expendable under the logic of global capitalism and imperialism, we find building situated transnational solidarities more pressing than ever before. Through activist, artistic, and academic modes of knowing, we search for new openings and political possibilities in different, but connected geographical contexts. The recent global uprisings inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement also offer new opportunities for building political solidarities that complicate notions of indigeneity, race, caste, religious strife, and citizenship transnationally. What might it mean to decenter the US modes of knowledge production, while also learning from and supporting the Black Lives Matter and the Standing Rock protests?


We seek nuanced understandings and sharper political responses as we search for critical political solidarities across struggles, spaces, and identities. In collaboration with scholars, artists, activists, and other engaged members of the Twin Cities community, we hope to mobilize our intellectual and artistic creativity and our political analyses in ways that can powerfully address the dynamics that give rise to xenophobic, racist, casteist and anti-Muslim violence. With this vision in mind, our webinars in July, August, September, and October of 2020 aim to engage, complicate and decolonize political imaginations, currents, and alliances. These webinars will be spaces to nurture and advance the processes of building our convivial futures in a transnational world where the value of life is differently assigned by multiple regimes of power that have historically relied on divide and conquer strategies in colonial modernity. 


How do we envision and form solidarities differently during the Covid-19 pandemic, when our pre-pandemic state of normalcy was defined by the routine killing of populations through mechanisms of global capitalism, the rise of fascism, imperialism, anti-Black racism, caste-based violence, class disparities, and Islamophobia? How do we mobilize and amplify artistic and other political voices in times when both restrictions on presence in physical spaces and the greater use of virtual spaces for protests intensifies the potential for surveillance? How do we build coalitional strategies and collective resistance to offer sharper responses to the normalization of everyday violence, security regimes as well neoliberal coercions in academia, arts, and activism? What kinds of labors must we undertake as we reimagine, redefine, and reclaim spaces through such resistance? These are some of the questions that will ground our webinars, in the hopes of building ongoing conversations with our collaborators and visitors.


These webinar series are supported by the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change - ICGC of the University of Minnesota. 


Kindly, join ITSRC and our co-hosts (Mizna, AGITATE!, Pangea World Theater, Parakh Minnesota) on October 2nd at 10:00 am in a conversation with the wonderful artists. Please register for the event in order to receive a ZOOM link. The webinar will be streamed live on Facebook as well.