Workshops

Below is the latest list of workshops to be presented at this year's Boston Anarchist Bookfair.

Click here to see the full schedule

Abriendo Caminos: Living Anarchism in Puerto Rico Post Hurricane Maria

"Abriendo caminos" has become one of the most common used phrases among Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria landed in Puerto Rico on September 20th, 2017. While the local and federal governments have been extremely slow in their response, anarchist praxis, also known in the Island as "ayuda mutua", has flourished as the only way of survival.

During this presentation we will present:

I. Brief introduction to the Anarchy Movement in Puerto Rico.
Although research and publications regarding the anarchist movement in PR are limited, there are clear evidence of an intellectually strong and feminist movement during the first two decades of the twentieth century.

II. Climate Change and New Ways of Social-Political Organization
As climate change continues to impact and disrupt entire populations and geographical areas, governmental entities are faced with new challenges to serve the affected sector in efficient ways. Governmental bureaucracies and neglectful behaviors lead to slow and deadly response and communities and their allies have to step up and improvise new ways to fill the voids. These new forms of "ayuda mutua" could promote new ways for communities to organize and thrive beyond the emergency and their own personal political views.

III. Puerto Rico Pre and Post Maria
With a $72 BILLION debt, the largest outmigration in more than 50 years and the imposition of a Financial Oversight and Management Board (La Junta), Puerto Rico was facing stormy times. On September 20, 2017, deadly Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico pushing the archipelago into the biggest humanitarian crisis in its history. We will discuss how hurricanes are natural but the disaster and the humanitarian crisis are political creatures and the multiple ways Puerto Ricans in the Archipelago and those in the diaspora have come together to circumvent governmental neglect and fill the voids.

Anarchism 101

We'll go over some of the central ideas, history, and practice of anarchism. This workshop is oriented toward those who are new to anarchism, but more experienced and well-versed anarchists are invited to attend and contribute to the discussion!

Anarkids Meetup

Guardians and parents too often lack the support we need to raise children in this society. Bring the kids and join us for an informal coffee and snack hour to connect with others.

BookLab Huddle: Discussion and Feedback to Help you Identify Ways to Achieve More as a Writer, Editor or Publisher

Anyone with literary ambition — whether they are established or just ready to start out — is invited to join this roundtable discussion about how to up their game. If you're a writer, bring some work. If you're a publisher, bring a book or zine. If you're an editor, bring your ideas and be ready to talk about your ambitions. Huddle moderators Zachary Bos and Cassandra Jones will give feedback, stimulate conversation, and help you identify ways that you can increase revenue, readership, and reputation, and do so while staying true to sustainable and inclusive values.

Be your own weapon

We are going to demonstrate some fairly easy moves to counter incoming physical attacks, and set back your adversary to your advantage. We intend to guide participants through the basic steps of each technique. Participants will be invited to practice in pairs with each other with guidance from skill-share hosts. We also wish to hold space for people to practice using the skills they learn in a more free-form manner - testing learned defenses against less predictable attacks. This is a consent orientated skillshare that will require a level of physical contact for learning purposes, this will be on a negotiable and case by case basis with full respect to individuals autonomy, it must be noted however, that much of the skills we wish to share would be easiest to get a solid sense of if individuals are comfortable with gentle skill specific contact.

Change The Way The World Looks; Change The Way The World Is Seen

We propose that making changes to our physical world is inherently an act of resistance and, even more importantly, that gathering, creating, and participating in something larger than yourself is, in fact, revolutionary. It is on this foundation that League of Just Us came to be. As designers, educators, and social activists, we wanted to find a way to welcome people into direct action by encouraging them to take small risks which could grow into larger risks. People all too often become paralyzed by socially constructed expectations, fears, and confusion and the greatest enemy of revolutionary thought is inaction. However, we have seen that by creating spaces for spontaneous community building you can grow engagement. By utilizing digital fabrication, printmaking becomes more accessible and inherently more democratic. There is magic in the moment when someone steps into the streets for the first time and sometimes all that takes is an invitation in the form of a roller and some ink. No art skills needed, just a desire to talk to a stranger, join a friend, or leave your mark. In this interactive workshop, we will share our story as makers who set out to change the way our world looks and thereby change the way our world is seen.

#DeeperThanWater: Toxic Water, Prisons, and Environmental Racism

This workshop tells the story of the #DeeperThanWater coalition, which is organizing against the toxic water crisis at MCI Norfolk, Massachusett's largest state prison, where drinking water for prisoners regularly runs brown or black — while dogs at the prison are given bottled water.

We aim to tell the story of incarceration in the US through the words and stories current and former prisoners, with a focus on environmental racism. We also organize to hold the state accountable to actual solutions to this crisis and provide free, clean, safe, and sufficient water to every prisoner in MA.

Our coalition is: Emancipation Initiative, Black and Pink, Young Abolitionists, Black Lives Matter Boston, Party for Socialism and Liberation, SURJ Boston, Toxics Action Center, and individual current/former prisoner activists.

Content Note: workshop will touch upon the violence prisoners experience, specific instances of brutality/solitary confinement. We will likely discuss police brutality and many of the abuses in prison.

Defending Ourselves and Our Communities from the Police

Description TBA

Digital Security 101

Protecting your privacy on-line has always been necessary, but it is more vital today. Learn digital security basics including identifying the threats you face and tools and techniques you can use to protect yourself.

Defense Against the Dox Arts – A Cybersecurity Workshop

Online resources and social media are powerful resources for community organizing and social disruption. Having both our activism and our personal lives on the internet makes us more vulnerable to online harassment and state surveillance. What does this vulnerability mean for people who are already marginalized? While this work and this society can never really be safe for many people, there are ways that we can take back our voices from the adversaries who seek to silence us. Join us in conversation about personal digital security, “doxing”, paranoia coping strategies, and the role of technology in our movements. Participants will gain knowledge on how to improve their communities and walk away with a holistic understanding of security: for ourselves, our communities, and our movements.

Fat Liberation

This is an exploration on how the creation of the "obesity" epidemic by state actors and private interests have lead to widespread surveillance and reproductive coercion in of women, poor people, and people of color. We will learn how this surveillance is implemented, why it is oppressive, and how it stop it.

Content Note: workshop will include descriptions of rape, white supremcist violence, detailed account of eugenics, violence against fat people.

Fighting for Free Tuition and a Free Society: Lessons on Combative Student Unionism

Over the past few years, demands for free college tuition have become popular among youth populations in the US. This workshop will take a critical look at the institutional composition of student and youth movements in the US to assess the barriers that need to be overcome in order to achieve such a goal. We’ll also be focusing on the combative methods, autonomous forms of organization, and directly democratic principles utilized by students and young people across the world who have fought for similar demands.

Free G N Saibaba and Oppose the Suppression of Dissent in India!

Professor G.N. Saibaba, a progressive intellectual and ardent supporter of people’s movements in India, was recently given a life sentence by the high court of Maharashtra in April, in a blatant attempt by the state to silence his political views. Saibaba uses a wheelchair and suffers many complications from childhood polio, which have made it easy for the state to threaten his life by refusing to allow him access to necessary medical care. Saibaba's outspoken support for the indigenous peoples’ anti-displacement movements in India has put him directly in the cross-hairs of the pro-mining, pro-big-dam, and pro-capitalist government of India. However, his case is just one part of a broad attack on democratic rights and freedoms by the fascist government of India, ranging from attacks on journalists and on intellectuals like Saibaba to indefinite imprisonment without trial and summary executions. Come to discuss Saibaba’s case, the larger situation in India, and what we can do in support and solidarity here in the US!

From ACT UP to ACT UP/CLASS WAR

This workshop will cover the historical transition from 1980's activism to revolutionary action against capitalism.

The Future Generation: 10th year anniversary

Come hear stories from the early days of The Future Generation, a zine that started when my daughter was two years old in 1990 - up to now, with the second edition hot off the presses. I'll talk about the zine, making a zine anthology, the fundraising to get the second edition out. Challenges of being a marginalized writer and the importance of community in making media of resistance. And anything else folks would like to know! For more information: https://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=893

How to Talk to a Nazi

A participatory workshop on the ideological and psychological basis of fascist ideologies and how to disabuse people of such orientations. This workshop is designed for people who have fascist-oriented people in their life (e.g., family, coworkers, etc.) or for people who want to engage in counter-recruiting. Based on the zine, "You Can't Punch Every Nazi": http://tinyurl.com/ButYouCanTry

The Graduate Student Union Movement: Past, Present and Future

We will present on the history and present of the graduate student unionization movement, beginning with a brief history of graduate employee's unions. Each of the panelists will speak about the experience of creating a union on their campuses (Brandeis, Northeastern and UMass Boston), and we will reflect on the future of contingent faculty and graduate assistants' unions. We will focus, in particular, on the political importance of challenging the corporatization of the university, a process that has resulted in soaring tuition and fees along with an increasingly casualized teaching and research workforce.

If We Can Be Erased, So Can You: Ageism, Lesbian Invisibility, and Setting the Story Straight

Given the current political climate and the threatened loss of civil rights and protections of LGBT people -- under the guise of religious freedom -- it is more important than ever to examine our differences, to put aside our disagreements, and to overcome cross-generational misunderstandings in order to work towards collaboration, end divisiveness, and achieve solidarity. It is especially vital to confront ageist stereotypes and misinformation that serve to keep older and younger LGBTs apart.

With this intent in mind, the three panelists will talk about what it was like to come out out as lesbians in the 70's. Emphasis will be on the impact of the Women's Liberation Movement, the politicalization of lesbianism that challenged both patriarchy and heterosexism, and that historical span of time during which lesbian-feminist activism -- along with a unique lesbian culture of literature, poetry, music, women's centers, bookstores, restaurants, and festivals emerged -- creating new possibilities for future generations. It was a time that should not be written out of history: a casualty of erasure.

Additional and special focus will be on the experience of lesbian-feminist aging including invisibility, social disinterest, demeaning ageist stereotypes, and erasure of our lesbian history. Finally, the workshop will conclude with descriptions of current older lesbian activism and the creation of elder communities.

This will be an interactive workshop that will include dialogue between the three panelists representing an older generation of lesbian activists and the workshop participants.

From Havana to Paris - Anarchism and Social Struggle

Anarchists from Alternative Libertaire in Paris and Black Rose Anarchist Federation Miami will discuss anarchism and its engagement with struggle and organizing. We will address questions of solidarity, multilingual justice, social insertion, art and how we keep a new world in our hearts and actions.

Lessons from the Russian Revolution

This year is the centennial of the 1917 Russian Revolution, one of the most pivotal events in modern human history. The Russian Revolution casts a long and complex shadow over the left, serving as a source of inspiration, a cautionary tale, and litmus test among the anti-capitalist left ever since.

What happened? What ultimately doomed the revolution? What lessons can we learn from the experiences of the millions who revolted against capitalism and oppression one hundred years ago on the other side of the globe? We'll cover as much as we can in the time allotted, and provide resources for those who want to dive deeper. Come with questions!

Mass Surveillance: How Cops Spy on You and What You Can Do

A diverse panel of speakers will discuss surveillance strategies by police, with firsthand testimony from Maya Shaffer, a journalist surveilled by the Boston Regional Intelligence Center. Shava Nerad, the founding executive director of Tor, will talk about Tor as a tool for anarchists; as a philosophical anarchist, daughter of a Wobbly organizer and granddaughter of a syndicalist, who has taught at the anarchist moots in Eugene, OR, she will also talk about some of that history of surveillance. Fatema Ahmad, deputy director of the Muslim Justice League, will talk about organizing against civil and human rights abuses by law enforcement under national security pretexts. Alex Marthews, national chair of anti-surveillance civil liberties movement Restore The Fourth, will facilitate the discussion.

Content Note: workshop will include discussion of police violence.

Narcan Training

We'll be going through basic values of harm reduction, why it is necessary for anarchist movements, and attendants will be trained on how to use Narcan, reverse overdoses.

Only We Can Save Ourselves

This workshop will delve into how the police and state work directly against the interests of women, especially women who are targets of male violence, and then talk about how we as a movement can support victims of male violence through a combination of mutual aid networks and antifascist resistance.

Content Note: workshop will include descriptions of rape and abuse.

Practical Utopia: Strategies for a Desirable Society

Practical Utopia will lay out Michael Albert’s latest work, a succinct and thoughtful discussion of ambitious goals and practical principles for creating a desirable society. It presents concepts and their connections to current society; visions of what can be in a preferred, participatory future; and an examination of the ends and means required for developing a just society. Neither shying away from the complexity of human issues, nor reeking of dogmatism, Practical Utopia presupposes only concern for humanity. Part one offers conceptual tools for understanding society and history, for discerning the nature of the oppressions people suffer and the potentials they harbor. Part two promotes a vision for a better way of organizing economy, polity, kinship, culture, ecology, and international relations. It is not a blueprint, of course, but does address the key institutions needed if people are to be free to determine their own circumstances. Part three investigates the means of seeking change using a variety of tactics and programs.

Praise:

Practical Utopia immediately struck me because it is written by a leftist who is interested in the people winning and defeating oppression. The book is an excellent jumping off point for debates on the framework to look at actually existing capitalism, strategy for change, and what we need to do about moving forward. It speaks to many of the questions faced by grassroots activists who want to get beyond demanding change but who, instead, want to create a dynamic movement that can bring a just world into existence. As someone who comes out of a different part of the Left than does Michael Albert, I was nevertheless excited by the challenges he threw in front of the readers of this book. Many a discussion will be sparked by the arguments of this work.” —Bill Fletcher Jr., author of “They’re Bankrupting Us!” And 20 Other Myths about Unions

“Albert mulls over the better society that we may create after capitalism, provoking much thought and offering a generous, hopeful vision of the future. Albert’s prescriptions for action in the present are modest and wise, his suggestions for building the future are ambitious and humane.” —Milan Rai

“Michael Albert is an important thinker who takes us beyond radical denunciations and pretentious ‘analysis’ to a thoughtful, profound meditation on what a good society can be like.” —Howard Zinn

“With his combination of hard-edged logic and visionary hope, Michael Albert is one of the treasures of the Left.” —Barbara Ehrenreich"

Prison Abolition Primer

The purpose of this workshop is to introduce participants to the basic concepts and tactics of prison abolition from a socialist perspective. We will learn about the history of prisons and policing, the workings of the contemporary prison industrial complex, and alternatives to prison.

Street Medic Basics: Philosophy and Practice

A radical healthcare class teaching a variety of preventative treatment and care. The first-aid module will cover preparation for direct actions, preventative care to stay safe, and easy treatments. Topics include treatment and prevention for chemical weapons injuries, heat, cold and other environmental emergencies, and “psychological first-aid” for distressed comrades.

Tactics will be integrated with informed consent to treat, the ethos of the street medic movement, and the liberation that free medicine can bring.

No experience is necessary, interested amateurs and experienced practitioners are encouraged to attend.

Content Note: Workshop will include descriptions of police violence, chemical weapons, and resulting injuries, sickness, and death.

Toward Participatory Theory

Toward A Coherent Radical Theoretical Approach to Actualize Radical Possibilities.

Agitate against dogma with emancipatory theoretical processes. Challenge the gap between theory and practice. Bring a class analysis and liberatory approaches to bear on theoretical production.

Rooted in horizontal organizing rather than elitist theory, popular education rather than alienating paternalism, development of grassroots power rather than lording intellectual power over others, Participatory Theory is a radical analysis of radical theory. Embedded in a Participatory Theory is a critique of the construction and strategies of dominant radical philosophies. For far too long radical activists and ideologues have sidelined those who dare to question top down models, determinist blueprints, and dogma. They dismiss critiques that point out the lack of concrete results produced by high philosophies. Instead of seeking to improve the accepted philosophies with real life democratic processes that incorporate the oppressed, they cite their critics for lacking faith. This isn't to say that academics or the affluent can't have good ideas, but ideas are only useful if they become a tool that workers and the oppressed can own and control.

Long time radical working class organizer and organic intellectual Camilo Viveiros will present the new concept of Participatory Theory. He is prepared to share his knowledge grown from years working to apply radical theory to his organizing practices. Participatory Theory constructively challenges the entrenched system of intellectual production. We must not concede our thought processes to those without direct experience or knowledge. Participatory Theory calls for the workers, the poor, the discounted, the most oppressed to be the core crafters of our theories of liberation. We have the experiences, direct knowledge, and understanding of systems of oppression to know what it will take to make fundamental change.

Trans Rights in the Psych Ward

This workshop will discuss trans discrimination within the intense power dynamic of psychiatric wards, a current widespread issue with which the presenter has had recent personal experience and is undertaking activist action. The double stigma of gender variance and mental health means this story hasn't been told much. This workshop will incorporate aspects of others' stories with similar issues, and discuss the broader framework of trans rights.

Content Note: Workshop will include descriptions of discrimination, will discuss mental health.