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On Democracies

Organizing Committee:

The Public School New York is planning a weeklong intensive and site-specific reading group for the summer of 2012 on the topic of democracy. Building upon past classes such as "...there is nothing less passive than the act of fleeing" in the summer of 2010, "On Democracies" will take place in public spaces, privately owned public spaces, inside amenable organizations, and (possibly) in commercial spaces. The new series will include screenings, presentations, and discussions that will explore issues pertaining to parliamentary systems, electoral processes, citizenship, and participation in and resistance to democracies. 

The first meeting will take place at 155 Freeman Street at 11am on Sunday, May 6th. It will be a time to reflect upon the May Day General Strike and to plan the series. Please join us for a casual potluck brunch.

We will start by reading Jacques Ranciere's 'Hatred of Democracy'.


Better late than never: I wanted to share this excellent sitcom 'Our Autonomous Life?' about a journalist who infiltrates a squat in Utrecht, Netherlands. It is produced by Casco.

solidk's picture

Here's a very recent talk by Bennett:

Nonhuman Turn: Jane Bennett
Plenary talk by Jane Bennett, recorded May 4, 2012, at the “Nonhuman Turn” conference at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Center for 21st Century Studies.

solidk's picture

Also, regarding Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter and thingness, and her studies on Walt Whitman:

Artistry and Agency in a World of Vibrant Matter | The New School
Hosted by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics
Jane Bennett - Powers of the Hoard: Artistry and Agency in a World of Vibrant Matter

Jane Bennett – Powers of the Hoard: Notes on Material Agency

The Political Life of Things
A One Day Workshop at The Imperial War Museum, London, UK

Jane Bennett – Walt Whitman’s Solar Judgment

solidk's picture

Thanks to everyone who participated in the planning session and potluck! Here are two of the texts that I mentioned:

Technologies of the Self by Michel Foucault

Postscript on the Societies of Control by Gilles Deleuze [PDF]

and here is an object-oriented ontology (OOO) book that may help with thing-thinking:

The Democracy of Objects by Levi Bryant;idno=9750134.0001.001


I have to miss today's meeting, but I'd like to offer two "texts" for consideration for inclusion in the class.

The first are a pair of proposed amendments to the New York City charter that would create a modern day citizen lawmaking process--or as big a step in that direction as we think we can implement within the existing legal framework. Sometime this summer their wording will be finalized and petitions to place them on the 2013 ballot will begin circulating. You can find out more about this all-volunteer effort and read and help fine-tune the draft amendments at our (soon to be overhauled) website:

The second is a (much more enjoyable) documentary film essay about large scale direct democracy in its rudimentary ballot initiative form, its history, problems, and potential. The current rough cut runs about 45 minutes, and it should be done by early July.

Depending on when the class ends up taking place, I'd be happy to come do a screening and/or talk about the above campaign as an interesting case study. Just let me know!


tchoi8's picture

See you tomorrow 11am at 155 Freeman.
If you are looking for good read for tonight, chapter 3: Democracy, Republic, Representation ' in 'Hatred of Democracy' and also chapter 2 'The Use of Democracy' in Ranciere's 'On The Shores of Politics' is good. ttp://
Bring in your favorite literature and other references. We will map out possible readings and sites to hold the discussions.
For the potluck, bring your magical surprises.

tchoi8's picture

We will start by reading Jacques Ranciere's 'Hatred of Democracy'.
Please read as much as you'd like to.

See you Saturday morning! Feel free to bring some food/ drinks! This will be a casual planning session.


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