Talks: Social Movements / 2012-2014

Primary Source

Shaping San Francisco hosts Public Talks on a variety of topics on Wednesday nights, about 18 times a year. One recurrent theme has brought together activists and the interested to discuss contemporary and past Social Movements. Here are the Talks we held at the Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics from 2012-2014.

December 10, 2014

Latin American Social Movements

Clif Ross and Marcy Rein, editors of Until the Rulers Obey: Voices from Latin American Social Movements present a broad overview of the social movements that have pressured one regime after another in Latin America, changing the political calculations for everyone from right to left, from Venezuela to Argentina, Mexico to Chile and more. Co-hosted by PM Press

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October 29, 2014

San Francisco’s Housing Wars 2014

Decades of displacement and eviction have reached another crescendo during 2013-14. Key activists from the 1990s to the present will share tactics and strategies as the war enters its latest stages. With James Tracy with his new book Dispatches Against Displacement, Erin McElroy of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project and Maria Zamudio of Causa Justa.

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October 1, 2014

A History of LGBTQ Spaces . . .Where you Least Expect Them

At the outset of the LGBTQ History Month of October, a group of distinguished historians come together to orient us to queer historic sites and events in the city. They reflect on those that have been torn down and what it means that these centers of community are missing, and present a sampling of the many still extant social, cultural, and sexual spaces, and why these places are critical components of LGBTQ history. The presentation also showcases the work going into the Citywide Historic Context Statement for LGBTQ History, a planning document that will serve as a guide in the documentation and commemoration of LGBTQ places in San Francisco. With Glenne McElhinney, Gerard Koskovich, Shayne Watson, Donna Graves, and Felicia Elizondo

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December 4, 2013

Remembering Los Siete

The seven young men who became iconic heroes of San Francisco's left and Latino political ferment in the 1970s were eventually acquitted of murder. While the campaign to defend them led to an explosion of social organizing, we know little about how these men's lives developed in the years that followed, losing track of real people in the mists of political legitimacy and hero-worship. Vero Majano takes a documentary look at what happened to Los Siete in the decades since the famous trial, and gives us a chance to ponder the relationship between "historic characters" and real lives, heroism and compromise, triumph and regret. Majano takes us on a subjective journey that illuminates the real history of the neighborhood in a way that most accounts gloss over, a conversation joined by Ray Balberan and Francisco Flores.

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November 6, 2013

Confronting Cultural Genocide

Doesn't European and American history in San Francisco begin with genocide? What does this mean in practice? Today, we have the chance to talk with people who descend from some of those who lived here before 1775, when Europeans arrived. We can't change what happened, but history is ongoing, including assumptions we hold today. What can we learn about San Francisco, the US, Europe, the Ohlone and Native America from this dialogue? Can "we" change who "we" are? The Ohlone Profiles Project wants to engage the city in a long term conversation and Shaping San Francisco is helping initiate their effort.

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October 2, 2013

The Red Army Faction—Dancing With Imperialism

Co-editor J. Smith of the three-volume documentary history of the emblematic urban guerrillas will be in town to discuss his work, the life, times and enduring relevance of the RAF.

"A fascinating history of the German revolutionary left in the 1970s and 1980s. It powerfully situates the RAF within a broader orbit of revolutionary politics and world events. It gives us the inside story of how militants did and might engage with police, prisons, informants, media and one another in the context of struggle. It is an exciting story, a global story, and very much a story for today's movements." —Dan Berger, editor of The Hidden 1970s

co-sponsored by PM Press and Freedom Archives

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May 20, 2013

"We are not machines!" The Situation and Struggles of the iSlaves in China

Foxconn, the world's biggest contract manufacturer, employs more than one million people in China alone, working for Apple and many other brands. Foxconn's workers, the iSlaves, face horrendous working conditions while producing iPhones and iPads. In 2010 a series of worker suicides at Chinese Foxconn factories drew world-wide attention. The situation has not changed much since: instead of improving conditions, Foxconn accelerated the relocation of factories to the Chinese hinterland, and still relies on its militaristic management regime. However, Foxconn-workers are far from being quiet victims. They have used every-day forms of resistance against the assembly line and have held strikes in various Foxconn factories around China. The talk is based on's collective research, by a member of the collective gongchao.

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March 13, 2013

Asia's Unknown Uprisings

The 2nd volume of George Katsiaficas's monumental study of Asian Revolutions, this provides a unique perspective on uprisings in nine places in East Asia over the past five decades. While the 2011 Arab Spring is well known, the wave of uprisings that swept East Asia in the 1980s became hardly visible. Katsiaficas relates Asian uprisings to predecessors in 1968 and shows their subsequent influence on the wave of uprisings that swept Eastern Europe at the end of the 1980s. By empirically reconstructing the specific history of uprisings in the Philippines, Burma, Tibet, China, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand and Indonesia, significant insight into major constituencies of change and the trajectories of these societies becomes visible. Co-sponsored by PM Press.

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February 20, 2013

The Revolution of Everyday Life

With translator Donald Nicholson-Smith. There is a grain of truth in the stereotypical view that Guy Debord and Raoul Vaneigem, as two leading lights of the Situationist International, stood for two opposite poles of the movement: the objective Debord versus the subjective Vaneigem: Marxism versus anarchism: icy cerebrality versus sensualism: and, of course, The Society of the Spectacle versus The Revolution of Everyday Life --the two major programmatic books of the Situationist International, written by the two men without consultation, both published in 1967, each serving in its own way to kindle and color the May 1968 uprisings in France. Born in Manchester, England, Donald Nicholson-Smith is a longtime resident of New York City. As a young man he was a member of the Situationist International (1965-67), and his translations include Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle (Zone) and Henri Lefebvre's The Production of Space (Blackwell), as well as works by Jean-Patrick Manchette, Thierry Jonquet, and Paco Ignacio Taibo II. At present he is at work on Apollinaire's Letters to Madeleine, as sent by the poet from the trenches of Champagne in 1915.Co-sponsored by PM Press.

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October 17, 2012

Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle

Longtime radical feminst Silvia Federici talks about the international restructuring of reproductive work and its effects on the sexual division of labor, the globalization of care work and sex work, the crisis of elder care, and the development of affective labor.

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October 10, 2012

Ohlone Profiles Project

The largest living Ohlone tribe began a migration from San Francisco's Mission Dolores in 1834 and now lives in Pomona, CA. From June 2012 to November 2013 the Ohlone Profiles Project is bringing this peninsula's original inhabitants back to this land where they will be holding community meetings, healing ceremonies, and other gatherings to begin a Truth and Reconciliation process between the City and the Tribe. Fresh from a Big Time Gathering on Indigenous Peoples' Day (October 6) at the Presidio Parade Grounds, and the annual sunrise ceremony honoring the 1969 Occupation of Alcatraz (October 8), Ohlone Profiles Project directors Mary Jean Robertson and Neil MacLean and members of the Tribe will discuss the Ohlone Tribe's return.

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September 12, 2012

Mexico Today: Dinosaurs, Popular Refusal, and Hashtags!

Mexicans are experiencing unprecedented levels of violence but are responding with unprecedented levels of mobilization at the base of society. From the No Más Sangre movement to the #yosoy132, Mexican people are contesting established powers and “prehistoric” institutions. How do we reconcile the return of the PRI with an insurgent population determined to rewrite their own history? Join the conversation with locals and visitors alike…

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April 11, 2012

West of Eden: Communes and Utopia in Northern California

In the shadow of the Vietnam War, a significant part of an entire generation refused their assigned roles in the American century. Some took their revolutionary politics to the streets, others decided simply to turn away, seeking to build another world together, outside the state and the market. West of Eden charts the remarkable flowering of communalism in the '60s and '70s, fueled by a radical rejection of the Cold War corporate deal, utopian visions of a peaceful green planet, the new technologies of sound and light, and the ancient arts of ecstatic release. The book focuses on the San Francisco Bay Area and its hinterlands, which have long been creative spaces for social experiment. Haight-Ashbury's gift economy—its free clinic, concerts, and street theatre—and Berkeley's liberated zones—Sproul Plaza, Telegraph Avenue, and People's Park— were embedded in a wider network of producer and consumer co-ops, food conspiracies, and collective schemes. With editor Iain Boal, contributor Lee Worden, and Project One veteran Kathy Setian. Co-hosted by PM Press.

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March 28, 2012

Selma James and George Katsiaficas

Selma James speaks on her new book "Sex, Race and Class—The Perspective of Winning; A Selection of Writings 1952-2011." James discusses the class divide in feminism, the anti-capitalism of the social wage, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Haiti: Black Jacobins then and now and much more! With her was George Katsiaficas, author of the just-released "Asia's Unknown Uprisings: South Korean Social Movements in the 20th Century," and he gave an account of the largely unknown 1980 Guangju uprising, which rivals (and exceeds) the 1871 Paris Commune in its remarkable radicalism, direct democracy, success in repelling a much better armed military, and more. Co-hosted by PM Press

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March 14, 2012

Rebooting the Rainbow

In the 1960s the Black Panther Party for Self Defense joined with the Puerto Rican Young Lords and the poor White Young Patriots Organization in the Original Rainbow Coalition (pre-Jessie Jackson). The model of "organize your own but fight together" was an attempt to build broad unity in dispossessed communities while dealing with the realities of racialized capitalism head-on. Come join a discussion of this history and what its going to take to keep the 99% together for the long-haul. Panel discussion will include a slideshow of the art of the Rainbow Coalitions. On the panel: Pam Tau Lee (member of I Wor Kuen), Joe Navarro (Los Siete De La Raza Defense Committee), Killu Nyasha (Black Panther Party) and Amy Sonnie and James Tracy (co-authors of "Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times")

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February 22, 2012

Policing San Francisco: 1930s-1960s

Hank Chapot will present his work on the 1937 Atherton Report: "In 1935 San Franciscans were shocked, shocked, to hear reports of ordinary police officers with extraordinary wealth. Mayor Angelo Rossi and the Board of Supervisors put up $75,000 dollars to fund an independent investigation of the SFPD and it's crooked cops, hiring the private investigation firm Atherton & Dunn. The investigation and grand jury testimony pointed directly at bail bondsman Pete McDonough, San Francisco's greatest boss. The Atherton Report, released in March 1937, rocked the city and the police establishment and initiated the inexorable fall of the House of McDonough." Chris Agee will present his work on the 1960s: "During the 1960s San Franciscans grappled over the appropriate role of the police in an urban democracy. By examining the Police-Community Relations Unit, the Police Officers' Association, and the administrations of Mayors George Christopher and Joseph Alioto, this talk will explore how rank-and-file police officers maintained their street-level discretion during the period in which San Francisco's city hall embraced an increasingly inclusive political arrangement."

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February 15, 2012

Corporate Personhood?!?

“Corporate Personhood” is being widely discussed after a couple of decades of slowly growing awareness of the creeping expansion of corporate legal rights since the late 19th century. After the Civil War in the 1860s corporations took on new forms, new legal rights, and new power. David Cobb, Phillip Pierce, Susan Harmon, and Chris Carlsson will talk about the origins and and describe the evolution over time.

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January 25, 2012

Occupy Everything! An Open Discussion

The Occupy movement that started in September in the U.S. and has spread across the country, with dramatic events in Oakland, San Francisco, and other locales serves as the starting point for an open community discussion. What are the politics of this moment? How shall we understand our own activity, how does it fit into a longer historical perspective? Is this really so new? If so, what next?

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