By: Paige West and J.C. Salyer
This month the Anthropology Read In (#AnthReadIn) will move our collective focus to the articulation of United States Empire, environmental violence, and the dynamics of resistance. On March 24 (the third Friday of the month) we will come together to read the following pieces: the Introduction to Alyosha Goldstein’s edited volume “Formations of United States Colonialisms” (Duke 2014), the Introduction to Rob Nixon’s “Slow Violence” (Harvard 2011), and an excerpt from “Poor People’s Movements and the Structuring of Protest” by Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward.
Taken together these three pieces guide us to towards an understanding of how the United States became a global hegemonic force, how that force and the structures of capital behind and within it came to override the rights and needs of global citizens with regard to the environment, and the complex dynamics of how politically marginalized people resist multiple forms of domination and oppression.
These readings are meant to elucidate the deeper historical context of Trump administration’s policies without diminishing the uniqueness of the challenges posed by the brutal onslaught of the administration’s revanchist campaign against the rights of indigenous people, immigrants, minorities, and the poor. Thus, we want to highlight that to act in the present moment requires that we acknowledge and understand that the historical precedents that have allowed for a phenomenon such as Trump have for a long time been a far greater burden for marginalized, disenfranchised, and oppressed peoples. At the same time, the current policies threaten to ravage the environment on a global level and dispossess people – economically, socially, and politically – on a disastrously unprecedented scale and demand unity in condemnation and resistance. Thus, we must recognize that to resist Trump now, requires us to address the crushing socioeconomic inequality that preceded this moment and generate a movement that does not merely long for a time before Trump but demands a future of equality and justice heretofore unrealized.
Now, a short reminder of how this works: On the third Friday of every month for the next four years (or as short or long as necessary), using the new #AnthReadIn on Twitter and utilizing the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/170068806806067/ we come together in person and virtually to read, think, and discuss. The event is co sponsored by Savage Minds and the journals American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Environment and Society, and Political and Legal Anthropology, based on hundreds of suggestions from anthropologists, and conceptualized initially and curated by Paige West and J. C. Salyer.
Paige West is Claire Tow Professor of Anthropology, Barnard College and Columbia University
JC Salyer is Term Professor of Practice, Barnard College