Upcoming research trips to Glasgow and Reykjavik

Researchers from the Cosntitutionalising Anarchy project will be visiting Glasgow and Reykjavik this month to speak with activists about the relevance of anarchist theory to contemporary politics.

A recent Anarchy Rules! workshop, at the Anarchist Studies Network conference, Loughborough University 2016
A recent Anarchy Rules! workshop, at the Anarchist Studies Network conference, Loughborough University 2016

Glasgow – 15th October – Centre for Contemporary arts

In Glasgow, the team will be running an interactive workshop at the Centre for Contemporary Arts as part of the 10th anniversary celebration for the Radical Independent Bookfair Project. The workshop will involve discussions about how anarchist organising can help re-think what constitutions can be and how they can support social change. The workshop will take place in the CCA’s Intermedia Gallery from 1:00pm to 3:00pm on the 15th of October and is free to attend.

Ruth Kinna, the lead researcher on the project and Professor of Political Theory at Loughborough University, said: ‘Constitutions have typically been used to establish systems of domination through hierarchy, something anarchists are opposed to. But we believe that thinking about constitutional practices in new ways can help everyone interested in anarchist organising think creatively about rule-making.’

Alex Prichard, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Exeter, added: ‘Even anarchists who reject constitutions have rules. The criticisms anarchists have of how rules operate in mainstream politics are reasons to think about how the openness and flexibility of anarchist organising can be used to support egalitarian, libertarian and democratic principles.’

On the relevance of the project to political developments in Scotland, Thomas Swann, Research Associate at Loughborough University, said: ‘The political climate in Scotland is particularly interesting for the topics raised by our research. Not only has there been a resurgence in radical left thinking about how society should be organised in the wake of the 2014 referendum on independence, but the prospect of another referendum and independence in the near future makes questions of how constitutions are written and how they operate highly relevant. Hopefully the discussion we’ll be having in Glasgow and our research can suggest how constitutionalising can work in participatory and democratic ways.’

Reykjavik – 18th to 20th October

In Iceland, the research team will be speaking to left-wing activists and Pirate Party members and will also speak at a conference at Reykjavik University convened by Katrin Oddsdottir, CEO of the campaign group The Constitutional Society and Attorney to the District Court. The conference will include contributions from noted legal scholars Laurence Lessig (Harvard University) and David Carrillo (UC Berkley) and communications expert Arne Hintz (Cardiff University). The researchers from the UK will discuss the problems with modern politics, pointing towards solutions that can be found in radical ideas of constitutionalism and democracy, highlighting the role of social media in realising these.

Research Associate Thomas Swann said: ‘The questions raised by this research are particularly relevant in Iceland, where innovative crowd-sourcing methods have been experimented with in trying to write a new constitution. With the potential of success for the Pirate Party in the upcoming elections, new forms of participation and democracy are becoming increasingly important, and not just for Iceland.’

Second Anarchy Rules Workshop in Sheffield

In a previous post we provided an overview of a workshop we ran at the Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair in April this year.  The workshop was a lot of fun and some very interesting points were raised about the relationship between rules, rule-making and anarchist principles and organisation.

We’re hosting a follow-up workshop in Sheffield taking place on Tuesday the 16th of August at 6pm. The aim of this second workshop will be to build on the points that emerged during the discussion in April and to link these to concrete examples of anarchist constitutions. We’ll be discussing whether anarchist organisations can have constitutions and still be consistently anarchist, or indeed whether they need to have constitutions to be consistently anarchist. In addition, we’ll look at examples of constitutions to try and identify what anarchist principles are enshrined in them and how the rules included in the constitutions can be seen to safeguard those principles.

The workshop will take place at 6pm in room 1033, Owen Building, Sheffield Hallam University. The workshop will run for maximum 2 hours with a break in the middle.

Sheffield workshop map

Everyone’s welcome, including those who didn’t attend the first workshop. We’ll spend a few minutes at the start recapping some of the insights that emerged during the first workshop, but you can of course also have a look at the blog post.

We’ll also be planning a third workshop to try and do some co-production around anarchist rule-making and constitutionalism, but we’ll discuss that in more detail at the workshop in August.

If you’re able to attend this workshop, you don’t need to register, but please let us know so that we can book refreshments. You can email us at anarchyrules@riseup.net to let us know you’re coming. If you can’t make it but want to attend similar discussions in the near future, please let us know by email.

We also have a small amount of money available to support travel costs to and from the workshop. This will require you to provide your name and bank details but all such details will be treated with the strictest confidentiality and will not be available to anyone other than the Loughborough University staff who will deal with the expenses forms. Forms will be available at the workshop.