CSULB Geography Department to host ‘Radical Politics’ forum

The Geography Department at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) together with The Spaces of Democracy and the Democracy of Space Network will host a community forum and academic workshop on “Radical Politics Today” on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 4-5.
The Spaces of Democracy and the Democracy of Space Network focuses on how new forms of democracy are emerging in the ever more complex connected world. Sometimes labeled as radical politics, these new, alternative modes of interaction may address concerns about ethical responsibility, militarism, identity, social and environmental justice, inequities of gender or economic status and other themes.
For geographers and other scholars, however, these new forms of political engagement are viewed as connected to a new way of thinking about space itself, referred to as the “spatial turn.” This means that space is no longer simply understood as a background container of life and is instead seen as an active component of contemporary lives.
“By observing how alternative political actions happen in particular places, the network hopes to gain a better insight into the conditions of societies and the possibilities for tomorrow,” explained conference organizer Deborah Thien, an assistant professor of geography at CSULB. “Long Beach residents are invited to join the debate in which local and international scholars and theorists from a variety of disciplines will bring these and other questions to the forefront.”
The conference begins on Sunday, Aug. 3, with a walking tour of the Malibu beaches led by the LA Urban Rangers. “This is a tongue-in-cheek tour intended to remind us that Malibu’s beaches are public spaces,” Thien said. “It explores some of the dilemmas of space.”
The conference proper begins with a community forum at 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 4, in the Long Beach Public Library. Panelists will include Goetz Wolff (Harry Bridges Institute, San Pedro, and UCLA), Gilda Haas (Strategic Action for a Just Economy, Los Angeles), and Laura Pulido (Department of American Studies and Ethnicity, USC).
On Tuesday, Aug. 5, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in CSULB’s Karl Anatol Center, an intensive workshop will be held on campus featuring keynote speakers Nigel Thrift, vice-chancellor of England’s Warwick University, and UCLA urban planner Edward Soja.
Also on tap will be John Paul Jones, III (geography and regional development, University of Arizona), Sallie Marston (geography and regional development, University of Arizona), Keith Woodward (geography, University of Exeter), Laurence Berg (geography, University of British Columbia), Mary Thomas (women’s studies and geography, Ohio State University), and Liz Philipose (women’s studies, CSULB).
One of the conference’s prime focuses will be how “radical” politics are being understood as new understandings of the spatial come to the fore.
“What signifies and constitutes radical politics today?” asked Thien. “The Spaces of Democracy and the Democracy of Space Network is very interested in looking at radical politics in particular spaces. For instance, what does Long Beach see as radical politics? The network isn’t interested in telling people what radical politics are as much as they want to know how particular places practice and perceive them.”
Members of the community are welcome to attend the conference events. Reservations are not necessary for the community forum.
Space is limited, however, for the research workshop.
For more information or to reserve workshop space, contact Thien by phone at (562) 985-7072 or via email at dthien@csulb.edu.

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