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No Future

CENTRE FOR THE STUDY OF EDUCATION AND WORK – UPDATE 19th MARCH 2011

EVENTS

PANEL AND BOOK LAUNCH – “EDUCATING ELITES: CLASS PRIVILEGE AND EDUCATIONAL ADVANTAGE”

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), room 5-250
252 Bloor St. West (St. George subway station), Toronto

10:00am – 11:45am (Panel)
11:45am – 1:00pm (Book Launch / Lunch Reception)

Panelists:

– Jane Kenway, Professor Monash University – “Elite Schools, Trans-national Capitals, and Global Elite Formations”
– Paul Tarc, Assistant Professor University of Western Ontario – “The Uses of International Education for (Becoming) Elites: The Case of the International Baccalaureate”
– Adam Howard, Associate Professor Colby College – “Shifting Landscapes: Elite Education in the New Economy”
– Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández, Assistant Professor CTL, OISE – “Notes on the Emergence and Significance of Elite Schooling as a Subject of Educational Research”

Chair : Kari Dehli, Professor SESE, OISE

Books by the panelists will be on sale from the Toronto Women’s Bookstore: http://www.womensbookstore.com

Co-sponsors: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education – Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning; Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education; Comparative, International & Development Education Centre; Centre for Media and Culture in Education, Toronto Women’s Bookstore
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COMMON THREAD COMMUNITY CHORUS OF TORONTO – BENEFIT CONCERT FOR MENNONITE NEW LIFE CENTRE & JUSTICIA FOR MIGRANT WORKERS

March 26
7:30 pm
St Simon’s Anglican Church, 525 Bloor Street East
Sherbourne subway station (Glen Road exit)

Tickets: Adults $20/advance – $25/door;  Students & Seniors $15/advance – $20/door; Children under 10 – free

http://www.commonthreadchorus.ca/sites/default/files/poster-spring-2011.jpg

– Mennonite New Life Centre: http://mnlct.org
– Justicia for Migrant Workers:  http://justicia4migrantworkers.org
– Proyecto Altiplano:  http://myspace.com/proyectoaltiplano/stream

Common Thread Chorus: http://www.commonthreadchorus.ca

For Tickets: 416-410-5022 or info@commonthreadchorus.ca
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CU EXPO 2011 – COMMUNITY-UNIVERSITY PARTNERSHIPS: BRINGING GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES TO LOCAL ACTION

May 10-14, 2011
Waterloo Region, Ontario

CU Expo 2011 will showcase the exemplars in community-university partnerships worldwide, and explore and introduce creative ways of strengthening our local communities.

The conference is expected to draw over 800 people from Canada and around the world who are passionate about the power of community-university partnerships as a vehicle for social change. Students, community leaders, researchers, educators, funders, policy makers and others invested in community-building will be in attendance.

The CU Expo movement began in Canada as a response to individuals involved community-university partnerships needing a forum to share experiences, strategies and ideas. CU Expo 2011 will address the conference objectives, themes and streams through a variety of session offerings and opportunities for dialogue.

Learn more: http://www.cuexpo2011.ca/

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BUILDING SOLIDARITY: CAMPUS LABOUR STRUGGLES AND THE STUDENT CONNECTION

A forum to discuss and unite worker and student struggles at U of T

March 31, 2011
6-9pm
Bahen Centre, University of Toronto
Room 2175 (40 St. George Street)

A brief overview of the working conditions at the University of Toronto shows that something is just not right: most contract faculty members have virtually no job security; largely racialized food-service workers are paid less than a living wage; post-doctoral fellows have zero input in the drafting of their contracts; female administrative staff members receive less pay than their male counterparts; and non-tenured professors fear termination for voicing opinions on contentious political issues.

Meanwhile, students at the U of T are also engaged in pitched battles to keep post-secondary education accessible and equitable. Campaigns to eliminate ever-increasing tuition fees, to defend equity-based programs under threat of extinction, to challenge autocratic room booking policies, and to overturn unrepresentative and unaccountable governing bodies are just some of the issues that they organize around everyday.

In short, there is a whole host of injustices that plague both workers and students on this campus. As a working group of the newly-formed University of Toronto General Assembly, Student-Worker Solidarity (SWS) seeks to challenge this state of affairs by bringing different campus workers together to speak with students about their issues, while also providing students with an opportunity to relay their concerns to workers.

With this forum, SWS hopes to begin the conversation in order to create new ways of thinking about and participating in the struggles of those who make our University what it is.

Speakers will include members of the following:

– Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3902
– United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1998
– UniteHERE Local 75
– University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA)
– University of Toronto General Assembly (UTGA)

**Refreshments will be provided
**Email utgeneralassembly@gmail.com for more information
**This event is endorsed by OPIRG-Toronto

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SOCIAL ECONOMY CENTRE LUNCHBOX SPEAKERS’ SERIES –  HOUSING ALTERNATIVES

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Noon – 1:30 pm
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
252 Bloor St. West, Toronto
Room 12-199

with Joe Deschênes Smith and Michael Shapcott

– Joe Deshchênes Smith will talk about investment process for new affordable housing, as well as attributes of the Home Ownership Initiative’s 2nd mortgage for low/modest income home-buyers.
– Michael Shapcott will discuss the social economy elements of the Precarious Housing report recently released by Affordable Housing and Social Innovation at the Wellesley Institute.

Moderator: David Hulchanski, Director, Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto

Bring your lunch and a mug. Water, coffee and tea will be provided.

For more information, please contact Lisa White: secspeakerseries@gmail.com

This event will also be webcast live on the Internet.  Please see our website for detailed instructions: http://socialeconomy.utoronto.ca

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PANEL – PAUL ROBESON: THE TALLEST TREE IN OUR FOREST

Wednesday, March 23
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
East Common Room, Hart House
University of Toronto
7 Hart House Circle

Speakers:
– Ken Jeffers (City of Toronto Manager, Access and Diversity, Parks Forestry and Recreation)
– Norm Kelly (Writer and Playwright)
– Lee Lorch (Civil rights activist and York Professor Emeritus)
– Rathika Sitsabaiesan (Scarborough-Rouge River Federal NDP Candidate)

Sponsored by Centre for the Study of the United States

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NEWS & VIEWS

UFCW CANADA RELEASE: WORKERS’ ACTION CENTRE LAUNCHES PROVINCIAL INITIATIVE – “UNDERCOVER STORIES ON WAGE THEFT”

Wage theft, in its various incarnations, is a workplace plague in Canada which is evident in a variety of communities. It is a particularly painful in immigrant communities. Many employers continuously abuse Employment Standards protections of these precarious workers as a means to simple but effectively improve profits.

On behalf of the 250,000 UFCW Canada members across Canada, we say NO to Wage Theft and YES to the much needed advocacy initiatives by the Workers’ Action Centre in Toronto. No worker deserves to get less than their fair wage. Every worker deserves to be heard.

We commend the Workers’ Action Centre on their initiative entitled “Undercover Stories on Wage Theft” and their advocacy in support for this initiative. We encourage you to take the time to support this important campaign.

To learn more: http://www.workersactioncentre.org

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ALTERNATIVE FEDERAL BUDGET 2011 LAUNCHED – RETHINK, REBUILD, RENEW: A POST-RECESSION RECOVERY PLAN

From Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)

The Alternative Budget presents a comprehensive recovery plan designed to:

– get Canadians working in good jobs again;
– reduce record-high income inequality, strengthen Canada’s middle class, and improve supports for Canada’s poor and most vulnerable;
– protect public programs that all Canadians rely on — including public health care and public pensions;
– manage Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio without vital public program cuts;
– get serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and
– launch a multi-pronged initiative to expand high value-added production in key sectors.

Read more: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/afb2011

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TEACHING ABOUT LABOR ISSUES AND THE WISCONSIN WORKER FIGHTBACK

From Rethinking Schools

According to labor historian Mark J. Naison, the movement of workers that began in Wisconsin and is now spreading to other states is “the most important labor struggle in the United States in the 21st century.”

The current uprising of workers in Wisconsin and other states presents a powerful opportunity to teach students about what the protests are about and why their teachers and neighbors are joining the struggle.  It’s an opportunity to critically examine issues, and to model for students’ responsible civic action and engagement in the political process.

As members of teacher unions, we have an additional responsibility, summarized by the late Howard Zinn in an interview published in Transforming Teacher Unions:

“If teacher unions want to be strong and well-supported, it’s essential that they not only be teacher unionists but teachers of unionism. We need to create a generation of students who support teachers and the movements of teachers for their rights.”

Embrace this “teachable moment” and share with us in the comments what resources you are using, how you are using them, and how your students are responding.

Read more: http://rethinkingschools.org/news/WIProtestTeachingResources.shtml

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BOOK – THE SPIRIT LEVEL: WHY GREATER EQUALITY MAKES SOCIETIES STRONGER

[The authors] Wilkinson and Pickett make an eloquent case that the income gap between a nation’s richest and poorest is the most powerful indicator of a functioning and healthy society. Amid the statistics that support their argument (increasing income disparity sees corresponding spikes in homicide, obesity, drug use, mental illness, anxiety, teenage pregnancies, high school dropouts—even incidents of playground bullying), the authors take an empathetic view of our ability to see beyond self-interest…There is evidence that the human brain—with its distinctively large neocortex—evolved the way it has because we were designed to be attentive to, depend on, and be depended on by others.

Ordering information: http://www.amazon.com/Spirit-Level-Equality-Societies-Stronger/dp/1608190366

Hear Wilkinson give a 1:34:42 speech on the subject of his book. The volume is okay after he’s introduced. The graphics he uses appear on your screen as he proceeds through the presentation.

http://www.fhs.sfu.ca/news/events/special-guest-speaker-dr.-richard-g.-wilkinson

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MAYTREE FOUNDATION – THE “PILOT” FOR RECRUITING TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKERS FOR LOW-SKILLED JOBS SHOULD BE ABOLISHED

The latest Maytree discussion paper argues that the growth in the temporary foreign worker program is contrary to Canada’s social and economic interests. It suggests that those currently in Canada under the Pilot Project for Occupations Requiring Lower Levels of Formal Training should be granted permanent residence.

Read more: http://bit.ly/eVP7jX

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NO FARE IS FAIR – A ROUNDTABLE WITH MEMBERS OF THE GREATER TORONTO WORKERS’ ASSEMBLY TRANSIT COMMITTEE

By Ali Mustafa, The Bullet

The Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly (GTWA) is a promising new initiative aiming to build a united, non-sectarian, and militant anti-capitalist movement in the city among a diversity of rank-and-file labour unionists, grassroots community organizers, and youth alike. Since the GTWA’s inception in early 2010, mass public transit has emerged as one of the organization’s key political battlegrounds. In this in-depth roundtable discussion, members of the GTWA’s transit committee Jordy Cummings, Lisa Leinveer, Leo Panitch, Kamilla Pietrzyk, and Herman Rosenfeld explore both the opportunities and obstacles facing the campaign Towards a Free and Accessible TTC.

Read more: http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/480.php

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ABOUT CSEW (CENTRE FOR THE STUDY OF EDUCATION & WORK, OISE/UT):

Head: Peter Sawchuk
Co-ordinator: D’Arcy Martin

The Centre for the Study of Education and Work (CSEW) brings together educators from university, union, and community settings to understand and enrich the often-undervalued informal and formal learning of working people. We develop research and teaching programs at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (UofT) that strengthen feminist, anti-racist, labour movement, and working-class perspectives on learning and work.

Our major project is APCOL: Anti-Poverty Community Organizing and Learning. This five-year project (2009-2013), funded by SSHRC-CURA, brings academics and activists together in a collaborative effort to evaluate how organizations approach issues and campaigns and use popular education.

For more information about CSEW, visit: http://www.csew.ca

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‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Human Herbs’ at: http://www.myspace.com/coldhandsmusic (recording) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2h7tUq0HjIk (live)

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

MySpace Profile: http://www.myspace.com/glennrikowski

The Ockress: http://www.theockress.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.com

No Future

CENTRE FOR THE STUDY OF EDUCATION AND WORK – UPDATE 20th FEBRUARY 2011

EVENTS

MEDITATION FOR SOCIAL ACTIVISTS

February 25, 2011
1:00pm – 3:30pm
OISE/Centre for Women’s Studies in Education
252 Bloor St. West, Toronto (St. George subway stn.)

We can do more for the world when we are tending to our own wellbeing. Meditation can help to ground, centre, and rejuvenate you. In this workshop you will learn to meditate and will be empowered with tools to bring meditation into your daily life on an on-going basis. Hosted by Centre for Women’s Studies in Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.

For more info, email: cwse@utoronto.ca

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SOCIAL ECONOMY CENTRE (OISE/UT) FEBRUARY LUNCHBOX SPEAKERS’ SERIES

“Community Foundations”

With Rosalyn Morrison – Community Initiatives, Toronto Community Foundation, and Betsy Martin – Community Foundations Canada

Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Noon – 1:30 pm
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
252 Bloor St. West, Toronto
Room 12-199

Rosalyn Morrison will talk about how the Toronto Community Foundation mobilizes more than 300 individual and family donors, high-impact community organizations and cross-sector leaders to tackle complex, quality of life issues in creative and inspiring ways.

Betsy Martin will discuss how foundations in Canada can support social enterprise and how this is part of the evolution of the investment model of foundations around the world. She will give examples of what community foundations in Canada and the United States are doing, to give a sense of the potential for this kind of community foundation investing.

Moderator: Michael Hall, Primus

Bring your lunch and a mug.  Water, coffee and tea will be provided.

For more information, please contact: Lisa White: secspeakerseries@gmail.com This event will also be webcast live on the Internet.  Please see our website for detailed instructions: http://socialeconomy.utoronto.ca

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SOCIAL PLANNING TORONTO 2011 RESEARCH & POLICY ROUNDTABLE: WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Please join us for our Research & Policy Roundtable being held on February 24th, 2011. The theme of the 2011 roundtable is “Who’s in Charge? The impact of agencies, boards & commissions on public accountability & service delivery”.

Since the late 1970s, a transformative shift has taken place in how governments manage and administer public services in many democratic countries around the world. Influenced by neo-liberal ideologies, governments have been increasingly under pressure to reduce their size and control over public services. Governments were declared “too big” and “too bureaucratic” to be able to properly and promptly deliver services transparently and flexibly. Governments were encouraged to incorporate private sector management models to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of services and service-delivery. One central feature of this new model has been the creation of hundreds of decentralized and quasi-autonomous government agencies, boards and commissions (ABCs) to manage and administer public services. According to the Ontario Public Appointments Secretariat, there are approximately 630 of these agencies, boards and commissions operating in the province.

For more info: http://bit.ly/eJQeQv

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GIANT STEPS: RADICAL WOMEN IN THE BLACK FREEDOM STRUGGLE

A talk by Komozi Woodard, Esther Raushenbush Chair, Sarah Lawrence College
Author: Want to Start a Revolution?

7:00pm, Tuesday March 1, 2011
Ryerson University, Ted Rogers School, TRS 2109
55 Dundas Street West, Toronto

Sponsored by Socialist Project, Centre for Social Justice, New Socialists, No One Is Illegal – Toronto.

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CELEBRATE PEOPLE’S HISTORY AT TORONTO FREE GALLERY

Feb. 10 – March 19, 2011
Toronto Free Gallery
1277 Bloor Street West
Toronto
Free Admission

Hours of Operation: Wednesday-Friday 12-5pm, Saturday 12-6pm

Toronto Free Gallery and Groundswell present Celebrate People’s History!, a show of poster art created by over ninety artists – including many of Toronto’s own – to document the hidden history of social justice movements.

The posters make up a hidden history of people’s struggles, covering well known events and praising groups and leaders of prominence, but also bringing to light less known struggles. The set includes tributes to the AIDS activist group ACT UP, the 1969 Stonewall rebellion, the 1921 Appalachian miners strike at Blair Mountain, UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta, the anti-eviction battle at San Francisco’s International Hotel, the 1988 democratic uprising in Burma, the women leaders of Oaxaca’s 2006 civil uprising, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the 1804 Haitian Revolution, singer Paul Robeson, and heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali.

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NEWS & VIEWS

VANCOUVER MAYOR FINDS NEW RESPECT FOR SANITATION WORKERS WHEN HE WALKS A DAY IN THEIR SHOES

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson found out what it’s like to work collecting and sorting garbage in Vancouver when he appeared on a recent episode of CBC series Make the Politician Work.

During the two days Robertson spent as a city sanitation worker he tried a number of jobs normally done by front line staff who are members of CUPE.

“What really struck me was how much people care about their work at the city, how concerned they are about the future and doing better and better. That’s great value for us at the city and it’s great value for taxpayers too,” said Robertson.

The episode aired on Feb. 13 and you can watch it here on the CBC website: http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/Shows/Make_the_Politician_Work/1747857163/ID=1795295084

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2010-2011 MIGRANT FARM WORKERS REPORT PUBLISHED

Report finds federal government complicit in Canada’s abuse of migrant farm workers

Canada’s most comprehensive annual report on the challenges facing migrant farm workers has been released. It confirms that abuse and exploitation of migrant farm workers are rampant in Canada’s agriculture industry. The 2010-2011 Status of Migrant Farm Workers in Canada report is published by UFCW Canada and the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA). For more than two decades UFCW Canada has been a leading advocate for farm workers’ rights, and in association with the AWA operates 10 agriculture worker support centres across Canada.  The latest report is the seventh released since 2003. The 25-page report exposes federally operated migrant farm worker programs as rife with human and labour rights violations — and those programs are expanding with the assistance of the Harper Conservative government.

Read more (.pdf): http://www.ufcw.ca/templates/ufcwcanada/images/awa/publications/UFCW-Status_of_MF_Workers_2010-2011_EN.pdf

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A NEW AMERICAN WORKERS MOVEMENT HAS BEGUN

By Dan La Botz, Solidarity

Thousands of workers demonstrated at the state capital in Madison, Wisconsin on Feb. 15 and 16 to protest plans by that state’s Republican Governor Scott Walker to take away the state workers’ union rights. Walker, cleverly attempted to divide the public workers by excluding police and firefighters from his anti-union law, and the media have worked to divide public employees against private sector workers. Yet, both firemen and private sector workers showed up at the statehouse to join public workers of all sorts in what has been one of the largest workers demonstrations in the United States in decades.

Read more: http://www.solidarity-us.org/current/node/3159

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WI GOVERNOR’S FAKE BUDGET CRISIS: GAVE TAX BREAKS TO WAL-MART TO FURTHER REAL AGENDA – UNION BUSTING

(Alternet)

There is no fiscal crisis in Wisconsin. Governor Walker reports a nearly 130 million dollar deficit, but doesn’t report that he caused it by giving a 140 million dollar tax break to large multinational corporations here in Wisconsin (e.g. WalMart). However, this cover story gives him an excuse to do the unthinkable.

Read more: http://act.alternet.org/go/4579?akid=6540.141253.1Sy7fn&t=39

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THE EGYPTIAN UPRISING AND WORKERS’ GRIEVANCES

By Nada Matta, The Bullet

It is too early to give an explanation for the Egyptian revolt. Much still needs to be understood about the character and the driving forces behind this sustained mass mobilization, as well as its dynamic and development. Some initial thoughts could still be entertained, however, especially with regards to the nature of the protestors’ demands. Though the revolt was caused by increasing economic hardship and insecurity, as well as by mounting political repression and authoritarianism, the demands of its youth organizers were solely focused on political democracy.

Read more: http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/465.php

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WORKERS BAND TOGETHER AS UNIONS ARE LEFT BEHIND

The AFL-CIO spent over $50 million worth of its members’ dues and deployed 250,000 workers to support Obama’s campaign. But three years later, workers say unions have failed to deliver on their promises and are struggling to defend their rights.

Raquel Rojas isn’t exactly union material – an immigrant, a seasonal worker, scraping by on multiple part-time, low-wage jobs. So when Raquel said she watched her managers at the Cheesecake Factory in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor disrespect workers and sexually harass their employees, she had little recourse – until United Workers knocked on her door.

Read more: http://rt.com/usa/news/usa-workers-unite-unions/

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VIDEO: BRENDA STOKELY – “A MOVEMENT TO CHANGE THE WORLD”

Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly Labour Conference: Building the Working Class Movement
Keynote speaker: Brenda Stokely

Toronto, January 30, 2011

“A Movement To Change the World”

Moderated by Kelly O’Sullivan

Brenda Stokely is a human rights activist dedicated to ending all forms of national oppression, racism, sexism and exploitation of workers. She co-found and built several key organizations, including the 2004 Million Worker March Movement, NY Labor Against the War (co-convener), founding member of Troops Out Now, Coalition to Save Harlem and many more.

Watch the video: http://www.socialistproject.ca/leftstreamed/ls91.php

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ABOUT CSEW (CENTRE FOR THE STUDY OF EDUCATION & WORK, OISE/UT):

Head: Peter Sawchuk
Co-ordinator: D’Arcy Martin

The Centre for the Study of Education and Work (CSEW) brings together educators from university, union, and community settings to understand and enrich the often-undervalued informal and formal learning of working people. We develop research and teaching programs at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (UofT) that strengthen feminist, anti-racist, labour movement, and working-class perspectives on learning and work.

Our major project is APCOL: Anti-Poverty Community Organizing and Learning. This five-year project (2009-2013), funded by SSHRC-CURA, brings academics and activists together in a collaborative effort to evaluate how organizations approach issues and campaigns and use popular education.

For more information about CSEW, visit: http://www.csew.ca

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

MySpace Profile: http://www.myspace.com/glennrikowski

The Ockress: http://www.theockress.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.com

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/glenn.rikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

CLR James

SAVE THE CLR JAMES LIBRARY

The CLR James Library, in Hackney, east London, is being ‘renamed’. History is being re-written, and a proud tradition and a significant historical figure are being downgraded and hope for the future marginalized on the alter of managerialism.

Sign the petition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/saveclrjameslibrary/

At the Rendezvous of Victory

September 22, 2010

By Scott McLemee

http://www.insidehighered.com/views/mclemee/mclemee307

One of the turning points in my life came in 1988, upon discovery of the writings of C.L.R. James. The word “discovery” applies for a couple of reasons. Much of his work was difficult to find, for one thing. But more than that, it felt like exploring a new continent.

James was born in Trinidad in 1901, and he died in England in 1989. (I had barely worked up the nerve to consider writing him a letter.) He had started out as a man of letters, publishing short stories and a novel about life among the poorest West Indians. He went on to write what still stands as the definitive history of the Haitian slave revolt, The Black Jacobins (1938). His play based on research for that book starred Paul Robeson as Toussaint Louverture. In 1939, he went to Mexico to discuss politics with Leon Trotsky. A few years later — and in part because of certain disagreements he’d had with Trotsky — James and his associates in the United States brought out the first English translation of Karl Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. (By the early 1960s, there would be a sort of cottage industry in commentary on these texts, but James planted his flag in 1947.)

He was close friends with Richard Wright and spoke at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s church. At one point, the United States government imprisoned James on Ellis Island as a dangerous subversive. While so detained, he drafted a book about Herman Melville as prophet of 20th century totalitarianism — with the clear implication that the U.S. was not immune to it.

Settled in Britain, he wrote a book on the history and meaning of cricket called Beyond a Boundary (1963). By all accounts it is one of the classics of sports writing. Being both strenuously unathletic and an American, I was prepared to take this on faith. But having read some of it out of curiosity, I found the book fascinating, even if the game itself remained incomprehensible.

This is, of course, an extremely abbreviated survey of his life and work. The man was a multitude. A few years ago, I tried to present a more comprehensive sketch in this short magazine article, and edited a selection of his hard-to-find writings for the University Press of Mississippi.

In the meantime, it has been good to see his name becoming much more widely known than it was at the time of his death more than two decades ago. This is particularly true among young people. They take much for granted that a literary or political figure can be, as James was, transnational in the strongest sense — thinking and writing and acting “beyond the boundary” of any given national context. He lived and worked in the 20th century, of course, but James is among the authors the 21st century will make its own.

So it is appalling to learn that the C.L.R. James Library in Hackney (a borough of London) is going to be renamed the Dalston Library and Archives, after the neighborhood in which it is located. James was there when the library was christened in his honor in 1985. The authorities insist that, in spite of the proposed change, they will continue to honor James. But this seems half-hearted and unsatisfying.

There is a petition against the name change, which I hope readers of this column will sign and help to circulate.

Some have denounced the name change as an insult, not just to James’s memory, but to the community in which the library is located, since Hackney has a large black population. I don’t know enough to judge whether any offense was intended. But the renaming has a significance going well beyond local politics in North London.

C.L.R. James was a revolutionary; that he ended up imprisoned for a while seems, all in all, par for the course. But he was also very much the product of the cultural tradition he liked to call Western Civilization. He used this expression without evident sarcasm — a remarkable thing, given that he was a tireless anti-imperialist. Given his studies in the history of Africa and the Caribbean, he might well have responded as Gandhi did when asked what he thought of Western Civilization: “I think it would be a good idea.”

As a child, James reread Thackeray’s satirical novel Vanity Fair until he had it almost memorized; this was, perhaps, his introduction to social criticism. He traced his ideas about politics back to ancient Greece. James treated thefuneral oration of Pericles as a key to understanding Lenin’s State and Revolution. And there is a film clip that shows him speaking to an audience of British students on Shakespeare — saying that he wrote “some of the finest plays I know about the impossibility of being a king.” As with James’s interpretation of Captain Ahab as a prototype of Stalin, this is a case of criticism as transformative reading. It’s eccentric, but it sticks with you.

Harold Bloom might not approve of what James did with the canon. And Allan Bloom would have been horrified, no doubt about it. But it helps explain some of James’s discomfort about the emergence of African-American studies as an academic discipline. He taught the subject for some time as a professor at Federal City College, now called the University of the District of Columbia — but not without misgivings.

“For myself,” he said in a lecture in 1969, “I do not believe that there is any such thing as black studies. There are studies in which black people and black history, so long neglected, can now get some of the attention they deserve. … I do not know, as a Marxist, black studies as such. I only know the struggle of people against tyranny and oppression in a certain political setting, and, particularly, during the past two hundred years. It’s impossible for me to separate black studies from white studies in any theoretical point of view.”

James’s argument here is perhaps too subtle for the Internet to propagate. (I type his words with mild dread at the likely consequences.) But the implications are important — and they apply with particular force to the circumstance at hand, the move to rename the C.L.R. James Library in London.

People of Afro-Caribbean descent in England have every right to want James to be honored. But no less outspoken, were he still alive, would be Martin Glaberman — a white factory worker in Detroit who later became a professor of social science at Wayne State University. (I think of him now because it was Marty who was keeping many of James’s books in print when I first became interested in them.) James was the nexus between activists and intellectuals in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, and his cosmopolitanism included a tireless effort to connect cultural tradition to modern politics. To quote from the translation he made of a poem by Aimé Cesaire: “No race holds the monopoly of beauty, of intelligence, of strength, and there is a place for all at the rendezvous of victory.”

Having C.L.R. James’s name on the library is an honor — to the library. To remove it is an act of vandalism. Please sign the http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/saveclrjameslibrary/.

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk