Unsettling the Commons: Social Movements Within, Against, and Beyond Settler Colonialism

Drawing on interviews with 51 anti-authoritarian organizers to investigate what it means to struggle for “the commons” within a settler colonial context. Unsettling the Commons interrogates a very important debate that took place within Occupy camps and is taking place in a multitude of movements in North America around what it means to claim “the commons” on stolen land. Travelling back in history to show the ways in which radical left movements have often either erased or come into clear conflict with Indigenous practices of sovereignty and self-determination; all in the name of the “struggle for the commons”. The book argues that there are multiple commons or conceptualizations of how land, relationships, and resources are shared, produced, consumed, and distributed in any given society. As opposed to the liberal politics of recognition, a political practice of unsettling and a recognition of the incommensurability of political goals that claim access to space/territory on stolen land is proposed as a more desirable way forward.


Keynote Panel – At the Intersections: Anti-Capitalism in Divergent Struggles

How is capitalism implicated in producing and reproducing other relations of oppression? How do divergent movements intersect and impact each other? Where do different struggles converge and where do they come into conflict? What possibilities are there for building intersectional, anti-capitalist resistance? This panel brings together organizers who are involved in a diversity of different struggles to discuss how capitalism is connected to the various structures of injustice against which we fight, and to highlight both the tensions and potentialities of movements working together. It will consider the strategic and tactical importance of incorporating anti-capitalism into social and environmental justice work, and specifically consider capitalism in relation to climate change politics and environmental crisis, indigenous sovereignty and anti-colonial struggle, and immigration and state violence.

Keynote Presentation – Rediscovering Our Rebel Hearts: Against the Neoliberalization of Social Justice, Towards Radical Relationships

Over the past decade, the term ”social justice” has become a part of everyday, mainstream language, frequently used by both individuals and large institutions to describe a popular image of ”wokeness.”  Everyone wants to be ”on the right side of history,” from the international banks that fund Gay Pride to the tech start-ups that incorporate feminist language into their company policies.  Meanwhile, everyone on the liberal and leftist side of the internet is caught up in the social media performance of social justice – ”liking” the right things, calling out the wrong things, and getting into debates about oppression and privilege.  But in the midst of all this social justice talk, injustice seems to grow every day while our power to stop it seems to shrink.  Communities of activists turn on each other and splinter off conflict and capitalism tear us apart.  Who is stealing social justice?  How do we rediscover our radical power, our rebel hearts, our ability to create relationships that endure and undo oppression?


Art as Activism: Pop Culture, Speculative Fiction, and Social Justice

How can art be used to think through social justice? In what ways can speculative fiction inspire and inform activism? Can the writing of speculative fiction itself be considered a form of activism? This panel examines speculative fiction as space which negotiates social change. Looking at the dynamic relationship between fiction and activism, it will touch on questions related to pop culture, representation, race, gender, and justice.

Gentrification, LGBTQ2SI+ Communities and Modes of Resistance

In this workshop, participants will explore dominant discourses about neighbourhoods and gentrification, and how processes of gentrification and displacement relate to LGBTQ2SI+ communities. Together we will examine colonial discourses of neighbourhood “development/progress” and explore how LGBTQ2SI+ communities have been both complicit in supporting gentrification and victims of displacement ourselves. We will look at local and global examples of queer and trans resistance to gentrification and, as a group, generate ideas and discuss other tangible strategies for intervention in gentrification and associated displacement, with a focus on avoiding complicity/cooptation of LGBTQ2SI+ communities.

Whose Media? Our Media: The Nuts and Bolts of Independent Media Production

What does it mean to engage in media activism? How do grassroots media projects work? How can independent media be used as tool to further our struggles? This panel brings together a collection of speakers who are involved in producing, distributing, and promoting radical media. It will discuss the politics and goals of radical media, engage with questions of representation and the centering of marginalized voices, provide an overview of some of the practical skills and knowledge needed to start a media project of your own, and more!

Exploring Intersections Between Feminism, Poverty, the Environment, and Animal Rights

How does the exploitation of animals relate to other struggles and systems of oppression?  Where do animal rights fit in within feminism, anti-poverty activism, and environmental justice?  This panel explores commonalities and the complexities in these intersecting activisms, from the objectification of bodies and exploitation of workers in animal agriculture, to the negative impact it has on land and water; from social, class and environmental factors determining dietary options, to opportunities to both contribute to food sovereignty and protect the environment and those we share it with.

Combatting the Right: The Politics and Practices of Anti-Fascism Across Cities

Both locally and abroad, the Right has been on the rise. (Neo)fascist organizing has been spreading with the growth of established nationalist organizations and the formation of new groups, while forces of the so-called “alt-right” have been popularizing ideas of white supremacist misogyny. In response, anti-racists throughout the region have been fighting back. How can we understand our current moment? In what ways are people resisting? What does anti-fascism look like in different places? This panel will discuss the practicalities and possibilities for building anti-fascist resistance in, across, and between diverse cities.

Complicating Diagnosis: An Introduction to Disability and Mental Health Justice that Challenges the Narratives of Diagnosis

Everything from the language we use, to the way we view others, to whose voices are prioritized, are dictated by who we do and do not see as productive and desirable. Participants will discuss the different models of disability and summarize how histories around disability diagnosis and mental health both perpetuate and challenge the current ways we understand and engage disability. This workshop not only introduces these topics, but gives space to discuss and deconstruct some of the ways in which ableism is prevalent in all spaces today.

Framing Climate Change: Working Towards Climate Justice in Uncertain Times

How do we think about climate change? How do we conceptualize climate justice? What are the frameworks that inform our actions and guide our engagements in ecological struggle? This panel will introduce different theoretical approaches to thinking about climate change and discuss their practical implications. It will present examples of on-the-ground struggles, discuss the connections between environmental struggle and other social justice issues, and look at both the challenges and potentialities facing the climate justice movement today.

Students Against Injustice: Tactics of Boycott and Divestment in Higher Education

How are universities complicit in injustice? In what ways can the realm of higher education be conceptualized as a key site of resistance? How can students organize to put pressure on oppressive industries, institutions, and regimes? This panel considers the tactics of boycott and divestment on university campuses and beyond. Speakers will present on how universities – their research and investments –  further environmentally destructive practices and support human rights abuses, and discuss ways in which this might be challenged.  It will specifically cover questions related to climate change and fossil fuels, and Israeli apartheid and Palestinian liberation.

Co-opting Struggle: Non-Profits as Impediments to Radical Resistance

This panel considers how the non-profit industrial complex, the social services industry, and academia all act to hinder rather than help radical struggles. It looks at how these institutions consolidate power over and work to depoliticize grassroots queer, trans, BIPOC, and homeless activism. Mapping out the current terrain, it will touch on the role of neo-liberalism, discuss the “professionalization” of resistance, and present strategies to resist co-optation and rebuild politicized communities.

Sexism Armed: Gender Violence and the Barriers to Justice

How does sexual and gendered violence operate across different spaces? How is it experienced by those who are impacted? What are barriers to addressing gender violence and getting justice? This panel looks at the lived experiences of those who are survivors of gender violence, and discusses the various ways in which sexism is institutionalized and violence perpetuated. Drawing on diverse case studies, it will cover topics such as: violence on post-secondary campuses and rape culture; intimate partner violence, self-defence, race, and police discrimination; and intersectional and anti-carceral approaches to addressing sexual violence.

The Political Ecology of Food Security: Towards Sustainable and Just Food Systems

What are the environmental and social impacts of our food systems? How do particular food industries operate in unsustainable and otherwise destructive ways? What are some strategies for promoting sustainability and furthering food justice? This panel will look at the issue of food security through a broad lens that considers its ecological, political, and social dimensions. It will outline problems associated with specific industries in relation to environmental destruction and human rights, and discuss alternative food systems, sustainability, and other future possibilities.


Steal All the New Art: Artwashing & Gentrification in Hamilton and Beyond

Gentrification remains a hot topic across the GTA as housing markets and rental prices continue to rise and spread in the surrounding areas. In Hamilton, new businesses and hip art economies conceal evictions, cheap renos, the fentanyl crisis and an orchestrated push of poor people out of our cities. Using street art and posters, city streets and traffic boxes have become sites for conversation about displacement, class, artwashing and gentrification. We will be showcasing years of street posters flipping the narrative on the artwashing of Hamilton neighbourhoods created by activists in the city.

The Art of Addiction

Addiction affects many people in many different ways, and can be difficult to talk about. Using art, this installation presents the experiences and messages of people living with addiction in our community. While considering what is presented, we also reflect on what is absent and why; whose voices are missing, whose have been erased, and whose are no longer with us. By weighing equally what is seen and what has been made invisible, we can begin to observe the art of addiction.