Sunday, October 23, 2011

Political Dissent in a Time of (Economic) Crisis

The following statement was adopted by the council of the American Studies Association, which is the nation's oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history. The council met this weekend during the national conference in Baltimore, and the statement was read aloud by the association's president-elect, Matthew Frye Jacobson, to 500+ ASA members just before Priscilla Wald's presidential address:

Political Dissent in a Time of (Economic) Crisis

A Statement by the Council of the American Studies Association
20 October 2011
We are the public. We are workers.  We are the 99%.  We speak with the people here in Baltimore and around the globe occupying plazas, parks, and squares in opposition to failed austerity programs, to oligarchy, and to the unequal distribution of wealth and power.  The loss of jobs, healthcare, and homes, the distressing use of mass incarceration and mass deportations, and the destruction of environments have brought so many households and individuals to crisis. We join with people re-claiming commons rights to public resources.  We join in the call against privatization and for a democratic re-awakening.
As educators, we experience the dismantling of public education, rising tuition, unsustainable student debt, and the assault on every dimension of education.  As American Studies scholars, our work includes, among other things, addressing the problems and challenges societies face, drawing lessons from the past, comparing across polities, and making informed recommendations that will spark open debate.  We draw inspiration from earlier social movements that have challenged the unequal distribution of power, wealth, and authority. Today’s movements continue this necessary work. The uprisings compel us to lift our voices and dedicate our effort to realizing the democratic aspirations for an equitable and habitable world.  We are the 99%.


Rebecca G. said...

I feel really proud to be part of a department that isn't afraid to take a stance!

Professor Glenn Hendler said...

That's nice to hear, Rebecca! But I should probably add that posting this doesn't make it the official stance of the American Studies program--it would be presumptuous of me to speak for the whole (and among the many things the people at Zuccotti Park are teaching us is the importance, and power, of participatory democracy. If someone there presumed to speak for the whole movement, they' be in trouble!).

But I'm definitely proud to be part of an academic field, and a national organization (the ASA, whose national council wrote the statement above), that isn't afraid to take a stance!