Congress

29-31 January 2016

New World Summit: Stateless Democracy

Demonstration in Amude on 31 October 2015, Cezîre Canton, Rojava. Photo: Jonas Staal

BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, in collaboration with Utrecht University, Utrecht; Centraal Museum, Utrecht; and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, Brussels, presents New World Summit: Stateless Democracy. This is the sixth iteration of the New World Summit, an artistic and political organization founded by artist Jonas Staal, dedicated to constructing “alternative parliaments” for stateless political organizations that find themselves excluded from democratic processes.

New World Summit: Stateless Democracy is a three-day assembly that explores the possibilities of uncoupling the practice of democracy from the construct of the nation-state. Core speakers are representatives of the Kurdish revolutionary movement, which in 2012 declared Rojava, the northern part of Syria, an independent “stateless democracy” based on principles of self-governance, gender-equality, and communal economy.

The summit takes place at a time of rising ultranationalism, exclusion of refugees, the intensification of the War on Terror, and the emergence of the so-called Islamic State, resulting in nation-states declaring martial law, increasing their surveillance apparatus, and enforcing political exclusion in the name of “defending democracy.” In response, this summit brings together stateless and autonomist movements from all over the world to explore the potential of stateless democracy as a transnationalist paradigm that opposes state oppression in all forms to invest in a new emancipatory politics of the 21st century.

For this sixth summit a temporary parliament is built in the aula of Utrecht University. It was on this site that the Union of Utrecht was signed in 1579, which was to become one of the foundations of the Dutch state. The parliament is thus also a historical intervention, reaching back to the very origins of the Dutch state to engage its alternative in the form of stateless democracy: a space to confront our current crisis and occupy the imaginary of a new, common world.

New World Summit: Stateless Democracy is the culmination of BAK’s long-term collaboration with Staal in his capacity as BAK Research Fellow, which has materialized throughout the course of the last three years in the form of the educational platform New World Academy. The summit inaugurates and is part of the research exhibition Unstated (or, Living Without Approval) at BAK.

Program

Day I: Failed Democracy
29.01.2016, 19.00–22.00 hrs

Contributors include: Nancy Hollander (legal representative of Chelsea Manning and Mohamedou Ould Slahi); Birgitta Jónsdóttir (Pirate Party Iceland). Chaired by Maria Hlavajova (director BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht)

Day II: Stateless Democracy!
30.01.2016, 13.00–20.00 hrs

Contributors include: Amina Osse (representative Democratic Union Party, PYD, Rojava); Dilar Dirik (Kurdish Women’s Movement); Quim Arrufat (Popular Unity Candidacy, CUP, Catalunya); Jodi Dean (political theorist and writer); Leila Khaled (Popular Liberation Front of Palestine, PLFP); Jennifer McCann (Sinn Féin, Ireland); Ilena Saturay (National Democratic Movement of the Philippines). Chaired by: Joost Jongerden (academic and writer); Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei (writer); Sana Soleiman Elmansouri (World Amazigh Congress)

Day III: Future Democracy?
31.01.2016, 1-8 PM 13.00–20.00 hrs

Contributors include: Richard Bell (artist, Aboriginal Tent Embassy); Emory Douglas (artist, former Cultural Minister Black Panther Party); Meike Nack (The Foundation of Free Women, Weqfa Jina Azad, Rojava); Suthaharan Nadarajah (Tamil Eelam); Simon P. Sapioper (Republic of West-Papua); Vivian Ziherl (Frontier Imaginaries); refugee collective We Are Here; Barcelona en Comú. Chaired by: Jolle Demmers (academic, Center for Conflict Studies); Radha D’Souza (academic and activist); Chris Keulemans (writer and journalist).

Acknowledgements

New World Summit: Stateless Democracy is supported by The Art of Impact, Amsterdam, Democracy & Media Foundation, Amsterdam, and the CBK Rotterdam (Centre for Visual Arts Rotterdam). The related exhibition Unstated (or, Living Without Approval) is supported by the kfHein Fund, Utrecht.

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