Creating activist scholars - Page 3

New anarchist-led program at CIIS aims to help Bay Area social justice groups

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Anarchist Adrej Grubacic heads CIIS's new Anthropology Department.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY YAEL CHANOFF

"The document they're going to produce after two years of activist research is going to be written for that community," Grubacic said. "We are the second readers. We are less important in the process. What they do has to be useful to the community. They have to be passionate about working with that community group. And they have to produce something that's going to be useful to what that community group does."

In addition to classes and research projects, students will participate in "convivias," one of the most unique aspects of the program. People from the public, scholars, and others with special knowledge will hammer out ideas with students in week-long "political laboratories." Revolutionary art will be practiced in a convivia called "Atelier of Insurrectionary Imagination." And Grubacic and his students will turn a certain vacant part of the CIIS building into an "Emergency Library," a place for books as well as what the program description calls "scholars on call, responding to the emergent needs of the communities in struggle, who might be in need of legal advice, activist companionship, scholarly input, or a media suggestion." The convivias have corresponding student work-study positions — yes, there will be a paid Emergency Librarian.

CIIS spokesperson James Martin said Grubacic brings a lot to the school: "The thing I'm really excited about is that we're engaging the local community. We live in San Francisco for a reason. This is one of the places in the world where all these intellectuals come together who have the passion to try and change things."

Despite the paradoxes and problems that come when the elite meets the grassroots, Grubacic has high hopes. "We need to redefine what it means to be an intellectual who works within academia," he said. "And the only way to do this is to become a part of a larger social movement's formation, that is aimed at changing society. We cannot offer much. But we can offer something."

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