Two Conferences of Note

MUN grad student Sarah Kizuk passed along to me two conferences of note coming up:



Breaking Bars, Building Bridges:

Challenging the Prison System & Fostering Communities of Support



Friday February 10 – Sunday February 12, 2012



In spite of widespread opposition, the statement made by two provinces (Ontario and Quebec) that they will refuse to pay – and even the warnings of the state of Texas – Canada’s Bill C-10, the Conservative Omnibus Crime Bill, is poised to become law by March 16, 2012. The bill will institute sweeping changes that will produce more crime and more prisoners, just in time to fill the super-prisons scheduled for construction across the country.


Meanwhile, grassroots activists continue to be criminalized in their fight for justice. After 18 months living under severely restrictive bail conditions, six anti-G20 activists from communities across the province were sentenced on November 22nd, 2011 to serve time in jail. Their charges stemmed from their political organizing. Still yet, marginalized communities continue to be targeted on a daily basis by the policing and prison apparatus. Police murders continue across the continent with impunity, and police brutality remains a daily reality within and outside prison walls.


As we struggle for a just world, one without oppression or inhumanity, where the earth is respected and all are free, we must realize that the context of our work is changing. Harper’s agenda will see an escalation in the criminalization of dissent, activism, and direct action. As social supports for the poor continue to evaporate under neoliberal attacks, more members of our community will end up behind bars, even as global resistance to the austerity agenda continues to mount. And while the government and corporations continue to pillage indigenous lands and suppress community self-determination, Aboriginal people make up a massively disproportionate segment of the prison population.


In the spirit of solidarity, WPIRG invites all community-based activists, people impacted by the prison system, communities and supporters of prisoners, and anyone who sees value in gathering to resist the institution, to join us in our 2012 School of Public Interest, which will focus on challenging criminalization, supporting prisoners, and building alternatives.


Our goal is to provide a space for in-depth conversation of prison justice and abolition, opportunities for networking and strategizing, and a radical education venue geared towards sharing knowledge, skills, and tools to further our everyday activism and integrate prison justice into our different struggles. We especially hope to strengthen a southern Ontario network that can effectively coordinate local grassroots mobilizations against prison expansion and criminalization over the coming years. Travel subsidies are available. Please contact us for more information on them.


We welcome individuals and organizations to submit proposals for workshops, discussions, and trainings. We are very interested in disseminating practical skills and tools, and also encourage non-expert driven discussions which ask questions to stimulate discussion – this means we value the voices and experiences of prisoners, their families, friends, and communities, and refuse to limit ourselves to a narrow definition of “activist” or “expert.” In your proposal, please include a paragraph explaining the topic, a brief description of the format (lecture, participatory workshop, facilitated discussion, etc), and the desired outcome or goal of your session.


Please submit proposals to by Thursday January 5, 2012. And please stay tuned for more information!


Possible Discussion Themes:

  • the impact of bill C-10 and harper’s criminal agenda
  • strategies for resistance to prison expansion
  • the criminalization of dissent
  • supporting prisoner activism
  • political prisoners on turtle island/north america
  • criminalization of people without status and refugees
  • intersections between the struggle against the prison-industrial complex and fighting other systems of oppression (e.g. feminism; anti-racism; indigenous sovereignty/decolonization; migrant justice; disability justice; environmental justice; anti-poverty)
  • restorative justice / transformative justice / alternatives to incarceration
  • political vs. social incarceration
  • sharing skills and organizational models (e.g. copwatching, letter-writing, book drives, noise demos, campaigning)
  • police/prison abuses and seeking justice
  • working for reform from an analysis of abolition
  • prisoner support & solidarity
  • social construction of crime
  • radical, or anarchist, criminology
  • prison expansion & capitalism
  • gender-based experiences of incarceration
  • “mainstreaming” and engaging the public on prison justice and abolition
  • creative expressions of resistance


A Conference on Struggles Within and Beyond the Neoliberal University
April 27-29, 2012
Toronto, Ontario

This conference is organized by the edu-factory collective in collaboration with the University of Toronto General Assembly.


The university belongs to us, those who teach, learn, research, council, clean, and create community. Together we can and do make the university work.

But today this university is in crisis. The neoliberal restructuring of post-secondary education seeks to further embed market logic and corporate-style management into the academy, killing consultation, autonomy and collective decision-making. The salaries of university presidents and the ranks of administrators swell, but the people the university is supposed to serve — students — are offered assembly-line education as class sizes grow, faculty is over-worked, andteaching positions become increasingly precarious. International students and scholars seeking post-secondary or graduate education are treated as cash cows rather than as people who might contribute to both research and society. Debt-burdened students are seen as captive markets by administrators, while faculty is encouraged to leverage public funds for private research on behalf of corporate sponsors.

The attack on what remains of public education has been total. Over the last year we have witnessed the closure of humanities programmes, further tuition hikes, the replacement of financial support with loans, union lockouts, and the accelerated development of private, for-profit universities. Yet at the same time we have seen growing waves of struggle against these incursions, as students, staff and faculty in Europe, Latin America, and across the Middle East organize, occupy and resist the transformation.

Our struggles are not limited to the university, but are a part the widespread resistance against the neoliberal market logic subsuming all sectors of our society. The university is a key battleground in this struggle, and a point of conjuncture for the various labour, economic and social justice struggles that face all of us – workers and students alike. Crucially, these struggles occur on stolen indigenous lands and manifest through colonialism, racism, sexism, homophobia, ablism and other forms of oppression that hurt and divide us and that shape what sorts of knowledge are considered valuable.

We cannot cede the ideal of the university as a site for struggle and debate. We cannot permit the dissolution of proliferating research, ideas and innovations free from the demands and control of the market. We cannot watch as universities are degraded into a mere site for corporate or state-sponsored research and marketing. The time to mobilize is now!

This conference will connect and chart the varied struggles against neoliberal restructuring of the university in North America and beyond. We envision a series of debriefings on experiences of resistance, the creation of a cartography of local and global struggles, and a strategizing session for students, teachers, workers and activists. We aim to develop a North American network of struggles.

We encourage presentations that raise questions and generate dialogue among the rest of the participants. Ideally, submissions will indicate the specific outcomes they hope will emerge from the discussion. We encourage participation from those with first-hand experience of these crises, and those engaged in the fight for free and public post-secondary education, especially student groups and trade unions.

For a better future for all – join us!


  • mapping the terrain of campus struggle in Canada and North America
  • connecting with and learning from global struggles
  • waged and unwaged labour in the university
  • abolition of student debt
  • the university and the occupy movement
  • the cultural politics of the neoliberal university
  • the death of the humanities
  • militarization of the university
  • intersections of university struggles other fights against oppression
  • environmental justice
  • beyond public education
  • radical pedagogy
  • academic freedom
  • the politics of research funding
  • the economics of the neoliberal university
  • university and student governance
  • the undergraduate experience of neoliberalism
  • alternative/free/autonomous universities
  • organizing the education factory
  • the suppression of on-campus dissent and organization

Please email submissions to by January 16th. Also,if you would like to attend the conference, please RSVP to the same address so organizers can plan for numbers.