Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students
Primary Theme: Social movements
Secondary Theme: Identity and Equity
Moving well beyond mobilizing compassion and empathy, solidarity is acknowledging that specific forms of oppression intersect with others, and moreover, at the heart of these systems is dehumanization. It is truly believing that my liberation is tied to the liberation of others. The inverse of a “citizen of the world,” giving “voice to the voiceless” or what Teju Cole called “White savior industrial complex,” solidarity is believing in and understanding the indivisibility of justice.
Solidarity is identifying the shared humanity in particular communities in struggle and acknowledging that advancing human liberation requires supporting them and the particulars of that struggle, while identifying common roots and multiple connections. Solidarity is about recognizing ourselves in the other, understanding that we too struggle against the transactional bodily relations capitalism imposes. Those of us located within imperial centers then have a responsibility to dismantle it from within, disrupting the processes of violence and accumulation. Solidarity is practicing love, building connections that do not depend on capitalist accumulation, corporate media, militaristic and imperial states, and the system of nations set up to justify and endorse these processes of dehumanization.
As anthropologists, many of us imagine some form of solidarity in our ‘activist’ work, but surprisingly given the public promotion of public engagement within anthropology, the dilemmas of solidarity remain undertheorized. Moreover, given the insularity of U.S. (Global North) academia, Global South partners become the “native informants” we do not have to face, resulting in a dangerously incomplete understanding of solidarity.
We would also call attention to the specific forms of solidarity activism that are practiced in the Global North. Do they match the activism in the Global South in terms of tactics and intensity, or is some vitality or radical vision ‘lost in translation’?
Also, we are interested in interrogating the specific identities and positionalities of those acting in solidarity: is the solidarity subject imagined as relatively powerful, i.e., white, male, middle-class, able-bodied, cisgendered, and heterosexual? Does or should the solidarity relationship entail some transformation of these inequalities and even identities, akin to the transformation that social movement scholars (e.g., Alvarez and Escobar) have described?
•What roles are being claimed by those in structurally marginalized positions, the “South in the North?” Are there examples of these activist exchanges?
•As anthropologists, can we begin grappling toward more appropriate models?
•Is such a solidarity described above possible in this contemporary moment?
•What kinds of relationships would need to be built or strengthened? Between whom?
•How would these relationships be sustained?
•What roles are appropriate for anthropologists? What are not?
This panel brings together perspectives of differently-situated anthropological engagement with solidarity in a range of arenas, fieldsites, and sites of struggle. Papers discuss religious motivations and significance, self-love, radical embodiment, affect, and selective engagement (or not) on issues. We continue to tease apart multiple meanings of the “glocal” in communities such as Sikhs US, African Americans in the Deep South, and low-income communities in the US as well as international solidarity efforts concerning Honduras, Nepal, and Haiti.