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Think & Drink: Citizenship and Dissent

INFO
Wednesday, March 16 2016
6:00PM
 
 
A guiding precept of the engaged citizenship practiced by many of today’s most influential activists, creative workers, and critical intellectuals is that dissent, as a Vietnam War Era protest slogan has it, is the highest form of patriotism. This panel examines dissent as one of the chief arts and most basic rights of citizenship, even when it transgresses the legal norms that govern those rights; as historian Howard Zinn proclaimed, “Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy – it is absolutely essential to it.” What does the relationship between citizenship and dissent look like now? In an era of social media-based organizing and activism, how do we distinguish between dissent and civic participation? Where is dissent most effectual in today’s political environment – and where is it most urgently needed? How has this question been reimagined through the debate over Edward Snowden’s actions revealing secret U.S. government surveillance practices—whether Snowden is considered a whistleblower or a traitor? How is dissent being reimagined via the legal and demographic transformations of American democracy in the 21st century—a citizenry being reshaped by, among other factors, same-sex marriage, the projected racial minoritization of whiteness, and the disappearance of the middle-class? Do today’s college and university campuses still have a role in producing and protecting dissenting citizens, given the corporatization of higher education and increasingly strict regulation of speech in and outside the classroom? Do the arts remain relevant as a medium of dissenting expression? What possibilities for dissent does post-9/11 American democracy present to non-citizens? A bit more about this year’s Think and Drink: It may not get the amount of press that the 150th anniversary of the Civil War did, but this year is also the 150th anniversary–of the 14th Amendment, one of the “Reconstruction Amendments” that helped to reshape the United States’ political terrain. The 14th Amendment, in case you don’t remember (we sure had to do some reading up ourselves), focuses on citizenship, due process, and equal protection. And so in 2016, we will take the idea of “citizens” and “citizenship” and dive deeply using activism, art, gender, sex, and more as our lenses. We have a new MC for this year’s series: Elise Pepple, who is into good conversations. To this end, she has worked for StoryCorps, been a radio host, and frequently talks to strangers. Elise moved to Portland in 2012 to attend the Salt Institute. She teaches storytelling at The Maine College of Art. In her spare time she hosts a live storytelling series called Hear Tell, and is working on a public art project called Portland Brick, a project building public memory. The 2016 Think & Drink series will be on Wednesdays in February, March, April, and May

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