Parallel Institutions: models and realities, strategies and tactics, islands and archipelagos
Angela Last (University of Glasgow)
Mireille Roddier (University of Michigan)
Existing and historical examples of parallel institutions represent a wide scope of intentions, scales, and formal organizations, from local commoning practices to the strategically planned duplication of state institutions in sight of a governmental overthrow (Roggero, 2010; Arendt, 1973) What they all share is a dissatisfaction with state institutions’ disenfranchisement of entire sections of population who fall outside of their stewardships. The origins of such alternative models of organization are thereby rooted in either the need to complement or to contest hegemonic institutions, particularly those delegating public services. More than self-help however, parallel institutions are also devised as alternatives, enabling new forms of commoning and experimentation with new imaginaries.
Parallel institutions can serve as means to diverging ends. On one end, they can be devised for eventual incorporation into the dominant system, bearing the risks of paving grounds for developments that will be subsequently recuperated. On the other, they are often inspired by emancipatory perspectives that could lead to autonomous forms of self-governance (Gordon Nembhard, 2014, Nelson, 2013). Accordingly, their relationship to the state varies from subservient and heteronomous to independent or even contentious, as do the responses of the state to such institutions—from embrace to outright violence, affecting the status of their legitimacy.
This session seeks to discuss parallel institutions that reclaim a radical spirit of experimentation in the service of alleviating dependence upon the state—not in the ideological pursuit of less governance, but in order to forestall the normalization of austerity measures. We are interested in both theoretical models and case studies that can expand our public imaginary. We specifically are looking to probe such topics as:
– the temporal evolutionary patterns of parallel institutions, from origin stories to institutionalization or extinction;
– the instrumental use of institutions towards emancipatory autonomy (Castoriadis);
– the spatial reification of parallel institutions, and their relationship to territory, global patterns of enclaves and archipelagos (Davis, 2008; Aureli, 2011), states of imagination (Newman and Clarke), as well as the exclusionary effects of communautarism (Harvey, 97);
– the specificity and influence of scale upon theoretical models, from community to society;
– the use of parallel institutions in political strategy versus as bottom-up tactic;
– the roles of cultural and academic institutions, as well as of artists and academics, in fostering counter-hegemonic activism from within a privileged, most institutionalized position (Mouffe, 2010);
– specific typology studies —both organizationally and spatially— such as the emergence of new schools, health institutions, taken factories, urban communes and rural hackerlands, etc.
Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1973)
Pier Vittorio Aureli, The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2011)
Cornelius Castoriadis, The Imaginary Institution of Society (MIT Press, 1998)
Mike Davis, Daniel Monk, Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism (The New Press, 2008)
Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice (Penn State University Press, 2014)
David Harvey, “The New Urbanism and the Communitarian Trap,” Harvard Design Magazine (winter / spring 97)
Chantal Mouffe, “The Museum Revisited,” Art Forum (Summer 2010)
Alondra Nelson, Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination (University of Minnesota Press, 2013)
Janet Newman and John Clarke, “States of Imagination,” Soundings (Summer 2014)
Gigi Roggero, “Five Theses on the Common,” Rethinking Marx: A Journal of Economics, Culture & Society (August 2010)
Anne Mariel Zimmermann, “State as Chimera Aid, Parallel Institutions, and State Power,” Comparative Politics (April 2013)
Instructions for Authors:
Please submit a paper proposal (250-300 words) along with a short biography to Angela.Last@glasgow.ac.uk and firstname.lastname@example.org by February 14th.
Call For Papers Deadline