A new kind of think-tank
RiVAL is an experimental platform for asking deep, radical questions about society, culture, politics and economics in ways that activate the imagination and transform public discourse towards social justice. Headquartered at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Canada, it aims to have a national and a global impact and gain a reputation for fostering thoughtful, provocative, rigorous and courageous publications and interventions.
for a social media age
RiVAL solicits and coordinates the publication of a range of texts, from peer-reviewed studies to editorial interventions, from cultural criticism to economic analysis. It also produces online video and audio and maintains an active social media presence. In addition, RiVAL collaborates on and facilitates artistic and social justice projects to help fulfill its mandate.
in the name of social justice
RiVAL’s goal is to produce interdisciplinary research and media at the cusp of cultural studies and political economy that begin with a radical leap of the imagination, a powerful “what if” that does not take the current alignment of social, cultural and political forces as legitimate or necessary but, instead, approaches them from the perspective of social justice. RiVAL focuses on a rotating set of three intersecting core themes.
Core Themes (2017-2022)
Here, radical does not simply mean unconventional or extreme; it means taking the intellectual courage to follow social, economic, political and cultural phenomena to their root. Likewise, the imagination does not simply mean the realm of individual fantasy; it means a shared landscape of ideas and fellow-feeling that animates the thought and action of people and communities.
We understand the imagination not simply as an individual capacity that we each have but also as a shared force, something that we do together. We see research as a reflection on and a contribution to the field of the imagination. As such, we use texts, multimedia, art, social media, workshops, film screenings and public discussions to build a critical culture of the imagination
For RiVAL, social justice is based on striving together for systems of mutual aid and social cooperation that fundamentally affirm the dignity and value of all people, in right relation to the rest of the planet’s life. As such, RiVAL challenges poverty, war, sexism, racism, homo- and trans-phobia, ableism and ecological injustice by comprehending these as ultimately driven by underlying and intersecting systems including capitalism, patriarchy, imperialism, white-supremacism and (settler-)colonialism.
Revenge politics are on the march. A rising tide of racialized authoritarian politics has washed up rancorous sentiments generated in the depths of neoliberal inequality and social destruction. People everywhere are demanding radical change, but often in disastrous ways that target the most vulnerable and marginalized and do nothing to solve deeper, systemic injustices and crises.
Meanwhile, the forces of social justice seem yet unable to meet this rising tide with popular platforms of their own. Movements for ecological, economic and racial justice appear everywhere to be struggling merely to defend tenuous gains made in the past decades, rather than for a fairer, more peaceful world.
RiVAL takes as its challenge the reality that unless the forces of social justice can clearly, courageously and rigorously put forward radical proposals for social transformation, unless they can present a vision, however partial and tenuous, of a better world, they will continue to be unsuccessful in answering the call of these historic and dangerous times. Now, more than ever, we need a radical imagination that questions the root causes of social, economic, political and cultural phenomena and opens a space for imagining a different, better future.
In an age of anti-intellectualism, but also one of a retreat of intellectuals from public life, RiVAL aims to be a platform for the interface of, on the one hand, generative and worldly writing and research and, on the other, the realms of policy, public debate and social movements.
Who is it?
In its, larval form, RiVAL operates under the directorship of Max Haiven, Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice at Lakehead University and encompasses his collaborators and students. This exploratory stage is expected to last until at least 2022, at which time a more formal, independent organizational structure will be defined and a timeline for transition established.
RiVAL welcomes inquiries from affiliated and unaffiliated researchers, artists, activists and others who share its vision and looks forward to collaborating with a wide range of people with a diversity of perspectives.
RiVAL is a non-partisan institution and does not accept funding or support from political parties. It works with other organizations on a case-by-case basis.
RiVAL works in close collaboration with two partnered initiatives:
The Radical Imagination Project is a research platform working with social movements to study, celebrate, broadcast and refine the transformative ideas that emerge from collective struggles for social justice.
The University of the Phoenix world first nomadic for-prophet university teaching the living and the dead to rise up. An art/intervention platform and revenge consultancy for a radical form of financial literacy.