The ReImagining Value Action Lab (RiVAL) is a workshop for the radical imagination based physically in Thunder Bay, Canada and active globally through nomadic interventions, international collaborations and the propagation of online text and media.

What we do

RiVAL’s activities are diverse but unified by a vision for a hybrid on-site/off-site/on-line space that activates and enlivens the radical imagination at the intersection of academic research, artistic creation and activist intervention.

Support research and creativity for social change

RiVAL’s core mandate is to facilitate research at the intersection of the interdisciplinary fields of cultural studies, political economy and social justice studies. We operate a physical space to support our team’s diverse research methods, collaborative inquiry and research-creation.

Organize and collaborate locally and globally

Towards these ends we enter into and build partnerships, collaborations and networks locally in Thunder Bay and worldwide. Locally, we work with other researchers at Lakehead University and other institutions, as well as with local social justice oriented initiatives from the community. Globally, we maintain an extensive networks of collaborators in the spheres of art, activism and academic research.

Publish and promote text, media, art and more

RiVAL maintains physical and online facilities for the creation and publication of academic and non-academic text as well as podcasts, video, animation and various forms of artistic engagement. We are working with partners around the world to create and distribute these media.

Our agenda

Please see rival.lakeheadu.ca/agenda for more information on our themes, hallmarks and strategies.

Who we are


Dr. Max Haiven

Dr. Max Haiven, Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice, is the co-director of RiVAL and assistant professor in the department of English at Lakehead University. Haiven’s research, writing and public speaking revolve around the theme of the power of the imagination within, against and beyond capitalism. More information can be found here: maxhaiven.com

Cassie Thornton

RiVAL co-director Cassie Thornton is an internationally active artist whose core practice is to work with other people to orchestrate transformative interventions in the capitalist economy that make hidden forms of solidarity visible. More information can be found at feministeconomicsdepartment.com

Ezra Winton

Dr. Ezra Winton, is visiting scholar at RiVAL where he is is pursuing research into the ways in which documentary film can envision and prefigure alternative futures oriented to social justice. Winton is programming director and co-founder of Cinema Politica, the world’s largest social-justice oriented documentary film screening network, with scores of chapters around the world. More information can be found at ezrawinton.com

Where we’re located

RiVAL is equally

  • A physical location in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
  • A nomadic institution that (co-)organizes or supports research, events and activities around the world
  • An set of online manifestations

In Thunder Bay

RiVAL’s physical location is room 2002 of the PACI Building (Law School) of Lakehead University, located at 401 Red River Rd. Please consult this Google Map for parking information. Unfortunately, RiVAL is not universally accessible space as there are two short flights of stairs between the building entrance and the Lab. RiVAL maintains a scent-free policy.

For access information, including our busfare and childcare policies, see rival.lakeheadu.ca/access

Online and nomadic

Check out our off-site events and our online activities.

Why we do it

RiVAL’s name indicates its orientation.


the Lab is focused on studying, theorizing and intervening in the imagination, a force that is considered not only as a private individual capacity, but a shared sociological process, key to the fabric of social, cultural and economic relations and institutions. The role of the intellectual is conceived as that of an activist in the realm of the imagination, offering ideas, information, narratives, methods and experiences that challenge and awaken the imagination in the name of social justice.


The Lab takes as its objective the reimagining of value in the broadest sense. Value can speak to both the concept of economic measurement and also of cultural belief, and the Lab is particularly interested in the intersection of these two dimensions. It is dedicated to what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of as a “revolution in social values” that he saw as the prerequisite to the possibility of racial and economic justice: not only a redistribution of wealth or the transformations of opinions, but a holistic overturning of preconceptions, prejudices, institutional norms and established conventions.


The Lab takes activism as its mandate, based on the acknowledgement that all research and all knowledge is always already political, in the sense that it is bound up in social power relations, and in the moral duty of the intellectual to speak out against injustice, to stimulate transformative thought, and to be an active part of working with movements of achieve social transformation. As an action-lab, RiVAL pursues these goals and themes on two fronts. First, it seeks to understand, enact and experiment with the ways academic research in the social sciences and humanities and inquiry can work in solidarity with activism for social justice. Second, it seeks to refine academic research and inquiry as methods of activism. An “action-lab” is not a sanitary, reclusive environment; it is an open and engaged part of the world that offers up the University’s resources and gifts to broader publics.

For more information on these topics, methods and approaches, see the published work of RiVAL co-director Dr. Max Haiven: maxhaiven.com/writing

Who supports us

The Department of English and Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at Lakehead University houses the Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice, held by RiVAL’s co-director, Dr. Max Haiven. The Canadian Foundation for Innovation provides material support for research infrastructure. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canada Research Chairs Program provide support for specific research programming.

How to contact us