The ReImagining Value Action Lab (RiVAL) is a workshop for the radical imagination, social justice and decolonization based in Thunder Bay (Canada) and active around the world.
In addition to facilitating academic research, collaboration and publication on its core themes RiVAL also hosts community-oriented and public events to build grassroots capacity for social change and also fosters creative, artistic and activist interventions that expand the imagination.
RiVAL is co-directed by Dr. Max Haiven, Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice at Lakehead University and Cassie Thornton, an internationally practicing artist and community organizer. This past year scholar and curator Dr. Ezra Winton, among other things the co-founder and director of programming at Cinema Politica, has joined RiVAL as a visiting scholar.
In October, the Urban Laboratory at University College London published an interactive map and podcast created by Max and Dr. Aris Athanasiou-Komporozos (also of UCL) based on a collaborative scholarly walking tour of the City of London financial district they led in April. The tour focused on understanding the dynamics of financialization as embodied in geographic space and architecture focusing on a diversity of themes, from children’s’ play to algorithmic trading, from the colonial legacies of risk management to the transformation of art into a plaything for the global financial elite. Many of the contributions were also published as blog entries at Public Seminar, the online platform of the New School in New York.
You Are Not Alone: Financial Literacy for the Rest of Us
In September, Max and Cassie traveled to Minneapolis to deliver three alternative financial literacy workshops in the Hennepin Public Library system in Minneapolis. Unlike conventional financial literacy workshops that focus on the faulty individual who is blamed for their economic condition, these workshops explored debt as part of a system on global inequality and the ways communities come together to fight back.
Decolonizing Reading Group
Once per month, RiVAL hosted a drop-in reading group to discuss decolonization in Canada through Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson’s book The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land, Rebuilding the Economy. Attendance was strong and vibrant!
Art After Money, Money After Art: Creative Strategies Against Financialization
Settler Frames talk and Documentary Futurism screening
In late October Dr. Ezra Winton visited Thunder Bay to deliver a public lecture on “Settler frames: A talk on film and colonialism” at Lakehead University and host a free public screening of Documentary Futurism, a series of short documentary films about the future from filmmakers across Canada which he helped curate.
Participatory Art Workshop
In late September Cassie led a public workshop on participatory art practices hosted by the Thunder Bay Art Gallery.
Responding to Racism: A Community of Practice
From August to November RiVAL hosted monthly meetings of a group to learn how to better identify, confront and intervene in racist behaviours in the Thunder Bay community.
What’s coming up in Winter/Spring 2019
The decolonization reading group continues! (January 8. 15, 22, 29, Feb 5)
Queer Against Empire Talk and Workshop (January 23-24)
Dr. Gary Kinsman, emeritus professor of sociology at Laurentian University and lifelong queer, anti-poverty and racial justice activist will visit Thunder Bay to deliver a public lecture on “Connecting Queer and Indigenous Struggles” at The Study coffeehouse at Lakehead University at 1pm on the 23rd (https://www.facebook.com/events/573226906456598/) and a workshop “Making the Neoliberal Queer: The Apology from Above versus the Apology from Below” at InCommon at 8pm on the 24th (https://www.facebook.com/events/2310309652536919/).
Grassroots Organizing Workshops (January 26-27)
In cooperation with the New Directions Speakers’ School and Disrupt (a new social movement fighting against poverty and for a basic income) RiVAL will be hosting a intensive two-day training for new and not-so-new activists. Modules include: creating public narratives, facilitation and engagement, media and outreach and strategy and organization. https://www.facebook.com/events/313055695982121/
Making Public Transit Racism-Free and Struggles for Equity (February 6)
Dr. Larry Haiven and Dr. Judy Haiven are retired Management professors who live in Halifax and have recently helped establish two groups struggling for equity and against racism. Racism-Free Transit in Halifax was founded in 2018 to respond to increased incidents of racism on the city’s buses. As a public service that is vital to many people’s lives, racism from passengers or even drivers of public transit can be terrible for those who suffer it. Equity Watch was founded in 2017 to help citizens advocate for themselves when faced with workplace harassment, bullying and oppression and to encourage the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission to take a more active stance. Equity Watch has so far had several very successful campaigns. Larry and Judy will offer some insights into the way these groups came together and the approaches they employ. https://www.facebook.com/events/740574122995520/
The Arts of Decolonization: Dylan AT Miner (March 21-24):
RiVAL has invited Dylan A.T. Miner, Wiisaakodewinini (Métis) artist, activist, and scholar who is currently Director of American Indian and Indigenous Studies, as well as Associate Professor at Michigan State University, to visit Thunder Bay in late March. He will deliver a public lecture and lead an activist art workshop. More information coming soon.
Finance capital and the ghosts of empire (April 5-6):
Max, along with several UK-based colleagues, is organizing a two-day symposium on the intersections of post-colonial and political-economic approaches to the intersection of financialization, colonialism, racism and empire at the University of Sussex (England) in April. This symposium is the sequel to the highly successful 2017 gathering he helped organize at Goldsmiths University “Colonial Debts, Extractive Nostalgias, Imperial Nostalgias” and will bring together an interdisciplinary array of scholars, artists and activists.
Debt/Digital/Empire (April 26-27):
In cooperation with Dr. Enda Brophy and Benjamin Anderson of Simon Fraser University, and thanks to a successful bid for a Connections grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Max is co-organizing a two-day symposium bringing together international scholars, activists and artists to discuss the intersections of new and old forms of debt, the legacies of empire and colonialism and emergent digital technologies in later April in Vancouver. The gathering will be preceded by a public-facing blog series in cooperation with Public Seminar and followed by an edited book to be published by the Amsterdam-based Institute for Network Cultures.