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.
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.
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.