Futures of Revolution

Fisher Center 2017-2018 Speaker Series: Futures of Revolution

The year 2017 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution. For many, this revolution heralded an emancipatory egalitarian beginning, the possibility of a new and more just world. Revolution was an agent of the future, the means by which the future gives birth to itself.

Is revolution still a carrier of futures we can imagine or has something changed? Is change for the better possible and at what scale? If we can continue to speak of revolution, what sort of revolution do we imagine: revolutions in social relations, aesthetic modes, economic systems, political orders, human subjectivity? Or might revolution today signal scientific breakthroughs, technological shifts, and further transformations in media and communications? Have science and technology taken on a role that politics played in previous centuries? If so, who are the agents and beneficiaries of a technological-scientific revolution? Is a revolutionary alliance of the oppressed displaced by a technocratic elite? And does our techno-futurist imaginary then revolve back into an extension of more of the same, repeating, perhaps inadvertently, a more literal revolving?

The past hundred years have witnessed multiple revolutions, their failures, and successes: the sexual revolution, the digital revolution, and an array of political revolutions. How have claims for the sexual revolution limited access to sexual and reproductive experiences already flourishing in previous forms of life and in non-dominant cultures? How does revolutionary time inscribe itself in space and with what forms of corresponding violence? How do suppositions of revolutionary new beginnings empty out spaces of those dwelling within them? In what ways do these suppositions of an empty space uphold colonial violence and in what ways do they undermine it?

During the 2017 – 2018 academic year, the Fisher Center will conduct interdisciplinary inquiry into the problem of revolution, concerning ourselves with the futures it has, can, and will carry. We are interested in the ways revolution may be envisioned, imagined, realized, and lived. Might what appear to be limits to revolution today be limits of our imagination? Our investigations aim to encompass varying geometries of revolution, not simply its repetitive, revolving, circuit or open linearity but also its twists and folds.

How is art crucial for imagining the future? What role do works of art play in challenging dominant distributions of the sensible? Does the popularity of dystopias in contemporary culture index a diminution of revolutionary energy and the finitude of the radical imagination? What is revolutionary movement and what can it become? Do we need to consider whose revolution and who can dance to it? Which projects, spaces, and architectures of memorialization draw out memories of the future capable of inspiring us today? Do the popular and commercial aesthetic practices of social media, television, Broadway, and consumption tame revolutionary energies or do they open up possibilities for their acceptance and amplification: people imagine revolution as key to their past and necessary for their future?

In what ways is science revolutionizing our lives such that in a generation the way we live now may no longer be recognizable? Are reproductive technologies, medical innovations, and genetic engineering that transform embodied experiences of sex, gender, parenthoood and humanity itself revolutionary or evolutionary? How will incorporating emotion and personality into artificial intelligence transform relationships and love? Will the rise of intelligent machines signal a radical new economic state and incite the next labor revolution? Will this revolution inspire the same hope for a better world as the Russian Revolution a century ago? Has science become the site into which our dreams of a better world are invested or is it the carrier of the dystopic future? Is the future inevitably post-human, belonging to the robots?


Chris Harris

February 21

Chris Harris

Wasun’s Comrade Music: African-Canadian and Indigenous Revolutionary Hip Hop and the War of Position against Neo-liberal Capitalism in 21st Century Canada

7 p.m., Fisher Center, Demarest Hall 212

Chris Harris is a musician and organizer in the Black community in Toronto. From 2000-2009, Chris was the lead youth organizer at the Black Action Defense Committee (BADC), launching the Freedom Cipher Program (2007-2009). Freedom Cipher was a revolutionary anti-racist youth movement inspired by the Black Panther Party. It organized former Bloods and Crips into a “Hood2Hood” campaign to end gang violence in Toronto’s Westend. It organized young black women into “Set It Off” girls groups to close the educational attainment gap in Westend high schools. Since 2005, Chris (a.k.a Wasun) has released three revolutionary hip hop albums: What Must Be Done? (2005); The Prison Notebooks (2010); Comrade Music (2015).

He is completing a doctoral dissertation at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, on the history of revolutionary nationalist/communist activism in Toronto’s Black Left from the ‘60s Canadian Black Power movement to the Black Action Defense Committee in the first decade of the 21st century. In 2015 Chris launched the Antonio Gramsci-inspired radical adult education institute, Freedom Justice Academy, as a legacy of the Freedom Cipher Program ( FJA organizes healing, mentorship, and leadership training programs for indigenous and Black federal ex-prisoners in this era of mass incarceration.

Ada Ferrer

March 7

Ada Ferrer

Cuban Revolution

7 p.m., Fisher Center, Demarest Hall 212

Ada Ferrer is Juilius Silver Professor of History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University. She is the author of two award-winning books: Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation, and Revolution, 1868-1898 and Freedom's Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution. She is currently working on two projects: the first, tentatively titled Cuba: An American History, is a new popular history of Cuba from the arrival of Columbus to the death of Fidel Castro. The second is Visionary Aponte: Art and Black Freedom, a contemporary art exhibit she is co-curating and that will also result in a book by the same name.

Abstract: Inspired in part by Carolyn Steedman's classic exploration of the relationship between a historian and her working class mother in Landscape for a Good Woman, this presentation explores connections between family stories of revolution and migration, academic histories of the Cuban Revolution, and the elusive power of recognition that potentially links both.

FALL 2017

Carole Elizabeth Boyce Davies

September 13

Carole Elizabeth Boyce Davies

Caribbean Left: Diasporic Circulations

7 p.m., Fisher Center, Demarest Hall 212

The recipient of the 2017 Frantz Fanon Lifetime Achievement Award from the Caribbean Philosophical Association, Carole Boyce Davies is a professor of Africana studies and English at Cornell University. She is the author of the prize-wining book, Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones (2008) and the classic Black Women, Writing and Identity: Migrations of the Subject (1994). Her most recent book is a study of transnational migration and Caribbean culture, Caribbean Spaces: Escape Routes from Twilight Zones (2013). She is currently studying the political leadership of black women in the African Diaspora.

Professor Boyce Davies launches this year’s theme, Future of Revolution, by putting the revolutionary work of Caribbean women at the center of our inquiry.

Artemy Magun

September 27

Artemy Magun

Spontaneity and Revolution

7 p.m., Fisher Center, Demarest Hall 212

Artemy Magun is a Professor at the European University at Saint-Petersburg and a Visiting Professor at Bard College (Fall 2017). He is the author of Negative Revolution (2013) as well as multiple books and articles available only in Russian. Professor Magun is the editor of the social and political philosophy journal, Stasis. He is a member of the art and philosophy collective, “Chto Delat” (What is to be Done?).

Professor Magun will consider the legacy of the 1917 Russian Revolution from the perspective of spontaneity. What is the role of spontaneity in the future of left political movement?

Sarah Raymundo

October 18

Sarah Raymundo

The Bells of Balangiga: Resonances of the Philippine National Democratic Revolution Toward Socialism

7 p.m., Fisher Center, Demarest Hall 212

Sarah Raymundo teaches at the University of the Philippines, Diliman Center for International Studies. She is a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence and Faculty Fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Center for Place, Culture, and Politics. Professor Raymundo chairs the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Committee for International Relations, which steers the International League of Peoples Struggles (ILPS) Commission 11. She is the Chairperson of the Philippines-Venezuela Bolivarian Friendship Association and the Vice Chairperson of the Philippine Anti-Imperialist Studies (PAIS). She publishes a regular column, “Blood Rush,” on, an online alternative platform, which advocates “journalism for the people.”

Professor Raymundo will discuss US imperialism, the anti-imperialist class war in Philippine history, and the ongoing revolutionary armed struggle.

Bruno Bosteels

November 29

Bruno Bosteels

Viewing the October Revolution from the Land of Zapata

7 p.m., Fisher Center, Demarest Hall 212

This talk will assess the Russian 1917 revolution from the perspective of revolutionary events in Latin America.

Bruno Bosteels is a Professor in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at Columbia University. His books in English include The Actuality of Communism (Verso) and Marx and Freud in Latin America (Duke). He is a past editor of the journal, Diacritics, and the editor and/or translator of half a dozen books by the French philosopher Alain Badiou.


The Fisher Center brings together faculty, students, and experts in gender-related fields in the arts, humanities, and social and natural sciences to foster mutual understanding and social justice in contemporary society.

Building upon their long-held commitment to interdisciplinary liberal arts education for men and women, both separately and together, Hobart and William Smith Colleges established (in 1998) the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men to support curricular, programmatic, and scholarly projects which address the question:

How do we more nearly realize, through our educational program, scholarship, and presence in the larger community, our democratic ideals of equity, mutual respect, and common interest in relations between men and women?


The Fisher Center Predoctoral Fellow application is available on the HR website.

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.