Constructing Solidarities for a Humane Urbanism

Constructing Solidarities for a Humane Urbanism: Ethics, Politics and Challenges in Crossing “Boundaries”

Symposium held at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, September 2017

Saturday Sept 9th 5:00-8:00 pm
Asian American Cultural Center, 1210 West Nevada Street, Urbana, IL 61801
Sunday Sept 10th 9:00am-5:00pm
223 Temple Buell Hall, 611 Lorado Taft drive, Champaign, IL 61820


We are living in a time of unprecedented and globalized inequalities that manifest as deepening spatial segregation, social isolation and a loneliness destroying the “ essence of humanity: our connectedness.” Monbiot (2014). On the one hand, global racial capitalism continues to systemically divide and disperse working peoples, worldwide, and make invisible the shared networks of caring through which the long-suffering “wretched of the earth” reclaim their humanity. On the other hand, the damned, poor and precarious workers and peasants are rising up once again to create a new politics of belonging and solidarities with similarly displaced workers and neighbors. Recent reflections on these ongoing struggles suggest the need to reframe older, worker centered, understanding of transnational solidarities and call for a focus on the agency and intersectional subjectivities of workers as precarious workers, insurgent citizens and insecure residents. Some researchers explore these tensions from the perspective of cross-border campaigns to redistribute material wealth and reverse racialized and gendered hierarchies. Yet others urge us to understand how the new politics of identities are reworking transnational and cross-sectoral coalitions and campaigns. What are the new ethics of solidarity and how do these differ from older social relationships and practices?


Constructing Solidarities brings together leading activists and scholars to share and reflect on their experiences in constructing solidarities across “boundaries”—activist/academic, formal/informal politics, nationalities— and overlapping identities—racialized, ethnicized, gendered, sexualized. This symposium, funded by the Illinois International Program Conference Grant, will build on a yearlong Insurgent Midwest project. This project supported by the Humanities Without Walls consortium funded by a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, has brought together a group of Midwestern scholars and activists from the Midwest, South Africa and Mexico. Our motivation has been to facilitate spaces of conversation among globally conscious but locally situated insurgent practices for a more humane urban development and urbanism. This symposium responds to our urgent need for a space of collaborative reflection and exchange within a broader community of scholars/activists, who have extensive experience in the field of transnational social/solidarity movements.


1. To facilitate collaborative reflection and exchange within a broader community of scholars/activists.
2. To foster solidarity networks and practices oriented by the ideas of radical care, humane urban development and urbanism.
The Constructing Solidarities Symposium is organized around the following themes:
•Displacement and alienation in the time of late capitalism
•Cultural practices of resistance and solidarities
•Pedagogies for solidarity and radical care for transformation