CITY presents "Social Justice and the City" - March 14

The City Institute presents: “Social Justice and the City: Exploring the vexed nature of the relationship between the academy and activism”  

In this day-long event, we will feature panels and workshops on how an engagement with artist-activists in the city might speak to modes of academic activism and production that promote urban social justice. We are fortunate to have the renowned activist Selma James with us.

Within the increasingly corporate atmosphere of university spaces, radical scholarly activism appears to be on the wane and its contours increasingly shaped by neoliberal and neoconservative discourses. Graduate students, at once occupying both privileged and precarious positions, are left to negotiate their activist commitments within the ever more insecure conditions of the labor market in academia. In this context, the City Institute at York University provides an opportunity for artist-activists, faculty members and graduate students to engage in conversations about modes of activism. How do artistic-activist practices and productions open up possibilities for transforming neoliberal university structures? What can faculty and graduate students learn from artist-activists about expanding the horizons of academia? Can faculty, graduate students and artist-activists in the city work together through alliances and collaborations? What are the possibilities of working together to promote issues of urban social justice and create more just spaces in the city? How could an artist-activist in residence at the City Institute make a meaningful contribution to these debates.

A number of city activists have been invited as attendees to ensure that a dialogue between academics and activists is possible.

The event is wheelchair accessible.

We would like to thank the following for their generous financial support for this event: Vice-President Academic and Provost; Associate Dean, FLA&PS; Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation; Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies; Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts; Dean of the Faculty of Environmental Studies; Department of Social Science, FLA&PS.


10:00 to 10:15 - Introduction with Linda Peake (Director, City Institute at York University) and  Simon Black (Ph.D. student, Political Science, York University)

10:15 to 12:00 - Panel and Discussion

Moderator and Discussant: Selma James (Global Women’s Strike)

* The Real Sun (Connecting the Dots)

* Sabrina 'Butterfly' GoPaul (Jane and Finch Action Against Poverty)

* Narmeen Hashim (MA student, Geography, York University)

* Gokboru Tanyildiz (Ph.D. student, Sociology, York University)

12:00 to 1:00 - Lunch

1:00 to 2:00 - A participatory event: Story Work with David Buchbinder (Artistic Director of Diasporic Genius) and residents of Thorncliffe Park, Toronto.

2:00 to 3:15 - Going Forward: Group discussions including the issue of a possible Artist-Activist in residence at the City Institute

3:15 to 3:30 – Coffee Break

3:30 to 4:00 - Summary of Group Discussions and Conclusions (Simon Black)

Moderator and Speakers’ Bios

Selma JamesSelma James is an anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist campaigner and author including of the acclaimed 2012 publication Sex, Race and Class – The Perspective of Winning. A Selection of Writings 1952-2011.  Raised in a movement household, she joined CLR James’s Johnson-Forest Tendency at age 15, and from 1958 to 1962 she worked with him in the movement for Caribbean federation and independence. In 1972, she founded the International Wages for Housework Campaign, and in 2000 she helped launch the Global Women's Strike, which she coordinates. She coined the word "unwaged" to describe most of the caring work women do, and it has since entered the English language to describe all the work without wages of women, children and men, in the home, on the land, in the community. She is also a founding member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (2008).

sunshineThe Real Sun (also known simply as SUN) is an artist, educator, community builder, and healer-in-training with a creative spirit and the soul of a revolutionary.  There are four core pillars to all that The Real Sun does, is, and creates: Art, Education, Healing, and Social Justice. As a resident of Jane-Finch, The Real Sun has played a key role in the founding, building, and strengthening of many community organizations, initiatives, and movements including Lost Lyrics, Nomanzland, West-Side Arts Hub, BeLovEd, LIFE Movement, Don’t Believe The Hype, Jane-Finch Action Against Poverty.  She was the lead coordinator of Connect The Dots Symposium, and is a founding member of the Connect the Dots Coalition which is dedicated to building towards ‘best-practices’ in community organizing in Jane-Finch. The Real Sun is an alumni of York University with a B.A. Honours in International Development Studies.  She also works as an artist educator for various organizations and institutions across the GTA and Canada. Focusing on issues related to Identity and Social Justice through Spoken Word Poetry, and professional development training for artist educators, teachers, and community organizers.

Sabrina-GopaulSabrina “Butterfly” Gopaul works with a number of grassroots groups in the Jane and Finch area and across the city of Toronto. She’s been working with Jane and Finch Action Against Poverty for more than 5 years responding to the social determinants of health in the community of Jane and Finch/Black Creek. She has recently received, this past December, the Ming Sook Lee Labour Arts Award in Labour Activists, and just received the International Women Achievers’ Award in Community Development.  Butterfly graduated in Journalism Print & Broadcast with honours from Humber College and also was the first woman of colour and single mother who earned the Board of Governors Achievement Award. Butterfly is the Head News Correspondent for; founding member of the LIFEmovement and Freedom Friday; former host for CHRY 105.5FM, the Wednesday edition of News Now a magazine radio show for five years; resident member of West-Side Arts Hub Collaborative; a TCH Tenant Representative for Tobermory; an Executive Board member for Schools Without Borders; a member of Nomanzland youth-led theatre group; just to list a few. She’s a mother to her 18-year-old son, ‘Zea' and her one-and-a-half-year-old Papa.

Narmeen-HashimNarmeen Hashim is an MA student in the Geography Department at York University as well as a mixed media artist, researcher, social rights advocate, and community arts educator.  Since 2007, she has been working with CERA the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation to address the barriers that keep systemically marginalized groups from accessing housing in public and private rental markets. In 2014 CERA’s Youth Housing Program will be launched, which she has been developing since 2012.  In 2008, working with community partners, Narmeen launched the Ottawa Urban Arts-Art for Action program; using community mural making and aerosol art as a means of neighborhood rejuvenation, empowerment, and movement building. She presently sits on the board of directors at Mural Routes, and facilitates arts education and empowerment workshops across Ontario, working with various organizations including; OUTBURST, Sister 2 Sister, the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club, the Ottawa District School Board, Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, and One World Arts. In 2013, Narmeen completed her first independent multi-media installation to address the issue of drone warfare in Northern Pakistan and the body politique.

KutuphanedeGokboru Tanyildiz is a Ph.D. student in Sociology at York University. His research focuses on the reorganization of space and time in social movements after the global slump era of 2007-8. In particular, he is interested in exploring the ongoing Gezi Resistance of Turkey as the empirical site of his study. The Gezi Resistance offers striking portraits of the creation of queer time and space in-so-far as it has generated non-normative temporalities and spatialities that allow people, whose lives have been unlivable by existing political arrangements, to build alliances in intergenerational, sensuous, affectionate, responsible and responsive ways through various forms of performances, such as marches against the stark violence of the state, casserole marches against the neoliberal market imperatives that left people without food and shelter, and gender transgressive street theater, dance and music.

David-BuchbinderDavid Buchbinder was one of the inaugural Resident Artists at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts and is the Founder/Artistic Director of the creativity-based urban transformation organization Diasporic Genius. Diasporic Genius has developed a comprehensive vision to be a catalyst for a creativity-powered, citizen-centred renaissance of civic engagement, joining people across cultures to drive community- and city-building, with a mission to empower people to make real, positive change in their lives, their communities and their cities, by activating the power of the creative imagination and the still-untapped resource of diversity. Since 2011 Diasporic Genius has been working in the wonderfully diverse Toronto neighbourhood of Thorncliffe Park, leading Story and Creativity Circles, 7-Minute Feasts, cross-cultural Festivals and, with many engaged residents, exploring the nature of widespread creativity. David is also an award-winning trumpeter, composer and cultural inventor. He leads numerous music groups, composes for concert, theatre, film and television, presents large-scale performance projects and has toured extensively in North America & Europe.