KPFA: Against the Grain [Program Feed]

  • Conservation and the Maasai
    As threats to the environment grow in number and severity, we tend to view conservation as an urgent imperative and an unmitigated good. But, as Anuradha Mittal [1] has discovered, what’s being done to the indigenous Maasai people in Tanzania in the name of conservation is horrific. Mittal describes how foreign conservation and tourism companies, often backed by Tanzanian security forces, are targeting and displacing the Maasai and depriving them of their means of subsistence. “Losing the Serengeti: The Maasai Land that Was to Run Forever [2],” a report of the Oakland Institute [3] [1] [2] [3]
  • New York City’s History of Revolt
    While New York City may be the capital of wealth in America, the celebrated metropolis has been a locus of rebellion. From the revolt of the Native American Munsee against the Dutch, to slave uprisings, class and race riots, Stonewall, protests against the Republican National Convention, Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter, and much more, New York City has exploded almost every decade for over 400 years. Geographer Don Mitchell discusses the history, and possible future, of rebellion in New York. Resources: Neil Smith and Don Mitchell eds., Revolting New York: How 400 Years of Riot, Rebellion, Uprising, and Revolution Shaped a City [1] University of Georgia Press, 2018 [1]
  • Cities and Climate Change
    How vulnerable are cities to the weather extremes unleashed by climate change? To what extent do rising sea levels and the “heat-island effect” threaten urban areas? Ashley Dawson [1] contends that while contemporary urban life is increasingly fragile and risky, grassroots efforts to protect communities while addressing social inequities deserve our attention. Ashley Dawson, Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change [2] Verso, 2017 [1] [2]
  • Struggles Across Borders
    From at least the Haitian Revolution to the present, black and brown people in the Western Hemisphere have linked arms in solidarity with each other. Historian Paul Ortiz discusses how we can’t understand the United States and its past without looking beyond its borders. (Encore presentation.) Resources: Paul Ortiz, An African American and Latinx History of the United States [1] Beacon Press, 2018 [1]
  • Food, Agriculture, and Capitalist Development
    If what Eric Holt-Giménez [1] calls our current corporate food regime is neither equitable nor resilient, then how do we go about changing or replacing it? Our starting point, says Holt-Giménez, must be to understand capitalism as a system and capitalism’s history as an evolving set of agendas and practices. He examines the role of agriculture and food systems in capitalism’s development, and also assesses forms of resistance to the current food regime. (Encore presentation.) Eric Holt-Giménez, A Foodie’s Guide to Capitalism: Understanding the Political Economy of What We Eat [2] Monthly Review Press, 2017 Food First [3] [1] [2] [3]
  • The Politics of Memory
    How is radical memory transmitted from generation to generation? How does that transmission frequently fail — and how might it better succeed? Anthropologist and veteran radical Phil Cohen discusses the politics of remembrance and archiving, from the Sixties to the present. Resources: Livingmaps [1] May Day Rooms [2] Phil Cohen, Archive That, Comrade! Left Legacies and the Counter Culture of Remembranc [3]e PM Press, 2018 [1] [2] [3]
  • Prisoner Reentry Under Neoliberalism
    One oft-ignored consequence of mass incarceration is the release of massive numbers of people from prison each year. Where do these people go, and how likely are they to find decent housing and the other resources they need? Over the course of his ethnographic work in Oakland, California, Alessandro De Giorgi [1] discovered how neoliberal economics and ideology impact the opportunities and life chances of formerly incarcerated people. (Encore presentation.) Alessandro De Giorgi, “Back to Nothing: Prisoner Reentry and Neoliberal Neglect” [2] Social Justice [1] [2]
  • Resignation and Rebellion in Honduras
    In 2009, the mainstream, but democratically-elected government of Honduras was overthrown in a coup that was backed by the United States.  Probably no surprise there: the US has a long history of supporting repressive regimes in that country.  But what was surprising, medical anthropologist Adrienne Pine argues, was the response of the until-then fairly quiescent Honduran people. She discusses violence, resignation, and rebellion in Honduras. Resources: Adrienne Pine, Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras [1] UC Press, 2008 [1]
  • Mass Education and the Authoritarian Mind
    Authoritarianism, wrote Erich Fromm, is not just about dominating and controlling others; it’s also about subordinating oneself to a “great” person, institution, or idea. In the eyes of John Elmore [1], traditional, compulsory mass schooling in the U.S. fosters the development of authoritarian personality characteristics in young people who, later in life, may enable, or actively support, the rise to power of autocrats. (Encore presentation.) Haworth and Elmore, eds., Out of the Ruins: The Emergence of Radical Informal Learning Spaces [2] PM Press, 2017 [1] [2]
  • Solidarity, Class, and Race
    Building solidarity across racial lines has been one of the thorniest problems of the left in the US, stymying struggles against capitalism over generations. David Roediger talks about race, class, and solidarity — as well as the radical scholar George Rawick and the organization Facing Reality. Resources: David R. Roediger, Class, Race, and Marxism [1] Verso, 2017 [1]
  • The Logistics Revolution and the Blockade
    The so-called logistics revolution has changed the way capitalists operate. As corporations have embraced a model of lean, flexible, just-in-time production, they have made their operations more profitable and have disempowered workers all along the supply chain. But, as Jasper Bernes [1] explains, these innovations have simultaneously heightened the vulnerability of retailers and other businesses to the protest tactic of the blockade. (Encore presentation.) Jasper Bernes, “Our Streets” [2] Verso Books blog Jasper Bernes, The Work of Art in the Age of Deindustrialization [3] Stanford University Press, 2017 [1] [2] [3]
  • Commodifying the Oceans
    The oceans are in turmoil, but unfortunately most of it is out of sight and therefore out of mind. Environmental sociologist Stefano Longo explores the multiple threats to the oceans, from overfishing to coral reef collapse to ocean acidification. He weighs in on whether the notion of the “tragedy of the commons” is sufficient to explain the roots of the crisis. (Encore presentation.) Resources: Stefano B. Longo, Rebecca Clausen, Brett Clark, The Tragedy of the Commodity Oceans, Fisheries, and Aquaculture [1] Rutgers, 2017 [1]
  • Fund Drive Special: Economics and the Contradictions of Capitalist Democracy
    The Marxist economist Yanis Varoufakis took on the leaders of neoliberal capitalism, in a high-stakes battle for the well-being of the Greek people. The former Minister of Finance for Greece spoke last week in Berkeley. In his talk, he discussed the violence necessary for the emergence of capitalism and reflected on the dim view he holds of his own profession, economics.
  • Against the Grain – May 22, 2018
    A radio and web media project whose aim is to provide in-depth analysis and commentary on a variety of matters — political, economic, social and cultural — important to progressive and radical thinking and activism.
  • Fund Drive Special: The Rise of the National Security State
    The history of the 20th century is the history of empire.  But did it have to be? We’ll look at various episodes in U.S. war-making, through the lens of award-winning director Oliver Stone, from World War One to World War Two and the development of the atomic bomb, to Vietnam and the proxy wars of today.

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