Society Must Be Defended
In 2016, just after the election of Donald Trump, several academic associations sent out a general call to scholars: host a read-in of Michel Foucault’s “Society Must Be Defended.” Drawing on the old leftist tradition of radical teach-ins, scholars responded with serious enthusiasm to this intellectual call to arms. As socially engaged activists and thinkers, we have a duty, many believe, to challenge the extreme anti-intellectualism of the far right, as well as the general attack on critical thinking and higher education. In this spirit, we invite you to join us online for a free Olio radical read-in.
In honor of the upcoming election, we will gather together virtually, and perhaps with our pods, to read Foucault’s brilliant and increasingly important lecture on the role of state racism in the making of the modern nation-state. The event will last two-three hours, with structured silent reading interspersed with short ten-minute lectures by Professor Jamie Warren to help navigate our way through Foucault’s complex and important argument. Finally, we will conclude with an open group discussion on how we might apply what we have learned into meaningful action. Please note, this event is open to all, regardless of education levels, or reading capabilities. We are committed to making this event welcoming, encouraging, and chill. We will take a complex piece of scholarship, and make it accessible and usable to all. While reading and academia can never take the place of direct action, Think Olio remains committed to the value of including critical thought in our arsenal of civic action and engagement.
No one needs to be reminded of the critical importance of this election. We hope this event will help you develop more meaningful discourse in your own family and communities about what, exactly, is at stake. Being alive right now is a scary thing. But I truly believe that Foucault, had he lived to see it, would have found this moment truly thrilling in its rich possibilities for creative social transformation. He might have also said “I told you so.”
*This Olio is free and open to the public. We ask that each person sign up through the website to receive the zoom link rather than sharing with friends. It will help us have a more accurate headcount. Thank you!
If possible please print out this essay, as it is much easier to Zoom-learn with a hard copy of the reading.
Teacher: Jamie Warren
Jamie Warren has a Ph.D. in American History from Indiana University, and she is an Assistant Professor at BMCC-CUNY where she teaches American history, the history of women and gender, and women’s studies. Her research focuses on slavery in antebellum South with a particular focus on death, the body, and the philosophy of history.