Empire in crisis: A teach-in and symposium on US imperialism today

Signs of U.S. imperialism are omnipresent: from trillion-dollar defense budgets to fighter jet flyovers at professional sporting events; from “endless war” abroad to local police, in military kit, beating, gassing, and shooting protestors at home. How can we understand the U.S. empire in all its gargantuan totality—as the expression of American international power, a guarantor of global capital, and a structural factor of domestic American life? Where does the U.S. state, culture, and economy end, and the empire begin? In Empire in Crisis, a two-day teach-in and symposium organized by the Colombe Foundation and Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, leading scholars, journalists, and activists will gather to explore the scope, function, and possible futures of U.S. imperialism—both its power and the points at which it can be resisted. Across a series of text-based learning sessions and panel discussions, we will ask: Why do we fight “endless wars”? How does U.S. imperialism connect with the global economy? In what ways has American life been militarized? How do we resist? Empire in Crisis: a Teach-In and Symposium on U.S Imperialism Today will take place Thursday and Friday, October 22nd and 23rd. Participants will include BISR faculty, Nikhil Pal Singh, Jodi Byrd, Jeanne Morefield, Laleh Khalili, Catherine Lutz, Tobita Chow, Benjamin Schrader, and Vijay Prashad—with more to be announced. 

During the learning sessions, BISR faculty will teach from specific texts, which viewers can access and read in advance by RSVPing below. The event is free to attend, and can be viewed, regardless of whether you have a Facebook account, on the BISR public Facebook page (and we encourage attendees to submit questions and comments in the comment section). Empire in Crisis is being held in partnership with Justice is GlobalVeterans for Peace, the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, the DSA International CommitteeIfNotNowNational Lawyers Guild, and Brown University’s Costs of War Project.

Event Schedule

Thursday, October 22nd | The Imperial Boomerang: Militarizing American Life

Learning Session 1: Empire, Pandemic, and Crisis
Suzanne Schneider and Anthony Alessandrini

Learning Session 2: Colonialism and Social Control: the Boomerang Effect
Ajay Singh Chaudhary and Adam Elliott-Cooper

Panel: Imperialism and American Life: Culture, Politics, and Resistance
Suzanne Schneider (moderator), Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Nikhil Pal Singh, Benjamin Schrader, Jodi Byrd, and Catherine Lutz

Friday, October 23rd | Understanding American Empire: Military Power and Global Control

Learning Session 1: Empire of Capital: Policing Global Production
Ajay Singh Chaudhary and Lygia Sabbag Fares

Learning Session 2: Interrogating “Endless War”: Violence and Great Power Politics
Suzanne Schneider and Nara Roberta Silva

Panel: American Imperialism: Present and Futures
Rebecca Ariel Porte (moderator), Suzanne Schneider, Jeanne Morefield, Tobita Chow, Laleh Khalili, and Vijay Prashad

Event Schedule

11:00am-6pm EST October 22 — October 23, 2020