This Saturday, April 11th at The New School: Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production

Tomorrow (Saturday, April 11th), VCS faculty member Kareem Estefan will take part in Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production, a colloquium hosted by The New School’s Vera list Center for Art and Politics:

Vera List Center

Ahmet Ögüt, Pleasure Places of All Kinds; Fikirtepe Quarter, 2014. Sculpture, mixed media, 60 x 60 x 28 inches, private collection, Amsterdam. Photo courtesy the artist.

Ahmet Ögüt, Pleasure Places of All Kinds; Fikirtepe Quarter, 2014. Sculpture, mixed media, 60 x 60 x 28 inches, private collection, Amsterdam. Photo courtesy the artist.

Boycott as a political and cultural strategy has rarely been more prominent than in our current moment. From art institutions and universities, to cities and entire countries, many have been affected by positions that pose as “withdrawal” or “disengagement” and in fact often result in various actions and pointed engagement around a specific issue or question.

This colloquium concludes a year-long cycle of seminars and programs on cultural and academic boycotts as special conditions for discourse and art making, organized by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School starting in spring 2014. The seminars addressed timely questions of the agency of artists in the social and political sphere, and how culture can enact and perform change within a politics of disengagement.

Building on the themes and examples discussed in these seminars, Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production brings new voices to join previous speakers in articulating a way forward for future boycott movements. Conceived as a concluding strategy session, the afternoon is divided into open discussion sections with all colloquium participants around three topics, introduced by short prompts by the invited speakers, among them Joslyn Barnes, Noura Erakat, Pato Hebert, Maria Lind, Ahmet Öğüt, Omar Jabary Salamanca, Dread Scott, Radhika Subramaniam, and Chen Tamir.

Examples abound of contemporary artists holding institutions, exhibitions, and projects accountable for their practices. Via labor issues in the United Arab Emirates, funding structures of the biennials in Sidney or São Paulo, participation in the 2014 Manifesta in Saint Petersburg, and calls to renew a cultural boycott of Israel – artists are leveraging their power to shift the ways culture is produced on individual, civic, institutional, and educational levels. In anticipation of a forthcoming publication, Assuming Boycott focuses on key texts developed during specific campaigns and the shifts in language and implementation of their principles, over time, to reflect changing contexts. Above all, the colloquium seeks to explore how strategies, alliances, lead actors, and guidelines have responded and adapted to a changing cultural, political, and economic environment.

Kareem will moderate the following panel discussion during the 3 to 5 pm session:

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Against Israel
Initiated by members of Palestinian civil society in 2005, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that was reignited in recent years has gained newfound traction in the face of unrelenting Israeli oppression. Throughout the life of this decade-long movement, targets and strategies for disengagement have been hotly contested and frequently debated. The BDS movement remains sharply polarizing, underscoring its potential as a rallying point in Palestine/Israel relations, yet frequently obscuring the variety of nuanced positions on this movement. The BDS statement is being compared to initiatives opposing a boycott, and is examined in the context of a layered and complex matrix of resistance efforts.

Noura Erakat
Omar Jabary Salamanca
Chen Tamir
And colloquium participants, moderated by Kareem Estefan

For a full schedule of the day’s events, visit the colloquium’s page on the Vera List Center website.

Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production will take place at The New School this Saturday, April 11th from 1 to 5 pm in the Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Building, Wollman Hall, 66 West 12th Street, 5nd floor in New York City. Admission is free; RSVP is requested at

Visual & Critical Studies