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CEU Summer School: ‘It Takes a Movement’

Social Mobilization and Rebuilding Democracy

July 3-9, 2023

Organized by
The Center for Global Culture and Communication (CGCC),  
Central European University (CEU), and the 
Center of Transcultural Studies (CTS)

Around the world, democracies are breaking down. Many are being dismantled from within while others face attacks from without. In both cases, the issues underlying democracy’s erosion are not superficial but deeply entrenched and complex. As a result, democracies will not be renewed without considerable effort. Technical fixes imposed from above may slow democratic degeneration, but they cannot reverse it. Rebuilding democracy—fortifying its institutions and advancing its project—takes a movement from below.

Yet, when it comes to social mobilization, democratic societies tend to be apprehensive. A handful of exceptionally civil, organized, and focused social movements may serve as evidence of a dynamic public sphere and a healthy democratic culture. But far more often, democratic governments respond to social mobilization with less enthusiasm, treating it as anything from a nuisance to a threat. After all, what democratic purpose could social mobilization fulfill in a society with fair elections, democratic representation, and independent courts? Given the growing frequency, intensity, scale, and volatility of twenty-first century social mobilizations in democratic societies, it is difficult to see them simply as a confirmation of democratic flourishing or evidence of its undoing. Instead, from Indian farmers to Canadian truckers and Colombian taxpayers, from the Black Lives Matter movement to the Yellow Vests, these mobilizations index social, political, cultural, and economic crises that democratic governments have failed to address. In this context, what is the relationship between social mobilization and democracy? Do loosely networked local protests in disparate contexts share a global anatomy? When are social mobilizations a threat to democracy and when are they the foundation of its renewal?

The aim of It Takes a Movement is to re-examine the relationship between social mobilization and democracy by attending to the stunning complexity and diversity of twenty-first century protests and social movements. The course will employ a global perspective, comparing social mobilizations across different democratic contexts, tracing transnational connections and fissures, and establishing common features. To this end, the course will foster a robust dialogue among students, activists, and scholars assembled from all over the world. Students will leave the course with a deeper understanding of the fraught relationship between democracy and social mobilization as well as new questions and ideas about how it might be productively addressed.

The course will fund a minimum of twenty students and reserves one third of available spaces for applicants from Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The application deadline is March 5, 2023. Once admitted, all costs related to participation will be covered by the organizers. For US based students, airfare and ground transportation will be covered only up to USD 500.
Given CGCC’s role in the Summer School, a minimum of three (possibly five) Northwestern graduate students will be admitted. Interested students should apply through the application portal on the Summer School’s page on the CEU website  and then email Dilip Gaonkar (d-gaonkar@northwestern.eduto indicate that they have applied.
For more information about the faculty, course directors, and course coordinator, please visit the Summer School’s page on the CEU website.

Resisting Prison Injustice

The Center of Global Culture and Communication (An interdisciplinary initiative of Northwestern University’s School of Communication)
& the Northwestern University Department of Philosophy

jointly present

Resisting Prison Injustice


Lisa Guenther

(Queen’s National Scholar in Political Philosophy and Critical Prison Studies,
Queen’s University)

For as long as prisons have existed, people in prison have resisted carceral power.  This workshop reflects on two very different examples of prisoner resistance: the California Prison Hunger Strikes of 2011-2013, and a current movement to create a memorial garden at the former Prison for Women in Kingston, Canada.  While resistance to prison injustice takes many different forms, it also raises some common questions: How do people in situations of extreme isolation and control connect across systemic barriers to organize collective resistance?  What role do memory, imagination, and affect play in resisting carceral logics?  And how are networks of solidarity sustained across the prison walls?

Lisa Guenther is Queen’s National Scholar in Political Philosophy and Critical Prison Studies at Queen’s University in Canada. She is the author of Solitary Confinement: Social Death and its Afterlives (2013) and co-editor of Death and Other Penalties: Philosophy in a Time of Mass Incarceration (2015). From 2012-17, she facilitated a discussion group with men on death row in Tennessee called REACH Coalition, and she is a member of the P4W Memorial Collective Advisory Board.  She is currently working on a critical phenomenology of prison abolition and decolonization on Turtle Island.

Corey Barnes (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Northwestern University)
Sooraj Saksena (Doctoral Student of Philosophy, Northwestern University)

Thursday, February 9
1:00 pm to 2:30 pm CST

Questioning the Present: The Populist Century

The Center of Global Culture and Communication (An interdisciplinary initiative of Northwestern University’s School of Communication) & the Center for Transcultural Studies

jointly present

Questioning the Present: An Online Public Forum on
The Populist Century’
(Polity Press, 2021)

Pierre Rosanvallon
(Modern and Contemporary Political History, Collège de France)

At a time when the words and slogans of the left have lost much of their power to inspire, Pierre Rosanvallon takes populism for what it is: the rising ideology of the twenty-first century. In The Populist Century he develops a rigorous theoretical account of populism, distinguishing five key features that make up populist political culture; he retraces its history in modern democracies from the mid-nineteenth century to the present; and he offers a well-reasoned critique of populism, outlining a robust democratic alternative. This wide-ranging and insightful account of the theory and practice of populism will be of great interest to students and scholars in politics and the social sciences and to anyone concerned with the key political questions of our time.

Michael Sandel (Professor of Government, Harvard University)
Charles Taylor (Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, McGill University)
Nadia Urbinati (Professor of Political Science, Columbia University)

Friday, December 2
10:00 am to 12:00 pm CST
Register Here

Anand Patwardhan: A Retrospective

Center for Global Culture and Communication
(An initiative of Northwestern University’s School of Communication)

In collaboration with:
Race, Caste, and Colorism Project,
(Sponsored by the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs)
Block Cinema,
MFA in Documentary Media Program,
The Hoffman Visiting Artist Program.


Anand Patwardhan:
A Retrospective

Film screenings and conversations with Anand Patwardhan,
India’s preeminent documentary filmmaker.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Bombay: Our City (1985)
1 pm, John J. Louis Hall, Room 119,
10 Arts Circle Drive.

Jai Bhim Comrade (2012)
6 pm, Block Museum of Art,
40 Arts Circle Drive.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Reason (2018)
12:30 pm, Block Museum of Art,
40 Arts Circle Drive.

 Monday, October 31, 2022

A Narmada Diary (1995)
5:30 pm, McCormick Foundation Center, Room 3-127,
1870 Campus Drive.



Climate Crisis + Media Arts Project,
(Sponsored by the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs)
Department of Asian Languages and Cultures,
The Subcontinent Project,
Rhetoric, Media, and Publics.
(An inter-school PhD program)

Feminist Performance Protests in Latin America

The Center of Global Culture and Communication
(An interdisciplinary initiative of Northwestern University’s School of Communication)

Presents an installment of the
Rhetoric and Politics of Protest and Social Mobilization (RPPSM)
Workshop Series:

‘Feminist Performance Protests in Latin America‘   

Marcela Fuentes
(Performance Studies, Northwestern University)

María Inés La Greca
(Visiting Scholar from National University of Tres de Febrero, Argentina)

Thursday, October 6, 2022
3 – 5 PM
Kresge 1515

Questioning The Present: History 4° Celsius

The Center of Global Culture and Communication (An interdisciplinary initiative of Northwestern University’s School of Communication) & the Center for Transcultural Studies

Jointly present

Questioning the Present: An Online Public Forum on

History 4° Celsius: Search for Method in the Age of Anthropocene‘  

(Duke University Press, 2020)

Ian Baucom

(English, Provost, University of Virginia)


In History 4° Celsius Ian Baucom continues his inquiries into the place of the Black Atlantic in the making of the modern and postmodern world. Putting black studies into conversation with climate change, Baucom outlines how the ongoing concerns of critical race, diaspora, and postcolonial studies are crucial to understanding the Anthropocene. He draws on materialist and postmaterialist thought, Sartre, and the science of climate change to trace the ways in which evolving political, cultural, and natural history converge to shape a globally destructive force. Identifying the quest for limitless financial gain as the primary driving force behind both the slave trade and the continuing increase in global greenhouse gas emissions, Baucom demonstrates that climate change and the conditions of the Black Atlantic, colonialism, and the postcolony are fundamentally entwined.



Prathama Banerjee (History, Center for the Study of Developing Societies <CSDS>, New Delhi)

Claire Colebrook (English, The Pennsylvania State University)

Debjani Ganguly (English, University of Virginia)


ON ZOOM, October 7, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm C.T.



APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED// 2022 Summer Institute in Rhetoric and Public Culture

2022 Summer Institute in Rhetoric and Public Culture
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208
In Person July 18–22, 2022

The deadline for applications is Monday, June 20, 2022

Media Aesthetics IV:
The annual Rhetoric and Public Culture Summer Institute at Northwestern University is scheduled to be held on July 18-22, 2022 (with arrival July 17 and departure July 23).
Institute conveners are Dilip Gaonkar (Rhetoric and Public Culture, Northwestern University) and James J. Hodge (English, Northwestern University).

This year’s theme is Media Aesthetics.
What does it mean to study and to theorize media today? What does it mean to study aesthetic texts and experience in a global media ecology no longer dominated by the long-standing paradigmatic forms of the disciplines of art history, literary studies, and cinema studies (painting, the novel, film) but rather by a panoply of multimedia forms (video games, digital art, social media, sound media)? What are the key sites of inquiry and the best theoretical resources for thinking through the saturation of contemporary life, politics and culture by media technologies? The challenges facing critical investigations into these questions are legion and daunting: from climate change and intense social inequities to divisive politics and more. Keeping these larger contexts and issues in mind, the summer institute will host a week of lecture and discussion on the topic of “media aesthetics.” In choosing “media aesthetics,” we affirm that big questions may be addressed at the levels of individual and collective experience and, moreover, as questions of mediation specific to a vast and uneven field of aesthetic forms circulating in global networks. Further, this seminar affirms the role of artworks and aesthetic experience more broadly as key sites of encounter. For the past several decades if not since at least the 1960s aesthetic production in its institutional manifestations has become more varied, less medium specific, and perhaps more fruitfully approached in a comparative manner. One key development here concerns the increasing and uneven ways in which the boundaries between more institutionally-sanctioned forms of aesthetic production and more ordinary vernaculars of experience have come to be understood as permeable and newly articulated and entangled. Taking aesthetics in its Greek sense of aisthesis (perception or feeling), we affirm the significance of methodologies and approaches such as affect theory, queer theory, phenomenology, Black studies, and psychoanalysis over and above approaches valorizing technology as such. Taking note of many local interventions in theoretical approaches to media studies, however, the summer institute asks what affinities and commonalities these often-disconnected discourses share.

Institute Format and Application Process
The institute will consist of five days of presentations and discussions led by visiting scholars and Northwestern faculty. This year’s visiting scholars include: Ramon Amaro (University College London), Bishnupriya Ghosh (University of California, Santa Barbara), Jean Ma (Stanford University), Bhaskar Sarkar (University of California, Santa Barbara), and Aarthi Vadde (Duke University).

The institute is sponsored by the Center for Global Culture and Communication (CGCC), an interdisciplinary initiative of Northwestern University’s School of Communication. The CGCC will subsidize transportation (up to $250), lodging (double-occupancy), and some meals (breakfast and lunch every day and two group dinners) for admitted students. Applicants should send a brief letter of nomination from their academic advisor, along with a one-page statement explaining their interest in participating in this year’s institute, to the summer institute coordinator Eva Rubens Celem ( We will adopt a policy of rolling admissions. Priority will therefore be granted to strong applications that are submitted in a timely fashion, preferably by June 20, 2022. All inquiries should be directed to Eva Rubens Célem.

Performance Studies Summer Institute 2022 // Call for Applications

The Center for Global Culture and Communication and the Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University invite applications from graduate students (MA, MFA, and/or PhD-track) and recent graduates for a 5-day institute exploring performance as creative research. This institute will engage the principles of SoulWork* to explore the sociocultural power of “Ritual, Repetition, and Rehearsal” as ongoing (vs. product-driven) studio practices alongside a range theories and methodologies for creating performance and cultivating community. The Institute will engage the question: How can ritual, repetition and rehearsal deepen the connection between creative impulse and social-consciousness for performing artists** and performance practitioners*** interested in inclusion, equity and justice? Each day participants will work with distinguished artist-scholars and culture workers in a practice-based workshop format.

Apply (

and/or to email ( with questions.

CONVENER: Cristal Chanelle Truscott, PhD || Northwestern University

Notification of Acceptance >> Monday, June 13, 2022