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What Makes an Assembly? Stories, Experiments, and Inquiries

Book presentation and talk with Anne Davidian, Markus Bader (raumlabor), Laurent Jeanpierre, Florian Malzacher, Markus Miessen, Aleksandra Wasilkowska

Assembly is a transcultural form of sociality, and we could say, an elementary form of political life. Over the past decades, multiple social movements across the globe have reappropriated these forms of collective organisation to defend radical visions of democracy. At the same time, governments have sought to reframe public deliberation as a response to the failures of representative democracy.

Can assemblies of equals once again offer a possibility to reimagine the way democratic politics is practiced? Or should we see them as a neutralising power to divert from other forms of political mobilisation? Can the assemblies replace other, sometimes more permanent, forms of political organisation? Or is it merely a moment of effervescence intended to lead to more stable political action?

With different tools and in a deliberately experimental mode, 30 architects, artists, activists, historians, philosophers, and social scientists attempt to answer these questions. Accounts and critical insights from those who practice assemblies (the Xingu and Guarani indigenous peoples in Brazil, the Yellow Vests in France, Zapatista-inspired convivial researchers in California), studies of medieval communal assemblies, African street parliaments, and online debate platforms, are brought together with examples of spatial, theatrical, choreographic, and artistic experiments.

Weaving together material and social, architectural and ritual aspects of assembly-making, What Makes An Assembly? proposes a diagnosis of this form of collective organization against a backdrop of growing political unrest.

Among the authors: Andreas Angelidakis, Ayreen Anastas, Frédérique Aït-Touati, Hans Asenbaum, Sandra Benites, Patrick Boucheron, Manuel Callahan, Rene Gabri, Andrés Jaque/Office for Political Innovation, Pablo Lafuente, Catherine Malabou, Charlotte Malterre-Barthes, Florian Malzacher, Piersandra di Matteo, Markus Miessen, Bruno Serralongue, Philippe Urfalino, Ana Terra Yawalapiti, Aleksandra Wasilkowska.

The Event is held in English