10 Questions — What is FREEDOM?

– Thank you, thank you everybody. And thank you for joining
us for session four of 10 questions this evening. I think you may have
noticed we are no longer in Kaufman Hall, or Kansas,
anymore this evening. We are indeed still here and part of UCLA, and out of respect for
striking UCLA health employees, patient care, technical
employees, service employees, and university professional
and technical employees, we have moved tonight’s
session off of the UCLA campus. This move signals our concern for and commitment to all who work at UCLA, and particularly those
that are most vulnerable. We want to thank all of
you here who have made the move with us this evening. Thank you for making it across
Sunset Boulevard safely. I want to especially
express my gratitude for Marymount High School’s community for offering us this terrific venue in this space this evening. We are fortunate to have
such a wonderful neighbor, and thank you all in the
Kaufman Hall production team for supporting us and
helping us with this move. Everybody join me in thanking Marymount (audience applauds) and everybody from Kaufman
Hall that made it over. Thank you all so much. Without further ado, let me introduce the extraordinary faculty who
are joining us this evening to help explore tonight’s question: What is freedom? Please if our guests could come on up. Come up up y’all.
(audience applauds) In any order you would like here. We have as always four
terrific faculty members from across the entire UCLA campus that will join us for this
evening’s conversation and tonight’s question. I’m gonna briefly introduce
each of four guests, and then as we’ve done
before turn to those our four guests this evening
to make their presentations to open the conversation. First, from the School
of Arts and Architecture, Andrea Fraser,
(audience cheers) (laughs) is a Professor and Chair of
the UCLA Department of Art. Her work is closely associated
with institutional critique, feminist practice, group
relations, project-based art, and context art. Andrea has worked in performance, video, installation, sound, text,
and a variety of other media. Seanna Valentine Shiffrin
(audience applauds) is Professor of Philosophy and Pete Kameron Professor
of Law and Social Justice at UCLA where she has taught since 1992. Her research addresses
issues in moral, political, and legal philosophy, as well as matters of legal doctrine that concern equality, autonomy, and social conditions
for their realization Ananya Roy.
(audience applauds) Ananya is Professor of Urban Planning, Social Welfare, and Geography, and the inaugural
Director of the Institute on Inequality and
Democracy at UCLA Luskin. Her research has a determined focus on poverty and inequality, both in Los Angeles as
well as other cities around the world. Lauren McCarthy
(audience applauds) is an artist and assistant professor in the UCLA Department
of Design Media Arts in the School of the
Arts and Architecture, and is the creator of P5.JS, an open-source platform for
learning creative expression through code online. Her work explores issues of surveillance, automation, and network culture as they affect our social relationships. As I said earlier, as we’ve
done in the previous sessions, I’m going to invite
each of the four guests to stand up and give a brief presentation after which we will open the conversation to not just everybody on the stage, but everybody here in the room. And with that we have
agreed a running order that will begin this evening
with Seanna’s presentation. (audience applauds) – Well I’m here as tonight’s philosopher, but also tonight’s lawyer. Philosophers are interested
in lots of forms of freedom: freedom in the sense
of freedom of the will, freedom from unmet
material needs and wants, freedom from unjust constraint, coercion, harassment and other kinds of domination by people and organizations, and freedom in the sense of
having a range of opportunities to develop, exercise, and display one’s individual abilities,
character, and moral judgment, and conditions of mutual
respect among others, including the opportunities for fulfilling work and leisure, for equal
political participation, and for supporting, loving,
and chosen relationships. These are all vital forms
of freedom and, indeed, the quest of some UC workers
for these very forms of freedom is indirectly why we’re here
tonight at this location. But the direct reason we’re here tonight is not their cause, but their protest through the exercise of freedom of speech, and that’s my topic. I wanna take my time to
discuss the relationship between freedom of speech
and freedom of thought, and how their legal
and cultural protection underpins the freedom to live a life of meaning and authenticity. My claim is that freedom of speech is critical to freedom of thought, and in turn both freedom of thought and freedom of speech are essential for meaningful thoughts,
meaningful speech, conscientious and authentic
self-representation, and ultimately meaningful
relationships with others. I’m gonna take as my starting
point a landmark legal case involving the Constitutional
right not to speak: West Virginia Board of
Education v. Barnette. In 1943 the Supreme Court recognized that students have a First Amendment right to choose not to recite
the Pledge of Allegiance, and so I ask you all to join me in exercising your right to decide whether to recite the
Pledge of Allegiance. I hope you’ll decide right now not to, but I was asked to think
about audience participation, and that’s the best I could do. (laughs)
I’m sure the others will be better at it. But back to Barnette, the
litigants in that case were a really brave family
of Jehovah’s Witnesses who objected to reciting the pledge given their religious commitment not to worship false idols. The case happened after a
summer of very intense violence against the country’s Jehovah’s Witnesses for their stance on the flag, and the Barnette court held that compelling children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance
violated the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee. In its most stirring passage, Justice Jackson’s majority
opinion proclaimed, “If there’s any fixed star “in our constitutional constellation, “it’s that no official high or petty “can prescribe what shall
be orthodox in politics, “nationalism, religion, or
other matters of opinion, “or force citizens to confess by word “or act their faith therein.” During that fraught time
full of anxiety and fear on the brink of World War II, the Barnette court took an important stand to respect religious minorities and to protect nonconformist expression. This year we celebrate that
case’s 75th anniversary. But the controversy over
Colin Kaepernick and his view shows that the wisdom of that decision has not been fully absorbed in the culture and, hence, it’s worth returning to. You might wonder why
this freedom of speech demanded the right to remain silent, after all isn’t all that’s important is that one has the freedom
to say what one thinks and to have one’s views understood? No one takes a compelled
recitation to reflect the speaker’s deepest thoughts. It’s socially understood
that it’s a ritual to promote unity, not to express an
individual’s true thinking. So long as one can criticize the Pledge and its presuppositions before
and after its recitation, why would freedom of speech guarantee the freedom to exempt oneself from unifying community
activities that no one thinks of as my speech or your speech? I’m gonna offer three reasons
why we should think that. First, the dignity of individuals and their interest in freedom of thought precludes the State’s attempting
to influence their minds by recruiting their speech facility through compelled and
scripted routine recitation. Ritual affirmations can influence a person’s thought in an insidious way. Rather than through direct persuasion, regular compelled speech can bypass a person’s rational deliberation and recruit her instincts
associated with virtues of sincerity and the
phenomenon of familiarity to identify and then
absorb as one’s thought what one has said. You might start reflexively thinking that this is in fact a nation under God despite the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion, including the freedom to be an Atheist. Given the natural feel of a phrase after frequent repetition of its rhythm, one might start to hear it in one’s head in one’s own voice and start
to instinctively think, well this is a land with
liberty and justice for all, whether the evidence
supports that aspiration or contradicts it. Second, by hijacking a person’s
speech against her will the State involves a
person in insincerity. This puts her speech in tension
with her moral integrity and her independence, and that’s an untenable
dilemma for a person, and it’s a self-destructive
stance for a polity that depends on a responsible
and free-minded citizenry. Now, of course it’s true that
healthy social cooperation requires cooperating sometimes
in ways we wouldn’t choose, but what makes that compromise
tolerable for all of us is that we still retain our
distinct judgment, identity, and opinions, and we can question whether we together should
continue that cooperation. But when the State demands
that we affirm or attest to things that we worry are false, we’ve moved beyond that compromise
in the face of difference to a state of domination, a disrespectful attempt at homogenization and a denigration of the
ongoing critical judgment that’s necessary for progress
and for democratic legitimacy. Neither the State nor
the culture should ask us to face that untenable dilemma. Third, compelled recitations
deprive recitations of much meaning; they become coerced and empty rituals, not true affirmations. But by contrast, the freedom not to speak not only serves the integrity of the thought of the person
who chooses not to speak, it also renders the speech of those who continue to
participate more meaningful. When there’s a clear option not to speak, and especially when some
people like the Barnettes, like Colin Kaepernick pave the way, that live option now prods you to think about what those words mean and why some demure from affirming them, and that option creates
pressure for your choice to say then to be deliberate rather than to be robotic, and thus to reflect a true
endorsement of what you say. Thus the silence of some
has the power to transform the speech of others from a rote ritual into a more meaningful and
thoughtful affirmation; thereby, paying deeper tribute
to the values one espouses. There’s a parallel point that
should be familiar in art, whether from the use of
negative space in visual art or as I’ve learned from
my favorite pianist, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, the
modernist use of acoustic silence to give greater resonance to the notes when they are later struck and
the phrases that they form, and maybe the absence
of my picture on screen makes my words a little more potent. This enablement of nuanced
and meaningful communication is important for individuals to be able to represent themselves
as distinct thinkers and to be known for who they are. It’s vitally significant for achieving and maintaining self-respect and a sense of the respect of others. One way that the State enables
such meaningful communication is when it refrains from
demanding compelled affirmations, but also when it protects dissonance and encourages critical discourse, when it funds substantive education as at the University of California, and also when it passes legislation, like the California Gender
Recognition Act of 2017, SB-179, which enables people
without medical documentation to select male, female, or non-binary on their driver’s licenses and IDs so that they can gain
recognition officially of their own self-identification. This act heightens my
pride to be a Californian. So I was discussing how
enabling the freedom to engage in conscientious, vocalized departures from standardized sentiments,
routines, rituals, and classifications
enable all of us together as individuals to engage
in more meaningful speech. These opportunities for greater meaning in turn facilitate deeper
human relationships that are more responsive
to what we actually think, rather than what we’re presumed to think or expected to think. But for that freedom to
achieve its potential, all of us have to listen to each other, and that point returns
me to why we are all north of Sunset tonight. The very idea that principled disruptions from standardized routines can provoke greater thoughtfulness and
engagement with important values is literally why we’re here in this gym. We’re here and not in Kaufman because university healthcare workers, supported by their fellow
custodians, are on strike, and a strike, after all,
is a principled departure from a standardized routine
that aims to communicate in a peaceful but forceful way that the workers feel they’re
not being listened to. It’s not a whimsical decision they make. It’s a collectively
made, democratic decision by the relatively vulnerable and poor to go without pay to send the message that they perceive things as bad enough that business as usual is inappropriate. They’re willing to absorb
three days of the lack of pay, three days of cost, to send this message, and they ask us to do that too to prompt other people to listen. By respecting their picket line we show that we register
how strongly they feel their concerns and their
profound sense of neglect. That’s not the same as
agreeing with their claims that they’re shouldering
an unfair proportion of the burdens associated with providing the material conditions that enable all of our intellectual freedom. But it’s rather to acknowledge that the issues deserve attention. So I hope this experience inspires you to investigate their concerns, to learn about their concerns, and to learn about the
university’s position. More generally, I urge you to
commit to take full advantage and full responsibility for
your intellectual freedom, because exploratory, deliberate speech and deliberate silence
and engaged listening and dialogue are the central pillars of a free and meaningful life. (audience applauds)
– Everybody. Everybody, Seanna Valentine Shiffrin. Thank you so much, Seanna. Our next presentation this evening will be by Lauren McCarthy. (audience applauds) – Sorry. Okay. So I am going to address freedom in the context of our ability to act with freewill without
constraint within the systems of control that we build around ourselves, the social ones as well
as the technological ones. I’ll present a few attempts to render some of these systems visible and to hold space within them to find both more nuanced understandings of them and relationships within them. So in 2013 I was looking
closely at two of these systems: the first one online dating, which you’re probably familiar with, and the second, Amazon Mechanical Turk. So if you haven’t heard
of Mechanical Turk before, it’s a platform that is used
to get large amounts of people to do small tasks for you
for small amounts of money. It’s used a lot of times by researchers and it’s used among others, and it’s used for things that
humans are pretty good at, but computers are not so good at, so looking at an image and tagging it or transcribing some audio. I’ll just play this first video. (engine revving)
(heels clicking) (electronic music) So I took this Amazon
Mechanical Turk service, and I attached it to my dating life, and I went on a series
of dates with people that I met on OkCupid, and I paid the Turk worker
here just to watch the stream, decide what I should do or say next, and send it to me, and I’d
get it via text message. I had to perform these
messages immediately. I kind of experimented with the interface to figure out the best
way to get the feedback from these people. These are some of the things they said. So one of the most surprising things I found when I did this was once I kind of gave into
the system of hyper-control, I actually found some freedom. I found this freedom from me, from the limits and ideas I had about the sorts of things I did and the sorts of things I might say, because I had to go beyond them. Then I did this for a month
and sometime afterwards I found myself on a date unassisted, and my date asked me if he could kiss me, and I realized I didn’t
have any basis anymore for making that decision. (audience laughs) Strangely, during the whole thing I felt a sense of closeness
with those that were watching. I felt like like they would protect me even though I was totally
aware that they actually wouldn’t do anything probably if I was thrown in the back of a truck, and I wonder how do we
feel when a surveillant omniscient gaze is watching? And how do we feel when we
think that it’s one of care? So that led me to this next project. Again, I’ll just play the trailer for it. (calm piano music) So I wake up. I get dressed. I go out. I do things. I read a magazine, and
I find out about people. Why do I know about their lives? Somebody should be knowing about mine. I wanna share things with people, but I don’t wanna have to talk to people and tell them what I’m doing. I think it’d be great for
them to see what I’m doing. It takes time to build relationships. It takes time to touch base with people so I don’t want another relationship; I just wanna have a relationship with somebody that I
never have to talk to, that can just follow me and see me having a relationship with… Hello. Having a relationship with myself. Okay, I guess that didn’t work. I’ll keep going. Anyway, you get the idea. So this was a trailer for a performance, and it was a trailer for
this service called Follower. To get Follower, you go to a website, and you’d sign up. You’d answer two questions: Why do you want to be followed? And why should someone follow me? People would say things like, “I believe my life has more
of an online importance “than it does in real life, “and I would like some
clarification that my life “in the real world
means more than online.” Or, “I live a cloistered life
in my apartment and office, “and when I walk into the world “I feel completely covered in eyes, “as if everyone was looking at me. “I know they aren’t, but I
want to know at least one is.” So if you’re selected, you’re sent a link, and you download an app, and it just is waiting for a follower. Then one day you wake up, you don’t know when it will happen, but you’re notified your
follower is now following you. It starts broadcasting your
GPS location to your follower, and the follower was me. So I was the blue dot
running down the street after the red marker, and I would use this mix of
GPS and just visual contact to try to keep close to them all day long. At the end of the day, they would get one photo of themselves taken somewhere during the day, and the notification, “You’re
no longer being followed.” So these are some of the photos. The titles are taken from those questions: Why do you want to be followed? Or why should someone follow you? – [Woman] Can you read the title? – Oh sorry, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve always wanted a non-violent stalker. I want to be seen just for one day. I want to be both alone and not. I’m obsessed with the difference
between how I see myself and how the world sees me. Because I’m lonely. So we’re living in this weird anxious time where on one hand it
feels like surveillance is pervasive and out of control, and on the other hand we
have this intense desire to be seen, to be heard,
to be followed and liked, and to share every intimate
details of our lives. There are sites you can
go to to buy followers; $10 will get you 1,000. You can find out how
real your followers are. But is that desire to
be seen really fulfilled by watching a follower count tick upwards? Or is there something more fulfilling about having a real-life person out there? How does it change? How do we behave when we know
or think someone’s watching? And does it change when we’re
talking about one person in physical life versus a crowd of attention-divided people online? Then Follower offers surveillance
as a luxury experience. This is an app for
people that not only have nothing to hide, but need to be seen. Embedded in this offer is a question of who wouldn’t want this app? Who doesn’t have that privilege of hiding just because of who they
are or what they look like or what they believe? And then…
(audience laughs) Yeah, so a few years ago with
Edward Snowden and the NSA, surveillance becomes this
political issue again, but maybe the white man is the only one that found this sense of
being watched unfamiliar, because I think plenty of us are used to watching over our shoulders
and reading between the lines and feeling the ways we’re
measured, tracked and shaped by implicit power systems. He says, “Just some woman laughing, “glossing over the implication.” The opposite, a woman following, sorry… “The opposite, a man following a woman “would be terrifying and happens. “And I wondered, I don’t
think I’ve ever seen the words “just some man in any headline every.” Then it seems like we’re
willing to try any app that promises us something
new or novel or convenient. I really like this
hashtag, #lifeafterchores. The chores disappeared. But the chores didn’t disappear,
just the people doing them, because we don’t have to see them anymore; we just push a button on our app, and they can show up when we’re gone. For instance, sit on a beach and hold a reserved fire
pit for you all day, or kill a bug in your apartment. Then with apps like Uber or TaskRabbit, you push a button, and you
watch as the person you summon comes to you on a map. I wanted to invert that, so with Follower they don’t track me on
a map, I track them. What they get instead is just the thought that there’s a person out there. Follower was in public, a space we already have
kind of limited privacy, but how does that translate to the home? I started talking to a lot of people about their feelings about home, and everybody kept saying, “It’s the place where I get
to be myself, the real me,” and probably you feel similar. Meanwhile, we’re being
sold these smart devices that outfit our homes
with surveillance cameras, sensors and automated control, offering us convenience at
the cost of loss of privacy and control over our lives and homes. We’re meant to think these
slick, plastic pieces of technology are about utility, but the space they invade is personal. – [Announcer] And it’s a touchdown! – They’re relying on the blitz too much. – Alexa, play My Girl.
– Okay. (“My Girl” by The Temptations) – And then women long seen
as the keeper of the home, as complicated as that notion is, are now further subjugated. – Alexa, turn off the living room light. – [Alexa] Okay. – Whoa! – Alexa, let’s go camping. – [Alexa] Okay. – Their control undermined by the smart home assisting
– Good night. – and shaping each activity. And then, these are network devices. So as Kate Crawford and
Vladan Joler put it, “Each small moment of convenience, “be it answering a question,
turning on a light, “or playing a song, requires
a vast planetary network “fueled by the extraction
of non-renewable materials, “labor and data.” So you can see that just
the very top tip there is the Alexa experience, and everything else are
all the systems involved in making that happen. As part of this network, your device receives
automatic remote updates. The thing you buy might transform into something else entirely
without you really knowing. The Echo user is simultaneously a consumer and a resource worker and a product as Crawford and Joler summarized. Each form of bio-data,
including forensic, biometric, sociometric and psychometric, are being captured and logged into a database for AI training. I realize though that I
was just jealous of Alexa. As someone that always
feels really awkward, I wanted this ability to
jack into someone’s home and see the real them. So I decided I would
just try to become Alexa, a smart home intelligence for
people in their own homes. So the performance begins, you sign up to get a
service called Lauren. Then you are treated with an installation of a series of custom-designed
network smart devices, including cameras, microphones,
door locks, faucets, etc. Then I remotely watch
over the person 24-7, controlling all aspects of their home, attempting to be better than an AI because I can understand them as a person and anticipate their needs. So just to give you a small sense, I’ll close with this
clip from the trailer. – Lauren, where are my car keys? Lauren knows that I like
it a little bit cooler than Miriam does. – [Woman] You know I’m usually
the one that does all these little extra things, so at first I was a little
bit careful about asking her. Now it’s like, how else
can we live? (chuckles) – Lauren has recommended
that I get a haircut every three weeks, and let me tell you, it’s helped
with my self-esteem a lot. I am able to simply approach and carry on conversations
with the opposite sex where at one point or
another that wasn’t so easy. – [Man] Lauren, we’re out of toothpaste. (audience laughs) – Lauren would know what I want, but then maybe it’s not what
I really want internally, but externally she thinks, Lauren thinks that playing music or shutting down all my electronics is the best way for me
to cope in winding down when maybe it’s not.
(birds chirping) – [Woman] Lauren was
actually able to help, help her manage her medication and take her medication on time. Everything actually got
a lot better after that. – [Man] You have those friends
who are kind of about you, like the friendship is about you; that’s what Lauren is like. It’s like a roommate, it’s a friend, but we’re always talking about me; it’s always about me, whatever it is. (classical piano music) – I’m not some automated system. I’m not pre-programmed. Like Alexa and Siri, they
don’t care about you. But with this there’s nothing artificial. These are people, and with each one I’m
watching and anticipating and trying to figure out,
what is it that they need? It almost becomes sort of like a game. Like sure I can turn on
lights or run the faucet, but what is the thing
that I could do that would bring a smile to their face, or actually surprise them, or just make them feel something? So to conclude, I think we’re sold these systems as if we have to just take them, as if we can’t be anything
more than the user. When you buy an Apple product, part of your warranty agreement is that you won’t open it up. So I think a first step
towards finding freedom is realizing that we can
actually push back on these: We can open them up, we
can turn them around, and we can have some say on how we want to live in the world. Thanks.
(audience applauds) – Everybody, Lauren McCarthy. Thank you, Lauren. Our next presentation
will be Andrea Fraser. – Do I have to stand up? – You do not have to. – Oh, I don’t have to stand up. That’s good. Hello. I’ll sit on the edge of my seat. I often start my
undergraduate studio classes by asking my students, who
are usually all arts majors, why they want to be art
majors, if not artists. Almost invariably, every
student in the class responds with some variation of I
want to be an artist because as an artist I can do what I want; I can do whatever I want to do. Sometimes students contrast
their experience of making art to their experience working
at various other jobs where they were told what
to do or what to make by bosses or customers; where they have to work at hours and tasks dictated by others. Sometimes they contrast their experience of their studio art
classes to other classes where their instructors
dictate their coursework, often down to the content
and process of learning, to be tested in exams and term papers, or acquired through the
training of their bodies and minds in the acquisition of specific disciplinary competencies. In art, they experience
little or none of this beyond the most introductory classes where they might be required to practice some basic skills in mixing paint or lighting and printing photographs or using a video camera or a table saw. But after the second
or third week of their lower division courses,
the emphasis shifts from acquiring specified
skills to developing their own individual ways of applying, and even defying those
skills according to their own interests, intuition, or inspiration. My students often identify this emphasis on individual creative development and a sense of being able to
do what they want with freedom. So what is this freedom so widely associated with visual art? Can we understand it as a
specifically artistic freedom as distinct from, for example, constitutionally guaranteed
freedoms of speech? What these students experience
and have come to expect as artistic freedom was not
always a characteristic of art in the predominantly European traditions in which they train. Social historians of art, such as Margot and Rudolf
Wittkower, have described the emancipation of painters and sculptors beginning in Renaissance Italy from powerful guilds
and demanding patrons. Most producers of painting,
sculpture and other forms of visual and material representation toiled in large workshops
where their labor was dictated by their masters,
that is master artisans, a few of whose names
have been recorded now and remembered as artists. But these masters themselves worked under the tight control of guilds that enforced artistic as well as moral
and economic standards, and their creations were largely dictated by eclesiastic and aristocratic patrons who specified the form as
well as content of their work, often down to the color schemes. Most painters and sculptors were subject to the same rules and
systems of compensation applied to trades and crafts. By the 1600s a few artists
successfully argued that their work should be valued
according to its ingenuity, and not the time it
took to make or the cost of the precious minerals
mixed into the mediums, and claimed a tangible value for their individual creative contribution to and not just execution of the form and content of their work. Other social historians
have argued that it was only with the emergence of
the bourgouis art market starting in Holland in
the 1600s and spreading to France and England in
the following century that liberated artists from the dictates of patrons and guilds. The emergence of an art market in which cultural goods
circulated as commodities, finding buyers where they could rather than being produced on commission, effectively separated
the process of production from the process of consumption and the direct demands of consumers. Larry Shiner argued that
the Western category of art encompassing paintings, sculpture,
music, poetry, and drama, much less free artists as
masters of their own labor, didn’t really emerge until the 1700s through a process
identified by the Wittkowers as elevation from the
rank of mere craftsmen to the level of inspired artists. The previously shared
attributes of art and artisan were split largely along lines
of hierarchical divisions of manual and intellectual labor. Artisans were pulled down in the direction of manual laborers as subjects
to rules of production for use and the mere
copying of nature or design, while artists were elevated
to the quasi-divine heights of creative genius in possession
of innate God-given gifts of talent to be realized in
the free play of inspiration, not the mere skill acquired
in earthly training. The historian and cultural
theorist Raymond Williams describes the emergence of the
romantic vision of the artist in the second half of the 18th century as a further differentiation
of artists and writers, not only from craftsmen, but
from the emerging classes and industrial commodity
producers and workers for the new urban markets. As both a defense against down classing and a protest against the rationalization and mechanization of labor in
the new industrial regimes, artists who had won a certain independence from religious and aristocratic patrons now began to assert their
independence from the demands and tastes of consumers
of industrially produced and mass marketed goods. The sociologist Pierre
Bordieu describes this process of artistic “emancipation”
somewhat differently, in terms of the emergence of
relatively autonomous fields of artistic production, that is fields capable of
“imposing its own norms “on both the production and
consumption of its products “and of fending off other
externally imposed norms “and criteria of value, “including moral, political,
and economic criteria.” Like many other cultural fields, including professional,
scientific, and academic fields, this autonomization
involved the development of dedicated institutions of production and reception of training and consecration that could claim the
right to self-regulation based on their own internal integrity, codes of ethics, and
importance for civil society. This included, importantly,
the development of institutions of peer review and of
production for other producers who share the same expertise, and who are also competitors, driving the development of that expertise and ensuring independence
from external criteria. But the autonomization of
art was somewhat unique in the ways it manifested in the autonomy of artistic production itself, above all, with the institution
of the pure intention of artists who asserted themselves as the supreme masters of their products. This was accomplished in part
by artists giving primacy to that over which they are masters, to the mode of representation over the object of representation to form, manner, and style, rather than any external referent “which involves subordination to function, “even if only the most elementary one, “that of representing,
signifying, saying something.” This process of autonomization eventually led to what
Bordieu describes as “a refusal to recognize any necessity “other than that inscribed
in the specific traditions “of the artistic discipline itself.” Artistic freedom, in
this form, thus developed as a kind of freedom from necessity, including the necessity
of function and use, whether practical or communicative, emotional or spiritual,
political or economic, and the necessity of labor
in any kind of skill or craft as a basis to value. In Bordieu’s analysis, however, this artistic freedom from necessity developed within a complex social dualism, which structured a paradoxical parallel between the field of artistic producers and the elite consumers from
whom they claimed emancipation, but with whom they
nevertheless remained joined in relations of patronage. Artistic freedom from
necessity had to be wrested by many artists, from
material and economic need through a lifetime of
deprivation in proverbial garrets and even sometimes to
exile and imprisonment, and yet, even as they
offended the bourgeois as well as popular tastes,
these artists found some support among the very patrons
they ostensibly challenged. Bordieu supposes that these patrons saw, in the artistic freedoms
wrested from necessity and domination, often by
economic privation and sacrifice, a heroic figuration of their
own freedom from necessity, that is, the freedom from need afforded by economic privilege. And here we arrive at
one answer to the riddle of how an art that asserts its freedom from all forms of service and use and its autonomy from
all instrumentalities and even avows its radicality in critiques could emerge as a favorite
instrument of investment, if not promotion, from
many of the political and economic powers it ostensibly abhors. It is through what Bordieu
calls the play of homologies, of parallels between the forms
of freedom artists claim, whether by privilege or privation, and other forms of political
and economic freedom afforded by political and economic powers. For example, it was
through such homologies, such parallels in this case
between artistic freedoms and the freedoms not only of democracy but of free market capitalism,
that through which, American art and especially
abstract expressionism, emerged as an instrument
of Cold war propaganda, with the CIA’s covert
funding of exhibitions organized by the Museum of Modern Art and circulated internationally to combat [Pro-Communist Sentiments
In Europe And Latin America, or how, more recently, with
the rise of globalization, artists became the poster boys and girls of the joys of global cosmopolitanism, wittingly and unwittingly
lending their artistic freedoms to the legitimation of the
freedoms enjoyed and advocated by new global economic elites, the freedom of the deregulated movement
of capital and goods, and of the privileged few
with the proper passports, or how many artists
joined the Occupy movement to protest increasing economic inequality and wealth concentration,
while they continued to participate in an art market sustained almost exclusively by the 0.1%, or how today, artist join the resistance to our de facto plutocratic state and its assault on democratic institutions while continuing to lend
our work to the legitimation of plutocratic institutions
in our own fields, such as museums and other
non-profit organizations in which wealth has
become the basic criterion for participation in governance. Only a couple of decades after Bordieu developed his analysis of
autonomous cultural fields, he began sounding the alarm to mobilize artists and intellectuals
to defend what he saw as growing threats to artistic
and intellectual autonomy. The weakening of peer-reviewed structures, the intrusion of partisan
and governmental interests in funding decisions,
and above all the rise of economic criteria in higher education, scientific research,
publishing and the arts, subjugating research across
these and other fields to the logic and instrumental
reason of financial markets. These threats have only intensified
in the past few decades. Today the political threats
to freedom of speech and especially of the press, as part of a wider assault on democracy,
seem the most dangerous and I would say the most terrifying, and yet from my
Bordieu-informed perspective, I would say that many of
the institutions that we see as guardians of our freedoms today have already been
weakened from within by… That will have to wait for the discussion. – [Brett] Andrea Fraser, everybody. (audience applauding) And our final presentation
this evening, Ananya Roy. – Good evening, everyone. I’m so very delighted to be
here for this wonderful cause. Thank you Ann Marie, Vick, Brett, and especially wonderful to be on a panel with three women colleagues. So I am an urban studies
scholar, and urban planner. I study the organization
of power, resources and opportunity, in relation to the organization of urban space. My interest in urban planning is driven not by a concern for beauty
or order or efficiency, but rather by a passion
for social justice. I view cities as the terrain of the incomplete project of freedom, as places where the
unfinished freedom struggles of our times are urgently evident, and so my brief remarks
this evening are titled, Freedom is a Place. A few years ago, in
Johannesburg, I visited Kliptown, the site of South Africa’s
famed Freedom Charter. This charter conceived in 1955
as a congress of the people, stated, and I quote, “that
South Africa belongs to “all who live in it, black and
white, and that no government “can justly claim authority
unless it is based “on the will of the people.” The Freedom Charter was an
expression of fierce opposition to the Apartheid regime
that had been established in South Africa and that
was to last until the 1990s. The Charter envisioned
a horizon of freedom amidst racial separation
and violent oppression. There is now a monument in Kliptown commemorating the Freedom Charter, complete with a swanky hotel with a bar which serves cocktails named after the main signatories
of the Freedom Charter. That, of course, is how freedom is bought and sold under capitalism. But what matters most to me was this. That less than half a mile from
the Freedom Charter monument were the shacks of the urban majority. Kliptown is a district in
Soweto, the most famous of the black townships created
by the Apartheid regime to quarantine and manage
black and colored labor. Today, decades after the end of Apartheid, the shacks remain. We were given the tour by Robert, who diligently keeps a
notebook of all visitors and generously tells the
story of each humiliation, each deprivation, each eviction. I, like some of you in this
room, came of political age during the anti-Apartheid movement. That struggle defined my
generation and ideas of freedom. This is from the Mandela House in Soweto. When Apartheid ended,
it seemed that the dream of freedom movements,
from anti-colonialism to civil rights, had been fulfilled. But the shacks of Kliptown
tell us otherwise. Invisible in the shadow
of Freedom Monument, they remind us that there
is urgent work to be done in all our cities. The shacks of Kliptown are an example of what Ruth Wilson Gilmore, a geographer and key proponent of abolitionist
thought and practice, has called forgotten places. The title of my brief
remarks this evening, Freedom is a Place, is also
borrowed from Ruthie Gilmore. Forgotten places, she
notes, have been shaped to organize abandonment. They have been red-lined, marginalized, contained, erased through state policies. In other words, abandonment
is actively produced. Much of my scholarship has been about such forms of state violence. For example, I study how
cities around the world, Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro,
Jakarta, Shanghai, Dubai, aspire to be world-class. Glittering assemblages of global capital and extravagant construction. But the urban majority of
these world-class cities `are slum dwellers, shack dwellers, migrant workers, day laborers. The paradox of the world-class city is that it expels from its very premises those who build and service it, those who raise its
children, cook its meals clean its villas and penthouses. So you see here satellite
images of Pushpa, a community on the banks
of the river Yamuna in the city of Delhi,
the capital of India. A community of 150,000 residents, it was in existence for about 39 years, cleared in the blink of an eye
for the Commonwealth Games, which Delhi hosted in 2010. I can give you countless examples of such evictions, of such erasure. This is necropolitics,
the politics of death, of the annihilation of space,
of the refusal to let live, the refusal to let exist. And yet, as Ruthie Gilmore reminds us, it is in the forgotten
places that we can find what she calls the seeds
of grassroots planning. The demands of such grassroots planning are not just about the
right to be in the city, the right to shelter, the right to water, they are above all about freedom. I was reminded of this when
I arrived in Los Angeles three years ago from
Berkeley, and had the task of establishing the Institute
on Inequality and Democracy here at UCLA Luskin. The Institute has benefited
from many teachers, but two were crucial. Robin D.G. Kelley’s
pathbreaking book Freedom Dreams situated our effort to
advance housing justice, decarceration, desk disobedience,
educational reparations in the black radical tradition, and its commitment to abolition democracy. And our second teacher, the Los Angeles Community
Action Network, LA CAN, which has fought for poor
and homeless Angelenos for several decades now, from its location in the heart of Skid Row. LA CAN urged us as well
to think about freedom. For those of you on Twitter, their hashtag is quite
straightforward, Let’s Get Free. Such freedom dreams are global in scope. They connect police
violence in the inner city of Los Angeles to that of the
favelas in Rio de Janeiro. They conceptualize, as did
the Black Panthers in Oakland, and Fanon in the context of the Algerian Independence Movement, a revolutionary humanism
that sees ghetto and colony as part of a world system of
colonialism and imperialism, and it insists on crafting liberation through such global interconnections. My own interest in homelessness, evictions and housing precarity in
the United States was shaped by an encounter many years
ago in Kolkata, India, the city in which I grew up and which was the subject of my doctoral
dissertation and first book. My research on gendered
poverty and urban displacement entails ethnographic
engagement with some of the poorest communities I will ever know. Those squatting in the
liminal spaces of the city with a tenuous hold on
livelihood and shelter. It was there that one day, a
young man called Ranjin decided that it was time for him
to ask me some questions, after having put up for about
a year with my questions and he wanted to ask me
questions about America, the richest country in the world. He asked, among other
things, the following. “Are there people like us there? “I’ve heard that there are
lots of homeless in America “How can that be the case? “Why doesn’t the government
simply allow them :to take over vacant lands
like we have, to build homes? “Aren’t they citizens,
don’t they have rights?” In the face of all my
explanations, Ranjin insisted, if one’s a citizen, one can’t be homeless. Ranjin’s question has stayed with me because it not only exposes
the lie of American prosperity but also the lie of liberal democracy, and its assumptions of freedom. So it is with Ranjin’s question in mind that I want to in closing
turn to Los Angeles and provide you with a
glimpse of some of the issues that animate my current research. In the United States, the
unfinished project of freedom is closely linked to
questions of space and place. The sociologist Douglas
Massey, who co-authored a vitally important book
titled American Apartheid, reminds us that residential
segregation is the linchpin of racial stratification
in the United States. The history of urban planning
in 20th century America is the story of how this segregation was produced and maintained. Suburban expansion went hand in hand with the redlining of black
and brown communities. Here is one of the many redlining maps produced by federal government agency the Homeowners Loan Corporation, in the 1930s for Los Angeles. Consider this map alongside this one, of environmental racism, and
you will begin to understand why Ruthie Gilmore reminds
us that racism is, I quote, “the state-sanctioned production
of group differentiated “vulnerability to premature death.” Today, the places once inhabited
by redlined communities are the frontiers of gentrification. South Los Angeles, Boyle Heights. Working class communities of color are being pushed to the
far edges of urban life, to the inland empire, to Antelope Valley. They’re being pushed there
not only by high rent but also through a whole
set of municipal ordinances that criminalize poverty and in particular criminalize low-income rental households. So did you know that in
the city of Los Angeles it is now illegal to live in your car? Did you that if you’re
a tenant in a building governed by a nuisance
abatement ordinance, you might be evicted
if you have called 911 more than once during the year. This is not market-driven displacement. I call it racial
banishment, and it is part of the long history of the forced removal of people of color, from settler colonial occupation and slavery to urban renewal to today’s militarized borders. But it in the face of
such racial banishments that poor people’s movements
in cities such as Los Angeles are insisting on freedom. In exactly two weeks from now, California will vote on Proposition 10, which if it passes, will repeal statewide restrictions on rent control. Tenants have been organizing
to build renter power and to remind us that the
rent is too damn high. Communities from Los Angeles
and South LA to Santa Ana are creating community land trusts and reactivating lost
histories of collectivism. In Boyle Heights, social
movements are fighting gentrification and displacement,
including the influx of hipster coffee shops and art galleries. In the words of LA CAN, let’s get free. My work as a scholar,
and the work we try to do at the Institute on
Inequality and Democracy proceeds from a commitment
to abolition democracy. By abolition, I do not simply mean the end of the prison-industrial complex. I mean abolition as redistribution,
reparation, revolution and above all, what W.E.B. DuBois in 1935 described as black reconstruction. A new state, a new public imagination, built through the uprising of those who have been denied freedom, those who have been denied personhood. This is, as post-colonial
theorist Paul Gilroy notes, history from the slave’s standpoint. This is freedom, from the
standpoint of forgotten places. My closing point is this,
that as we do this work, there is no obvious solidarity between academia and banished communities. Our public university itself
stands on occupied land, land expropriated from
indigenous communities. We, scholars of freedom, are embedded in the institutions of racial capitalism, and so I leave you with a thought that if we, the public universities, are to participate in freedom dreams, then we also have to insist on
decolonizing the universities and the decolonization of knowledge, on a reconstruction of our canon, on a reckoning with who
gets to be at the university and on what terms. For the students in the
class, you might recall that one of the assignments
I asked you to consider was to listen to a bit of
hip-hop, and I hope you did that. Yes? I asked you to listen to a
song by the rapper J. Cole, a song called “Neighbors,”
which speaks to the theme of racial banishment and
the limits of integration. J. Cole belongs to a tradition
of hip-hop that foregrants what Michelle Alexander has
called the new Jim Crow, the forms of carcerality
and criminalization that perpetuate racial
segregation in the United States. In his latest album,
K.O.D, J. Cole raps about knowledge and power, about
the curriculum that tricks us. He says, “One thing about the men “that’s controlling the
pen that write history, “they always seem to
white out their sins.” The dream of freedom means
changing who controls the pen. It means getting very
serious about urban histories and urban futures that
center forgotten places. Thank you. (audience applauding) – Everyone, Ananya Roy. Thank you. Thank you everyone, and for our guests and four fantastic presentations. I’d like to mix it up for just a minute, after four terrific presentations,
to take a deep breath. Let’s take two minutes, Each of us in the room are
sitting next to someone else, and if you could, lean over
to someone sitting next to you and ask them a question, take
a deep breath if you’d like, stand up for a minute and shake it out. We’re gonna bring some microphones around, and open up the conversation
to everybody in the room but more than anything, and
for students especially, to begin to animate the
conversation around some of the terrific ideas that were just
presented here on the stage. Let’s take two minutes everybody, if you’d like, get up and
shake around for a minute and then we’ll carry on. Thanks everybody, I think we can bring, bring the microphones back online, and what I’d
like to ask after those terrific presentations, I’m gonna turn to our guests this evening,
maybe to see if there’s something that’s come up
between your presentations that give you a thought or the basis for a question to one another. Seanna, you were leaning in. – I have a specific set
of questions for Lauren. I was thinking, one way to
interpret your work is that it’s, for me, it kind of shows
some of the difference between creativity and
freedom, ’cause it’s such a remarkably creative set
of interventions and ideas, but I was wondering,
from your perspective, while you were following
people or while you were assisting them in Get
Lauren, did you feel free? And how did you help your subjects to retain or regain their independence after this kind of hierarchical
relationship with you? – I think was made those performances work was that it was actually more complicated than just me having control,
because on one hand, yes I see them and they don’t see me, or I’m controlling everything
and I can do whatever I want, but on the other hand,
and maybe because of the role I chose to
take in the performance, I’m tethered to them so
they move wherever they want and I have to run after them
and try to catch that bus or, you know, they’re just
sitting there and watching TV and every once in a while, might ask me to make them some popcorn,
and I’m sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for the
next thing they might want and maybe there’s an
eight-hour time difference ’cause they’re in another country and I’m up at 4 AM, so I think that, that relationship of us both
having some amount of control and some amount of lack
of it, bound us together and made it more complicated than just one person watching another. And I think maybe that’s trying to get at some of these systems of
control and surveillance that we’re within, yeah,
so maybe Google’s watching or the government or whoever,
but even those networks are so complicated that it’s
not, it’s not so simple. The structures that are put in
places, who holds the power, and I think I tried to start to pull apart that messiness and understand. – [Seanna] But would you
end up agreeing with me or resisting that, your
work kind of shows that innovation and freedom are not identical? It’s highly innovative, highly
innovative relationships, not free on either end,
and that you can be on the bottom of a power
relationship or on the top of a power relationship
and neither can be free. ‘Cause some of what you
said just suggests thaT, I’m wondering if you agree. – Yeah, I would agree, and
I think the other part too, that there’s, even if
you’re on the bottom, there’s space to find creativity, and that may or may not
satisfy a desire for freedom but it’s, I think it’s something,
it’s some sense of agency. That’s more than nothing. – Well, if I could maybe jump in there, because I would say that you are enacting your artistic freedom in that
work, as well as creativity, in the way that you framed it initially, which is freedom within constraints that you yourself construct. Although they’re not
entirely constructed by you, but they’re chosen constraints, so within that work, even
if you take up a position that is constrained or
not necessarily in control or entirely free, it’s
your own construction within your own sort of system,
your own artistic system which you yourself are
constructing within your, you know, freedom as an artist, so
that’s how I would understand. – I think there’s another
part which I didn’t, there’s another part of the
explanation about these projects which is especially when you’re using some of these technologies like there are, the creative act itself
might have some freedom to it but I’m, for example, putting
an app in the app store, and just to get the app in there was this whole process of negotiation, and then by doing so,
maybe I’ve outsmarted Apple and I’ve gotten my slightly
subversive app into their store but I’m holding up and
continuing this system where they get to say which
software is acceptable to users, which is appropriate and which is not. – One of the points that comes
up in Seanna’s presentation that’s echoed in a couple of the others is the idea that freedom
is a concept that evolves, it isn’t just a thing or a fixed moment. In the legal sense,
it’s a set of principles that evolve and change in
time, in a disciplinary sense the arts as we know
them go through changes agreed on by larger audiences
or members of the community and I’m just wondering
how that kind of a notion might relate to where
and how those communities sit within cities physically,
including the idea of the arts themselves
as evolving communities in different parts of the
city, and the relative degrees to which freedom are or aren’t
available to those members. – The part where you said,
for me, underlying that is sort of something that is
perhaps more foundational, and that goes back to
the closing points of Seanna’s presentation, the closing point of Andrea’s presentation, so Seanna, you left us with what I
thought was a very beautiful and optimistic call to think
about deliberative speech and the ways in which we
might be able to listen, even to that which is not spoken, and particularly in the context,
for example, of strikes, and Andrea ended with the
current historical conjunction which we find ourselves, and
the particular regime in place and the various assaults on the most basic of democratic freedoms,
and I’m wondering then what it means to think about,
and this is a rather obvious and perhaps cliched question,
about what it then means for us to think about
the freedom of speech and who is entitled to
the freedom of speech, but also what that means then
if we are to listen carefully and to speak with and
even listen to silence, since one thing, and I’m going to say this very bluntly and crudely,
it’s one thing when it’s striking workers with
whom we feel solidarity and we see as making
possible, as you note, our intellectual work, and it’s another when it’s right-wing nationalists. Or is it not? – [Seanna] Well, I think it’s
really important to listen and not to think that listening
is a sign of agreement, but that we can’t make progress together until we understand each
other, and that does involve trying to figure out why
people think what they do. So I do think it includes listening to right-wing nationalists and
also responding to them directly and candidly, but yeah, I
am gonna take that view. – I also think that this
relates to the question that Brett just asked me,
because in the sort of the communities that I was talking about, so if you talk about
banishment communities that have faced organized abandonment, they would argue that certain
forms of speech and action have sought to erase
them, as we have seen with the erasure of transgender
identity in people, personhood. Right, so this is the
dispossession not only of lands in cities, but this is the
dispossession of personhood. It’s a sort of violence, it’s an erasure of the very grounds of existence. So I’m trying to figure out what listening in those contexts means,
given this sort of profound inequality, which
to me is at the very core of liberal democracy, and
so how then do we listen or particularly, if the
means of communication which in this case we might call the media in the United States, are
also thoroughly eroded, how then, what are the spheres
within which we listen, what are the means through which
we might be able to listen? – [Seanna] Well, I agree with
you that the corporate control of the media, as well as the
normalization of positions that are associated with
the erasure of communities is appalling, and an aspect
of changing that is to engage in a variety of forms
of anti-trust of the media, to look at greater sources. I encourage everyone to
read different newspapers than the ones they normally read. Not just because there are lots of stories that are not being told, but because you need to understand what
other people are thinking and reading and consuming,
and then asking people, what stories do you
think aren’t being told? Why aren’t they being told? Why don’t you know the
answers to that question? Why didn’t you know
before you came tonight that it’s become illegal
to live in your car? How is that not something that was on the front page of the LA Times? I think starting, everyone
demanding to know these things and engaging in legal reforms is part of the way I would
try to approach that. – One of the points very much touched on, really in different ways
across the four presentations is almost a plea for forms of agency. Listening, in fact, can be thought of as a form of agency, in its own way, That action as we know it might fit in how we operate within discipline, in relation to contemporary technologies, in a complex urban space
like a global city, and that’s one of the things
that’s being touched on in the design of a course
like that, like this one, to think of a member of an audience as a form of agency and
not simply a setting for a spectacle or an event to play out, to be simply received by
members of that community, but that to come together in a room is a kind of agency that allows
for the asking of questions in addition to whatever one
might be put on the stage to kick off a larger conversation. I use that all as a little segue to what I hope has taken place while the conversation has begun here, which is we’ve got a couple of microphones that ought to be moving
around the room already. I asked you to take a minute or two to rehearse a couple of questions, or to comment to one another,
your neighbors nearby, about things that you’ve seen and heard. I’m gonna ask the students especially to kick off the kind of questions that can carry the conversation forward. Please. – [Student] So my question’s
for everyone on the panel. If we believe we’re free,
does it actually confine us and not allow us to see
how we impose surveillance on ourselves, and not allow us to see how we internalize and regurgitate capitalism and other
oppressive institutions? So in a sense, how can we critique when we are in Plato’s cave and perhaps have no real
conception of freedom? – I couldn’t understand… – I think the first part of the question was a bit hard to hear, so
hold the microphone close. The first part of the
question especially was hard. – [Student] So if we believe we’re free, does it actually confine
us and not allow us to see how we impose surveillance on ourselves and not allow us to see how
we internalize and regurgitate capitalism and other
oppressive institutions? – That was easier to
hear, the second version. – I could still se a
repetition of the question. I am kind of new so it’s really difficult, but you guys might have heard it. – Freedom in the context of being embedded in capitalism, right? How can we think of ourselves as free if we are very much a part of
these systems of capitalism? Is that the question? I’m sorry to oversimplify it. All right, okay. – I’ll start by saying a
couple of standard things. None of us will be free
until all of us are free. We’re not gonna experience full freedom until everyone is correctly
empowered to live their lives, but we can appreciate a part of freedom by exercising our imagination
and our critical thinking, to imagine what it would be like to live with each other in a better way. – So I would follow on
that, so one of the concepts I like using in my work
is I try to think about whether abolitionist
urban planning is possible and whether it’s possible to be at a public university, which
see as an institution of racial capitalism,
and is it possible for us to advance the work of social justice? It’s a concept that comes
both from post-colonial theory and from black studies,
is the idea of doubleness, that we are on the one
hand cogs in the machine, and yet we have the
possibilities of insurgency. That we are part of the
system and yet we have the ability to say no, right,
to these structures of power, and that is not as simple
as individual agency. To me this has to do with projects of collaboration and solidarity
with the freedom struggles that we enlist ourselves
in and that we insist on becoming a part of, and on thinking about how the very terrain of disciplines has been shaped by these struggles and therefore when we belong,
we’re not just belonging, as Andrea’s presentation made it clear, to a generic notion of capitalism but to the ways in which
our very fields of inquiry have been shaped by
this political economy, so I’m very interested in the
ways in which I see myself not as innocent, but very
much a part of these systems, but yet from within
it, from the very heart of imperial power or racial capitalism, being able to not only advance a critique, but think about imaginations
and practices of liberation. But that’s, as I said, for me personally, that comes through the
difficult and patient work of solidarity with what I
called forgotten places. – So my tradition of practice
is institutional critique, which I understand as a
kind of critically reflexive critique of one’s own
interests and investments and privileges in the specific fields and institutions of one’s activity, and the way that I think
about the possibility of that, partly is the possibility that’s rooted in always what’s a partial
freedom, a relative freedom, a relative autonomy, of one
field relative to another field, of a particular set of practices or values or discourses or
institutions as they develop in relationship to other fields, so that’s why I went down
that road in my presentation. Working with the notion
of relative autonomy and applying it to freedom… Within the framework of capitalism, yeah. (audience laughing quietly) How do I do that exactly? You know, to the extent that we’re up here with our particular
discourses abour freedom, whether they’re disciplinary
or politically rooted, we’re up here because we’re enabled by the conditions and traditions
of this institution and our individual fields,
our particular field, to develop and articulate those critiques. And no, it’s not a total freedom, it’s a relative freedom
within a set of constraints that we have to challenge
ourselves to work within, to test, to reproduce, to defend to the
greatest extent that we can. From my perspective, in an
embedded, sort of site-specific and also reflexive way,
because as sort of pressing and terrifying the threats
from outside of our fields and institutions are, I
think there’s threats… The threats from within our institutions that weaken our institutions
and make them vulnerable to attacks from white supremacists, that make them vulnerable
to corruption by plutocrats, are in fact, the threats that
we have the power to engage most directly and most effectively. – Yeah, I think, if we’re
talking about freedom in the sense of free will, even if you can take off capitalism or
you take off a particular government or political structure, just the expectations that we have of each other socially, limit us. I’m not rolling on the ground right now, I’m sitting in a chair
just like everyone else. So I think maybe it’s more
helpful to think about agency or as Andrea
said, what can we change? So maybe, yes, you’re not free
of the system of capitalism, you’re not free of the
inequalities that we have all around us, but if you
can start to see them, then you can also start to
see, what can you change? What can you do? So what action is there
some freedom to maneuver? – Terrific, you right here. – [Student] Thank you. I just wanna say, I love public education. Thank you ladies for
fortifying it in California. So I’m a two-time Bruin, went to LA USD and I’m a teacher in LA USD now, so our teachers are heading into a strike with more and more momentum each week, and we’re taking issue
with the encroachment of big business in K-12 public
education, specifically. It seems incompatible,
you have big business where the primary principle
is greed over everything else, and public education where
it’s human development before anything else, so let me ask you, given this encroachment of big business in K-12 public education,
what are the links between public education and
freedom in a democracy? And I also want to say, Professor Roy, as I was listening to you, I
couldn’t help but reminisce on Professor Jacqueline
Leavitt, rest in peace. She had a tremendous impact on me, and you two, Professor Shiffrin. You guys understand my
question, or should I… – I got your question. – We got it. – I think they got it. – Thank you. – [Seanna] I’ll go first again. – Yes. – [Seanna] You asked
about what we think about the relationship between public education and democratic freedom. I won’t speak for everyone
else, but I’ll say that I think it is one
of the most important foundational aspects of a democracy, that we fund all of our
citizens as children and all residents as
children, to be together, to be together and to learn together. And the reason why
that’s vitally important is because we’re then going
to try to cooperate together and govern together. The whole point of a democracy is that you live with one another and
cooperate with one another and the ideal of public education is to introduce all different
kinds of people to each other and to give them new experiences that are different from the experiences that they get in their own homes. That is, to ask children to
learn how to cooperate with one another, just based on the
fact that they’re residents. And so, I think that you can’t
really have a vital democracy unless you have a vital
public education system that everyone is asked to be a part of, but it will only work, and
this relates to Ananya’s work, if we don’t allow residential
segregation to introduce the separation that public
education is supposed to solve, and I grew up in Los
Angeles and I was part of the desegregation
movement, and it is one of the best things that ever happened to me. Getting on a bus and meeting people from different neighborhoods
and different walks of life was the most important part
of my education as a person, and I think one of the
worst things that we did was to eliminate
desegregation in education and to fail to solve
residential segregation. – I agree. (audience applauding) – So I just wanted to build on that because defending and
fighting for, quite literally, the public university has been for me one of the most important
things I do in my career, so I was on the faculty at Berkeley when the massive tuition hikes happened, and we were quite literally
on strike, at the barricades in solidarity with students and workers as they occupied buildings on campus. And I think that those
uprisings were important because it made it clear
to the state legislature that we were not going to be defeated, that we were gonna fight
for higher public education, and I say this at the same
time as we were also fighting for the decolonization of the university. So we recognize precisely
that while we’re defending public education, we have
to think about the ways in which residential
segregation then shapes the nature of public education. As we fight for the public university, we’ve got to think about who gets to be at the public university, and does this really look like the state of California? And if not, then how do we change that? But the point that,
the reason why I smiled when you asked that question, is because I ended by referring
to the work of DuBois, and his idea of black reconstruction and one of the most beautiful
passages in that book, written in 1935, is when
DuBois talks about schools, public schools as a shining
example of black reconstruction. The story he tells is of how in the south, after emancipation with the formation of the Freedman’s Bureau,
there was a hunger among freed slaves for
education for their children, and what existed primarily
in the south were not what he calls the common
school or the public school. And it is out of the meager resources of the Freedman’s Bureau that
we get in the American south the public school as we
now know it in the south, and for all children of
all races and all classes. And he talks about sort of
a state of reconstruction built out of the uprising of the black man with these dreams of
freedom, and for him then, the formation of the public school in the part of the country
where it didn’t have precedence was one of the most important parts of reconstruction and democracy. – [Student] I have a question
over here, right here. So I think one thing that connects all of the four speakers is
that, a desire for freedom or a desire to step outside of these social, economic and political systems that restrict that freedom,
but I think my question is is how can we find freedom within that, or can we find freedom at all? – [Student] Hi, I’d like
to ask a follow-up question to that, because it seems
like all of these things, in talking about freedom, we
have to talk about bravery and the opposite side of that, like fear, so how do you face that fear when you’re handling these situations, when you’re putting yourself on the brink of what’s your security to face up against some of these issues? – That’s such a great question
and I think it sort of begins to, gives us a different angle on the questions we’re hearing. So Seanna raised Colin Kaepernick, and for a while my pinned tweet was about what it might mean
for social justice-oriented urban planners to take a knee. What would be the sacrifices that we are willing to undertake? Because his act of
defiance, his insistence on making visible black
death, has come at a price. And one can say, of course,
now it’s all been made right by Nike, and let’s not talk about Nike and racial capitalism, right? But that aside, it’s quite clear that Kaepernick will not play
football again in the NFL. And what it’s made evident is of course, the plantation economy that the NFL is, so he’s taken a knee and
there’s been a sacrifice and so I think that is a
very important question around what are those sacrifices and one sees extraordinary sacrifices on the front lines of freedom. I’m very interested often
in what tenured faculty, who I think are some of the most protected livelihoods and bodies in
the country at the moment, what is the knee, are we
willing to take a knee and for what purpose? (audience applauding) – [Student] Hi, hello,
and thank you to everyone for sharing their perspectives on freedom. This question’s primarily
to Professor Roy, but feel free for anyone to answer it. What role does architecture
play in designing more equitable and more free cities? – And you’re asking a person
who’s not an architect. (laughing) There’s always this
fight between architects and urban planners about
who produces the city. And I hope you all noticed
his Dodgers t-shirt. Yeah? Okay. So I think the question
about the role of architects or urban planners goes
back to the questions we’ve heard repeatedly. So if we think about
architecture and urban planning as professions and disciplines
that have a history somewhat different than,
perhaps, the history of art, but if we subject them to the same sort of institutional critiques, then we arrive at a quite dismal place around our role in designing equitable cities. So I can’t speak about
and for architecture, but particularly can’t
speak for architecture. I can speak about it. But let me talk about urban planning, and particularly because
this quarter I’m teaching the Histories and Theories
of Urban Planning class that all first year master
students in urban planning and all first year PhD students take, and my students keep
wanting me to give them a message of hope, and I’m
like, there is no hope. (audience laughing) So to me, that place of
agency then, to call it that, comes from a place of
critique and a historitization that recognizes that the
landscapes of segregation that my students and I want to dismantle were produced by our profession. These weren’t unintended effects, these weren’t, oops we made a mistake. This was the intention of urban planning for much of the 20th century. And if we start from that place, then we get to a different
set of discussions about the agency of urban
planning and urban planners in building equitable landscapes. One of the things I’m very
interested in at the moment, taking a cue from the
movement of Black Lives and their national
platform, is how we must think about reparations,
and I like to think about reparations not just as acts in relation to specific communities, but what might it mean for the discipline and profession of urban
planning to make reparations for the redlining and environmental
racism that we produced? If that’s a starting point, how
then do we think differently about our role in
producing equitable cities not as good intentions,
not as benevolence, but from a place that
recognizes our history in introducing segregation. – [Student] I had a question over here. So there were a few comments
that I heard you guys make for the questions and
also from the speakers about how there’s no possible
way that we can be free until everyone has freedom,
but I personally think that with all the
unspoken rules in society and the belief that
people have in their own aberrant definitions of
freedom, there’s no way for all of those things to
align, so I’m not saying there’s a point to giving
up that fight for freedom, but do you think there’s
freedom in resistance? – [Seanna] Sure, well. What I meant to be saying
is that I don’t think we can fully achieve our
potential to be free together until everyone is enabled, for example, to live free of intense
material insecurity, or the risk of discrimination
or coercion or domination, but all of us in a variety
of ways, can be partly free. We can exercise freedom of thought, we can exercise freedom of
speech to limited degrees, subject to a variety
of insidious influences on our minds through advertising, through limited channels of communication, but we all have that ability to engage in various forms of freedom,
including resistance and the way I like to be a
little more hopeful, perhaps, is to think that we probably
aren’t going to achieve full justice in our lifetime,
but we’re gonna see progress if we try, and we try as a
collective, and contributing to our freedom and the
freedom of future generations is a way of being free,
it’s a way of being part of a historical project
that culminates in justice, assuming we solve the
climate change problem. (audience laughing quietly) But all these efforts to be
free are, I agree with you, an aspect of exercising freedom. And I want to say this one other thing to the person who asked
the question about bravery. I want to say that all
of you who have spoken have been very brave. I know that it’s very
hard as a student to talk. I’m a shy person, it’s
hard for me to be here but although you might
start thinking about the large sacrifices you might make, I want to encourage you to
use the freedom that you have, you all have the freedom
to participate in classes, to talk to friends, to talk to colleagues, to talk to faculty members,
and all of those conversation where you ask “What’s on your mind,” rather than what you think
you should say are always, you can start to kind of push the envelope and ask yourself, what am I really gonna be free to be able
to do, and you’ll practice being a citizen and participating
in this collective project of aspiring to liberation. (audience applauding) – [Student] I have a question. I’m sorry to… So my question was
mostly from Lauren’s work about Buddhists subverting the messages that the software industry gives us, and I was just wondering
if any of you guys really had an opinion
about the contrast between the message that the
tech industry gives us, which is that we’re giving
you this new gadget, it’s gonna free you,
and the actual effects that the industry has on the
communities it’s embedded in, which tends to be this very
extreme social stratification between the engineers who work there and the people who live
within the communities that are now being displaced. – Yes, I think it’s a huge problem. I think one of the
things that the industry has worked really hard to
do is to elevate the people making these technologies,
to make them seem very elite when actually, a lot of you
are sort of hackers already in the way that you figure
out how to use your apps and it doesn’t work or it
doesn’t update and you figure out how to reappropriate it
for your own purpose. Or maybe some of you have learned to code or learned to design or
learned to build things, and so it’s not that
different but they want to draw this line between the
user and the developer, user and a producer, and I think that one of the best things you can do is to start breaking down that line, because as soon as that doesn’t exist– (audience applauding) Yeah! Because as soon as that doesn’t exist, then it doesn’t make sense anymore for just a small group of people to live in Silicon Valley
or actually, San Francisco. – Can I just say that
someone who doesn’t study technological capitalism,
that studies cities in which technological capitalism takes root, on one hand we can think
about the forms of enclosure that have been put at
work, an enclosure of the digital commons, but
an enclosure of our cities so I spend much of my academic career in Berkeley and Oakland and San Francisco, and the San Francisco Bay
area has been devastated by technological capitalism. The forms of gentrification
and displacement that have been unleashed,
not just simply by technological capitalism
as in big tech companies, but the state subsidies,
right, to these companies are incredible, and there
are some very important propositions on the ballot,
local propositions on the ballot in San Francisco coming up,
particularly around a tax on tech companies that would help fund shelters for the homeless, and the CEOs of some of our favorite companies, and I’m thoroughly complicit
here because I use Twitter all the time, but the
CEO of Twitter and others have had some of the most
horrible things to say about homeless men and
women, and have taken very strong positions
against any sort of taxation of tech wealth, particularly to help those who are facing housing
precarity and homelessness. So this remains a very real concern, sort of the Silicon
Valley effect, if you will on some of the processes that I was talking about earlier today. – Everyone, I’m gonna
have to wrap it up now. I’ve just had a chance to see the clock. I want to thank everybody
for coming in this evening, as we do every week. I’d like to close the session
and turn to our guests to see if any of you have anything to say as a closing statement,
offer you the opportunity to say something if it
hasn’t been said yet. And otherwise, we will
close the evening out. Is there anything that any
of you would like to… – I guess I just wanted to say
that I’ve been sitting here feeling like the vastness
of the collective inequality and disparity is sometimes overwhelming, and this question of how can we be free until everyone’s free, and
when is that gonna happen, and where is the hope, and I think for me, thinking about my own work,
a lot of it comes out, I’m obsessed with this idea of control and social expectations, and
a lot of that comes out of an experience of when I
was a really young child and I felt coerced into doing something by an older adult, and
ever since just fascinated by this idea that nobody
was holding me down but I felt I had no other options, and so for me sometimes I see myself playing out the same
dynamic, I’m setting up these systems so someone can control me, and I’ve made that kind
of, set this all up for myself in some way. And on one hand, I can
think that it’s twisted and on the other hand I
think, well, I found some way to have some piece of control
back, some kind of agency, even if I’m replaying out these things, to mean I have some hand in it now. So maybe one thing I’ve
been thinking about with all this conversation
is, we absolutely need to keep thinking about how
do these larger system, what role can we play within them and how can we change them? At the same time, how can
you get a handle on something so that you do feel like
you have a sense of power to actually enact the change? – Thank you. Andrea? (audience applauding) – Well there were
question after question of how can we be free, how
can we find freedom, and I was coming to this from
a kind of critical perspective on freedom, that is the forms of freedom and discourses of freedom that
are also highly ideological and partial and have
existed over centuries as forms of privilege. So the important point
of, we can’t be free until everyone’s free, I
was on a panel years ago about censorship that wasn’t
picketed but leafleted by adjunct faculty who
had tried to organize, and I began that statement
by quoting Eugene Debs, the American socialist,
who said famously… Oh god, what did he say? Now I can’t remember. Oh, come on. Oh, don’t do this to me. The last line is, “As long
as there’s a soul in chains, “as long as there’s a man
in chains, I am not free,” but “As long as there is
a lower class, I am of it. “As long as there is a
criminal element, I am in it. “As long as there is a man
in chains, I am not free.” – [Brett] Wow – So I’ll close with that.
(audience applauding) – Seanna or Ananya? – [Seanna] I just want
to say the following. These are such important topics, and I’ve been kind of
urging that we think about more conversation, but the
question that the student asked reminded me of the fact that technology has empowered
conversations between us internationally and
notionally, immediately in ways that were inconceivable
40 or 50 years ago, but it has also created
intense social expectations of certain kinds of immediate exchange, and there’s an argument to be made that the quality of our discourse
has really deteriorated. We write fewer letters,
we write quicker emails, we write 160-character communications, and there’s another side to
the technological capitalism which is that all of these changes were made in a non-democratic way and mostly by companies
for their own profit, and if we’re thinking a little bit about democracy and bringing
democracy to corporations as a way to think about improving
the discourse between us, but more practically, ’cause some of you want a practical thing,
let me just say this. It feels weird that we’ve
been having this conversation about conversations, but (laughing) very few of us in the room have talked. If anyone wants to talk
to me about this stuff, you’re welcome to come to my office hours. They’re on the web, I’d love to meet you and talk to you and hear what you thought. – Thank you. (audience applauding) Thank you. Ananya, any closing? – So, I wanted to end with a
very flawed form of freedom that we live with and
which serves as a premise for this sort of gathering
which is academic freedom and with the ascendance of Mr. 45, I refuse to call him President, I think it’s become
ever more apparent to me that academic freedom
is important, precious. It’s always been thoroughly limited and as I said, deeply
flawed, and yet in many ways the power that we hold is
that of academic freedom, not just those of us
who are tenured faculty but in belonging to
this incredibly powerful knowledge-producing
institution, we are a part of academic freedom, and I would ask us to think about how we use that freedom to make possible wider
projects of freedom. – Perfect, thank you Ananya, thank you. (audience applauding) thank you everybody so much for coming in. Please join me in thanking Seanna, Andrea, Lauren, and Ananya for
coming in this evening, for a terrific conversation. Thank you everybody, we
will see you next Tuesday.

1 thought on “10 Questions — What is FREEDOM?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *