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April 27, 2019
10:00 am – 7:00 pm

We live in a world where nine countries have the power to steal time, resources, health and even life from anyone else at the push of a button, as Nobel Laureate Beatrice Fihn stresses in her advocacy against nuclear weapons. Ongoing human and environmental exposure to radiation robs communities of a “right to a future.” If futures can be stolen, what other material or figurative objects emerge as takeable or desirable? By whom and through what means? At what moment?

This April, we invite scholars, activists and artists to parse out the materialities of dis/possession, the sensibilities of imperial justice, and the embodied and entangled cartographies of violence and insurgency with the following provocation: what is Theft?  

As an analytic lens, Theft calls into question concepts such as sovereignty, subjecthood, and justice. We can identify theftual relations in the placement of objects in museums; the process of gentrification; the trafficking of  bodies; the fast-fashion industry; moments when cultural appreciation becomes cultural appropriation; and debates surrounding copyright infringement. How does theftuality change through time? Does retrospectively identifying the object as stolen challenge the legitimacy of its current ownership? What does theft do? Is compensating for past thefts possible? What are appropriate uses of the public domain, or the digital commons?How does technology make us capable of subversions while rendering us vulnerable to new and increasingly elusive forms of theft? How can an “anthropology of subterfuges” address these ubiquitous hidden spaces of theft?

Recognizing theftuality as the center of such inquiries allows us to put the efforts of scholars, artists and activists working to tackle these diverse issues in dialogue. We invite as broad a spectrum of participants as possible to enrich the questions we ask about the ever-present state of dispossession that we find ourselves in.

9:30 Breakfast — Anthropology Department Lounge, 9th Floor
9:45 Opening remarks — Anthropology Department Lounge
10:00 Panel Session #1:
– – – Theft of Bodies – Room 908
– – – Theft of Space – Room 910
11:30 Icaros: A Vision film screening — Room 1009
– – – Q&A with Producer Prof. Abou Farman (New School for Social Research)
1:30 Lunch — Anthropology Department Lounge
2:15 Keynote + Q&A — Room 1009
– – – Prof. Jean Jackson (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
3:15 Workshop on Open Access Publishing — Room 1009
– – – Emily Drabinski (City University of New York)
4:15 Coffee Break — Anthropology Department Lounge
4:30 Panel Session #2:
– – – Theft of Futures – Room 908
– – – Theft of Values – Room 910
6:00 Closing Remarks — Anthropology Department Lounge
6:15 Reception — Anthropology Department Lounge
– – – Music from Olawumi
Plus Ongoing Art Exhibitions on the 9th Floor

“Stealing Culture”
Professor Jean Jackson (MIT)

Prof. Jean Jackson has studied indigenous mobilizing in Colombia since the 1980s, at first focusing on the Amazon region, later on expanding to national and transnational levels.  Her recent work examines official multiculturalism and indigenous and human rights-claiming in the Latin American context.  Her talk considers the question, what assumptions about culture are embedded in the notion of “stealing culture”?  Two examples of reindigenization in Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, provide ethnographic grounding.

Emily Drabinski (CUNY) will run a workshop on creating, engaging with, and using open access resources and platforms.

Emily Drabinski is a Critical Pedagogy Librarian at the Mina Rees Library at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She also serves as liaison to the School of Labor and Urban Studies as well as a number of other masters and doctoral programs at the university.

Her research interests include critical approaches to information literacy instruction, gender and sexuality in librarianship, and the intersections of power and library systems and structures. She is series editor for Gender and Sexuality in Information Studies from Library Juice Press/Litwin Books and sit on the board of Radical Teacher.

Check out more of her work on her Twitter!

We are excited to announce that THEFT will feature a screening of the film Icaros: A Vision by Leonor Caraballo and Matteo Norzi, followed by a Q&A with Prof. Abou Farman.

Watch the trailer below.

THEFT promises to bring together participants from a diverse range of backgrounds and disciplines. The conference will have a strong arts component, including exhibitions of portfolios, multimedia projects, and musical performance.

We look forward to welcoming local artist Olawumi, who will perform a short set prior to the reception, ending our academic day with the opportunity to come together through music.

Check out Olawumi’s video ‘Alone’!


Anthro Lounge (9th floor)

6 E 16th St

The New School