Statement of Purpose

Statement of Purpose

NAASN Statement of Purpose (January 2010 Draft)

What Are We For?

The North American Anarchist Studies Network (NAASN) is intended

  1. to serve as a means of mutual support for North American anarchists engaged in intellectual work, both theoretical and empirical;
  2. to facilitate and promote anarchist studies by bringing together students, academics, independent scholars, and activists from across the United States, Canada, and Mexico; and
  3. to provide a space for critical dialogue and reflection on anarchism.

What Is Anarchist Studies?

We understand "anarchist studies" as research, scholarship, education, and theorization that is

a.) about anarchism (e.g., studies of the past, present, and possible futures of anarchist thought and practice), and/or

b.) informed by anarchism (developing distinctly anarchist scholarly practices, methods of study, epistemologies, ways of knowing).

What Is Anarchism?

We understand anarchism, in general terms, as the practice of equality and freedom in every sphere of life -- life conceived and lived without domination in any form; we understand this practice to belong not only to a better future but to the here and now, where we strive to prefigure our ends in the means we choose to reach them. As such, anarchism is a distinct tradition with a specific history, rooted in the aspirations and experiences of a particular working-class movement; at the same time, it is a set of principles and possibilities that are the property of no one movement, no one thinker, and no one place or time. The many ways in which these principles have been interpreted and these possibilities realized may serve us as a continuing source of inspiration; articulating the unity within this plurality, lending it greater coherence, may be part of our continuing task.

What Is Intellectual Work?

We understand intellectual work here in terms other than "vanguardist notions of intellectual practice" (Graeber and Shukaitis) and broader than those sanctioned by officialdom and academia. It can include scholarship in a traditional sense, within and across the norms of academic disciplines; it can also include a wide variety of projects of inquiry and education, sometimes conducted under names such as "transformative studies," "militant research," "participatory action-research," and so on. We refuse the separation of intellectual and manual labor and insist that everyone has the capacity and right to share and create knowledge.

Who Is NAASN For?

Although many of us engage in anarchist studies from within existing institutions, such as universities, we do not see our projects as confined to those institutions, and we are committed to making sure that they do not share the limitations of official academia. As such, membership in the NAASN is open to all, regardless of academic affiliation or lack thereof.

While we are primarily committed to anarchist studies, in the spirit of mutual aid, we also invite the participation of anarchist intellectual workers whose intellectual work is not in this area.

What Will We Do?

To these ends, members of the NAASN will

  • hold a yearly North American Anarchist Studies conference,
  • organize Working Groups around our specific interests,
  • pursue collaboration with other groups and institutions sharing our purposes, and
  • provide a platform for other projects consistent with our purposes.