A View of the 1st LA Anarchist Bookfair

Panel on Anarcha-Feminism

This last weekend, on Saturday I went to the first annual Los Angeles Anarchist Bookfair at the Southern California Library. I’ve been to a few Anarchist Bookfairs up north in San Francisco, so I was very interested in seeing how this would turn out.  I couldn’t make it to all the workshops/panels but I did make it to a few.

More after the jump.

The turn out was much more than anticipated, I gather, because one really did have to navigate through a small sea of people just to go anywhere.  Lines to get into workshops? I was happily surprised.  Also, quite notably the bookfair was organized by Anarchist People of Color and the schedule of workshops/discussion/panels really did show this reality.  Most often the events of any given anarchist gathering can be copy-and-pasted from one into another by their monotony and sometimes their dated-ness.  Here I felt I was hearing critical, modern voices that reflected Los Angeles & its people.

Here are the workshops/discussions I attended:

  • Latin American Radical Movements
  • APOC caucus
  • Rethinking National Liberation-Punjab as Case Analysis
  • Indigenous Resistance & Self Determination

All really did present new & different ideas, collectives, and movements I wasn’t even aware existed.  They challenged what I thought, such as the Punjab workshop where Harjit Singh Gill gave a compelling argument to abandon the typical anarchist’s ambivalence towards national liberation struggles due to their Statist nature.

The APOC (Anarchist People of Color) caucus did not have much time to get really going but it proved that there is a want/need for some sort of network for Anarchist people of color in the LA area.  Some networking went down, as well as people sharing where they’re from & how they were politicized.  A common theme showed that for APOC, politicization was not purely through books or college courses but by real-life lived experiences.  We have no choice but to realize our position in this society.  I hope more comes from this caucus soon.

The discussion on Latin American Radical Movements opened an eye into much history that I was not aware of:  Whether it was women collectives in Bolivia challenging  homophobia and patriarchy through their radical street art and more, or how in many ways the momentum of radical movements of Latin America are being coopted by “legitimate” leftist governments.

I was not present for all of the Indigenous Resistance workshop but my time there was framed by the speakers right assertion that we must realize that we are on land that was once someone’s indigenous homes.  What looks like an asphalt-covered metropolis was once a sacred place to people who have been here longer than the European incursion into this region.

I made my way in & out of other rooms and heard some enheartening and sometimes disenhearting things.  Sometimes I could feel people be disrespectul and downright rude.  Yes, the workshops were not on schedule but they got done.  There were also no cops & as far as I know no real negative events.  All in all, I’d definitely come to another even like these.  My many thanks and respect for the individuals that were involved in making this happen.

12 thoughts on “A View of the 1st LA Anarchist Bookfair

  1. I was there too. I was super impressed. I definitely want to express my gratitude to the organizers, who pulled off such an interesting, fun, and important event. I would go again absolutely.

  2. I liked it and since me gushing praise would be preaching to the choir on this blog I will give some constructive criticism.

    I thought it was woman light. I also didn’t like that women seemed to be in the feminist, let’s talk about sex ghetto. I think there should be an active push to get women talking about issues other than “women” issues, because this is anarchism. Anarchism is supposed to be about releasing the chains on the ruling class, so why should we do things the same way just with a few more men of color and some patchouli.

    Don’t get me wrong. I liked it. I was very impressed, but I feel that should be stated.


    “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution!” –Emma Goldman

  3. Browne, this is a valid critique and one that applies to the anarchist scene in general. Frankly, it’s something I’ve always had a problem with. I’ve always thought if you are throwing out the ideas of traditional values/roles out the window, why perpetuate these roles by focusing on them exclusively?
    In any case, it was great to see so many people there including lots of people I would never see at the Bay Area Bookfair. I heard from a couple of people that the security was a little intimidating but maybe the organizers had their reasons.

  4. The reason feminism exists in the first place is due to its overwhelming need. This overwhelming need arises because of the oppressive presence of patriarchy in our everyday lives. To ignore “women’s issues” in order to focus more on “important” issues of overthrowing the state and capitalism is not anarchism, its just sexism veiled in activism.

  5. Liz I’m slightly confused at your response. Is it a general response or a response to me?

    If it is to me I say this, I don’t want to ignore feminism. I don’t, but I don’t think you can have an event and then relegate women to ONLY talk about feminism, that’s not ok.

    Feminism isn’t talking it’s doing. When you say as a woman I can only talk about one topic you are oppressing me.

    I’m a feminist, but I can talk on economics, sociology, pop culture, the environment etc…

    Feminism to me is about being inclusive. If I had a panel on feminism I would have it 50% men, because I don’t want to do things the way oppressive people do thing. To me the answer is not giving me the boots to oppress, to me the answer is giving me the opportunity to destroy the game so that we can all play.

    I’m not a big fan of dividing up movements.

    I’m not a big fan of compartmentalizing issues. I think it’s stupid and unproductive. It’s needed in the beginning when you begin your journey but that’s for building up confidence in oppressed people it does nothing to illicit real change. Well that’s my opinion.

    Feminism is not just talking about birth control and how freeing it is to have sex in different positions and I think somewhere along the way some of us sort of lost the focus of the point of feminism which is that everyone has value, women, men, transgendered latino, black, white, asian, etc…to me feminism isn’t feminism but “humanism” we are all humans that deserve respect.


  6. To me a true event that is inclusive to women would make an effort to have women representation. Everything should try to include all members of our society even if you have to go to women and go, “Hey we’re having this and we need your voice.”

    I don’t like events, media, shows etc that try to show their diversity by putting up one woman, one person of color, one gay person etc…that to me is nothing. That to me is tokenism. Who wants to be a token?

    When you have a token, you put up that token and then the old boys club goes back to doing what they want. And tokens that know there place are the worse kinds of tokens. And knowing your place is doing the job that the people in charge gave you, you know your job is to be that token to trot out so people can’t say we’re sexist, or racist or classist and they they hold you up as proof. No need to have a discussion with the people in charge the token just gets put out there to do it for them so therefore a discussion or change never takes place. How convienient.

    Yes this is hard, but eventually when people are always included in a real way then it becomes normal and it will become real.

    Reaching out is hardwork, but people who are oppressing people are working hard and they are working hard to continue to oppress and exclude people.

    Remember by any means possible. You don’t fight for people you invite people.


  7. I was at the feminist panel and I’m a male. I had no problem with the first few rows being reserved for females(any that wanted to sit there). It was like putting them up on a panel along with the speakers. They wanted women to speak out. They also let men, including me, speak at the mic. And the continued discussion upstairs was about half male, half female in participation.

  8. “Life is struggle, struggle is life”
    –Frederick Douglass

    As a former slave, Douglass fought for his freedom from slavery on two levels: At the individual level and at the structural level. I’m afraid some of the comments above fall into an individual reductionist analysis. This kind of thinking is a hegemonic master narrative in the myth of the “American Dream”: it assumes that the lives and actions of individuals exist outside any social-politico-historical context.

    Slavery, patriarchy, coloniality of power, etc. are part and parcel of the world-system in the early 21st century…that is, until we, as revolutionary autonomist peoples build something new. I believe that time is coming, real soon.

    Let us keep our eye on the prize: yes, we as individuals need to make changes and claim our agency. Yet, let us not forget the structures of power (specially in this gendered global apartheid). There is however, a dialectical relationship between structures and agency. As xicana scholar-activist Emma Perez reminds us in her Decolonial Imaginary (1999), the decolonization of physic space also requires the killing of your colonizer(s) in the flesh.

    revolutionary kisses, Jose.

  9. I’ve read some things about the fair. I want to say that my comments had absolutely nothing to do with the feminist panel. It was a general statement. I was not at the feminist panel (I was not there for the whole day) and if I had and did not agree with it I would have been very clear when I had stated that. So if anyone thought I was directly talking about them I want you to know I had know idea that you were part of that panel and I would never come at you in a sneaky bullshit cowardly kind of a way. I would be upfront with you.

    Lets remember to be open, when you try to be polite then we end up hurting each other more in the longterm.


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