THE DEMOCRACY LAB

Interdisciplinary Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities

University of California, Berkeley

Chochenyo Ohlone Unceded Land

Performance and Populism: mobilization, popular power and embodiments 
an international conference online Nov 3-5, 2021

Keynote roundtable:CommunE: Mobilizing popular power from geo-political souths 

Moderator: Rebecca Struch (University of California - Berkeley)

This keynote roundtable brings together activists, artists, and scholars from a variety of geo-political souths to consider the notions of popular power and the commune in relation to populism. Panelists will engage expansively with both the commune and acts of communing as practices of embodied, political mobilization that radicalize democracy and build popular power. Panelists will first share briefly about an aspect of their work in relation to conference themes. The remainder of the roundtable discussion will address what it means to think and act from geo-political souths, and will consider the role of cultural and communal practices in the development of leftist political formations.

Charlie R. Braxton is a noted poet, playwright and cultural critic from Mississippi. His feature articles, essays and reviews on various aspects of hip hop culture in publications such as Beatdown, 4080, Blaze, The Source, Rap Pages, One World, Rime Magazine, Code of the Street (UK), The Pound (Canada), Bbarak Magazine (Czech Republic), One More Robot (Ireland) Rap Sheet, Vibe, XXL, Scratch and Murderdog Magazine. Braxton is the author of three volumes of verse, Ascension from the Ashes (Blackwood Press 1991), Cinder's Rekindled (Jawara Press 2013) and Embers Among the Ashes: Poems in a Haiku Manner (Jawara 2018). In addition, his poems have appeared in numerous literary publications such as African American Review, Cutbanks, Drumvoices Review, Black Magnolias, The Minnesota Review, The San Fernando Poetry Journal, The Black Nation, Massiffe, Candle, Transnational Literary Magazine, Eyeball, Sepia Poetry Review, Specter Magazine and The San Fernando Poetry Journal. Braxton has written two plays. His first play, Artist Doesn't Live Here Anymore was mounted by The Acting Company of Tougaloo in 1984. His second play, Bluesman has been anthologized in the book, Mississippi Writers: Reflections on Childhood and Youth Volume IV, Edited by Dorothy Abbott, University Press of Mississippi (July 1, 1991).

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson is an Affrilachian (Black Appalachian) woman from the working class, born and raised in Southeast Tennessee. She is the first Black woman to serve as Co-Executive Director of the Highlander Research & Education Center in New Market, TN. As a member of multiple leadership teams in the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), Ash-Lee has thrown down on the Vision for Black Lives and the BREATHE Act. Ash-Lee has served on the governance council of the Southern Movement Assembly, the advisory committee of the National Bailout Collective, and is an active leader of The Frontline. She is a long-time activist who has done work in movements fighting for workers, for reproductive justice, for LGBTQUIA+ folks, for environmental justice, and more.

Geo Maher is a Philadelphia-based writer, organizer, and educator, who has taught at Vassar College, San Quentin State Prison, and the Venezuelan School of Planning in Caracas. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Global Centre for Advanced Studies (GCAS) and has held visiting positions at the College of William and Mary, NYU's Hemispheric Institute, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). He is co-editor of the Duke University Press series Radical Américas, and author of six books: We Created Chávez (Duke, 2013), Building the Commune (Verso, 2016), Decolonizing Dialectics (Duke, 2017), A World Without Police (Verso, 2021), Anticolonial Eruptions (University of California, 2022), and Spirals of Revolt (Common Notions, 2022).

Meyby Soraya Ugueto-Ponce is Afro-Venezuelan, from Caracas, and descendant of free black peoples of Curiepe and La Sabana. She is a researcher and militant in the areas of Afro-diasporic political identities in colonial and postcolonial contexts, and their articulation with religion, the body, food, and social memory. She is also an interpreter, teacher, and researcher of Venezuelan traditional dance. Ugueto-Ponce directs the project "Trama Danza", Collective for Research and Promotion of Afrodiasporic Dances. She is an activist in "Trenzas Insurgentes," a collective of Black, Afro-Venezuelan, and Afro-descendant women. She currently co-coordinates Collaborative Project: Flavors of Afro Memory, which considers race, diet, identity and history of the African diaspora.