Welcome to this blog in which we – that is, some of the members of the organising committee of the Changing Worlds conferences that took place in Vienna in 2014 and 2015 – try to sketch some of our efforts at making the conference as accessible as possible.
We don’t claim to have all the answers – in fact, we still have many questions ourselves, and we strongly believe that many of the issues we raise in this blog can’t be addressed in ‘dos and don’ts lists’, but involve tensions and decisions between conflicting needs.
What we hope to achieve with this project, however, is sharing some of the thoughts we had and decisions we made in organising our conferences. We hope that these thoughts may help you – whether you are organising some sort of event yourself, thinking about doing so, or something else completely.
Considering that we believe all these decisions that we made in organising our conference to be fundamentally based in specific views on the world, we want to lay out some of the background to the conferences that we believe to be relevant.
First, Changing Worlds was intended to provide an inclusive forum for exchange, discussion, and collaboration among artists, academics, activists, and other people. We hoped to foster an atmosphere that values and respects the different perspectives and approaches resulting from people’s varied backgrounds, and intended to challenge hierarchical perspectives on knowledge by establishing and investigating relationships between them. We also organised the conferences from the assumption that the world(s) we live in could do with changes in what might be called a ‘progressive’ direction.
It should be noted here that the assumptions and goals that went into the second conference differed quite significantly from those of the first instalment, e.g. in terms of a much stronger focus on transdisciplinary engagements between artists, activists, and academics. We expect the next instalment of the conference to see further changes, as team members, ideas, and expectations change over time.
Our individual backgrounds and perspectives were relatively varied. We shared a commitment to broadly liberatory politics and practices, often informed by a queer feminist approach. We were all white and students. The organising committee spanned a range of different genders and sexualities, including some beyond male/female and heterosexual/homosexual. Some of us had experienced and/or still experience disabilities and mental health issues. Many of us work(ed) to be able to study at university. Our team members were among other things shop clerks, programmers, journalists, translators, graphic designers, and research assistants. Our academic backgrounds included Science & Technology Studies, Sociology, Cultural and Social Anthropology, Philosophy, Journalism and Communication Studies, Political Science, Computer Science, Linguistics, and Gender & Sexuality Studies. Some of us planned to pursue an academic career. Some of us engaged in activist work. Some of us were hackerspace members. Some of us made art, and some of us were musicians.
While we actively worked towards not remaining stuck in our various structural and personal positions (after all, our biographies had as much impact on our perspectives as our demographics), the backgrounds laid out above enabled us to see certain issues more clearly than others.
In any case, we hope that you will find the thoughts collected on this website helpful, and we welcome your opinion, either in the comments or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Angela, Boka, Mercedes and Victoria