Note: All submitted events must be approved before they appear in the calendar.
Profs and Pints DC presents: “An Unflinching Look at Freedom,” on the complex legacy and untapped potential of the freedom offered by liberal American democracy, with Elisabeth R. Anker, associate professor of American Studies and political science at George Washington University and author of Ugly Freedoms.
Freedom is the highest ideal in American politics, but its legacy is complex. Throughout American history, freedom has supported emancipation and individual liberty while also supporting racism, injustice, and misogyny. Our political tradition embraces “ugly freedoms” that legitimate the right to harm and subjugate others but also offer a means to bring about the flourishing of all people, not just a privileged few.
Come get a much richer and more nuanced understanding of the freedoms that shape our lives with the help of Professor Anker, a scholar of freedom, violence, and power in U.S. politics and culture whose book Ugly Freedoms has been praised as “revelatory.”
She’ll begin with the American revolution. Former colonial subjects liberated themselves from unjust monarchy in a radical act of political freedom, but their liberation was only possible because of their widespread land theft from indigenous peoples, brought about through violent and world-destroying acts of dispossession.
Moving forward, she’ll look at how our nation’s emphasis of individual liberty has always been entangled with white supremacy, settler colonialism, climate destruction, economic exploitation, and patriarchy, and how it factors into our current debates over abortion, vaccination, and gun rights. Many participants in the Jan 6 insurrection, in stating that they had attacked the capitol for “freedom,” were not lying so much as drawing from a rich American tradition of using freedom to justify violence.
On a more optimistic note, Professor Anker will discuss a second, inverse form of ugly freedom found in disparaged practices and discarded spaces of the freedoms reflexively deemed ideal. Defying familiar boundaries of free expression, she’ll locate emergent freedoms in uninspiring, compromised, and disturbing acts otherwise dismissed as demeaning, gross, or ineffectual, such as looting, bureaucratic sloth, awkward sex, collective eyerolls, and radical sabotage. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. Please allow yourself time to place any orders and get seated and settled in.)
Image: The Statue of Liberty against an angry sky. (Cropped) photo by Richard J. Woodland / Wikimedia Commons.