syllabus ⦚ Pirate Care
topic ⦚ Introduction to Pirate Care


This Introduction gives an overview of the main questions and concerns voiced by the expression ‘pirate care’, which also the gathering principle for bringing together the different knowledges, techniques and tools shared in this collective syllabus.

Pirate Care primarily considers the assumption that we live in a time in which care, understood as a political and collective capacity of society, is becoming increasingly defunded, discouraged and criminalised. Neoliberal policies have for the last two decades re-organised the basic care provisions that were previously considered cornerstones of democratic life - healthcare, housing, access to knowledge, right to asylum, freedom of mobility, social benefits, etc. - turning them into tools for surveilling, excluding and punishing the most vulnerable. The name Pirate Care refers to those initiatives that have emerged in opposition to such political climate by self-organising technologically-enabled care & solidarity networks.

On the Concept of Pirate Care

Punitive neoliberalism (Davies, 2016)1 has been repurposing, rather than dismantling, welfare state provisions such as healthcare, income support, housing and education (Cooper, 2017: 314)2. This mutation is reintroducing ‘poor laws’ of a colonial flavour, deepening the lines of discrimination between citizens and non-citizens (Mitropoulos, 2012: 27)3, and reframing the family unit as the sole bearer of responsibility for dependants.

Against this background of institutionalised ‘negligence’ (Harney & Moten, 2013: 31)4, a growing wave of mobilizations around care can be witnessed across a number of diverse examples: the recent Docs Not Cops campaign in the UK, refusing to carry out documents checks on migrant patients; migrant-rescue boats (such as those operated by Sea-Watch) that defy the criminalization of NGOs active in the Mediterranean; and the growing resistance to homelessness via the reappropriation of houses left empty by speculators (like PAH in Spain); the defiance of legislation making homelessness illegal (such as Hungary’s reform of October 2018) or municipal decrees criminalizing helping out in public space (e.g. Food Not Bombs’ volunteers arrested in 2017).

On the other hand, we can see initiatives experimenting with care as collective political practices have to operate in the narrow grey zones left open between different technologies, institutions and laws in an age some fear is heading towards ‘total bureaucratization’ (Graeber, 2015: 30)5. For instance, in Greece, where the bureaucratic measures imposed by the Troika decimated public services, a growing number of grassroots clinics set up by the Solidarity Movement have responded by providing medical attention to those without a private insurance. In Italy, groups of parents without recourse to public childcare are organizing their own pirate kindergartens (Soprasotto), reviving a feminist tradition first experimented with in the 1970s. In Spain, the feminist collective GynePunk developed a biolab toolkit for emergency gynaecological care, to allow all those excluded from the reproductive medical services  -  such as trans or queer women, drug users and sex workers  - to perform basic checks on their own bodily fluids. Elsewhere, the collective Women on Waves delivers abortion pills from boats harboured in international waters - and more recently, via drones - to women in countries where this option is illegal.

Thus pirate care, seen in the light of these processes - choosing illegality or existing in the grey areas of the law in order to organize solidarity - takes on a double meaning: Care as Piracy and Piracy as Care (Graziano, 2018)6.

There is a need to revisit piracy and its philosophical implications - such as sharing, openness, decentralization, free access to knowledge and tools (Hall, 2016)7 - in the light of transformations in access to social goods brought about by digital networks. It is important to bring into focus the modes of intervention and political struggle that collectivise access to welfare provisions as acts of custodianship (, 2015)8 and commoning (Caffentzis & Federici, 2014)9. As international networks of tinkerers and hackers are re-imagining their terrain of intervention, it becomes vital to experiment with a changed conceptual framework that speaks of the importance of the digital realm as a battlefield for the re-appropriation of the means not only of production, but increasingly, of social reproduction (Gutiérrez Aguilar et al., 2016)10. More broadly, media representations of these dynamics - for example in experimental visual arts and cinema - are of key importance. Bringing the idea of pirate ethics into resonance with contemporary modes of care thus invites different ways of imagining a paradigm change, sometimes occupying tricky positions vis-à-vis the law and the status quo.

The present moment requires a non-oppositional and nuanced approach to the mutual implications of care and technology (Mol et al., 2010: 14)11, stretching the perimeters of both. And so, while the seminal definition of care distilled by Joan Tronto and Berenice Fisher sees it as ‘everything that we do to maintain, continue, and repair “our world” so that we can live in it as well as possible’ (Tronto & Fisher, 1990: 40)12, contemporary feminist materialist scholars such as Maria Puig de La Bellacasa feel the need to modify these parameters to include ‘relations [that] maintain and repair a world so that humans and non-humans can live in it as well as possible in a complex life-sustaining web’ (Puig de La Bellacasa, 2017: 97)13. It is in this spirit that we propose to examine how can we learn to compose (Stengers, 2015)14 answers to crises across a range of social domains, and alongside technologies and care practices.

If confronting the unequal provision of care has long been a focus of progressive political organising, today’s hyper-interconnected and heavily exhausted world calls for radical approaches and tools for militant caring that, while might not provide readymade, one-size-fits-all answers, might allow us to prefigure different forms of co-inhabitation on this planet. Pirate Care is therefore interested in researching how to re-conceive care provisions across the tensions between autonomous organising and state institutions, between insurgent politics and commoning, and between holistic and scientific methods.

A Pirate Care Syllabus: why, how and with whom?

A point of entry into the practices of pirate care for us is pedagogy - how these practices can be taught and studied with fellow pirate care practitioners, activist communities and beyond. To that end, we have started building a collaborative online syllabus on Pirate Care, covering each practice through a dedicated topic and a number of sessions that are concrete proposals for learning. Our vision that such a syllabus is technologically architected so that it can be easily adapted to different contexts and activated by interested groups elsewhere to collectively learn from it.

This syllabus was inspired by the recent phenomenon of crowdsourced online syllabi generated within social justice movements (see below). In November 2019 we held a writing retreat to create the first version of a pirate care syllabus. We were hosted by the cultural centre Drugo More and supported via the Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020 programme. The contributors were: Laura Benítez Valero, Emina Bužinkić, Rasmus Fleischer, Maddalena Fragnito, Valeria Graziano, Mary Maggic, Iva Marčetić, Marcell Mars, Tomislav Medak, Memory of the World, Power Makes Us Sick (PMS), Zoe Romano, Ivory Tuesday, Ana Vilenica.

The different topics covered were written by practitioners active across a number of pressing issues, including: feminist approaches to reproductive healthcare; autonomous mental health support; trans health and well-being; free access to knowledge; housing struggles; collective childcare; the right to free mobility; migrant solidarity; community safety and anti-racist organising.

We worked through group discussions; sharing of texts, materials and zines; presentations and workshops (including one on how to use gitlab and one on making baskets with pine needles); informal conversations, cooking for each other and walking together; playing karaoke and telepathy games; mutual feedback and friendship that carried on in the following months. Two more topics were developed with the support of Kunsthalle Wien (March-April 2020) with Chris Grodotzki & Morana Miljanović from Sea-Watch and with Cassie Thornton, addressing migrant rescue in the Mediterranean and a model for autonomously organizing peer-to-peer care at scale.

Work on syllabus is the extension of the Memory of the World shadow library and it espouses a certain technopolitics. We have developed an online publishing framework allowing collaborative writing, remixing and maintaining of the syllabus. We want the syllabus to be ready for easy preservation and come integrated with a well-maintained and catalogued collection of learning materials. To achieve this, our syllabus is built from plaintext documents that are written in a very simple and human-readable Markdown markup language, rendered into a static HTML website that doesn’t require a resource-intensive and easily breakable database system, and which keeps its files on a git version control system that allows collaborative writing and easy forking to create new versions. Such a syllabus can be then equally hosted on an internet server and used/shared offline from a USB stick.

In summer 2020, the Pirate Care Syllabus was supposed to be activated through a summer camp on the island of Cres, as part of Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020 programme Dopolavoro(HR). This was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A Collective Statement

These below are some shared statements that emerged from the collective process building the first version of the syllabus:

  • Ours is inevitably as a partial group, who came together in a supportive context, but who also faced a limited amount of time in co-presence. The contributors did not all know each other in advance and we do not form a stable community in the everyday. Our composition reflects the limits of the resources, relationships and awareness available to the organisers and the participants, as well as their commitments and stakes. We do not represent others nor share a unified political position; however we worked in such a way as to allow differences to remain generative and inform different topics and sessions in the syllabus, which were therefore not ‘unified’ in style.

  • Many issues are under-represented here. We started to write from our practices and from our situated knowledges and experiences. We hope that the syllabus might become a useful tool for others who might want to add new topics and perspectives to it in the future.

  • Language is a technology that needs to be decolonized. While we strive to write for accessibility, we are conscious of our educational and professional biases in using and modulating the way we use language. We are aware our common language was English and that this leaves out a number of other possibilities of communication. Whenever we felt this was important, we have included some references in other languages in the first version of the syllabus.

  • Writing for an online imagined reader is a challenging task because it does not allow to speak to specific persons and collectives immersed in actual circumstances. The question ‘who are we speaking with’ in the case of an online syllabus becomes very tricky to answer. Our approach has been to write as if to friends with whom we share key ethical and political values, but who might not be familiar yet with the specific crafts of care we practice or with the background data and knowledge that inform our actions.

  • The specificity and partiality of our composition is also reflected on the resources we reference. Most texts are from Western academe or activist spaces. We are committed to address this and learn from others in an ongoing efforts to diversify our sources and imaginaries.

  • We encourage everyone to freely use this syllabus to learn and organise processes of learning and to freely adapt, rewrite and expand it to reflect their own experience and serve their own pedagogies. We do not believe that the current licence system supports the world we want to live in, and that is a world in which knowledge is not privatized. However, the current system automatically copyrights our work, so we state here that all the original writing contained in this syllabus is under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0), Public Domain Dedication, No Copyright. This means that: “The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law. You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.”

  • We encourage you to get in touch, to learn together, to organise, assist and act collectively. Lets mirror each other in solidarity.

On Making a Syllabus: technopolitical pedagogies

On the technological and technopolitical side, developing tools and workflows for syllabus is an extension of our work on the Memory of the World shadow library. As amateur librarians we want to provide a universal public access to a meticulously maintained catalogue of digital texts, making available those texts that are behind paywalls or are not digitised yet. (It is worth noting that shadow libraries themselves are a pirate care practice: in contravention of the copyright regulation, they are assisting readers across a highly unequal world of education and research.) With the tools and workflows for the syllabus we want to offer social movements a technological framework and pedagogical process that helps them transform their shared analysis of present confrontations and reflections on past mobilisations into a learning material that can be used to help others learn from their knowledge.

The technological framework that we are developing should allow other similar movements to avail themselves of these syllabi freely in their own learning processes. But also to adapt them to their own situation and the groups they work with. We want that the syllabi can be easily preserved, that they include digitised documents relevant to the actions of these social movements, and that they come integrated with well-maintained and catalogued collections of reading materials. That means that we don’t want that they go defunct once the dependencies for that Wordpress installation get broken, that the links to resources lead to file-not-found pages or that adapting them requires a painstaking copy&paste process.

To address these concerns, we have made certain technological choices. A syllabus in our framework is built from plaintext documents that are written in a very simple and human-readable Markdown markup language, rendered into a static HTML website that doesn’t require a resource-intensive and easily breakable database system, and which keeps its files on a git version control system that allows collaborative writing and easy forking to create new versions out of the existing syllabi. This makes it easy for a housing struggles initiative in Berlin to fork a syllabus which we have initially developed with a housing struggles initiative in London and adapt it to their own context and needs. Such a syllabus can be then equally hosted on an internet server and used/shared offline from a USB stick, while still preserving the internal links between the documents and the links to the texts in the accompanying searchable resource collection.

The Pirate Care Syllabus is the first syllabus that we’ll bring to a completion. It has provided us both with an opportunity to work with the practitioners to document a range of pirate care practices and with a process to develop the technological framework.

Online Syllabi & Social Justice Movements

In putting together a collective pirate care syllabus, open to new contributions and remixes, we were inspired, alongside many other popular education initiatives, by the recent phenomenon of hashtag syllabi (or, simply, #syllabi) connected with social justice movements, many of which are U.S. based and emerging from anti-racist struggles led by Black American and feminist activists.

For an introduction to the phenomenon online syllabi, see the text: ‘Learning from the #Syllabus, Graziano, V., Mars, M. and Medak, T., in State Machines: Reflections and Actions at the Edge of Digital Citizenship, Finance, and Art. Institute of Network Cultures, 2019.

Here is a few examples of such crowdsourced online syllabi:


In August 2014, Michael Brown, an 18 year old boy living in Ferguson, Missouri, was shot to death by police officer Darren Wilson. Soon after this episode, as the civil protests denouncing police brutality and institutional racism begun to mount across the US, Dr. Marcia Chatelain, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at Georgetown University, launched an online call urging other academics and teachers ‘to devote the first day of class to hold a conversation about Ferguson’ and ‘to recommend texts, collaborate on conversation starters, and inspire dialogue about some aspect of the Ferguson crisis’ (Chatelain, 2014). Chatelain did so using the hashtag #FergusonSyllabus.


In August 2014, using the hashtag #gamergate to coordinate, groups of users on 4Chan, 8Chan, Twitter and Reddit instigated a misogynistic harassment campaign against game developers Zoë Quinn and Brianna Wu, media critic Anita Sarkeesian, as well as a number of other female and feminist game producers, journalists and critics. In the following weeks, The New Inquiry editors and contributors compiled a reading list and issued a call for suggestions.


In June 2015, Donald Trump announced his candidacy to become President of the United States. In the weeks after he became the presumptive Republican nominee, The Chronicle of Higher Education introduced the syllabus ‘Trump 101’ The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016). Historians N.D.B Connolly and Keisha N. Blain found ‘Trump 101’ inadequate, ‘a mock college syllabus… suffer[ing] from a number of egregious omissions and inaccuracies’, failing to include ‘contributions of scholars of color and address the critical subjects of Trump’s racism, sexism, and xenophobia’. They assembled the ‘Trump Syllabus 2.0’.

  • Trump 101 by The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Trump Syllabus 2.0 This course, assembled by historians N. D. B. Connolly and Keisha N. Blain, includes suggested readings and other resources from more than one hundred scholars in a variety of disciplines. The course explores Donald Trump’s rise as a product of the American lineage of racism, sexism, nativism, and imperialism.
  • A collection of suggested assignments to accompany Trump Syllabus 2.0 from the website of the African American Intellectual History Society.

RAPE CULTURE SYLLABUS Soon after, in 2016, in response to a video in which Trump engaged in ‘an extremely lewd conversation about women’ with TV host Billy Bush, Laura Ciolkowski put together a ‘Rape Culture Syllabus’.


August 2015 also saw the trending of #BlkWomenSyllabus and #SayHerNameSyllabus on Twitter. The hashtag #BlkWomenSyllabus began when the historian Daina Ramey Berry, PhD tweeted on August 11 “given #CharnesiaCorley time 4 #blkwomensyllabus…”. Charnesia Corley, a 21-year-old black female Texas resident, was pulled over at a Texaco gas station on June 21, 2015, accused of running a stop sign. After the deputy allegedly smelled marijuana coming from Corley’s car, the woman was forced to remove her clothing, bend over and later was held face down to the ground as police officers probed her vagina while forcing her legs open. #SayHerName is an activist movement that strives to end brutality and anti-Black violence of Black women and girls by the police. The #SayHerName movement is designed to acknowledge the ways in which police brutality disproportionally affect Black women, including Black girls, queer Black women and trans Black women. #SayHerName, coined as a call to action in February 2015 by the Africa American Policy Forum, was created alongside #BlackLivesMatter, which was created as a response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Black teen, Trayvon Martin. #SayHerName gained attention following the death of Sandra Bland, a Black woman found dead in custody of police, in July 2015.


On April 12, 2015, Baltimore Police Department officers arrested Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American resident of Baltimore, Maryland, who died in police custody on April 19, 2015, a week after his arrest. Protests were organized after Gray’s death became public knowledge, amid the police department’s continuing inability to adequately or consistently explain the events following the arrest and the injuries.


In April 2016, members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe established the Sacred Stone Camp and started the protest against The Dakota Access Pipeline, whose construction threatened the only water supply at the Standing Rock Reservation. The protest at the pipeline site became the largest gathering of native Americans over the past 100 years and earned significant international support for their ReZpect our Water campaign. As the struggle between protestors and armed forces unfolded, a group of indigenous scholars, activists and settler / PoC supporters, gathered under the name The NYC Stands for Standing Rock Committee, put together the #StandingRockSyllabus (NYC Stands for Standing Rock Committee, 2016).


This is a crowd-sourced assemblage of materials relating to Confederate and other racist monuments to white supremacy; the history and theory of these monuments and monuments in general; and monument struggles worldwide.


#CharlestonSyllabus (Charleston Syllabus), is a Twitter movement and crowdsourced syllabus using the hashtag #CharlestonSyllabus to compile a list of reading recommendations relating to the history of racial violence in the United States. It was created in response to the race-motivated violence in Charleston, South Carolina on the evening of June 17, 2015, when Dylann Roof opened fire during a Bible study session at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, killing 9 people. The #CharlestonSyllabus campaign was the brainchild of Chad Williams, Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies at Brandeis University.

  • The Charleston Syllabus book
  • A list of materials included in the syllabus was compiled and organized by AAIHS (African American Intellectual History Society) blogger Keisha N. Blain, with the assistance of Melissa Morrone, Ryan P. Randall and Cecily Walker:


On September 4, Rebecca Martinez tweeted Louis Moore and David J. Leonard, suggesting the creation of Colin Kaepernick Syllabus. Soon, we, along with  Bijan C. Bayne, Sarah J. Jackson, and many others began the work of creating a syllabus to hopefully elevate and empower the conversations that Colin Kaepernick started when he decided to sit down in protest during an August 26, 2016 preseason game.


Essential topics, readings, and multimedia that provide historical context to current debates over immigration reform, integration, and citizenship. Created by immigration historians affiliated with the Immigration History Research Center and the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, January 26, 2017. The syllabus follows a chronological overview of U.S. immigration history, but it also includes thematic weeks that cover salient issues in political discourse today such as xenophobia, deportation policy, and border policing.


This syllabus provides a list of resources for teaching and learning about the current economic crisis in Puerto Rico. Our goal is to contribute to the ongoing public dialogue and rising social activism regarding the debt crisis by providing historical and sociological tools with which to assess its roots and its repercussions.







Bibliographic Sources

  1. Davies, W., 2016. ‘The new neoliberalism’. New Left Review (101), 121–134 ↩︎

  2. Melinda Cooper,2019.‘Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism’.Zone Books. ↩︎

  3. Mitropoulos, A., 2012. Contract & contagion: From biopolitics to oikonomia. Minor Compositions. ↩︎

  4. Harney, S. and Moten, F., 2013. The undercommons: Fugitive planning and black study, Minor Compositions. ↩︎

  5. Graeber, D., 2015. The utopia of rules: On technology, stupidity, and the secret joys of bureaucracy_. Melville House. ↩︎

  6. Graziano, V. 2018. ‘Pirate Care - How do we imagine the health care for the future we want?’, Valeria Graziano, Zoe Romano, Serena Cangiano, Maddalena Fragnito & Francesca Bria,2019.‘Rebelling with Care. Exploring open technologies for commoning healthcare.’.We Make & Digital Social Innovation. ↩︎

  7. Hall, G., 2016. Pirate philosophy: for a digital posthumanities. MIT Press. ↩︎

  8.,2015.‘In Solidarity with Library Genesis and Sci-hub’. ↩︎

  9. Caffentzis, G. and Federici, S., 2014. ‘Commons against and beyond capitalism’. Community Development Journal, 49(suppl_1), pp.i92-i105. ↩︎

  10. Gutiérrez Aguilar R., Linsalata L. and M.L.N. Trujillo, 2016. ‘Producing the common and reproducing life: Keys towards rethinking the Political.’ in Social Sciences for an Other Politics, ed. A. Dinerstein, Palgrave Macmillan. ↩︎

  11. Mol, A., Moser, I. and Pols, J. eds., 2015. Care in practice: On tinkering in clinics, homes and farms. transcript Verlag. ↩︎

  12. Fisher, B. and J. C. Tronto, 1990. ‘Toward a feminist theory of care’, in Circles of Care: Work and identity in women’s lives, eds. Emily K. Abel and Margaret K. Nelson, Albany: SUNY Press. ↩︎

  13. Maria Puig de La Bellacasa,2017.‘Matters of Care’.University of Minnesota. ↩︎

  14. Isabelle Stengers,2015.‘In Catastrophic Times: Resisting the Coming Barbarism’.Open Humanities Press. ↩︎

session ⦚ Situating Care

What is care, where is it and what can it do?

The term care can refer to a broad variety of activities and hold different meanings for different people. And yet, all depend on its provision to some extent, all practice it , albeith in widely different conditions, and all experience its effects, in negative and positive ways. Below you will find an activity that can help situating one’s experience of care; followed by some key definitions of care and a list of resources to unpack its various meanings and implications, organised in four groups: Care Ethics, Care of the Self, Caring as a Way of Knowing, Care Labour and Social Reproduction.

Introduction exercise: Care in your languages?

This exercise can be practice also by those whose only language is English. Other languages have more than one word to express the meaning of care. If you are in a group where people speak different languages (or yourself do), it can be generative to list how care and similar concepts are expressed in these languages, how and when are these used, and what aspects of care they capture. Try to think of different context for when these words might be used and by whom, and what impressions or images are associated with them.

If for you or your group the only language is English, you can skip this first passage and move to the second moment of this reflection.

The second step in this introductory exercise would consist of finding synonyms of the world ‘care’ or ‘caring’. Can you group them in different categories? Are there particular places of people associated with them?

Finally, generate a list of activities that you associate with ‘care labour’. Do these activities share some characteristics? What kinds of skills are necessary for each? And what kind of resources and tools? Can you group the different kind of work together in different sub-groups? What might be different criteria for doing so? Are particular places or persons excluded from this listed activities?

This exercise can be used as entry points to initiate a collective reflection on care for a group who might want to revisit its own way of perceiving, distributing and valuing its labour. The literature on care is vast, and it is therefore important to ask oneself what do we need to learn in the process of engaging with it? What needs change?

** Some definitions of care and social reproduction:**

  • Joan Tronto and Berenice Fisher. “Toward a feminist theory of caring.” Circles of care: Work and identity in women’s lives (1990), 35-62:

In the most general sense, care is a species activity that includes everything we do to maintain, continue and repair our world so that we may live in it as well as possible. That world includes our bodies, ourselves and our environment, all of which we seek to interweave in a complex, life-sustaining web.

  • Yeates, Nicola. 2004. “Global Care Chains. Critical Reflections and Lines of Enquiry” International Feminist Journal of Politics, 6 (3): 369–91:

a range of activities and relationships that promote the physical and emotional well-being of people “who cannot or who are not inclined to perform these activities themselves

All the work we (mostly women) do that makes and remakes people on a daily basis and intergenerationally.

  • David Graeber (twitter):

Caring labour is aimed at maintaining or augmenting another person’s freedom.

interactions that produce and maintain social bonds.

  • María Puig de la Bellacasa “‘Nothing comes without its world’: Thinking with Care.” The Sociological Review 60.2 (2012), 197-216:

To care about something, or for somebody, is inevitably to create relation. Caring is more than an affective-ethical state: it involves material engagement in labours to sustain interdependent worlds, labours that are often associated with exploitation and domination.

Grounding exercise: Organisational Mapping of Care

(Alone or as a group)

The purpose of this activity is to become more away of the complex and intertwined webs of care that support or shape our lives, and to the different kinds of conditions and skills that characterise care labour.

Map a typical day in your everyday life across the different organizations/institutions within which your various activities take place. (For example, your home, public transport, school, shop, gym, etc…). There is no one way to map your organisational life. It can be as detailed or as broad as it feels useful to you. Some people prefer more abstract diagrams, some use concentric circles or arrows, others chose more intricate ways of drawing and representing the various organizations.

As a second step, add into the map (some or all) the main people with whom you interact in the different organisations.

Now consider the following definition of care offered by Evelyn Nakano Glenn (author of Forced to Care: Coercion and Caregiving in America, Harvard University Press, 2010):

Caring can be defined most simply as the relationships and activities involved in maintaining people on a daily basis and intergenerationally. Caring labor involves three types of intertwined activities. First, there is direct caring for the person, which includes physical care (e.g., feeding, bathing, grooming), emotional care (e.g., listening, talking, offering reassurance), and services to help people meet their physical and emotional needs (e.g., shopping for food, driving to appointments, going on outings). The second type of caring labor is that of maintaining the immediate physical surroundings/milieu in which people live (e.g., changing bed linen, washing clothing, and vacuuming floors). The third is the work of fostering people’s relationships and social connections, a form of caring labor that has been referred to as “kin work” or as “community mothering.” An apt metaphor for this type of care labor is “weaving and reweaving the social fabric.” All three types of caring labor are included to varying degrees in the job definitions of such occupations as nurses’ aides, home care aides, and housekeepers or nannies. Each of these positions involves varying mixtures of the three elements of care, and, when done well, the work entails considerable (if unrecognized) physical, social, and emotional skills.

Keeping the three types of care labour described by Evelyn Nakano Glenn, chose a way of representing them and ascribe them to the people in the map in relation to you (giving/receiving care).

Reflection Questions:

  • Is care spread evenly across your organisational map?

  • What are the organisations where you identified more care activities? Do they have similarities between them? (for instance, the way they are organised, their social purpose, their size, the kind of space they occupy?)

  • What are the people from who you receive most care? The ones to whom you give most? Do these people have similarities with you (age, class, race, gender, education levels, etc.)? Do these people have similarities between themselves?

  • Are your interactions more involved in one kind of care activities than others? Can you think of the reasons for why this is the case?

  • Are people from whom you receive care always the same as those who also are recipient of your care actions?

  • Let’s now consider the three different kinds of care activities? Which ones are takin gplace as part of a paid job or service? Which ones are unpaid? Which ones are visible and valued socially? Which ones are not?

  • Are there people in your map with whom you don’t have any care interaction? What is their position in relation to you?

Different ways of thinking about care:

Care Ethics

“The moral theory known as “ the ethics of care” implies that there is moral significance in the fundamental elements of relationships and dependencies in human life. Normatively, care ethics seeks to maintain relationships by contextualizing and promoting the well-being of care-givers and care-receivers in a network of social relations. Most often defined as a practice or virtue rather than a theory as such, “care” involves maintaining the world of, and meeting the needs of, ourself and others.”

Some key readings

Further Resources

  • Website of the Foundation Critical Ethics of Care

  • The International Care Ethics Research Consortium (CERC)

  • Ranjoo Seodu Herr. “Is Confucianism Compatible with care ethics?: A Critique.” Philosophy East and West 53.4, 2003, 471-489.

  • Mijke van der Drift. “Nonnormative Ethics: the Ensouled Formation of Trans.” In: The Emergence of Trans. Cultures, Politics and Everyday Lives. Edited ByRuth Pearce, Igi Moon, Kat Gupta, Deborah Lynn Steinberg. London: Routledge. 2019.

  • Sandra Harding. “The Curious Coincidence of Feminine and African moralities: Challenges for Feminist Theory” in Women and Moral Theory, eds. Eva Feder Kittay and Diana T. Meyers. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1987.

Care of the Self

Introductory reading

Some key readings

Winner of the 1988 Before Columbus Foundation National Book Award, this path-breaking collection of essays is a clarion call to build communities that nurture our spirit. Lorde announces the need for a radical politics of intersectionality while struggling to maintain her own faith as she wages a battle against liver cancer. From reflections on her struggle with the disease to thoughts on lesbian sexuality and African-American identity in a straight white man’s world, Lorde’s voice remains enduringly relevant in today’s political landscape. Those who practice and encourage social justice activism frequently quote her exhortation, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

The risk of dominating others and exercising a tyrannical power over them arises precisely only when one has not taken care of the self and has become the slave of one’s desires. But if you take proper care of yourself, that is, if you know ontologically what you are, if you know what you are capable of, if you know what it means for you to be a citizen of a city… if you know what things you should and should not fear, if you know what you can reasonably hope for and, on the other hand, what things should not matter to you, if you know, finally, that you should not be afraid of death – if you know all this, you cannot abuse your power over others.

There are several reasons why “know yourself” has obscured “take care of yourself.” First, there has been a profound transformation in the moral principles of Western society. We find it difficult to base rigorous morality and austere principles on the precept that we should give more care to ourselves than to anything else in the world. We are more inclined to see taking care of ourselves as an immorality, as a means of escape from all possible rules. We inherit the tradition of Christian morality which makes self-renunciation the condition for salvation. To know oneself was, paradoxically, a means of self-renunciation.

Further resources

Caring as a Way of Knowing

Some key readings

Further resources

Care Labour and Social Reproduction

Some introductory readings

Some key readings

Further resources

Initiated by artist Marisa Morán Jahn (Studio REV-) with the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), the CareForce is an ongoing set of public art projects amplifying the voices of America’s fastest growing workforce — caregivers.

session ⦚ The Crisis of Care and its Criminalisation

On the Crisis of Care

Some key readings


Exercise: Spending Time with the Data

Here are some data on the global crisis of care:

The monetary value of women’s unpaid care work globally for women aged 15 and over is at least $10.8 trillion annually –three times the size of the world’s tech industry.

Taxing an additional 0.5% of the wealth of the richest 1% over the next 10 years is equal to investments needed to create 117 million jobs in education, health and elderly careand other sectors,and to close care deficits.

In 2015, there were 2.1 billion people in need of care (1.9 billion children under the age of 15, of whom 0.8 billion were under six years of age, and 0.2 billion older persons aged at or above their healthy life expectancy).

By 2030, the number of care recipients is predicted to reach 2.3 billion severe disabilities means that an estimated 110–190 million people with disabilities could require care or assistance throughout their entire lives.

Globally, 78.4 per cent of these households are headed by women, who are increasingly shouldering the financial and childcare responsibilities of a household without support from fathers.

Women perform 76.2 per cent of the total amount of unpaid care work, 3.2 times more time than men.

The global care workforce comprises 249 million women and 132 million men.

A high road scenario requires doubling current levels of investment in education, health and social work by 2030

Estimates based on time-use survey data in 64 countries (representing 66.9 per cent of the world’s working-age population) show that 16.4 billion hours are spent in unpaid care work every day. This is equivalent to 2.0 billion people working 8 hours per day with no remuneration. Were such services to be valued on the basis of an hourly minimum wage, they would amount to 9 per cent of global GDP, which corresponds to US$11 trillion (purchasing power parity 2011). The great majority of unpaid care work consists of household work (81.8 per cent), followed by direct personal care (13.0 per cent) and volunteer work (5.2 per cent).

In no country in the world do men and women provide an equal share of unpaid care work. Women dedicate on average 3.2 times more time than men to unpaid care work: 4 hours and 25 minutes per day, against 1 hour and 23 minutes for men. Over the course of a year, this represents a total of 201 working days (on an eight-hour basis) for women compared with 63 working for men.

Men’s contribution to unpaid care work has increased in some countries over the past 20 years. Yet, between 1997 and 2012, the gender gap in time spent in unpaid care declined by only 7 minutes (from 1 hour and 49 minutes to 1 hour and 42 minutes) in the 23 countries with available time series data. At this pace, it will take 210 years (i.e. until 2228) to close the gender gap in unpaid care work in these countries.

(These statistics are lifted from the ILO and the Oxfam reports cited above).

Questions to move from reflection to action

  • How are those global data reflected in your institution, city, neighbourhood, region, state, etc.?
  • If you don’t have access to this information, how would it be possible for you to find the relevant data around the crisis of care in your own context?
  • To whom should you talk to? Institutions, activist groups, other agencies?
  • Could you produce your own data, if they are not available? If so, what methods could you use? What skills and tools would you need? How much time?

The Criminalization of Care and Solidarity



Below are listed some recent examples of the criminalization of care and solidarity (mainly from the European and North American contexts):

The becoming-police of civil servants

The criminalization of care and solidarity is accompanied by the parallel phenomenon of making social workers and public servants role act as police. Below, a few examples and resources from the UK context, narrated by the campaigns who are pushing back:

session ⦚ Piracy and Civil Disobedience, Then and Now

Note: This session is under construction. Below you will find a preliminary reading list.

On the concept of piracy

Amedeo Policante, The Pirate Myth.Genealogies of an Imperial Concept. Routledge, 2015.

The image of the pirate is at once spectral and ubiquitous. It haunts the imagination of international legal scholars, diplomats and statesmen involved in the war on terror. It returns in the headlines of international newspapers as an untimely ‘security threat’. It materializes on the most provincial cinematic screen and the most acclaimed works of fiction. It casts its shadow over the liquid spatiality of the Net, where cyber-activists, file-sharers and a large part of the global youth are condemned as pirates, often embracing that definition with pride rather than resentment. Today, the pirate remains a powerful political icon, embodying at once the persistent nightmare of an anomic wilderness at the fringe of civilization, and the fantasy of a possible anarchic freedom beyond the rigid norms of the state and of the market. And yet, what are the origins of this persistent ‘pirate myth’ in the Western political imagination? Can we trace the historical trajectory that has charged this ambiguous figure with the emotional, political and imaginary tensions that continue to characterize it? What can we learn from the history of piracy and the ways in which it intertwines with the history of imperialism and international trade? Drawing on international law, political theory, and popular literature, The Pirate Myth offers an authoritative genealogy of this immortal political and cultural icon, showing that the history of piracy – the different ways in which pirates have been used, outlawed and suppressed by the major global powers, but also fantasized, imagined and romanticised by popular culture – can shed unexpected light on the different forms of violence that remain at the basis of our contemporary global order.

Martin Fredriksson, James Arvanitakis. Piracy: Leakages From Modernity. Litwin Books, 2014

“Piracy” is a concept that seems everywhere in the contemporary world. From the big screen with the dashing Jack Sparrow, to the dangers off the coast of Somalia; from the claims by the Motion Picture Association of America that piracy funds terrorism, to the political impact of pirate parties in countries like Sweden and Germany. While the spread of piracy provokes responses from the shipping and copyright industries, the reverse is also true: for every new development in capitalist technologies, some sort of “piracy” moment emerges. This may be most obvious in the current ideologisation of Internet piracy, where the rapid spread of so called pirate parties is developing into a kind of global political movement. While the pirates of Somalia seem a long way removed from Internet pirates illegally downloading the latest music hit, it is the assertion of this book that such developments indicate a complex interplay between capital flows and relations, late modernity, property rights and spaces of contestation. That is, piracy emerges at specific nodes in capitalist relations that create both blockages and leaks between different social actors. These various aspects of piracy form the focus for this book. It is a collection of texts that takes a broad perspective on piracy and attempts to capture the multidimensional impacts of piracy on capitalist society today. The book is edited by James Arvanitakis at the University of Western Sydney and Martin Fredriksson at Linköping University, Sweden.

Piracy Then

Gabriel Kuhn. Life Under the Jolly Roger: Reflections on Golden Age Piracy. PM Press, 2010.

Dissecting the conflicting views of the golden age of pirates—as romanticized villains on one hand and genuine social rebels on the other—this fascinating chronicle explores the political and cultural significance of these nomadic outlaws by examining a wide range of ethnographical, sociological, and philosophical standards. The meanings of race, gender, sexuality, and disability in pirate communities are analyzed and contextualized, as are the pirates’ forms of organization, economy, and ethics. Going beyond simple swashbuckling adventures, the examination also discusses the pirates’ self-organization, the internal make-up of the crews, and their early-1700s philosophies—all of which help explain who they were and what they truly wanted. Asserting that pirates came in all shapes, sexes, and sizes, this engaging study ultimately portrays pirates not just as mere thieves and killers but as radical activists with their own society and moral code fighting against an empire.

Peter T. Leeson. The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates. Princeton University Press, 2009.

Pack your cutlass and blunderbuss–it’s time to go a-pirating! The Invisible Hook takes readers inside the wily world of late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century pirates. With swashbuckling irreverence and devilish wit, Peter Leeson uncovers the hidden economics behind pirates’ notorious, entertaining, and sometimes downright shocking behavior. Why did pirates fly flags of Skull & Bones? Why did they create a “pirate code”? Were pirates really ferocious madmen? And what made them so successful? The Invisible Hook uses economics to examine these and other infamous aspects of piracy. Leeson argues that the pirate customs we know and love resulted from pirates responding rationally to prevailing economic conditions in the pursuit of profits. The Invisible Hook looks at legendary pirate captains like Blackbeard, Black Bart Roberts, and Calico Jack Rackam, and shows how pirates’ search for plunder led them to pioneer remarkable and forward-thinking practices. Pirates understood the advantages of constitutional democracy–a model they adopted more than fifty years before the United States did so. Pirates also initiated an early system of workers’ compensation, regulated drinking and smoking, and in some cases practiced racial tolerance and equality. Leeson contends that pirates exemplified the virtues of vice–their self-seeking interests generated socially desirable effects and their greedy criminality secured social order. Pirates proved that anarchy could be organized.

Paul H Robinson. Pirates, Prisoners, and Lepers: Lessons From Life Outside the Law. University of Nebraska Press, 2015.

It has long been held that humans need government to impose social order on a chaotic, dangerous world. How, then, did early humans survive on the Serengeti Plain, surrounded by faster, stronger, and bigger predators in a harsh and forbidding environment? Pirates, Prisoners, and Lepers examines an array of natural experiments and accidents of human history to explore the fundamental nature of how human beings act when beyond the scope of the law. Pirates of the 1700s, the leper colony on Molokai Island, prisoners of the Nazis, hippie communes of the 1970s, shipwreck and plane crash survivors, and many more diverse groups—they all existed in the absence of formal rules, punishments, and hierarchies. Paul and Sarah Robinson draw on these real-life stories to suggest that humans are predisposed to be cooperative, within limits.  What these “communities” did and how they managed have dramatic implications for shaping our modern institutions. Should today’s criminal justice system build on people’s shared intuitions about justice? Or are we better off acknowledging this aspect of human nature but using law to temper it? Knowing the true nature of our human character and our innate ideas about justice offers a roadmap to a better society.

Janice E. Thomson. Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns: State-Building and Extraterritorial Violence in Early Modern Europe. Princeton University Press, 1996.

The contemporary organization of global violence is neither timeless nor natural, argues Janice Thomson. It is distinctively modern. In this book she examines how the present arrangement of the world into violence-monopolizing sovereign states evolved over the six preceding centuries.

Peter Linebaugh. Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance (Spectre). PM Press, 2014.

In bold and intelligently written essays, historian Peter Linebaugh takes aim at the thieves of land, the polluters of the seas, the ravagers of the forests, the despoilers of rivers, and the removers of mountaintops. From Thomas Paine to the Luddites and from Karl Marx—who concluded his great study of capitalism with the enclosure of commons—to the practical dreamer William Morris who made communism into a verb and advocated communizing industry and agriculture, to the 20th-century communist historian E. P. Thompson, Linebaugh brings to life the vital commonist tradition. He traces the red thread from the great revolt of commoners in 1381 to the enclosures of Ireland, and the American commons, where European immigrants who had been expelled from their commons met the immense commons of the native peoples and the underground African American urban commons, and all the while urges the ancient spark of resistance.

Piracy Now

Valbona Muzaka. The Politics of Intellectual Property Rights and Access to Medicines. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

This book shows why contests over intellectual property rights and access to affordable medicines emerged in the 1990s and how they have been ‘resolved’ so far. It argues that the current arrangement mainly ensures wealth for some rather than health for all, and points to broader concerns related to governing intellectual property solely as capital

Gaëlle Krikorian and Amy Kapczynski. Access to Knowledge in the Age of Intellectual Property. Zone Books, 2010.

At the end of the twentieth century, intellectual property rights collided with everyday life. Expansive copyright laws and digital rights management technologies sought to shut down new forms of copying and remixing made possible by the Internet. International laws expanding patent rights threatened the lives of millions of people around the world living with HIV/AIDS by limiting their access to cheap generic medicines. For decades, governments have tightened the grip of intellectual property law at the bidding of information industries; but recently, groups have emerged around the world to challenge this wave of enclosure with a new counter-politics of “access to knowledge” or “A2K.” They include software programmers who took to the streets to defeat software patents in Europe, AIDS activists who forced multinational pharmaceutical companies to permit copies of their medicines to be sold in poor countries, subsistence farmers defending their rights to food security or access to agricultural biotechnology, and college students who created a new “free culture” movement to defend the digital commons. Access to Knowledge in the Age of Intellectual Property maps this emerging field of activism as a series of historical moments, strategies, and concepts. It gathers some of the most important thinkers and advocates in the field to make the stakes and strategies at play in this new domain visible and the terms of intellectual property law intelligible in their political implications around the world. A Creative Commons edition of this work will be freely available online.

Vandana Shiva. Protect or Plunder? Understanding Intellectual Property Rights. Zed, 2001.

Intellectual property rights, TRIPS, patents - they sound technical, even boring. Yet, as Vandana Shiva shows, what kinds of ideas, technologies, identification of genes, even manipulations of life forms can be owned and exploited for profit by giant corporations is a vital issue for our times. In this readable and compelling introduction to an issue that lies at the heart of the socalled knowledge economy, Vandana Shiva makes clear how this Western-inspired and unprecedented widening of the concept does not in fact stimulate human creativity and the generation of knowledge. Instead, it is being exploited by transnational corporations in order to increase their profits at the expense of the health of ordinary people, and the poor in particular, and the age-old knowledge and independence of the world’s farmers. Intellectual protection is being transformed into corporate plunder. Little wonder popular resistance around the world is rising to the WTO that polices this new intellectual world order, the pharmaceutical, biotech and other corporations which dominate it, and the new technologies they are foisting upon us.

Vandana Shiva. Biopiracy. The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge. South End Press, 1999.

In this intelligently argued and principled book, internationally renowned Third World environmentalist Vandana Shiva exposes the latest frontier of the North’s ongoing assault against the South’s biological and other resources. Since the land, the forests, the oceans, and the atmosphere have already been colonized, eroded, and polluted, she argues, Northern capital is now carving out new colonies to exploit for gain: the interior spaces of the bodies of women, plants and animals.

Balasegaram M, et al. An Open source Pharma Roadmap. PLoS Med 14(4): e1002276. 2017.

Open Source Pharma

Charlotte Waelde and Hector L. MacQueen. Intellectual Property: The Many Faces of the Public Domain.Edward Elgar Publishing, 2007.

As technological progress marches on, so anxiety over the shape of the public domain is likely to continue if not increase. This collection helps to define the boundaries within which the debate over the shape of law and policy should take place. From historical analysis to discussion of contemporary developments, the importance of the public domain in its cultural and scientific contexts is explored by lawyers, scientists, economists, librarians, journalists and entrepreneurs. The contributions will both deepen and enliven the reader’s understanding of the public domain in its many guises, and will also serve to highlight the public domain’s key role in innovation. This book will appeal not only to students and researchers coming from a variety of fields, but also to policy-makers in the IP field and those more generally interested in the public domain, as well as those more directly involved in the current movements towards open access, open science and open source.

Kate Darling and Aaron Perzanowski. Creativity Without Law: Challenging the Assumptions of Intellectual Property. NYU Press, 2017.

Intellectual property law, or IP law, is based on certain assumptions about creative behavior. The case for regulation assumes that creators have a fundamental legal right to prevent copying, and without this right they will under-invest in new work. But this premise fails to fully capture the reality of creative production. It ignores the range of powerful non-economic motivations that compel creativity, and it overlooks the capacity of creative industries for self-governance and innovative social and market responses to appropriation. This book reveals the on-the-ground practices of a range of creators and innovators. In doing so, it challenges intellectual property orthodoxy by showing that incentives for creative production often exist in the absence of, or in disregard for, formal legal protections. Instead, these communities rely on evolving social norms and market responses—sensitive to their particular cultural, competitive, and technological circumstances—to ensure creative incentives. From tattoo artists to medical researchers, Nigerian filmmakers to roller derby players, the communities illustrated in this book demonstrate that creativity can thrive without legal incentives, and perhaps more strikingly, that some creative communities prefer, and thrive, in environments defined by self-regulation rather than legal rules. Beyond their value as descriptions of specific industries and communities, the accounts collected here help to ground debates over IP policy in the empirical realities of the creative process. Their parallels and divergences also highlight the value of rules that are sensitive to the unique mix of conditions and motivations of particular industries and communities, rather than the monoculture of uniform regulation of the current IP system.

Elizabeth Alford Pollock. Popular Culture, Piracy, and Outlaw Pedagogy: A Critique of the Miseducation of Davy Jones. Sense Publishers, 2014.

Popular Culture, Piracy, and Outlaw Pedagogy explores the relationship between power and resistance by critiquing the popular cultural image of the pirate represented in Pirates of the Caribbean. Of particular interest is the reliance on modernism’s binary good/evil, Sparrow/Jones, how the films’ distinguish the two concepts/characters via corruption, and what we may learn from this structure which I argue supports neoliberal ideologies of indifference towards the piratical Other. What became evident in my research is how the erasure of corruption via imperial and colonial codifications within seventeenth century systems of culture, class hierarchies, and language succeeded in its re-presentation of the pirate and members of a colonized India as corrupt individuals with empire emerging from the struggle as exempt from that corruption. This erasure is evidenced in Western portrayals of Somali pirates as corrupt Beings without any acknowledgement of transnational corporations’ role in provoking pirate resurgence in that region. This forces one to re-examine who the pirate is in this situation. Erasure is also evidenced in current interpretations of both Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Obama’s Race to the Top initiative. While NCLB created conditions through which corruption occurred, I demonstrate how Race to the Top erases that corruption from the institution of education by placing it solely into the hands of teachers, thus providing the institution a “free pass” to engage in any behavior it deems fit. What pirates teach us, then, are potential ways to thwart the erasure process by engaging a pedagogy of passion, purpose, radical love and loyalty to the people involved in the educational process.

Marcell Mars, Tomislav Medak, Petar Jandrić, Ana Kuzmanić. Knowledge Commons and Activist Pedagogies: From Idealist Positions to Collective Actions. SensePublishers, 2017.

Max Haiven. Crises of Imagination, Crises of Power: Capitalism, Creativity and the Commons. Zed Books, 2014.

Today, when it seems like everything has been privatized, when austerity is too often seen as an economic or political problem that can be solved through better policy, and when the idea of moral values has been commandeered by the right, how can we re-imagine the forces used as weapons against community, solidarity, ecology and life itself? In this stirring call to arms, Max Haiven argues that capitalism has colonized how we all imagine and express what is valuable. Looking at the decline of the public sphere, the corporatization of education, the privatization of creativity, and the power of finance capital in opposition to the power of the imagination and the growth of contemporary social movements, Haiven provides a powerful argument for creating an anti-capitalist commons. Not only is capitalism crisis itself, but moving beyond it is the only key to survival.

James Boyle. The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. Yale University Press, 2008.

In this enlightening book James Boyle describes what he calls the range wars of the information age—today’s heated battles over intellectual property. Boyle argues that just as every informed citizen needs to know at least something about the environment or civil rights, every citizen should also understand intellectual property law. Why? Because intellectual property rights mark out the ground rules of the information society, and today’s policies are unbalanced, unsupported by evidence, and often detrimental to cultural access, free speech, digital creativity, and scientific innovation. Boyle identifies as a major problem the widespread failure to understand the importance of the public domain—the realm of material that everyone is free to use and share without permission or fee. The public domain is as vital to innovation and culture as the realm of material protected by intellectual property rights, he asserts, and he calls for a movement akin to the environmental movement to preserve it. With a clear analysis of issues ranging from Jefferson’s philosophy of innovation to musical sampling, synthetic biology and Internet file sharing, this timely book brings a positive new perspective to important cultural and legal debates. If we continue to enclose the “commons of the mind,” Boyle argues, we will all be the poorer. 

Patrick Burkart. Pirate Politics: The New Information Policy Contests. MIT, 2014.

The Swedish Pirate Party emerged as a political force in 2006 when a group of software programmers and file-sharing geeks protested the police takedown of The Pirate Bay, a Swedish file-sharing search engine. The Swedish Pirate Party, and later the German Pirate Party, came to be identified with a free culture message that came into conflict with the European Union’s legal system. In this book, Patrick Burkart examines the emergence of Pirate politics as an umbrella cyberlibertarian movement that views file sharing as a form of free expression and advocates for the preservation of the Internet as a commons. He links the Pirate movement to the Green movement, arguing that they share a moral consciousness and an explicit ecological agenda based on the notion of a commons, or public domain. The Pirate parties, like the Green Party, must weigh ideological purity against pragmatism as they move into practical national and regional politics. Burkart uses second-generation critical theory and new social movement theory as theoretical perspectives for his analysis of the democratic potential of Pirate politics. After setting the Pirate parties in conceptual and political contexts, Burkart examines European antipiracy initiatives, the influence of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the pressure exerted on European governance by American software and digital exporters. He argues that pirate politics can be seen as cultural environmentalism, a defense of Internet culture against both corporate and state colonization.

Gary Hall. Pirate Philosophy: For a Digital Posthumanities. MIT Press, 2016.

In Pirate Philosophy, Gary Hall considers whether the fight against the neoliberal corporatization of higher education in fact requires scholars to transform their own lives and labor. Is there a way for philosophers and theorists to act not just for or with the antiausterity and student protestors – “graduates without a future” – but in terms of their political struggles? Drawing on such phenomena as peer-to-peer file sharing and anticopyright/pro-piracy movements, Hall explores how those in academia can move beyond finding new ways of thinking about the world to find instead new ways of being theorists and philosophers in the world. Hall describes the politics of online sharing, the battles against the current intellectual property regime, and the actions of Anonymous, LulzSec, Aaron Swartz, and others, and he explains Creative Commons and the open access, open source, and free software movements. But in the heart of the book he considers how, when it comes to scholarly ways of creating, performing, and sharing knowledge, philosophers and theorists can challenge not just the neoliberal model of the entrepreneurial academic but also the traditional humanist model with its received ideas of proprietorial authorship, the book, originality, fixity, and the finished object. In other words, can scholars and students today become something like pirate philosophers?

Jerome H. Reichman, Tom Dedeurwaerdere, Paul F. Uhlir. Governing Digitally Integrated Genetic Resources, Data, and Literature: Global Intellectual Property Strategies for a Redesigned Microbial Research Commons. Cambridge University Press, 2016.

The free exchange of microbial genetic information is an established public good, facilitating research on medicines, agriculture, and climate change. However, over the past quarter-century, access to genetic resources has been hindered by intellectual property claims from developed countries under the World Trade Organization’s TRIPS Agreement (1994) and by claims of sovereign rights from developing countries under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (1992). In this volume, the authors examine the scientific community’s responses to these obstacles and advise policymakers on how to harness provisions of the Nagoya Protocol (2010) that allow multilateral measures to support research. By pooling microbial materials, data, and literature in a carefully designed transnational e-infrastructure, the scientific community can facilitate access to essential research assets while simultaneously reinforcing the open access movement. The original empirical surveys of responses to the CBD included here provide a valuable addition to the literature on governing scientific knowledge commons.

Lucy Finchett-Maddock. Protest, Property and the Commons: Performances of Law and Resistance, Routledge, 2016.

Protest, Property and the Commons: Performances of Law and Resistance examines the occupation of space as a mode of resistance. Drawing on the phenomena of social centres, as radical political communities that use the space of squatted, rented, or owned property, the book considers how such communities offer an alternative form of law to that of the state. It then goes on to address the relationship between this form of law recent protest phenomena, such as the Occupy movement. How does the performance of an alternative law enact a e~commonse(tm)? How and why is this manifested in the legal occupation of space? And what does this relationship between space and the commons indicate about the criminalisation of the occupation of space? Contributing to an ongoing re-imagination of the law of property, Protest, Property and the Commons will be of interest to anyone concerned with the role of law in political protest.

Monica Horten. A Copyright Masquerade: How Corporate Lobbying Threatens Online Freedoms, Zed Books, 2013.

When thousands marched through ice and snow against a copyright treaty, their cries for free speech on the Internet shot to the heart of the European Union and forced a political U-turn. The mighty entertainment industries could only stare in dismay, their back-room plans in tatters. This highly original analysis of three attempts to bring in new laws to defend copyright on the Internet - ACTA, Ley Sinde and the Digital Economy Act - investigates the dance of influence between lobbyists and their political proxies and unmasks the sophistry of their arguments. Copyright expert Monica Horten outlines the myriad ways that lobbyists contrived to bypass democratic process and persuade politicians to take up their cause in imposing an American corporate agenda. In doing so, she argues the case for stronger transparency in copyright policy-making. A Copyright Masquerade is essential reading for anyone who cares about copyright and the Internet, and to those who care about freedom of speech and good government.

Hector Postigo. The Digital Rights Movement: The Role of Technology in Subverting Digital Copyright. MIT Press, 2012

The movement against restrictive digital copyright protection arose largely in response to the excesses of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. In The Digital Rights Movement, Hector Postigo shows that what began as an assertion of consumer rights to digital content has become something broader: a movement concerned not just with consumers and gadgets but with cultural ownership. Increasingly stringent laws and technological measures are more than incoveniences; they lock up access to our “cultural commons.” Postigo describes the legislative history of the DMCA and how policy “blind spots” produced a law at odds with existing and emerging consumer practices. Yet the DMCA established a political and legal rationale brought to bear on digital media, the Internet, and other new technologies. Drawing on social movement theory and science and technology studies, Postigo presents case studies of resistance to increased control over digital media, describing a host of tactics that range from hacking to lobbying. Postigo discusses the movement’s new, user-centered conception of “fair use” that seeks to legitimize noncommercial personal and creative uses such as copying legitimately purchased content and remixing music and video tracks. He introduces the concept of technological resistance–when hackers and users design and deploy technologies that allows access to digital content despite technological protection mechanisms–as the flip side to the technological enforcement represented by digital copy protection and a crucial tactic for the movement.

Joost Smiers and Marieke van Schijndel. Imagine There Is No Copyright and No Cultural Conglomorates too…. Institute of Network Cultures, 2009.

Andrew Lison, Marcell Mars, Tomislav Medak, Rick Prelinger. Archives. Meson Press, 2019

Archives have become a nexus in the wake of the digital turn. This book sets out to show how expanded archival practices can challenge contemporary conceptions and inform the redistribution of power and resources. Calling for the necessity to reimagine the potentials of archives in practice, the three contributions ask: Can archives fulfill their paradoxical potential as utopian sites in which the analog and the digital, the past and future, and remembrance and forgetting commingle?

Adrian Johns. Piracy: the intellectual property wars from Gutenberg to Gates. University Of Chicago, 2009.

The recording industry’s panic over illegal downloads is nothing new; a century ago, London publishers faced a similar crisis when pirate editions of sheet music were widely available at significantly less cost. Similarly, the debate over pharmaceutical patents echoes an 18th-century dispute over the origins of Epsom salt. These are just two of the historical examples that Johns (The Nature of the Book) draws upon as he traces the tensions between authorized and unauthorized producers and distributors of books, music, and other intellectual property in British and American culture from the 17th century to the present. Johns’s history is liveliest when it is rooted in the personal—the 19th-century renegade bibliographer Samuel Egerton Brydges, for example, or the jazz and opera lovers who created a thriving network of bootleg recordings in the 1950s—but the shifting theoretical arguments about copyright and authorial property are presented in a cogent and accessible manner. Johns’s research stands as an important reminder that today’s intellectual property crises are not unprecedented, and offers a survey of potential approaches to a solution.

Jonas Andersson. For the good of the net: The Pirate Bay as strategic sovereign. Open Humanities Press, 2009

In this essay I will argue that as peer-to-peer (p2p)-based file-sharing increasingly becomes the norm for media acquisition among the general Internet public, entities such as The Pirate Bay and associated quasi-institutional entities such as Piratbyrån, Zeropaid, TorrentFreak, etc. have begun to appear less as a reactive force (i.e. ‘breaking the rules’) and more as a proactive one (‘setting the rules’). In providing platforms for sharing and for voicing dissent towards the established entertainment industry, the increasing autonomy gained by these piratical actors becomes more akin to the concept of ‘positive liberty’ than to a purely ‘negative,’ reactive one. 1 Rather than complain about the conservatism of established forms of distribution they simply create new, alternative ones. Entities such as The Pirate Bay can thus be said to have effectively had the ‘upper hand’ in the conflict over the future of copyright and digital distribution. They increasingly set the terms with regard to establishing not only technical protocols for distribution but also codes of behaviour and discursive norms. The entertainment industry is then forced to react to these terms. In this sense, the likes of The Pirate Bay become – in the language of French philosopher Michel de Certeau (1984) – strategic rather than tactical. With this, however, comes the added problem of becoming exposed by their opponents as visible perpetrators of particular acts. The strategic sovereignty of sites such as The Pirate Bay makes them appear to be the reason for the wider change in media distribution, not just an incidental side-effect of it.

Caren Irr. Pink Pirates: Contemporary American Women Writers and Copyright. University of Iowa Press, 2010

Today, copyright is everywhere, surrounded by a thicket of no trespassing signs that mark creative work as private property. Caren Irr’s Pink Pirates asks how contemporary novelists—represented by Ursula Le Guin, Andrea Barrett, Kathy Acker, and Leslie Marmon Silko—have read those signs, arguing that for feminist writers in particular copyright often conjures up the persistent exclusion of women from ownership. Bringing together voices from law schools, courtrooms, and the writer’s desk, Irr shows how some of the most inventive contemporary feminist novelists have reacted to this history. Explaining the complex, three-century lineage of Anglo-American copyright law in clear, accessible terms and wrestling with some of copyright law’s most deeply rooted assumptions, Irr sets the stage for a feminist reappraisal of the figure of the literary pirate in the late twentieth century—a figure outside the restrictive bounds of U.S. copyright statutes. Going beyond her readings of contemporary women authors, Irr’s exhaustive history of how women have fared under intellectual property regimes speaks to broader political, social, and economic implications and engages digital-era excitement about the commons with the most utopian and materialist strains in feminist criticism.

Margie Borschke. This Is Not a Remix: Piracy, Authenticity and Popular Music. Bloomsbury, 2017

Widespread distribution of recorded music via digital networks affects more than just business models and marketing strategies; it also alters the way we understand recordings, scenes and histories of popular music culture. This Is Not a Remix uncovers the analog roots of digital practices and brings the long history of copies and piracy into contact with contemporary controversies about the reproduction, use and circulation of recordings on the internet.Borschke examines the innovations that have sprung from the use of recording formats in grassroots music scenes, from the vinyl, tape and acetate that early disco DJs used to create remixes to the mp3 blogs and vinyl revivalists of the 21st century. This is Not A Remix challenges claims that ‘remix culture’ is a substantially new set of innovations and highlights the continuities and contradictions of the Internet era. Through an historical focus on copy as a property and practice, This Is Not a Remix focuses on questions about the materiality of media, its use and the aesthetic dimensions of reproduction and circulation in digital networks. Through a close look at sometimes illicit forms of composition-including remixes, edits, mashup, bootlegs and playlists-Borschke ponders how and why ideals of authenticity persist in networked cultures where copies and copying are ubiquitous and seemingly at odds with romantic constructions of authorship. By teasing out unspoken assumptions about media and culture, this book offers fresh perspectives on the cultural politics of intellectual property in the digital era and poses questions about the promises, possibilities and challenges of network visibility and mobility.

Boatema Boateng. The Copyright Thing Doesn’t Work Here: Adinkra and Kente Cloth and Intellectual Property in Ghana.University Of Minnesota Press, 2011

In Ghana, adinkra and kente textiles derive their significance from their association with both Asante and Ghanaian cultural nationalism. Adinkra, made by stenciling patterns with black dye, and kente, a type of strip weaving, each convey, through color, style, and adornment, the bearer’s identity, social status, and even emotional state. Yet both textiles have been widely mass-produced outside Ghana, particularly in East Asia, without any compensation to the originators of the designs. In The Copyright Thing Doesn’t Work Here, Boatema Boateng focuses on the appropriation and protection of adinkra and kente cloth in order to examine the broader implications of the use of intellectual property law to preserve folklore and other traditional forms of knowledge. Boateng investigates the compatibility of indigenous practices of authorship and ownership with those established under intellectual property law, considering the ways in which both are responses to the changing social and historical conditions of decolonization and globalization. Comparing textiles to the more secure copyright protection that Ghanaian musicians enjoy under Ghanaian copyright law, she demonstrates that different forms of social, cultural, and legal capital are treated differently under intellectual property law. Boateng then moves beyond Africa, expanding her analysis to the influence of cultural nationalism among the diaspora, particularly in the United States, on the appropriation of Ghanaian and other African cultures for global markets. Boateng’s rich ethnography brings to the surface difficult challenges to the international regulation of both contemporary and traditional concepts of intellectual property, and questions whether it can even be done.

Adrian Johns. Death of a Pirate: British Radio and the Making of the Information Age. W. W. Norton & Company, 2010

Johns, an expert in the field of intellectual property and piracy, walks us through the history of pirate radio. Pirate radio stations were most famously a British phenomenon (although many other countries had their own versions of these outlaw broadcasters); they operated from offshore sites, usually a boat, skirting the British regulations regarding license fees, broadcast rights, etc. The BBC saw them as illegal and disreputable, but the pirate broadcasters and their listeners (and even many artists) thought they were exciting and indispensable. The end of British pirate radio came soon after a partnership between two colorful station owners, Oliver Smedley and Reg Calvert, ended in violence, property theft, and death.

Noam Chomsky. Pirates and Emperors, Old and New: International Terrorism in the Real World. Haymarket Books, 2015

This updated edition of Noam Chomsky’s classic dis-section of terrorism explores the role of the U.S. in the Middle East, and reveals how the media manipulates -public opinion about what constitutes “terrorism.” This edition includes new chapters covering the second Palestinian intifada that began in October 2000; an analysis of the impact of September 11 on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East; a deconstruction of depictions and perceptions of terrorism since that date; as well as the original sections on Iran and the U.S. bombing of Libya. Chomsky starts by tracing the changing meaning of “terrorism,” examining how it originally referred to violent acts by “governments designed to ensure popular submission.” He calls its current application “retail terrorism,” practiced by “thieves who molest the powerful.” Chomsky argues that appreciating the differences between state terror and nongovernmental terror is crucial to stopping terrorism, and understanding why atrocities like the bombing of the World Trade Center happen. In comparing the “war on terror” launched by George W. Bush to that of his father and Ronald Reagan’s administrations, Chomsky recalls Winston Churchill’s summation of the terror by the powerful: “The rich and powerful have every right to demand that they be left in peace to enjoy what they have gained, often by violence and terror; the rest can be ignored as long as they suffer in silence, but if they interfere with the lives of those who rule the world by right, the ‘terrors of the earth’ will be visited upon them with righteous wrath, unless power is constrained from within.” Pirates and Emperors is a brilliant account of the workings of state terrorism by the world’s foremost critic of U.S. imperialism. An internationally acclaimed philosopher, linguist, and political activist, Noam Chomsky teaches at MIT. International Terrorism in the Real World

Rodolphe Durand, Jean-Philippe Vergne. The Pirate Organization: Lessons From the Fringes of Capitalism. Harvard Business Press, 2012

When capitalism spread along the trade routes toward the Indies…when radio opened an era of mass communication . . . when the Internet became part of the global economy…pirates were there. And although most people see pirates as solitary anarchists out to destroy capitalism, it turns out the opposite is true. They are the ones who forge the path. In The Pirate Organization, Rodolphe Durand and Jean-Philippe Vergne argue that piracy drives capitalism’s evolution and foreshadows the direction of the economy. Through a rigorous yet engaging analysis of the history and golden ages of piracy, the authors show how pirates form complex and sophisticated organizations that change the course of capitalism. Surprisingly, pirate organizations also behave in predictable ways: challenging widespread norms; controlling resources, communication, and transportation; maintaining trade relationships with other communities; and formulating strategies favoring speed and surprise. We could learn a lot from them—if only we paid more attention. Durand and Vergne recommend that rather than trying to stamp out piracy, savvy entrepreneurs and organizations should keep a sharp eye on the pirate space to stay successful as the game changes—and it always does. First published in French to great critical acclaim and commercial success as L’Organisation Pirate: Essai sur l’évolution du capitalisme, this book shows that piracy is not random. It’s predictable, it cannot be separated from capitalism, and it likely will be the source of capitalism’s continuing evolution.

Peter Ludlow. Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias. MIT Press, 2001

In Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias, Peter Ludlow extends the approach he used so successfully in High Noon on the Electronic Frontier, offering a collection of writings that reflects the eclectic nature of the online world, as well as its tremendous energy and creativity. This time the subject is the emergence of governance structures within online communities and the visions of political sovereignty shaping some of those communities. Ludlow views virtual communities as laboratories for conducting experiments in the construction of new societies and governance structures. While many online experiments will fail, Ludlow argues that given the synergy of the online world, new and superior governance structures may emerge. Indeed, utopian visions are not out of place, provided that we understand the new utopias to be fleeting localized “islands in the Net” and not permanent institutions. The book is organized in five sections. The first section considers the sovereignty of the Internet. The second section asks how widespread access to resources such as Pretty Good Privacy and anonymous remailers allows the possibility of “Crypto Anarchy” – essentially carving out space for activities that lie outside the purview of nation states and other traditional powers. The third section shows how the growth of e-commerce is raising questions of legal jurisdiction and taxation for which the geographic boundaries of nation-states are obsolete. The fourth section looks at specific experimental governance structures evolved by online communities. The fifth section considers utopian and anti-utopian visions for cyberspace.

Pirates and Publishers: A Social History of Copyright in Modern China Authors: Fei-Hsien Wang Publisher: Princeton University Press Series: Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute Year: 2019

A detailed historical look at how copyright was negotiated and protected by authors, publishers, and the state in late imperial and modern China. In Pirates and Publishers, Fei-Hsien Wang reveals the unknown social and cultural history of copyright in China from the 1890s through the 1950s, a time of profound sociopolitical changes. Wang draws on a vast range of previously underutilized archival sources to show how copyright was received, appropriated, and practiced in China, within and beyond the legal institutions of the state. Contrary to common belief, copyright was not a problematic doctrine simply imposed on China by foreign powers with little regard for Chinese cultural and social traditions. Shifting the focus from the state legislation of copyright to the daily, on-the-ground negotiations among Chinese authors, publishers, and state agents, Wang presents a more dynamic, nuanced picture of the encounter between Chinese and foreign ideas and customs. Developing multiple ways for articulating their understanding of copyright, Chinese authors, booksellers, and publishers played a crucial role in its growth and eventual institutionalization in China. These individuals enforced what they viewed as copyright to justify their profit, protect their books, and crack down on piracy in a changing knowledge economy. As China transitioned from a late imperial system to a modern state, booksellers and publishers created and maintained their own economic rules and regulations when faced with the absence of an effective legal framework. Exploring how copyright was transplanted, adopted, and practiced, Pirates and Publishers demonstrates the pivotal roles of those who produce and circulate knowledge.

Low Power to the People: Pirates, Protest, and Politics in FM Radio Activism Authors: Christina Dunbar-Hester Publisher: MIT Press Series: Inside Technology Year: 2014

The United States ushered in a new era of small-scale broadcasting in 2000 when it began issuing low-power FM (LPFM) licenses for noncommercial radio stations around the country. Over the next decade, several hundred of these newly created low-wattage stations took to the airwaves. In Low Power to the People, Christina Dunbar-Hester describes the practices of an activist organization focused on LPFM during this era. Despite its origins as a pirate broadcasting collective, the group eventually shifted toward building and expanding regulatory access to new, licensed stations. These radio activists consciously cast radio as an alternative to digital utopianism, promoting an understanding of electronic media that emphasizes the local community rather than a global audience of Internet users.Dunbar-Hester focuses on how these radio activists impute emancipatory politics to the “old” medium of radio technology by promoting the idea that “microradio” broadcasting holds the potential to empower ordinary people at the local community level. The group’s methods combine political advocacy with a rare commitment to hands-on technical work with radio hardware, although the activists’ hands-on, inclusive ethos was hampered by persistent issues of race, class, and gender. Dunbar-Hester’s study of activism around an “old” medium offers broader lessons about how political beliefs are expressed through engagement with specific technologies. It also offers insight into contemporary issues in media policy that is particularly timely as the FCC issues a new round of LPFM licenses. Title: Creativity and Its Discontents: China’s Creative Industries and Intellectual Property Rights Offenses Authors: Laikwan Pang Publisher: Duke University Press Year: 2012

Creativity and Its Discontents is a sharp critique of the intellectual property rights (IPR)–based creative economy, particularly as it is embraced or ignored in China. Laikwan Pang argues that the creative economy—in which creativity is an individual asset to be commodified and protected as property—is an intensification of Western modernity and capitalism at odds with key aspects of Chinese culture. Nevertheless, globalization has compelled China to undertake endeavors involving intellectual property rights. Pang examines China’s IPR-compliant industries, as well as its numerous copyright violations. She describes how China promotes intellectual property rights in projects such as the development of cultural tourism in the World Heritage city of Lijiang, the transformation of Hong Kong cinema, and the cultural branding of Beijing. Meanwhile, copyright infringement proliferates, angering international trade organizations. Pang argues that piracy and counterfeiting embody the intimate connection between creativity and copying. She points to the lack of copyright protections for Japanese anime as the motor of China’s dynamic anime culture. Theorizing the relationship between knockoffs and appropriation art, Pang offers an incisive interpretation of China’s flourishing art scene. Creativity and Its Discontents is a refreshing rejoinder to uncritical celebrations of the creative economy.

On the concept of Civil Disobedience

Beyond Doing Good: Civil Disobedience as Design Pedagogy Authors: Hannah Rose Mendoza Publisher: The MIT Press Year: 2011

In Praise of Disobedience: The Soul of Man Under Socialism and Other Works Authors: Oscar Wilde Publisher: Verso Year: 2018

Works of Wilde’s annus mirabilis of 1891 in one volume, with an introduction by renowned British playwright. In Praise of Disobedience draw on works from a single miraculous year in which Oscar Wilde published the larger part of his greatest works in prose — the year he came into maturity as an artist. Before the end of 1891, he had written the first of his phenomenally successful plays and met the young man who would win his heart, beginning the love affair that would lead to imprisonment and public infamy. In a witty introduction, playwright, novelist and Wilde scholar Neil Bartlett explains what made this point in the writer’s life central to his genius and why Wilde remains a provocative and radical figure to this day.

Carl Cohen. “Seven Arguments Against Civil Disobedience”. Chapter 6, Civil Disobedience: Conscience, Tactics, and the Law. New York: Columbia University Press, 1971.

Critical Art Ensamble. Electronic Civil Disobedience and Other Unpopular Ideas. 1995.

Hannah Arendt. “Civil Disobedience” , in Crises of the Republic: Lying in Politics, Civil Disobedience, on Violence, Thoughts on Politics and Revolution. HMH, 1972.

“Civil Disobedience” examines various opposition movements, from the Freedom Riders to the war resisters to the segregationists.

A Duty to Resist: When Disobedience Should Be Uncivil Authors: Candice Delmas Publisher: Oxford University Press Year: 2018

What are our responsibilities in the face of injustice? How far should we go to fight it? Many would argue that as long as a state is nearly just, citizens have a moral duty to obey the law. Proponents of civil disobedience generally hold that, given this moral duty, a person needs a solid justification to break the law. But activists from Henry David Thoreau and Mohandas Gandhi to the Movement for Black Lives have long recognized that there are times when, rather than having a duty to obey the law, we have a duty to disobey it. Taking seriously the history of this activism, A Duty to Resist wrestles with the problem of political obligation in real world societies that harbor injustice. Candice Delmas argues that the duty of justice, the principle of fairness, the Samaritan duty, and political association impose responsibility to resist under conditions of injustice. We must expand political obligation to include a duty to resist unjust laws and social conditions even in legitimate states. For Delmas, this duty to resist demands principled disobedience, and such disobedience need not always be civil. At times, covert, violent, evasive, or offensive acts of lawbreaking can be justified, even required. Delmas defends the viability and necessity of illegal assistance to undocumented migrants, leaks of classified information, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, sabotage, armed self-defense, guerrilla art, and other modes of resistance. There are limits: principle alone does not justify law breaking. But uncivil disobedience can sometimes be not only permissible but required in the effort to resist injustice.

Civil Disobedience: Protest, Justification and the Law Authors: Tony Milligan Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic Year: 2013

Civil disobedience is a form of protest with a special standing with regards to the law that sets it apart from political violence. Such principled law-breaking has been witnessed in recent years over climate change, economic strife, and the treatment of animals. Civil disobedience is examined here in the context of contemporary political activism, in the light of classic accounts by Thoreau, Tolstoy, and Gandhi to call for a broader attitude towards what civil disobedience involves. The question of violence is discussed, arguing that civil disobedience need only be aspirationally non-violent and that although some protests do not clearly constitute law-breaking they may render people liable to arrest. For example, while there may not be violence against persons, there may be property damage, as seen in raids upon animal laboratories. Such forms of militancy raise ethical and legal questions. Arguing for a less restrictive theory of civil disobedience, the book will be a valuable resource for anyone studying social movements and issues of political philosophy, social justice, and global ethics.

Civil Disobedience Authors: William E. Scheuerman Publisher: Polity Year: 2018

What is civil disobedience? Although Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King helped to bring the idea to prominence, even today it remains unclear how we should best understand civil disobedience. Why have so many different activists and intellectuals embraced it, and to what ends? Is civil disobedience still politically relevant in today’s hyper-connected world? Does it make sense, for example, to describe Edward Snowden’s actions, or those of recent global movements like Occupy, as falling under this rubric? If so, how must it adapt to respond to the challenges of digitalization and globalization and the rise of populist authoritarianism in the West? In this elegantly written introductory text, William E. Scheuerman systematically analyzes the most important interpretations of civil disobedience. Drawing out the striking differences separating religious, liberal, radical democratic, and anarchist views, he nonetheless shows that core commonalities remain. Against those who water down the idea of civil disobedience or view it as obsolescent, Scheuerman successfully salvages its central elements. The concept of civil disobedience, he argues, remains a pivotal tool for anyone hoping to bring about political and social change.

Act Up. Civil Disobedience Training Manual.

Occupy: Three Inquiries in Disobedience Authors: W. J. T. Mitchell, Bernard E. Harcourt, Michael Taussig Publisher: University of Chicago Press Year: 2013

Mic check! Mic check! Lacking amplification in Zuccotti Park, Occupy Wall Street protestors addressed one another by repeating and echoing speeches throughout the crowd. In Occupy, W. J. T. Mitchell, Bernard E. Harcourt, and Michael Taussig take the protestors’ lead and perform their own resonant call-and-response, playing off of each other in three essays that engage the extraordinary Occupy movement that has swept across the world, examining everything from self-immolations in the Middle East to the G8 crackdown in Chicago to the many protest signs still visible worldwide. “You break through the screen like Alice in Wonderland,” Taussig writes in the opening essay, “and now you can’t leave or do without it.” Following Taussig’s artful blend of participatory ethnography and poetic meditation on Zuccotti Park, political and legal scholar Harcourt examines the crucial difference between civil and political disobedience. He shows how by effecting the latter—by rejecting the very discourse and strategy of politics—Occupy Wall Street protestors enacted a radical new form of protest. Finally, media critic and theorist Mitchell surveys the global circulation of Occupy images across mass and social media and looks at contemporary works by artists such as Antony Gormley and how they engage the body politic, ultimately examining the use of empty space itself as a revolutionary monument.   Occupy stands not as a primer on or an authoritative account of 2011’s revolutions, but as a snapshot, a second draft of history, beyond journalism and the polemics of the moment—an occupation itself.

Art, Disobedience, and Ethics: The Adventure of Pedagogy Authors: Dennis Atkinson Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Year: 2017

This book explores art practice and learning as processes that break new ground, through which new perceptions of self and world emerge. Examining art practice in educational settings where emphasis is placed upon a pragmatics of the ‘suddenly possible’, Atkinson looks at the issues of ethics, aesthetics, and politics of learning and teaching. These learning encounters drive students beyond the security of established patterns of learning into new and modified modes of thinking, feeling, seeing, and making.

Cyber Disobedience Authors: Jeff Shantz Publisher: John Hunt Publishing Year: 2014

Few activities have captured the contemporary popular imagination as hacking and online activism, from Anonymous and beyond. Few political ideas have gained more notoriety recently than anarchism. Yet both remain misunderstood and much maligned. /Cyber Disobedience/ provides the most engaging and detailed analysis of online civil disobedience and anarchism today.

The Coming Swarm: DDOS Actions, Hacktivism, and Civil Disobedience on the Internet Authors: Molly Sauter Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic Year: 2014

What is Hacktivism? In The Coming Swarm, Molly Sauter examines the history, development, theory, and practice of distributed denial of service actions as a tactic of political activism. The internet is a vital arena of communication, self expression, and interpersonal organizing. When there is a message to convey, words to get out, or people to unify, many will turn to the internet as a theater for that activity. As familiar and widely accepted activist tools-petitions, fundraisers, mass letter-writing, call-in campaigns and others-find equivalent practices in the online space, is there also room for the tactics of disruption and civil disobedience that are equally familiar from the realm of street marches, occupations, and sit-ins? With a historically grounded analysis, and a focus on early deployments of activist DDOS as well as modern instances to trace its development over time, The Coming Swarm uses activist DDOS actions as the foundation of a larger analysis of the practice of disruptive civil disobedience on the internet.

Walden and on the Duty of Civil Disobedience Authors: Henry David Thoreau Publisher: Emereo Year: 2012

Encompassing aspects of autobiography, spiritual treatise, political declaration, and historical commentary, Henry David Thoreaus Walden is one of the classic greats to be revisited by all audiences as an example of achievement in both breadth and beauty. Thoreau masterfully blends his personal opinions on topics from economy and education with elegant prose describing his peaceful paradise at Walden. Walden makes the rare presentation of an idealist viewpoint in a far from ideal world.

Civil Disobedience in Focus Authors: Hugo Adam Bedau Publisher: Routledge Year: 1991

Although the issue of civil disobedience has been discussed as early as 399 B.C., this topic continues to be at the center of much recent debate in the wake of events such as Tiananmen Square and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. “Civil Disobedience in” “Focus” assembles all the basic materials, both classic and contemporary, needed for the philosophical assessment of this controversial subject. The first part of this work explores the three most influential classic arguments: Plato in the “Crito,” Thoreau in the 1840s, and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s. The second part of this book shifts to a contemporary philosophical discussion setting forth the most important reflections by a number of today’s leading thinkers. Included is John Rawls’s definition and justification of civil disobedience in liberal democracy which has provoked much dicussion. The other essays, written by contemporary British and American thinkers, bring into sharp relief the issues – conceptual, normative, and political – raised in the classic arguments. A stimulating edition, “Civil Disobedience in” “Focus” will be invaluable to students of ethics, social/political philosophy, and philosophy of law, as well as to activists.

topic ⦚ Criminalization of Solidarity

Understanding whys and hows of criminalization of solidarity

Keywords: criminalization, police, state, governmentality, crimmigration, migrants, refugees, Police (cops) violence/coercion

When Cédric Herrou was handcuffed and taken to jail by a few police officers, the news worldwide portrayed him as a criminal. One didn’t even have to ask why but assumed that helping illegal crossings of migrants from Italy to France was terribly wrong. The mere fact that he helped an illegal migrant move justified the ways the repressive apparatus of the state treated him - publicly handcuffed and subjected to further punitive procedures. Accused of smuggling and taken into four-month custody, Herrou was brought to a trial. The trial was turned against Herrou both in the courtroom and publicly as helping the illegal crossings of refugees was strongly condemned. However, a few months later, the principle of fraternity enshrined in the French constitution lead to Herrou’s release, as it conferred the freedom to provide humanitarian assistance and help others regardless whether they were legally or illegally present on the territory.

A recently published report Humanitarianism: the unacceptable face of solidarity discusses prosecution of more than 40 individuals who dared to assist migrants and refugees in crossing the sea or land borders irregularly. It covers case studies that speak to the rigidity of migration management and regulation of civic disobedience-in-solidarity with migrants and refugees. A recent case of a war veteran Dragan Umičević of Are You Syrious, who helped a group of refugees including six children freezing in winter at the Croatian-Serbian border, or Scott Warren of No more deaths in Arizona who helped two undocumented migrants along the US-Mexico border, or a volunteer and Syrian refugee Sarah Mardini of Emergency Response Centre International, who was arrested for her humanitarian work in Moira camp, or a ship captain Carola Rackete of Sea-Watch, who docked the migrant rescue ship in the port of Lampedusa without authorization, or a mayor of Riace Domenico Lucano, who was arrested under accusation of aiding illegal immigrants - all those events speak strongly of clampdown on solidarity actions with migrants and refugees. These people and their organization, just as numerous others that stay invisible and hidden from public sight, have come under state prosecution instrumentalizing the rigid anti-smuggling legal provisions. Fekete notes that “The emergence of autonomous migrant and refugee solidarity movements and the lengths individuals were prepared to go to help were perceived by states as a threat to their control of borders.”

The border control and the security obsession as coined by Mattelart (2010) have been strongly inscribed in the current European, American and global migration regimes. They have been labelling migrants and refugees as threats and creating an industry enemizing them and those who identify and solidarize with them.

Illegal or irregular crossings of migrants represent one of the most serious violations of entering foreign sovereign territory within the complex web of punitive technologies entailed in the migration management regimes. Both migrants who are perceived as bodies carrying the culture of criminality (cf. Harvest of Empire) and helpers, whether they help crossings for the intrinsic reasons or for the extrinsic reason of money, are represented as criminals. The current migration regime treats them all as smugglers and criminals alike so that the logical and only next step is incarceration and punishment. That representation is perpetual due to its productive spread - it is not only centralized in state actors but among the public too. We sure can notice the spill-over effects within societies, where the fear of danger and unsafety stoked by intense propaganda we have been exposed to in our everyday lives (remember Viktor Orbán or Matteo Salvini’s political agendas) mobilized defence mechanisms. Drawing on the Foucauldian approach, the governmentality of criminalization of migration (i.e. crimmigration) and criminalization of solidarity has permeated different spaces.

Criminalization of solidarity through humanitarian assistance represents violation of the international humanitarian law and international human rights law as well as a violation of constitutions and legislations of liberal democracies. It is also deeply counter-human and counter-social. Yet, the production of fear and danger has been extremely pervasive, thus deteriorating social trust and deepening the harm perpetuated against refugees and migrants.

Such political tendencies call for anti-hegemonic counter-actions that can create openings for envisioning possibilities of creating solidarity and radicalizing both political spaces and our responses. The sessions that follow offer a pedagogy that invites people and groups who are willing to act locally in this transnationally connected political space to reconsider how to tackle the complexities of criminalization of solidarity. The pedagogical ideas here are calling for a critical shift and a politicization of these troubled realities.

Sessions in this topic include:

mythbusting, collectivememorywritingbycriminalizedactivists, calloutcopscalloutsystem, dontbeanasshole, readanddisrupt, challengetherulings


Reports and Press Releases

Web pages



session ⦚ Myth busting!


  • Understanding what and how crafts public perceptions of certain groups in certain times, and how moral panic informs our daily actions
  • Disrupting common ways of perceiving and representing migrants, refugees and volunteers who solidarize with them

Method: Barometer

Barometer is often used method when we want to question our and others’ positionality and attitudes towards a problem or an issue that arises and pertains to our socio-political context. This method is not a debate or an argument but rather a personal positioning and reflecting. Deploying this method requires focus and good facilitation (it can be facilitated by one or more people or by the group itself, although that might be a challenge for those involved).

Barometer is an activity that requires an action coordinating body and mind. It is a physically drawn line in the space with two ends that represent a spectrum agree-disagree. The participants are asked to position themselves along the line in reference to the level of their (dis)agreement with the statement that facilitator(s) reads. Statements are usually provocative and critical, and they might be painful for some participants. Facilitator(s) can decide whether they will go with one or more statements, depending on where the group is at.

In this activity, participants are asked to position themselves and explain their positionality, reflect on their decisions and actions, question their own way of seeing things. They are asked to articulate their thoughts. They are asked not to respond to others but rather use others’sresponses to think about their own repositioning.

Once a statement is read, participants are asked to position themselves, and that is when the “conversation” starts. Facilitator(s) should remind participants not to respond to others. Also, facilitators should ask, after a few people have talked, if someone changed their mind and would like to reposition. It is crucial in this activity to hear voices along the whole spectrum.

Time: 30 minutes to 120 minutes

Possible statements

Legal is ethical!

Solidarity is crime!

Cops are just doing their job!

session ⦚ Collective memory writing by criminalized activists


  • Documenting and reflecting on the experiences of criminalization
  • Building a community of trust and healing

Method: Collective memory writing

Collective memory writing is a method developed by Frigga Haug, a German philospher and feminist. Haug gathered women facing political violence after the fall of the Berlin wall and facilitated the process of reminiscing and writing memories. The method has been widely used in activist and academic spaces ever since and has been modified to fit the needs of various groups.

Haug’s method is structured around a few parameters (see below). However, the method can and should be adjusted to different contexts and situations. The method is a process of writing down personal stories and experiences that are later on shared with the whole group that takes on the process of analysis. Sharing and collaborative analysis is a space of healing as well as of critique of the structures and systemic oppression.

Groups can decide whether they want to publish the work, present it through academic or artistic forms or keep it as an internal tool that will define further political actions.

Time: 2 - 4 hours a week individually & 2 - 4 hours a week in a group for a month or more (groups can define the length of the process)


session ⦚ Call out cops! Call out the system!


  • Providing critique to policing migrants and refugees and those who solidarize with them
  • Deconstruct the systemic justification of the punitive and repressive actions against the illegals who are construed as a threat and an enemy

Method: Direct action

Organizing direct action is both a common and uncommon way of addressing police violence and coercion many citizens/volunteers are subjected to. There are various examples when people/activists went out in the streets and protested against police and state violence. Lately, many activists, priests, firefighters, doctors and others were criminalized because they helped undocumented migrants or refugees in different ways. Those coercive and often violent actions provoke counter-responses by local or translocal/national groups.

Possible ideas

  • Creating and handing out a booklet intended for citizens, teachers, medical workers focusing on migrant and refugee rights and local systems of solidarity that act in opposition of police and state violence
  • Creating and publicly displaying (i.e. on buildings, on the street, on billboards) a local map and timeline of police activity against solidarity actions
  • Making stickers and placing them in public places such as public transport, hospitals, schools, parks etc.
  • Walking through the town with banners and leaflets
  • Protesting on a larger scale (there are a number of online resources on how to organize a protest)

Time: 2 days and more…

Guiding questions

  • What/Whom do we need to address?
  • How will we address it? What is the way we want to deliver our message?
  • Whom do we collaborate with?
  • How will we prepare the scenario/choreography?
  • What do we need?
  • What are the repercussions for those who we solidarize with? What are the repercussions for us and myself?
  • How will we cope with repercussions and provide an on-going critique?


session ⦚ Don't be an asshole!


  • Critical understanding of one’s own complicity in criminalizing others
  • Finding one’s own way to support and solidarize with those subjected to dehumanization and criminalization
  • Challenge common legal and institutional practices of criminalization

Method: Workshop

‘A little prison in the Hedgehog’s land’ is a picture book addressing the criminalization of the so-called illegal migrant/refugee wandering through the woods and running from danger. The book was inspired by the tale Ježeva kučica (Hedgehog’s Home) in which a hedgehog is in search of a home. The title and the story were modified to tell the story of the detention centre in Ježevo (“Hedgehog land”) near Zagreb, the Croatian capital. The book was made by the group of students and a mentor at the Centre for Peace Studies in Croatia. The book consists of two parts, one that is a story to read, reflect on and discuss, and the other that represents a game. The booklet can be used in both ways or separately, depending on the specific purpose and time frame.

Note: The booklet is in Croatian language only and is not accessible online for now.

Time: 90 to 120 minutes

session ⦚ Read & Disrupt


  • Pausing and taking time for reading and unpacking the texts that grapple with the complexities of criminalization of solidarity
  • Building one’s own and group’s methods of solidarizing with migrants and refugees, and resisting state control and violence

Method: Reading group

Time: 2 hours biweekly (or any other preference)

Guiding ideas

  • Taking time to comprehend and rethink our complex realities
  • Joining others in a meaningful discussion
  • Finding and becoming part of a space that creates different realities
  • Expanding the list of readings and ideas on how to read and discuss critically
  • Possible creative responses beyond reading to the outer context
session ⦚ Challenge the rulings!


  • Understanding ways how the criminalization of solidarity operates through state and judicial practices
  • Sharpening personal lenses to recognize state and police violence
  • Reading legal texts with confidence and disrupting the inaccessibility of legalese

Method: Discussion

(in a human rights organization, in a classroom, at a coffee shop, round table, workshop, conference…) based on the analysis of a court ruling

Time: 90 minutes and possibly more


Guiding Questions for Analysis

Questions of Comprehension

  • What are the facts entailed in this ruling?
  • How this ruling relates to the Aliens Act and its provision on the criminalization of solidarity?
  • What is hidden in the ruling? What can we not read here? (personal motivation of Dragan, for instance)

Critical Questions

  • Why does the Aliens Act not protect Dragan Umičević? What kind of message are the courts delivering with this ruling?
  • How does the criminalization of solidarity look like in this particular case? What are the consequences Dragan and Are you Syrious must bare?
  • Why is the criminalization of solidarity harmful broadly and not just for Dragan and Are You Syrious?
  • What are the ways to stand against such criminalization?
  • What are the ways that more groups and individuals can act similarly to Dragan and support migrants on their perilous journeys?
topic ⦚ Sea Rescue as Care

Sea Rescue as Care


Piracy in the early eighteenth century was, at bottom, a struggle for life against socially organized death.1

This definition of piracy, however, was surely not the one that former Italian minister of interior Matteo Salvini had in mind, when he proclaimed “yet another act of Piracy by an outlaw organization”, in June 2019, after the crew of Sea-Watch 3 had rescued 52 people from a rubber boat in distress.2 And yet, the struggle that has been going on for five years in the central Mediterranean Sea is just that: a struggle for life against socially organized death. European states have created a zone at their margins, where all their proclaimed values, their human and civil rights are suspended; a state of exception that reduces the sea to a weapon, people to bargaining chips – and the fluid southern frontier of EUrope to the deadliest border in the world.3

The European activists who oppose this state of exception are of course neither pirates in the historical, nor in the legal or ideational sense: If, according to Markus Rediker, historical piracy was a (class) struggle for the pirate’s own life, which presupposed sheer defiance of death itself4, then civil sea rescue activism is primarily a fight in solidarity, starting off from the privileged position that it is not the activist’s own life that is at stake. Nonetheless, the parallels that Matteo Salvini’s repeated accusations of piracy unintentionally point to can’t be ignored when looking at civil sea rescue as an act of pirate care: “the term pirate has been highly ideological from antiquity forward, functioning more or less as the maritime equivalent of barbarian—that is, anyone who was an enemy of the Romans."5

While the sea rescuers were surely declared public enemy Numero Uno in Rome, at least in the first half of 2019, the question arises; does their intervention represent a modern act of symbolic piracy (in the best sense)? Or, in other words: can humanitarian emergency aid also be an act of political resistance? The state’s reaction surely suggests so. While the Atlantic pirates of the golden age – a tellingly short time from 1716 until 1727 – were quickly faced with a campaign of terror by “royal officials, attorneys, merchants, publicists, clergymen, and writers who created, through proclamations, legal briefs, petitions, pamphlets, sermons, and newspaper articles, an image of the pirate that would legitimate his annihilation”6 the modern nation states of the EU undertook their very own campaign to ‘cleanse the seas’. But let’s start from the beginning.

From Illegal Immigration to Humanitarian Border Management

After heavily relying on low-cost migrant labour in the years after the second world war, due to reconstruction and a lack of ‘manpower’, the Oil Shock in 1973 turned the tables and brought the economical boom to an abrupt end. One of the reactions of the countries affected was to restrict labour immigration7. The tightening of the visa regime not only laid the foundation for today’s European border policy – and thus the so-called “refugee crisis in the Mediterranean” – but also set its constitutive dispositif: illegality. As Philippe Fargues summed it up for the International Organization for Migration (IOM): “It is common sense to state that illegality is a product of how legality is defined and the law enforced, and this applies to migration just as to any other phenomenon.”

The illegalisation however, didn’t stop the migratory flow, for reasons which Italian journalist and human rights activist Gabriele del Grande tried to explain to former Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, in simple capitalist terms: “[T]here are two market laws that continue to be ignored. The first is that demand generates supply. The second is that prohibition supports the mafias. In other words, as long as someone is willing to pay to travel from Africa to Europe, someone will offer them the opportunity to do so. And if the airlines won’t do it, the smugglers will."8

Consequently, since the mid 1970s far more than 2.5 million 9 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean Sea “illegally” on three main routes: The Western Route, with only 15 kilometres from northern Morocco to southern Spain. The Eastern Route, from Turkey to Greece, particularly busy between 2014 and 2016, when over a million refugees, mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, beat their way towards central Europe. And the Central Mediterranean Route, which actually includes a number of long-distance routes through the Sicilian Channel, with Libya as the main hub of embarkation. 10

The Central Mediterranean route is by far the most dangerous passage, with more than 15.900 official reported deaths, since 2014, compared to 3.476 in the west and east, making it the deadliest border crossing in the world. 11 (At the same time, there are indications that the unknown number of lives lost in the Sahara, on the way to the Mediterranean Sea, could be even higher.12)

The EU’s reaction to the mass dying on their southern border changed over time, as Paolo Cuttitta outlines: “until 2013 state authorities in the Mediterranean used to systematically discourage all seafarers – mainly fishing boats and cargoes – from accomplishing their duty to rescue people in distress at sea, in the frame of what has been called the ‘governing of indifference’"13. By the end of 2013 however, a few days after the shipwreck of October 3, which left around 390 dead off Lampedusa and sparked international concern, Italy launched its own large-scale sea rescue operation. Named after an ancient Roman term for the Mediterranean – Mare Nostrum: Our Sea – it was “the most significant step in the process of institutional humanitarianization of the EU sea border, in whose framework humanitarian arguments are deployed to support exclusionary policies and practices.” 14

Due to major success – the efforts of the Italian navy and coast guards led to the safe arrival of over 150.000 people within the first year – the operation was quickly cancelled and replaced with a less efficient successor (Frontex Triton).

From Depoliticisation to Repoliticisation

For many people within the sea rescue movement, and many observers, the past five years have been a constant revelation about the EU states’ intentions: whereas initially, from the tragic boat accident in October 2013 until the “refugee crisis” in 2015, one could still assume incompetence of European institutions, the developments in the years since have patently shown that supposed accidents and catastrophes were no accidents and catastrophes whatsoever. Everything from boats sinking, over thousands upon thousands dying on the externalized EU-borders,15 to further thousands held captive on Greek islands; all of that was intentional or, at the very least, accepted with approval. “It should act as a deterrent for other refugees; it should stop them from fleeing. Europe is using dead refugees to shield itself from refugees."16

The civilian sea rescue didn’t change this policy. In fact, it might have even assisted it, in so far as it provided operational support and – before it started to be criminalised – it provided a humanitarian and de-politicising legitimation to the very border regime it sought to criticize.17 However, from the very beginning there have also been re-politicising, resistant elements in the NGO’s modus operandi. Cuttitta concretely names their constant role as uneasy witnesses, Sea-Watch’s long-time refusal to take people in distress aboard their own ship, and instead only secure the scene and wait for state actors to do their job, finalize the rescue and bring the survivors to land.18 The re-politicising tendency prevailed particularly in the first half of 2019, in the form of a constant and open confrontation with authorities and repeated breach of the Italian port entry restrictions.

Forensic Oceanography in its inquiry Blaming the Rescuers reached a less ambivalent conclusion. It suggests that the resistant character of sea rescue is already inscribed in the act itself, irrespective of its discursive implications – in so far as this act keeps the Mediterranean route open.19

Both Cuttitta and Forensic Oceanography’s inquiries, however, disregard the symbolic aspect: a ship, as Michel Foucault argued, can not be reduced to its functional aspect. It also offers “the greatest reserve of the imagination."20

Relatively independent from how de-politicising the embedding of civilian sea rescue into a - what might have at the time seemed humanitarian - border management regime, the image of the rescue ship was nonetheless seized upon by a number of re-politicising movements. As Beppe Caccia and Sandro Mezzadra of Mediterranea write: “Our ship has been appropriated and somehow reinvented from a wide range of standpoints that go from occupied social centers to parishes, universities and schools, from small town circles to metropolitan assemblies."21

The most recent culmination of that story, the arrest of Carola Rackete, added a strong, rebellious-feminist layer to the projection screen, as Georg Seeßlen outlined in Jungle World: First, it was a man who fared the seas and ventured into the world, leaving his docile and lamenting wife back home on firm land. But now it is men that stay back lamenting […] Vile, hysterical men that barricade themselves up with their followers in ever narrower confines and that understand less and less of the world that surrounds them the more they get worked up by it – the world of far-travelled, brave, cool and autarchic women-captains. For sure, the reality is more complicated than that, and after all it is the bad guys that mostly win. But at least we again have a story that instils hope and awakens the spirit of rebellion to life.22

Ships such as Aquarius, Mare Jonio, Iuventa or Sea-Watch 3 have not only served as vessels for people but also as a vessel for an idea of another Europe – a Europe of solidarity. As such they hold enormous significance and resistant character, or in Foucault’s words: “in civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates.” 23

Has sessions:


Eros Moretti & Eralba Cela,2014.‘A brief history of Mediterranean migrations’. , p. 120 f

  1. Marcus Rediker,2004.‘Villains of all nations: Atlantic pirates in the golden age’.Verso. p.153 ↩︎

  2. globalist,0101.‘Salvini senza freni sulla Sea Watch: "sono pirati fuori legge"’. , author’s translation (Accessed: 06.01.2020) ↩︎

  3. Philippe Fargues,2017.‘Four decades of cross-Mediterranean undocumented migration to Europe: a review of the evidence’. , p.1 ↩︎

  4. Rediker, p.148 ↩︎

  5. Ibid., p. 174 ↩︎

  6. Ibid. ↩︎

  7. ↩︎
  8. Gabriele Del Grande,0101.‘Lettera al Ministro dell'Interno Matteo Salvini... - Gabriele Del Grande’. (Accessed: 02.05.2020) ↩︎

  9. Philippe Fargues,2017.‘Four decades of cross-Mediterranean undocumented migration to Europe: a review of the evidence’. , p. 9 ↩︎

  10. Ibid. ↩︎

  11. IOM: Missing Migrants Project. Tracking Deaths Along Migratory Routes. International Organization for Migration, (Accessed: 28.12.2019) ↩︎

  12. Tom Miles & Stephanie Nebehay,2017.‘Migrant deaths in the Sahara likely twice Mediterranean toll: U.N.’. (Accessed: 10.12.2019) ↩︎

  13. Paolo Cuttitta,2018.‘Repoliticization Through Search and Rescue? Humanitarian NGOs and Migration Management in the Central Mediterranean’. , p. 642 ↩︎

  14. Ibid., p. 638 ↩︎

  15. Christian Jakob et al.: Migration Control, in: taz, June 2017, (Accessed: 08/01/2020) ↩︎

  16. Heribert Prantl,0101.‘Asylpolitik - Warum die EU Flüchtlinge tötet - Politik -’. (Accessed: 13/10/2019) ↩︎

  17. Cuttitta 2018, p. 639 ↩︎

  18. Ibid., p. 643 f ↩︎

  19. Forensic Oceanography, 2018, ↩︎

  20. Michel Foucault,1986.‘Of other spaces’. p. 27 ↩︎

  21. Caccia & Mezzadra, 2018 ↩︎

  22. Georg Seeßlen,0101.‘Oh Captain, mein Captain’. (Accessed: 08/01/2020) ↩︎

  23. Foucault 1984, p. 27 ↩︎

session ⦚ Pirates of the Central Mediterranean

Session 1: Pirates of the Central Mediterranean


The European states have created a zone at their margins, where all their proclaimed values, their human and civil rights are suspended: A state of exception that reduces the sea to a weapon, people to bargaining chips - and the fluid southern border of the European Union to the deadliest migration route in the world. This is where activists organized to respond immediately in a solidary way. What can we learn from the brief history of thousands of years of migrations in the Mediterranean and that of six years of civil sea rescue?

Let’s learn together

Step 1: Words we think with (30 mins)

Hand out post-it papers (the bigger ones). Ask participants to write words or phrases that come to their mind for each of the following concepts: piracy, migration, duty to rescue, socially organized death, freedom of movement, humanitarian crisis, solidarity; one after another, giving them 3 minutes for each. Assemble papers by theme (concept), sticking them to a wall.

Step 2: Let’s watch and read (70 mins)

Participants read:

And watch the following videos:

Step 3: New meanings? (45-60 mins)

Repeat the process from Step 1. Then look back at two sets of post-its (those made before reading and watching, and those made after); give participants 15-20 minutes to reflect and discuss these concepts and how their thinking about them has been changed by the reading, in small groups. Have the groups report to the full group (sitting in a circle if viable). Randomize who is speaking by using a speaking-ball, if viable. Let the speakers freely pass the ball to whomever wants to add on what is being said; moderate the discussion in terms of relevance but allow personal accounts if they happen.

session ⦚ We are all on the same ship, aren’t we?

Session 2: We are all on the same ship, aren’t we?


At their very best, responses to a problem perceived as external to particular (individual or group) agency - in origin at least, and possibly of such a scale that it gets called a “crisis” - include intensified emphasis on community organizing. It is one of this charged words, rich in history yet elusive in its contemporary forms in capitalist societies: a community. (Mostly reduced to the following prefixing contexts: indigenous, gated, activist.) A community can be conceptualized as an ongoing process/action of co-producing relationships, values, material resources, infrastructures, needs, preferences, commitments, identities, and beings. In the words of John A. Schumacher ( John A. Schumacher,1998.‘Communal Living: Making Community’ ), making community is never over: community is the making of it. On a search and rescue ship, with crews of 22 most of whom change for each mission - every three weeks or so – there is a strong overlap between missions and communities. So-called virtual communities, on the other hand, can stretch longer in time but lack a connection to a place and sustenance and are perhaps always affinity groups rather than communities.

Let’s Learn Together

Step 1: Introduce ourselves

Step 2: Let’s read (30 min.)

Participants take turns reading aloud a paragraph each of the introduction to the Camille’s stories in Donna Haraway,2016.‘Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene’.Duke University. (pages 137-143). The facilitator reads out the following statements of the interviewees from Morana Miljanović,2020.‘To Care like a Pirate, to Pirate Care: Ethics of Confrontational Search and Rescue, Practiced by Sea Watch’.:

  • Sea Watch crews see abuses of people in Lybia (torture, slavery, rape, etc.) as intolerable, human life and freedom of movement as valuable irrespective of race, and it runs the ship in their own way, operating “outside of the wishes of the states, not outside of the law.” (Kim)

  • It is exactly the common goal and common cause that has also led to failure of crew care in some cases, according to Ruben, “because we always put the mission first, and sometimes we should say crew first”, not as regards safety on board but giving time off to hard-working volunteers.

  • In the words of Daniel: “Without the ship being in good order, we’d be in trouble. That focuses people on being a good community, cleaning, being responsible.” There is a common understanding that consequences of lack of care for the ship can mean a “a bad rescue, where our actions could contribute to people dying” (Daniel), or inability to stay operational, if the organization fails to comply with legal standards regarding the condition of the ship.

  • (Kim) pointed out that everyone’s voice is heard – although whether one would voice an opinion is up to an individual crew member – and that this has been “built into the organization from the beginning, and not something that grew organically on the ship. It was consciously decided to have as flat a hierarchy and as inclusive environment as possible.

  • (Lorenz) observed that opinions and proposals of crew members who are shy or disliked are less likely to be heard. Lorenz also noted that skill-sharing acts as an equalizing mechanism: everyone is invited to learn new skills.

  • Due to the large number of people participating in the weekly teleconference call, which is the decision making forum, discussions are difficult and decisions are de facto made about ideas that had been discussed first in small circles of friends.

Step 3: Vessels of the times past (30 min.)

Ask participants to map out their experience that comes closest to their notion of community along the vectors of relationships, values, material resources, infrastructures, needs, preferences, commitments, identities and beings. Ask them to discover what was missing in each plane, where they overlap, and what alternative ways of connecting these planes exist. Guide participants in the analysis of the above concepts that enables mapping to be as concrete as possible. Ask how features internal to the community (e.g. size of the community, communication structures, decision-making structures) and those external to it (e.g. place where it was situated, climate, political context) shaped the experience.

Step 4: Ce ci n’est pas un bateau (45 min.)

Ask participants to imagine a community that would come closer to a functional community along the same vectors as mentioned above, and to map them out one by one, without reference to others. Then, ask them to put these mini maps together. Guide a discussion around what has happened.

Bring back the maps made in the Step 2 and contrast them with new maps. Solicit observations and thoughts on this process as well as what participants find as interesting discoveries in their maps, guide a discussion. Examine the choices of each of internal and external features of community making/maintenance and ideas underlying those choices.

Step 5: Who are we (45 min.)

Ask the participants to list those who would be excluded or have trouble accessing their imagined community, as well as grounds and modes of exclusion/limited access. Then, ask them to revisit the maps and identify spaces where exclusion originated.

session ⦚ From an affinity group to an activist organization

Session 3: From an affinity group to an activist organization: maintaining community


As a small group of activists formalizes their work in organizational terms, and grows in regard of persons and resources involved, difficulties arise from that growth. In particular, ways of doing that were tied to friendships among the small group of activists no longer apply. In this session, organizational mechanisms of care, communication, and decision-making used by Sea Watch are explored critically, to learn and inherit useful mechanisms of continually structuring a growing community of care.

Let’s Learn Together

Step 1: Introduce ourselves

Step 2: Care on the ship (2 hours)

Explain (1) the buddy system, (2) psychological briefings, (3) knowledge/skill sharing among crew, (4) the cleaning routine and other work of ship maintenance, and (5) care for the guests. Guide a discussion for each, asking participants to connect these mechanisms to their experiences.

(1) The buddy system: Each member of the crew of 22 is paired up with another person (of their choice or random, decided prior to pairing up among and by specific crew members) for the duration of the mission, to check on daily on each other in terms of psychological well-being, especially regarding how they are dealing with stress.

(2) Psychological pre-briefing and de-briefing: Before each mission, the entire crew meets for the first time, joined by an external psychologist, who facilitates their introduction to each other and tackles the topic of stress related to their care work. After the mission, the crew meets again in plenum to share reflections and feelings that came out of what happened during the mission.

(3) Skill sharing: Whereas skills that are vital to performing search and rescue are systematically trained on board within a strict schedule, other skills related to the maintenance of the ship, seamanship, and skills of interest to particular crew members are scheduled upon demand when ship is underway and not engaged in search and rescue. The ones related to the ship contribute to the equalizing effect among the crew composed of professional seafarers, non-professional seafarers, and persons with no/little prior experience on the sea.

(4) Morning cleaning and maintenance jobs: Crew vacuums, mops, and scrubs the common spaces, to maintain the working routine as much as to maintain tidiness. Based on their function on the ship, crew members belong to one of the three “departments” (deck, engine room, bridge) and are given maintenance jobs by the person responsible for the department when appropriate and necessary. Maintaining the ship in the good shape is seen as a prerequisite for being able to sail and undertake effective missions.

(5) Guest care: After a rescue, crew participates in cooking, handing out food, watches, crowd mood observing, and other tasks distributed and coordinated by the so-called Guest Coordinator. Every crew member enters into relationships with guests according to own capacities and guidelines set by the Guest Coordinator (for example: do not give a blanket to a person if you cannot give it to everyone, unless there is a specific valid case for it). There is a crew member (Cultural Mediator) who does the work of preparing referrals with and for the guests, so that they have access to adequate and professional care once on the land.

Step 3: Modes of communicating, knowing, aligning, strategizing, choosing action, (re)acting, coordinating, overseeing, intervening, questioning, collaborating (2 hours)

Explain (1) the weekly teleconference call, (2) the morning meeting on Sea Watch 3, (3) the Mission Support group. Guide a discussion for each, asking participants to connect these mechanisms to their experiences.

(1) The weekly teleconference call, so-called Monday telco: The decision-making body of the organization, where all its formal members have a voice and voting rights. Decisions made are ones that belong to the ‘greater picture” level, whereas operational questions get delegated to departments. Teleconference is facilitated/moderated by the Organization Coordinator, who has no voting rights.

(2) The Mission Support group: Is one of such departments to which specific decision-making is delegated. What happens during a mission affects not only the ship and Logistics but also departments such as Media and Advocacy. The MSG includes representatives from relevant departments and decides autonomously on mission relevant issues. Like the Monday telco, it has a coordinator.

(3) The morning meeting: Every morning on the ship, the entire crew (except 2 persons on watch at that moment) meets in a mess room. Captain, the chief engineer, and the bosun give updates concerning the mission and the ship. Any crew member can add on and/or take a word on any issue of interest to the whole crew.

(4) Discourse: Online platform where everyone who has participated in SW missions, shipyard times, or is otherwise volunteering or working for SW, and the organization members, have a voice. There is no decision-making power.

Step 4: Compost (2 hours)

Ask participants to design mechanisms of sharing information and acting upon it that integrate care, for an organization of a given and changing size. Guide them working in small groups. Discuss the results.

session ⦚ Undoing the division carer / cared for

Session 4: Undoing the division carer / cared for


In this session, we look at the strategies used by Sea Watch to make visible own biases in terms of latent sexism and racism as well as their influence on organizational practices and structures. We reflect on the potential pitfalls of power implicit in the giving and receiving different kinds of caring, restraints and limits to undoing of the division between care givers and recipients, and available ways to puncture and dilute these diving lines.

Let’s learn together

Step 1: Lets’s read

Participants read aloud:

Step 2: Let’s talk about how we talk

Share mixed experiences, lessons learned, and strategies of the activist group / organization as well as those of the activists, related to sexism and racism. Look into:

(1) unstructured, spontaneous or ad hoc conversations around sexism and/or racism,

(2) internal organizational mechanisms for responding to denounced instances of sexism/racism on the ship,

(3) conversations among carers (crew) and cared for (guests) that touch issues of sexism/racism,

(4) interventions of the carers (crew) in situations of sexism/racism among cared for-s (guests), and

(5) working groups active on the issues of sexism/racism. Give examples. Open for discussion.

Step 3: Guests and hosts

Explain the constraints on the undoing of the carer/cared for division. On the Sea Watch 3, these are:

(1) temporal dimension of the relationship between the crew and the guests on board – short time spans, at least before the times of long stand-offs,

(2) logistical, skilled workload, security and safety issues that are basis for control mechanisms (e.g. taking away lighters from guests, not allowing them to certain spaces in/on the ship, not including them in work that requires specific skills) and coordination mechanisms, and

(3) issues of psychosocial and physical vulnerability – different survivors need different care, all carry traumas, some require specific medical care…

Think which of these, and to what extent, should and can be undone or modified in a way that introduces more mutuality, and which should not and/or cannot. Examples of challenging the clean division of recipients and givers of care on the ship: including guests in the searching for boats in distress with binoculars, in ship maintenance tasks and preparation of meals.

topic ⦚ Housing Struggles


Housing today constitutes a new terrain for expansion of financial capital and financial speculations. These changes have brought about an increase in the prices of housing and land and, as a consquence, an unprecedented rise in household debt. Due to speculation, the number of empty flats waiting to be sold only when the price is right has been growing. In this situation housing has been increasingly changing function from someone’s home to a place for investment, savings, or collateral for someone’s pension. Some of the consequences of such a system have been a growing housing precarity, an army of evicted and homeless, and entire generations unable to attain home of their own. In our opinion, as long as housing continues to be treated as an asset these problems will prevail.

We believe that the housing question can be understood only in dialectical relation between economy and grassroots struggles. It is about unlearning the mainstream cynical narratives and relearning housing from the perspective of the struggles. We want to connect knowledge around housing to power relations. Our aim is to create grounds for a collective learning process about housing that could lead to better understanding how to take constructive action and bring about necessary change towards a universal access to housing.


In this topic, sessions have been organized around two focuses: critical perspective on certain issues related to housing and examples of organizing. The issues that we have chosen are just some of the building blocks that make a complex story about housing.

We have organized this topic in eight sessions:

The sessions are organized around a basic question: Is the housing issue an issue of collective care or a means of profit? It is clear for us. Housing is a form of collective care that has to be fought for through mutual aid and in constant disobedience to neoliberal privatization tendencies. We hope that we have managed to make that argument and that those of you who will be working with this topic will feel the same.

session ⦚ Debt and Housing Struggles

How do we challenge the shame of housing debt?

We have been led by states and financial institutions to believe that it is natural to enter into personal debt in order to have a home. The easy access to credit has been equated with the right to housing. Narratives, politics and practices about home have become, at different paces, in different places, a question of individual property through which we mortgage our future, our pensions, our education. As Raquel Rolnik puts it in her book Urban Warfare: “Through the finance of private home purchase, global capital market expansion was based on private indebtedness, establishing an intimate link between individuals’ biological lives and the global process of income extraction and speculation”. Since the 1990s mortgage became one of the main driving forces of financial market operations. The push towards housing debt economy was global, while the responsibility became individualized. Those that could not pay instalments were deemed lazy and incompetent. This created a feeling of shame and a sense of personal failure in life. One of the main victories of the people affected by mortgages in Spain was to assign guilt and shame where they are due - in financial institutions and states.

Proposed resources

How to learn together

Read the proposed articles before you come to the session. Watch the film together. Organize a discussion round. Use a mind map to collectively organize your thoughts. Feed in as much detail as you can. Use critically what you have read. Include your personal experience. Share your mind map with other Pirate Care Syllabus users by downloading it on the web page.

session ⦚ Struggles for Social Housing

Universal care or charity?

The system of public housing as it was established in the mid 20th century had to be dismantled and privatized to make way for financialization of housing and proliferation of debt via housing loans. Even though the systems of public, that is social housing, are different from country to country, they were all designed to offer an alternative to the market-based housing provision. One of the prevailing models of dismantling the public housing system was the politics of the so-called right-to-buy that originated in the UK in the 1980’s and was transferred to many other countries. This means that social housing stock has been sold off to tenants living in them. The programs were dubbed as one of the most ingenious conservative revolutions. By making the tenant the individual owner of property - workers were supposed to become proprietors. To paraphrase General Franco’s Minister of housing in 1954, such strategies turn the nation of workers into the nation of owners. Struggles for social housing range from collective anti-gentrification action of tenants, rent strikes as well as the transnational demands for abolishing the neoliberal idea that the market can provide us with housing and demanding more investment into public housing stock. These struggles teach us that the right to housing, similar to the right to health protection, should be understood as the universal care established through the systematically arranged program of solidarity.

Proposed resources

Read about the myth of meddling state: The myth of meddling state by Peter Marcuse.

Read about the situation in the ex - socialist countries: Ana Vilenica,2019.‘Contradictions and Antagonisms in (Anti-)Social(ist) Housing in Serbia’.

Checking out how we fight the myth that market is the only solution for our housing problems: London Tenants Federation,2014.‘An Anti-gentrification Handbook for Council Estates in London’.London Tenants Federation.

Watch a film about iconic Pruitt - Igoe Myth: The Pruitt-Igoe Myth

If you want to know more

Read about the iconic rent strike in public housing estate Pruitt Igoe: Caitlin Lee & Clark Rondall,2019.‘Inside the St. Louis Rent Strike of 1969’.Belt Magazine.

For in-depth reading about mainstream narrative about global finance pushing the State out of housing production check out: World Bank,1993.‘Housing: Enabling markets to work’.World Bank.

How to learn together

Read the proposed articles before you come to the session. Watch the film together. Organize a discussion round. Make dictionary entries to collectively organize your thoughts. Feed in as much detail as you can. Use what you have read. Use your personal experience, including what you know about your family and your friends. Share your Dictionary with other Pirate Care Syllabus users.

session ⦚ Housing and Maintenance Struggles

Poor design or disinvestment?

Architectural critic Charles Jencks famously wrote that “modern architecture died in St Louis, Missouri on July 15, 1972, at 3.32 pm” when the public housing estate Pruitt Igoe was demolished. In public narratives the design was the one to be blamed for the failure of public housing. In reality, it was disinvestment that created poor maintenance, together with subsidies for individual housing loans. One of the most notorious cases of disinvestment in maintenance has been the case of the Grenfell tower in London. Due to cheap flammable cladding that was used in the refurbishment process, many working-class people lost their lives in the fire.

Nevertheless, maintenance is not only the issue of public housing. In the private rental sector, for instance, investment in maintenance can be regarded as a sign of a new increase in rental prices. Struggles that have addressed the issue of maintenance range from rent strikes to protest and movements against gentrification. Though maintenance hasn’t been spoken about a lot in the past, it is important to recognize that it is as an important factor in housing struggles worldwide.

Proposed resources

How to learn together

Read the proposed articles and look into the proposed resources before you come to the session. Organize a collective self-interview. Create a list of questions related to housing maintenance. The questions could tackle issues such as the changing situation at your housing estate, your opinions about the issues that you have read about in the proposed resources, your proposals and solutions etc. Make a round for each question. Make detailed notes. Share your self-interview with other Pirate Care Syllabus users.

session ⦚ Rent Struggles

What is the politics of rental relations?

Rent. It arrives every month and it takes a portion of the value of our labour, handing it over to our landlord. Rent that is negotiated on the market is usually perceived as a question of two-way agreement between two actors in the market - landlord and a tenant. But renting a home is not the same as renting a bike or a yacht, and it should be a subject of strict regulation. States and local municipalities in some cases, enforce rent control that protects tenants against eviction and price increase. Market apologists argue against rent control by claiming that if the state and/or municipal administration push for the rent control, developers will not invest into new housing and therefore we will have a shortage. This, however, has never been proven true. As rent is taking up a large portion of our incomes, it is not surprising that tenant unions are one of the main forms of organizing. Because tenants usually don’t live in the same place, organizing tenants calls for innovative tactics. In rent struggles, as our experience shows, it can prove a challenge to collectively secure something that is deemed the most fundamentally existential thing: a home.

Proposed resources

For inspiration on how we organize rent struggle check out

How to learn together

Read the proposed articles and look into the proposed material before you come to the session. Create together a fictional story about a renter struggle. Create different characters and determine their roles in the overall narrative. You can use one of these deeply embodied typologies: estate agent, landlord, local government representative, tenant etc. Your story could tackle issues such as the history of rent struggle in Glasgow, a 30-minute meeting of renters facing eviction in the place where you come from, description of renters’ protest set in the near future etc. Use the information from the reading resources. Write it up. Share your story with other Pirate Care Syllabus users.

session ⦚ Squatting

Is squatting part of the housing movement?

Squatting is a practice of claiming space without seeking permission which has a long tradition dating back to the pre-capitalist times. Squatting has been a response to the urgent situations of lack of housing and is an act that shifts the political terrain. In debates around squatting there has been a tendency to differentiate squatting into squatting out of necessity and political squatting as a militant act and part of social movements. During the so-called housing crisis, the housing movement has embraced the use of empty buildings for shelter and housing, as a response to homelessness due to foreclosures and urgent need for shelter. This has led to repolitisation of squatting as such, but also to renewed interpretation of squatting out of necessity as a political act.

Proposed resources

How to work together

Read the proposed articles before you come to the session. Do a survey about squatting out of necessity. Design a questionnaire together. Split into groups of two. Go outside and do interviews with people. Do as many as you can. Come back and share your impressions with others. Compare the results. Share the interviews and results with other Pirate Care Syllabus users.

session ⦚ Criminalization of Housing Struggles

How practicing the right to home becomes a crime?

Challenging private property with housing practices and solidarity actions to ensure that people have access to housing has been systematically discouraged by means of creating obstacles, vilification, stigmatization and juridical action. These practices have been referred to as criminalization of solidarity. Criminalization of solidarity in Europe has been soaring after the crisis in 2008. Individuals involved in the anti-eviction actions have been penalized and arrested, squatting has been illegalized in most European countries and replaced with profitable practices as property guardianship. The most severe attacks have been directed towards solidarity with migrants, including self-organized housing usually run by migrants and solidarity groups.

Proposed resources

How to learn together

Read the proposed articles before you come to the session. Collectively build the arguments pro and contra the solidarity housing movement. Split into two groups. Each group represents a group of lawyers. The first group is in favor of the solidarity housing movement. The second is against it. Each group articulates its own argument. Use what you have read. Come back together. Organize a discussion in the form of a court debate. Share your notes with other Pirate Care Syllabus users.

session ⦚ Tech and Housing Struggles

Is the use of technology in housing neutral?

Over the last decade(s), rapidly shifting technological landscapes have combined with the trends of financialization affecting the housing in myriads of ways. Although technology as such is represented as neutral, it is not neutral and has significant implications on the social and economic relation, including the impact it has on the financial accumulation, where extraction is facilitated by use of technology, and the housing governance where technology obscures human agency.

Digital technology, in particular, comprises a terrain struggle over housing that has been emerging as central in the last couple of years. Proposed resources will help in opening the discussion about the politics of digital technologies in the domain of housing, about new forms of accumulation through tech, and about new terrains of struggle in which a confrontation is aimed at the effects of technology.

Proposed resources

How to learn together

Read the proposed articles before you come to the session. Split into smaller groups. Each group has to choose one project of Housing Data Coalition and look into it closely. Make notes. Come back together and report back what you have learned. Discuss the differences in the impacts of technology that you have mapped. Write down the questions that you were unable to answer. Share your notes with other Pirate Care Syllabus users.

session ⦚ Bad Housing Makes Us Sick

Is there good mental health without a secure home?

Relationship between housing and mental health has been a focus of many debates after 2008. Serious physical and mental health issues have been arising as a result of insecure housing, and a systematic attempt to remove vulnerable people from their homes. Most of those who get evicted or whose houses get demolished end up leaving with mental traumas. The toxic link between bad housing and bad mental health damages our lives and our relationships. Most of the people in toxic housing situations don’t get any mental health support.

Instead of confronting the violent nature of contemporary housing, authorities in the European core countries have been trying to deal with mental health issues by imposing approaches that individualize the responsibility and focus on the consequences. The industry has been forming around the stressed subjects in order to reduce the consequences of suffering, acting as if bad housing is just a mental condition. In parallel, new groups and initiatives have been emerging in order to provide support based on mutual aid, do research, undertaking advocacy work, and raise awareness through events, artistic productions, and informational material.

Proposed resources

How to learn together

Read the proposed articles before you come to the session. Create a comic together. Discuss what you have read and create a rough draft of a script. Choose your partner and work with her on a sequence of frames. Use what you have read. Come back together. Lay out your panel so that it make sense for the reader. Share your comic with other Pirate Care Syllabus users.

topic ⦚ Commoning Care


The topic “Commoning care” emerged from a set of creative methods and collective “rituals” used to escape the capitalist hegemony that were experimented with in a context of collectivizing childcare and explore different pedagogies. “Commoning care” here is also broadly intended as a statement, to say that the only work that has to be done immediately is the one which aims to undo capitalism altogether. The first 4 sessions of this topic are therefore focused on the questions of life/work balance and unpaid labour, while the last two are related to the experience of creating a pirate kindergarten in Milan.

Both “commoning” and “care” are concepts around which many theories (and practices) have emerged and grown in the last decades. Therefore, it is risky – and indeed it may sound confusing – to bring these terms together. At the same time however, this can also be a strategy to create a perspective, a viewpoint from which to navigate these concepts without making them abstract and, as a consequence, delivering them to capitalistic uses. Such reterritorialization happens frequently: one just has to think of terms such as “queer” or “participation”, to name just a couple, which have been quickly appropriated by market investment strategies and state’s practices of control on propriety. However, the battle over language is never settled: we always lose and take back concepts, inventing and reinventing meanings and perspectives through which a word can show its worlds.

Thus, instead of trying to give a stable and yet imprecise definition of “Commoning Care”, this introduction start from some useful quotes to explore these terms and their possible meanings when conjoined:

“Care is everything that is done (rather than everything that ‘we’ do) to maintain, continue, and repair ‘the world’ so that all (rather than ‘we’) can live in it as well as possible. That world includes . . . all that we seek to interweave in a complex, life-sustaining web (modified from Tronto 1993, 103).” - Maria Puig de la Bellacasa

“To speak of the commons as if it were a natural resource is misleading at best and dangerous at worst – the commons is an activity and, if anything, it expresses relationships in society that are inseparable from relations to nature. It might be better to keep the word as a verb, an activity, rather than as a noun, a substantive.” - Peter Linebaugh


“Being-in-common – that is, community – can no longer be thought of or felt as a community of humans alone; it must become multi-species community that includes all of those with whom our livelihoods are interdependent and interrelated.”- Katherine Gibson

Let’s talk a bit about the context now. In the last decades, the organization of social reproduction – the daily and generational reproductive labour occurring in households, schools, hospitals, communities, lands, etc. – has become a subject of inquiry and a central topic from the perspective of capital investments and the labour market: a battle-ground of privatization, regulation and power dynamics along the lines of gender, race, and class.

Within a western perspective, the one I am working and thinking from, it has become evident that the crisis of the welfare system has resulted in many people being “left behind.” One response has been a market-oriented “techno-solutionist” hope (Evgeny Morozov, 2013) that digital technologies will help society address the reorganization of care needs (i.e. through health and disease prevention apps). These technologies are mostly developed for individual connected users while they confer a special status to the technologisits involved in defining and solving societal problems. Another response has seen people turn to more common ways of organizing care themselves. Such is the case of the rising platform cooperativism movement; of the transnational collectives experimenting with “Instituting Otherwise” methods (BAK, 2016); and of practices of radical redistribution of income, time, space, and knowledge. These communities are positioning care within specific forms of situated, embodied practices tinkering with technologies. They are refusing the exploitation of the present labour conditions and expressing a transformative vision through commoning wealth and health. They are practicing a different conceptualization of value and values and, finally, they are rethinking assemblages and kinships from a non-human centric perspective.

However, the practices of commoning care have been marginalized, criminalized, and restricted by governments around the world: from collective spaces evacuated through the strategic use of conservative bureaucracy, to the individual criminalization of participants in collective actions. In this sense, the framework of “Pirate Care” can provide a clear understanding of the link between the emerging practices of commoning care and the response of capital.

Despite repression, from the perspective of common strategies to survive and create more livable lives, it is easy to see a renewed need and interest in autonomous practices of education throughout Europe. Indeed, these material experimentations are spreading, both because of a limited access to public services, as well as the necessity to rethink pedagogies as a battleground through which to maintain the possibility of livable futures open. We can look at these practices as the creation of collective tools through which to undo what we have been taught and to collectively rebuild awareness of our needs, while escaping “the hegemony of Capitalocentrism” (J. K. Gibson-Graham, 1996).

The capacity to change perspective depends on a collective redefinition of value, based on our understanding of the asymmetries and differences that exist between us. Moreover, there is an urgent “ethical and political obligation” (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2017) of keeping together (and alive) complicated more-than-human assemblages.

Sessions in this topic

The following sessions are therefore based on a workshopping practice that makes use of tools from radical play, creative and visual methods for social research and speculative interventions. Sessions come from readings and reflections made within the communities of Macao and Soprasotto, which I am part of. The first community is a cultural center organized by art workers since 2012 in Milan (there are several articles online, however, I wrote this about it). The second commuinty is a pirate nest organized by parents since 2013 in Milan (here a short description), last two sessionin are specifically dedicated to this experiment.

These workshops are straightforward, although able to foster discussions around complex topics (such as social reproduction, the refusal of work, the normativity of social organization). Their aim is to collectively visualize and understand in playful ways:


To see a comprehensive list of references for this topic go to the collection.

Enjoy and fork. To add, to suggest, to ask: @maddalenafragnito

session ⦚ Mapping the Invisible

Understanding the invisible labour

This workshop aims to collectively visualize the invisible labour taking place within institutions, communities, families, spaces and groups; to analyze the material condition of invisibility of those activities; and, finally, to rethink what are the value and values that those activities bring to the whole context.

The workshop can be conceived as a stand-alone session, however, the suggested follow-up would be the Radical Redistribution workshop.


Care, Work, Value/s, Power Relations


3 hours


Tables, Chairs, Pen, Post-its, Print outs of 1. MAP 1

Let’s learn together

Step 1: Introduction

Ask the participants to introduce themselves and to breifly speak about a workplace1 they are part of (3 minutes each).

Step 2: Analyzing our daily work-spaces! (20 min.)

Split participants into groups of 3-4 people and ask each of them to choose a workplace they are part of. Ask each group to analyze together their respective workplaces by looking at different tasks involved in sustaining the workers and maintaining the facilities of the workplaces themselves. Ask each group to list each task on a post-it. Guide a discussion to reflect when a given task is visible and acknowledged and when it is not. For instance, you can ask questions such as: “What kinds of workers are invisible in each workplace? (i.e. cleaners, software maintainers, cooks)” or: “What jobs get the best wages?”.

Step 3: Magical discoveries (40 min.)

Place several print-outs of the Map 1 at the centre of the room and ask each group to report back on the tasks they have identified by placing the post-its within the four areas on the map: visible, invisible, waged, unwaged. Facilitate a collective discussion around each map, in order to reveal those aspects that remain hidden behind visible tasks and activities. At the end, take a photo of all of the maps.

Step 4: Let’s read (30 min.)

Collectively read Silvia Federici’s “Wages Against Housework” pamphlet, changing the reader at the end of each paragraph (20 paragraphs). After each paragraph, ask if there are any words that need to be explained. If there are, stop and collectively discuss them for not more than 5 minutes each.

Step 5: Rethinking the value of values (30 min.)

After the collective reading, go back to the maps (link) at the centre of the room and instruct the participants that they have the option to move one post-it across one of the maps. Invite them to explain the reasons for their choice. For instance, would they want a task to be more or less visible, more or less waged? Why? Repeat this process until the group has no further changes to make. Take a second photo of all the transformed maps.

Step 6: Conclusions (20 min.)

Ask participants how they feel about the workshop and invite them to discuss their own institutions, communities, families, spaces and groups based on their first analysis. Send them the two photos of the maps.


  1. workplace here broadly denotes a place where a person is involved in some type of work: office, cultural centre, social centre, home, and so on. ↩︎

session ⦚ Radical Redistribution

Our everyday use of time, material conditions of our activities, rethinking value(s)

This workshop aims to visualize our everyday use of time; to analyze the material condition of our activities; and, finally, to rethink what are the value and values that those activities bring to the whole context. This workshop can be conceived as a stand-alone session, however, we suggest to take a second collective moment in order to organize the workshop Unpdroductive Resistance.


3 hours


Work, Time, Value/s, Power Relations


Tables, Chairs, Pen, Print-outs of Map 2-1 and Map 2-2

Learning together

Step 1: Introduction

Ask participants to introduce themselves and to answer the following questions (8 minutes each):

  • How many hours do you work per day?
  • Thinking of your day, are there some activities that you consider to be work that are not considered as such?
  • If yes, are you able to quantify them in terms of time and fatigue (whether physical or emotional)?

Step 2: Analyzing our 24-hour clock! (20 min.)

Split participants in smaller groups if necessary and ask them to fill Map 2-1 by unpacking their everyday rhythms. Involve them in adding categories where necessary, and in defining different categories with specific actions, by writing inside the slices of pie.

Step 3: Magical discoveries (40 min.)

Put the completed maps at the centre of the room and ask participants to report back on what they have noticed while compiling the 24-hour clock. Guide a collective discussion asking questions around the balancing of everyday life. For instance, “Are you resting enough?”; “Is travelling to work taking too much time?”. Take a photo of all the maps.

Step 4: Let’s read (30 min.)

Collectively read the zine “The Abolition of Work” Black’s book (link). Enjoy!

Step 5: Rethinking our 24-hour clock (15 min.)

Split participants again and ask them to fill out Map 2-2 by rebalancing their everyday rhythms in a way that reflects their ideal scenario. 

Step 6: Let’s strike! (30 min.)

Put all second filled maps at the centre of the room and ask participants to explain the reasons for their choices. Guide a group discussion on the rebalancing of the 24-hour clock maps. This should lead to a collective exploration of values beyond value. Take a photo of all the second maps.

Step 7: Conclusions (20 min.)

Ask participants how they feel about the workshop and to imagine collective strategies in order to balance their life more accordingly to the second map. Send them the two photos of the maps.


session ⦚ Unpdroductive Resistance

“Living to work” and “working to live”

This workshop aims to collectively visualize the boundaries and the overlapping material and social conditions between “living to work” and “working to live”. Playing with parody and simulating our recurrent attitudes related to work, it is a way to subvert and transform our ‘natural’ and ideologically constructed relation with the impossibility of not working. The workshop can be conceived as a stand-alone session, however, it is suggested as a pair with the workshop Mapping the Invisible.


3 hours


Ethics of Work, Production, Productivism, Performance


Chair, Mattress, Candles, Paper, Pen, Dark Environment, Print-outs of Paper 1, Paper 2 and Paper 3

Let’s learn together

Step 1: Introduction (10 min.)

Welcome everybody and thank them for taking this time out from their daily life-work routines. Ask participants to be silent, to sit on the floor or to lay down on the mattress, to breath in and out deeply. Guide the session.

Step 2: Living for work or working to live? (15 min.)

Keeping silence, ask participants to think about the following three questions and to write down the answers on three different papers: 

  • Do you work more than what you could honestly do? Paper 1
  • If yes, who/what is making you do so (anxiety, fear of losing your job, I like it!, I don’t know, …)? Paper 2
  • Can you define which advantages your over-working is bringing to the rest of your life (try to answer anyway)? Paper 3

Step 3: Ritual n. 1 (20 min.)

Put on a rhythmic background music. Ask participants to parody the language associated with their condistions of over-work. This should become a choir of complaints related to time, impossibility and anxiety (mainly Paper 3-2). Guide participants to open up and voice their contributions with determination.

Step 4: Ritual n. 2 (20 min.)

Keep a rhythmic music playing in the background. When the group is ready, ask participants to continue repeating the same complaints but as if they were having sex and/or an orgasm. This should become something like a porn film sound-track made by complaints related to time, impossibility and anxiety. Guide participant to perform their sex voice by doing it yourself loudly.

Step 5: Let’s read (60 min.)

Bring at the centre of the room printouts from the suggested bibliography (see bottom of this page) and ask participants to look through the materials and choose a paragraph they will like to read to the group. After reading each paragraph take 5 minutes to discuss it.

Step 6: Ritual n. 3 (15 min.)

Put all Papers 3 at the centre of the room and ask participants one by one to take a paper and read it aloud for all.

Step 7: Ritual n. 4 (20 min.)

Guide a discussion around the advantages written on Papers 3, analyzing the boundaries between personal desires and expectations generated by the context.

Step 8: Conclusions (15 min.)

Ask participants how they feel about the workshop, share with them the bibliography by asking their email contact. Say godbye to everyone, thanking them for taking this time out from their daily life-work routines.


session ⦚ Exploring Interdependencies

What is involved in our choices?

This workshop aims to collectively learn how to visualize what is involved in our choices; to analyze the material condition of invisibility of the activities that underpin what we do; and, finally, to rethink who and where we are in relation to our choices. The workshop can be conceived as a stand-alone session, however we suggest to organize it together with the workshop Mapping the Invisible.


3 hours


Interdependency, Environment, Work, Value/s, Power Relations


Tables, Chairs, Pen, Print-outs of Map 4-1 and Map 4-2

Let’s learn together

Step 1: Introduction

Ask participants to introduce themselves (3 minutes each). 

Step 2: We are not alone (20 min.)

Ask participants to choose a normal activity they do when alone (i.e. eating; putting on make-up; doing their nails; reading) and to write it down at the top of Map 4-1. Split participants into groups of 3/4 people and ask each group to fill all maps together. Guide groups to deeply analyse each activity by listing every single task and effort that underpins it. For instance, if the activity is “eating a tomato”, ask them to unpack all the necessary processes that precede having a tomato in a dish ready to be eaten.

Step 3: Magical discoveries (30 min.)

Put the completed maps at the centre of the room and ask participants to report back on what they have identified behind their simple activities, taking 2/3 cases as examples. Guide a collective discussion around what the maps show, highlighting both the human labour and the non-human energy involved in each process. At the end take a photo of all the maps.

Step 4: Let’s read (40 min.)

Start a reading group of the chapter Consuming Suffering (p. 107) of Shotwell’s book “Against purity”, changing the reader at the end of each paragraph. Ask people to stop after each paragraph to verify if there are any words that need to be explained. If yes, stop and collectively discuss them for not more than 5 minutes each. When time is over, stop reading.

Step 5: We are not alone and useful (30 min.)

Ask each participant to fill Map 4-2 by writing on the top of the map an activity to which they are related (in term of labour, care, affect). Ask them to write at the bottom of the map a task they do in order to guarantee the activity on the top. Regroup and guide a discussion around the upside-down perspective. For example: my boss wants to write a grant (write this at the top) and I am asked to contribute a section (write this down below); fill the remaining space with all the actions and tasks that I together with my colleagues will have to carry out in order to acheive the goal. Another example: my son goes to university (write this at the top of the map). Below, write down all of the things that I as a parent, together with other, must do in oder for this to happen. The goal of this exercise is to show how individual actions are composed with the actions of others in complext webs of interdependency.

Step 6: Conclusions (20 min.)

Ask participants how they feel about the workshop and to start thinking more frequently who/what is involved in their choices. Send them the two photos of the maps.


session ⦚ Transgenerational Assembly

Follow the kids’ lead

This workshop is designed for a group of families who are planning to build a pirate kindergarten in order to common childcare. The workshop can be conceived as a stand-alone session, however we suggest to take a second collective moment in order to organize the workshop How to Build a Pirate Kindergarten in Your Neighbourhood.


2 hours


City, Relation, Power Relations, Voice


Bits of paper

Let’s learn together

Step 1: Introduction (15 min.)

Decide a specific spot in the city where to meet with all the families involved and their children. Prepare numbered pieces of paper according to the number of people involved and casually distribute them. Before starting the walk, every person (adult and children) should have a piece paper with a number indicating the progression with which the group will be guided.

Step 2: Just follow! (60 min. Or more according to the group length and strength)

The first person who starts moving decides where to go for the first five minutes. The rest of the group follows behind silently. After every five minutes, the person leading the walk will change. Repeat this operation until everyone has had the chance to guide the group once. Do not be afraid to be led by babies on their feet or strollers. Just collectively listen to their needs and desires. Follow each other!

Step 3: Conclusions (45 min.)

Find together a place where to rest or drink something. Discuss with children what you have discovered about the city and its inhabitants.


session ⦚ How to Build a Pirate Kindergarten in Your Neighbourhood

Planning a pirate kindergarten

This workshop is designed for a group of families who are planning to build a pirate kindergarten in order to common childcare. The workshop can be conceived as a stand-alone session, or it could be preceded by the workshop Transgenerational Assembly.


3 hours


Commoning care, childcare, space, self-organization


Let’s learn together

Step 1: Introduction to people (25 min.)

Ask participants to introduce themselves and the reasons why they need to share childcare. Encourage all to be as specific as possible about their circumstances.

Step 2: Introduction to neighbourhood  (25 min.)

Introduce yourself to each other in relation to the neighbourhood. What you know about it? Which spaces and people can be helpful for the project? Where are the green areas? And so on. Be as specific as possible.

Step 3: Let’s read (30 min.)

Read the Introduction and Chapter 5 of the book “How To Build A Pirate Kindergarten In Your Neighbourhood” (link) together.

Step 4: Making Consensus (60 min.)

Take the print-outs of QUIZZ 1, QUIZZ 2, QUIZZ 3, QUIZZ 4, QUIZZ 5 and QUIZZ 6. If you are more than ten, divide into smaller groups. You are asked to collectively discuss the statements. Be aware that the statements are not right or wrong per se, the scope is to collectively discuss them in order to find what your specific community believe is right or wrong for you. Also, be aware that ethics can change while practising :)

Step 5: Self-organizing is sexy (30 min.)

Take a print-out of MAP 6-1 and analyse it together, then divide into smaller groups and make a blueprint of a potential organizational map according to what the people involved and your neighbourhood need. Regroup and discuss. Remember to take photos of the maps and keep them for further steps.

Step 6: Self-organizing is very very sexy (30 min.)

Now take a print-out of MAP 6-1 and analyse it together, then divide into smaller groups and write down a list of the offline tools needed to start the project. Regroup and discuss. Remember to take photos of the maps to keep for further steps.

Step 7: Conclusions (10 min.)

Say goodbye to everybody and be happy because you have started to think together about a common solution to childcare and you are therefore involved in a process of ethical decision making. This is great!  But before you split, remember: 

  • To schedule the next appointment;
  • That the booklet “How To Build A Pirate Kindergarten In Your Neighbourhood” suggested here is not a model. Each community and context will find the best ways to answer its own needs and desires. In fact, one-approach-fits-all-solutions do not exist.
  • Just have fun, listen to people and take care of the planet!


topic ⦚ Psycho-Social Autonomy

Power Makes Us Sick (PMS) is an international collective that researches and supports autonomous health from an insurrectionary, anti-authoritarian, and feminist perspective. PMS seeks to understand the ways that our mental, physical, and social health is impacted by imbalances in and abuses of power. We want to share the good news of folks coming together to overcome that while supporting our collective health and wellbeing. We understand that mobility, forced or otherwise, is an increasingly common aspect of life today. PMS is motivated to develop free tools of solidarity, resistance, and sabotage that are informed by a deep concern for planetary well-being.

Our stated interest in autonomous health encompasses the mental, physical, and social aspects. Increasingly, though, we’ve been focused on collecting resources to support emotional health and wellbeing. There are a few practical reasons motivating this. Perhaps firstly, some of us suffer from mental health conditions that can make it difficult to function. Fighting back, bashing back, and generally creating visibility around this are actions that feel healing and so we do them.

Second, we love responding to calls from social movements and vulnerable communities, and a big part of these have been requests for this kind of support or info. So we’ve been putting together as many resources as we can muster, redestributing them and remixing them, while having a lot of conversations with folks as we go. Some of our friends have said that the lack of resources simply points to the fact that ‘emotional support’ is basic and obvious. To that point, we wonder: if it is so obvious, then why isn’t corresponding care happening more often and why do many of us fuck up so much? A lot of folks tend to be really insensitive to mental illness, write off certain types of people as being ‘aggressive’, ‘lazy’ or ‘needy’, conflate discomfort and harm, or maybe we all just aren’t that great at actually building accountability and conflict resolution. We think that to lay more of that foundation together is vital and important.

This brings us to the third major reason. While we were on this quest for info, guides, best practices, etc. around autonomous emotional support, we didn’t really find whatwe were looking for. We were already really inspired by the Icarus Project and in touch with groups like Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and others. There were various bits and pieces: essays focusing on burnout or de-escalation, some handouts given to us at actions about how to support each other through crisis, a lot of zines on accountability processes for sexual assault, some best practice guides from the non-profit sector that didn’t really address the problems we saw. So we wanted to compile a guide based on our own experiences from doing this work, informed by our own approach, to help fill the gaps in the literature around this topic.

Much of our work happens through trial and error, is embodied and starts in small conversations that we try to translate back for a wider audience. When we got invited to work on the Syllabus, though, it seemed natural that we could use that time and space to organize all of our material, get a better grasp on the history of the work of autonomous emotional support and where it has come from, and really have some dedicated time to scour and wade through it all. We were suprised to find that when we did that, we found that others might have already attempted to put out a ‘best practices’ guide before, but perhaps in a very different time and place or in different waves of social upheaval. All in all, we loved the opportunity to put this together for others to use, and to work on it alongside some other really amazing people and projects.

We’ll come out with a publication focused on autonomous emotional support sometime in the coming months that delves more into some of the ways we’ve seen folks already practicing this right now, contains more of the guidelines we have put together, and generally mirrors the kind of content you’re more used to seeing come from PMS. This syllabus stands alone as a way to step ones toes into the work of developing autonomous emotional support. We think it would be best served for those who want to pick a few of the sessions and go through them with others who want to do this work together; the discussion questions could serve as a jumping off point for some of the conversations that will need to happen.


You can find out more about the work of PMS, download our zines and other content, and find ways to get involved through our website.

session ⦚ A mutual aid group?


The Icarus Project,2013.‘Friends Make the Best Medicine: A Guide to Creating Community Mental Health Support Networks’.The Icarus Project. - pp. 16-22

  • The purpose of this session is to look at models and resources for autonomous emotional support
  • The intention is not to put these models into practice, but it may be a good idea to pay mind to the guidance set out in the extract from the Icarus Project’s zine, quoted above.

Recommended Reading



  • What examples of autonomous emotional support are there in your context?
  • Sometimes state-sanctioned and institutional sources of support can be damaging, incomplete, inacessible, exclusionary, or just non-existent. What barriers and gaps pertain in your contexts, and how are these adressed through autonomous provision?
  • Who is offering the support and how? In formal groups or through informal support? Are some people routinely providing more support than others?
  • Sometimes mutual aid is more readily available for people who can be fit into certain categories, such as ‘identities’, ‘symptoms’, or ‘diagnoses’.
  • For example, people in a certain social setting might be equipped to help each other deal with experiences that can be called ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety’, but what about people whose experience includes ‘hearing voices’, ‘unusual beliefs’, or other intense emotional or dissociative states?
  • Also, we may feel that we are very good at responding to a crisis, but not the ongoing work of taking care. Or vice versa.
session ⦚ An Inventory of Tools from Radical Communities

Activist Burnout, Trauma within Radical Movements

When resisting forces of domination (from the state, capitalism, patriarchy, coloniolism, the border, etc.) you will be met with repressive forms of violence. Sometimes that comes in the form of physical attacks and real violence, sometimes it comes in the form of psychological warfare. In this session, we want to look at some of the implications of this repressive strategy and some of the ways people have come up with for combatting it or thriving despite it.

Further Reading

  • Activist Trauma Support Group,2016.‘Activist Trauma and Recovery’.

    • Another handout developed by the UK group Activist Trauma which details some of the simple best practices for dealing with trauma in our communities. Much of this material here is borrowed in “Basics of Emotional Support” by PMS and the handout from Out of Action.
  • Jasmine Gibson,2015.‘Psychosis and State Repression’.

    • counter-insurgency and psychological warfare

    • A reader from Out of Action in Germany about confronting violence in radical movements, as well as inside and outside of actions. This group also holds support groups and offers support within social movements. Here is a resource they have put together to share some best practices. Also similar to the handout from PMS and Activist Trauma Support.
  • Gwynnie B. Hale,2015.‘CPTSD Allostatic Load and Giving No F*cks’.

    • CPTSD is really common in radical communities, for a variety of reasons. What is it and what can we do about it? How is it approached from the Western medical model, and how can it be approached through herbalism?


  • In what ways does state repression manifest as psychological warfare? What are some concrete and documented examples of this that you are aware of? What are the intended impacts of this and how might we work to combat it?
  • The experience of trauma itself does not lead to longterm expression of PTSD symptoms in every case. What are some factors (of the individual, their situation, the event, the follow up from the event, etc.) that might make the experience of trauma more harmful? What are some of the most important things to keep in mind as trauma pass through our world?

Two Perspectives on Accountability

Accountability is an ever-elusive principle that we constantly aspire to develop and understand within ourselves and our communities. Why is it so hard? Here we have summarized some of the ongoing conversation around it by presenting two ways accountability can be conceptualized. First is the view that seems common in activist, anarchist, queer, feminist communities. Accountability that is seen as a response to harm, something often invoked as a process for negotiating that of accountability as something that’s primarily invoked when one person harms another, often in the form of abuse and sexual violence. Second is accountability as an ongoing practice of care, which may open up some new possibilities and directions.

Accountability as a reaction to harm

  • Accountability as a reaction to harm: the accountability process, the conceptualization of accountability as something that can be demanded and taken, the uncomfortable similarities between these negotiations and the carceral system, and the failed processes that only magnify harm.
    • Anonymous,0101.‘What about the rapists?: Anarchist approaches to crime & justice’.Dysphoria 5.
      • A collection of articles about various anarchist responses to abuse and interpersonal violence, including transformative justice in practice, an analysis of accountability processes, and reports from those who’ve chosen instead to directly confront rapists.
    • Punk,0101.‘Betrayal: A critical analysis of rape culture in anarchist subcultures’.Words to Fire Press.
      • This zine looks at the ways rape culture persists in anarchist scenes and how accountability processes often fail to confront abuse in any meaningful way.
    • Anonymous,2012.‘Broken Teapot’.The Anarchist Library. particularly the intro and “Safety is an Illusion”
      • A collection of writings on disillusionment with the concept of accountability as it’s expressed, expected, and practiced in radical scenes. This can be a difficult piece and I include it here not because I agree with all its contents or approaches, but because it’s important to get at the visceral disappointment and rage that many feel over the failure of “accountability” as it’s typically been implemented.
      • The typical proposal for responding to rape, the community accountability process, is based on a transparent lie. There are no activist communities, only the desire for communities, or the convenient fiction of communities. A community is a material web that binds people together, for better and for worse, in interdependence. If its members move away every couple years because the next place seems cooler, it is not a community. If it is easier to kick someone out than to go through a difficult series of conversations with them, it is not a community. Among the societies that had real communities, exile was the most extreme sanction possible, tantamount to killing them. On many levels, losing the community and all the relationships it involved was the same as dying. Let’s not kid ourselves: we don’t have communities.

Accountability as a harm reduction

  • Accountability as harm reduction*: removed from a model that implicitly positions accountability as punishment, we can start to see it as the building material of interpersonal relationships, of care and affinity towards those we exist in community with (however we define that). The task of addressing harm is never easy, but perhaps when we’re approaching it from a foundation of practicing accountability as care for one another, it can be less devastating.
    • “The Secret Joy of Accountability: Self-accountability as a Building Block for Change” by Shannon Perez-Darby, from The Revolution Starts At Home
      • “So often, people jump to an external definition of accountability that is about other people assuming responsibility for their actions rather than imagining accountability as an internal process where each of us examines our own behaviors and choices so that we can better reconcile those choices with our own values. I define (self) accountability as a process of taking responsibility for your choices and the consequences of those choices."
    • what is harm reduction? in the context of substance use, here’s the Harm Reduction Coalition’s definition: Harm Reduction Coalition,0101.‘Principles of Harm Reduction’.
    • Power Makes Us Sick,2018.‘What is the Accountability Model?’.Power Makes Us Sick.


  • Choose a principle of harm reduction, either from the list linked above or your own experience. How can it be applied to mental health and emotional support? What might that look like in practice?
  • What are some conditions that need to be met for accountability to be put into practice?
  • Think about your own interpersonal relationships: what are a few ways you practice accountability that aren’t a reaction to harm?
session ⦚ Psychiatry and Control: Collaboration with the State, the Border, the Prison

Here we want to explore some of the ways that the practice of psyciatry is connected to other regimes of control, such as the state apparatus, the border regime, and the prison industrial complex. When defying power is seen as a disorder unto itself, the logic of psychiatry upholds the systems that organize our social life while reinforcing and exacerbating structural inequalities.

Recommended Reading

Further Reading


  • The Dispossessed poses an image of an anarcho-syndicalist society, with all its beauty and its setbacks. There are no prisons, and in the absense of a formal court system, social ostracization is powerful. What is your opinion of Tirin’s fate? What do you think about the prospect of abolishing the asylum and the prison altogether? How might questions of ‘mental illness’ be negotiated in a society without incarcertion or institutionalization?

  • “Soaring Beyond the Walls” outlines some somatic exercises that folks can do even from within the confines of a cell to connect with our bodies and negotiate whats ahead of us. What are some other possible ways that we might act in solidarity with those on the inside who might be lacking in the connection and emotional support we all crave?

session ⦚ Antipsychiatry, Mad Pride, and a History of Survivor-Led Organizing

Here we want to look at some critical perspectives that come out of the experience of attempting to ‘treat’ or being treated within the psychiatric context.

Recommended Reading

Further Reading

-Gilles Deleuze,2007.‘Two Regimes of Madness: Texts and Interviews 1975–1995’.Semiotext.

  • Is the schizo just unable to place or name their desire? or is it a process wreaking havoc on the continuity of society and if so, isn’t that exactly what we need more of? How to support the figure of the schizo while avoiding their internal breakdown. Some ongoing questions in the form of pretty theory that’s admittedly dense, but with a certain poetry and madness to it as well.


  • Are mental health crises or atypical behavior characterized differently by survivors of psychiatric treatment than in some of the other texts we’ve looked at?
  • What are some of the pillars of the anti-psychiatry movement?
session ⦚ Bad Care

The purpose of this session is to examine the relationships between power and care. A first and obvious dynamic in this relationship is negligence. The study quoted in the readings, on oppression, environmental stress and the long term effects of these on the brain and body shows how western science and research into ‘global health’ has negelected to look at the interelations between social, physical and mental health. As pirates, we can take this critique much further by insisting that industrial society is profoundly sick and proceed from that premise.

The essay ‘Unraveling the Biopsychiatric Knot’ focusses specifically on the relationship between neoliberalism and the biomedical/psychiatric approach to ‘mental disorders’ as codified in diagnostic manuals like the DSM. Again, we might want to go further than this acount and question the social ‘safety nets’ that neoliberalism has supposedly taken away. What were these ‘safety nets’, who were they for and who did they exclude? Who benefited and who paid for them? Who administrated them and to what end?

An interesting text that departs from these positions is the ‘Reclaim Your Mind’ manifesto. Insurrectionary anarchist theory and practice is a useful addition, not because it supplies all of the answers to the questions we have been posing, but it opens up some new directions to take.

Recommended Reading

Further Reading


  • What forms of ‘bad care’ have you and those around you encountered?
    • How does this relate to ideology and whose material interests do those ideologies serve?
  • What are some ways in which interpersonal bad care is informed by and mimics institutional bad care?
session ⦚ Take What You Need and Compost the Rest

Dangerous Spaces

“Fuck therapy, I just want to fight back” - a queer homeless comrade in the PNW

“Action dries your tears” - a PMS slogan that we heard from some Greek comrades

This section explicates some of the reasons why we just can’t stand to exist like this anymore and we’re going to do something about it. You will not be able to silence us with your violence. We are not the crazy ones, you are. We’ve got nothing but healthy responses to a sick world.

  • Some Crazy Bitches,2014.‘Dangerous Spaces’.Untorelli Press. (page 30)

    • A communique from “one of many future autonomous cells of crazy bitches,” encouraging direct confrontation and vengeance against rapists and rape apologists.
  • Healing and Fighting: a false dichotemy

    • Unknown,2009.‘This Time We Fight Back!’.This TIme We Fight Back!. (pages 21-25)
    • An anti-civ piece discussing how fighting back against our oppressors is a necessary part of healing, comparing the connection between healing and struggle to the body’s process of fighting an infection.
  • The Icarus Project,0101.‘hurting yourself’.The Icarus Project.

    • A harm reduction resource for those who self-harm.
  • Prostitues War Group,2017.‘Pro-festo of the Prostitutes War Group’.Prostitues War Group.

    • Sex workers rejecting reformist, legalizing solutions and instead putting their skills towards insurrection and social war.
  • Anonymous,1990.‘Queers Read This’.Untorelli Press. (anger pages 3-4)

    • notes on the justifiability of anger


  • So, what are some things you’d like to destroy? (Don’t worry about the how right now, just name what needs attacking!)
  • What do you do with your anger? Where in your life do you feel like you can express it and where do you keep it hidden? Where do you direct it?
  • Has safety ever felt attainable to you? When safety isn’t an option, what do you try for instead?
  • Have you ever experienced fighting back in a way that feels more healing than burnout-inducing? What strategies, tools, approaches, and relationships made it so? In an experience where that wasn’t the case, what could have gone differently?

Case Studies, Aspirations, and Provocations

The forms of care that we want to see don’t exist yet, so we can’t cite them, but we are trying. Here are some of the things that keep us going when we are feeling down, that inspire us to act when we feel trapped, or that motivate us to find each other. We want to build the aspirational supportive queer commune, too, but where can we put it? What does it look like to turn illness into weapon? What is missing and what will the future of autonomous support look like?

  • Sick Women Theory

    • Sick Woman Theory
    • Not every form of resistance will take place in the streets, because it can’t. “Sick Woman Theory is an insistence that most modes of political protest are internalized, lived, embodied, suffering, and no doubt invisible.” Care for ourselves and one another as protest and as refusal of the capitalist logic that declares all of us who are “sick” (physically ill, mentally ill, traumatized, oppressed) to be disposable, not meant to survive.
  • This Cat

    • Basically, we saw this cat just when we needed to, and we hope you have the same experience. Such an inspiration.
  • Flower Bomb,2020.‘Descending into Madness: Anarchist-Nihilist Diary Anti-Psychiatry’.

    • An analysis of personal experiences within the psychiatric system and survival outside of it, from a nihilist and anti-civ perspective
  • Anonymous,0101.‘I Don't Bash Back I Shoot First’.

    • Practical suggestions for turning your queer affinity group into a queer gang.
  • Patientenfront / Sozialistisches Patientenkollektiv,2014.‘Hack your rage and anger in the keys’.

    • The historic German collective that coined the phrase ‘Turn Illness Into Weapon’ here outlines some of their powerful lingo and theory against the health dictatorship. They have a lot of other great texts throughout the years that speak to many of the theoretical issues addressed in this syllabus, but directly from the perspective of the mad.
  • M. Grieve,0101.‘Scullcaps’ - A Modern Herbal.

    • Skullcap saved my life, no joke. We get a lot of inspiration from plants, but all the things you can learn from them don’t always translate into text so seamlessly. This one is an all around great nervine that will chill you out in that mild way that you might need when you’re bouncing off the walls or stirring with thoughts.

Further Reading


  • How can we help you? How can we help each other? What do you need? What does your crew need to keep going, to keep fighting, in this world that might otherwise want us to shut the fuck up?
  • What do we still need to figure out? Are you going to get in touch with us to start materializing all of our crazy dreams of emotional support?
session ⦚ Exercise: Imagining the Game

The following exercise involves devising a speculative pirate game and was designed as a coda for the sessions we have written under the topic of ‘Autonomous Emotional Support’. It can also be used as a free-standing exercise. Examining the hows and whys of autonomous emotional support, we are led to question who are the agents of such support, and the same question could be asked of a lot of pirate practices.

Who is the ‘I’ or ‘we’ of autonomy? Practicing autonomy, consent, collective self-defense, building communal capacities, may constitute a kind of hacking or pirating of dominant categories of self and other.

Autonomy from what, anyway?

I mentioned my idea for a brotherhood, that I had called earthen cup, the form of which would be determined by some type of ritual. You drifted into your own thoughts at this stage. You hate all that anarchist stuff, or at least the people involved. You didn’t want to talk about them. Then, as if from far away, you said, it is the deliberate investment in something that is not real that makes it work. It is the sketching out of an imaginary place and behaving within it as if it were real. It is the expenditure of all that rehearsed energy in one performance that causes the specialness. I agreed, it is its dissipation, a fog burnt off by the sun. There is no residue. It is about something special that does not last, and which is intended to be lost. It is something that cannot be repeated.

I said, in essence, it should be understood as the extension of possibilities for interpersonal relations under ritualised circumstances. You are talking about a magic circle, you said. I admitted, in effect, that I was. By adopting unreal personae, or masks, in a very tightly controlled environment, a laboratory for behaviours, the actants temporarily escape the economic determination of their existence. Using behaviours conditioned by imagined laws the actants are able to experience a diminishing of the control that is typically exerted over them by real determinations. Aspects of our selves that are conditioned to go unused can now be drawn upon whilst all the usual registers are momentarily disconnected.

Further Reading

session ⦚ The Pirate Ship of Fools

The rules

  • A game for one or more teams

  • There are no winners, but there may be any or all of the following: alliances, tactics, strategy, fierce love and unrequited competition

  • No umpires, no referees, no priests, no judges, no jury, no prison, no police, no police, no police

  • Play seriously

  • If you don’t like the rules devised by your team, consider making your own team.

  • If you don’t like the way your team follows or interprets the rules, you need to address this together. The game is paused, tentatively forfeit, while this division is not being guided towards resolution.

  • Herecies / Factions are possible. See below. Are they desireable? They still follow the rules.

  • When you do the [beginning ritual] you are in the team and the game has started.

  • The team’s goal is to differentiate itself from other teams, whether these be social scenes, cultural groupings, religions, nation states, corporations, institutions, etc..

  • It achieves this by learning to mimick or parody certain elements it chooses from other teams, and distorting, stretching, exagerrating or inverting those elements

  • Your team is accountable to each member, and to certain core values

  • Your team must elaborate and map these accountabilities; this may be based on the examples set out in ‘Friends Make the Best Medicine’, ‘The Accountability Model’ (PMS), or other sources…

  • These core values must be exalted. But must they? What are we doing when we elevate the needs of the play above the needs/desires/will of the player?

  • If your team was a religion or spirituality, would it have any sacred texts?

  • If your team was a political vanguard would it have a manifesto?

  • If your team was a band of travelling players, what would its repetoir be?

  • Sacred/Special texts may only be chosen, edited, or removed, by consensus of the whole team

  • How do you access, reflect on, and share these texts? Do you evangelise? Do you perform? Do you hand out pamphlets on street corners?

  • What about sounds, sights, textures, smells, tastes, dreams, etc? How does it share these things?

  • How else might your team build and nourish relations with the more-than-human? Can more-than-human beings be in your team?

  • If your team was a conspiracy, how would it disguise itself in plain sight?

  • If it needed to disguise its communications, or write in code, how would it do this?

  • If your team competed in a sport, what would its go-to strategies be? Would it be strong on offensive, or defensive play?

  • If your team was a criminal gang, what crimes would it commit, and how?

  • If your team wore something discrete, in public, so that members can notice each other, what would this be?

  • If your team wore something ceremonial, in private, to celebrate being together out of the view of outsiders, what would it do?

  • Does your team practice? Does it gather at a certain place? What are the restrictions to doing this, collectively and individually, and how can these restrictions be accounted for?

  • Does your team have a special day?

  • How does it say hello, and goodbye?

  • Does it say hello/goodbye to the changing seasons, the ageing body, the cycles of the moon, the tide, the weather?

  • What does a victory look like for your team? How does it celebrate?

  • What does a defeat look lke for your team? How does it commiserate?

topic ⦚ The Hologram: a peer-to-peer social technology of care

The Hologram: An open-source, peer-to-peer, viral social technology for dehabituating humans from capitalism

The following is a short course to prepare us to become holograms, which is to say to develop and practice The Hologram as a method of organized social care and collective liberation. In a world where caring is criminalized when not performed by the proper authorities, while racial capitalism ensures that everyone is a little sick, we need pirate practices that do not comply with the for-profit, nationalist, carceral healthcare systems . This peer to peer practice offers a structured set of instructions for how to distribute the labour of care and to reveal that everyone is a healer and can be healed. We can produce health with stuff we have, hidden in plain sight. It is a pirate practice in that it is proactive and disobedient, it is a formalization of what people already know what to do– it just gives us permission and helps us remember how . It does so with a wish to create a network of healthy and cooperative people who can use their collective power to demolish capitalism and to build a new world. This curriculum is the residue of a four-part Hologram workshop designed and delivered once per week by Cassie Thornton and Lita Wallis online with a group of 28 participants from around the world in April 2020 during the Covid-19 lockdown. These texts are currently used in all of our ongoing Hologram training courses, and anyone who is interested in the project or course is welcome to read and work with these materials. The objective of the past, present and future Hologram courses is to create a laboratory to experiment with building social and communicative skills and practices that would be useful to starting and maintaining a Hologram. The group practices specific verbal and somatic communication skills and experiments with vulnerability, trust and cooperation, all contextualized in a theoretical framework. Throughout each course, all participants attempt to use the personal pronoun “we” when describing their own or another person’s experiences, thoughts or feelings.

New patterns for a post-capitalist now

At its broadest and most ambitious scale The Hologram is intended as an open-source, peer-to-peer, viral social technology for dehabituating humans from capitalism. Capitalism is not only an economic system, it’s a cultural and social system as well, which deeply influences how we relate to one another, how we interact, how we imagine ourselves and one another, even how we talk and feel. The Hologram relies on us disentangling ourselves from capitalism’s influence, and that of white supremacy, colonialism, (cis hetero) patriarchy and other systems of domination, and it also helps us in this untangling. For this reason, in addition to the social practices involved in forming groups of four and doing the work of “social holography,” The Hologram is also a delivery mechanism for ideas about how we can reinvent our world by developing new daily habits that incorporate radical re-interpretations of these four themes: Trust, wishes, time and patterns. The following is an abbreviated set of materials from the April workshop to help readers reflect on and transform their habits and approaches to these important themes. This is meant to be group work, but we are alone right now, so we hope that these ideas and practices may inspire or contribute to how we already imagine and organize our care labor. Each unit includes a brief series of reflections as well as several exercises we can do to prepare for practicing the Hologram model in the future.

A note on terminology

The Hologram refers to the project as a whole, whereas a Hologram (capitalized but not italicized) names a group of four people, made up of the hologram (not capitalized) who receives the care of a triangle of three people. This wording is intentionally ambiguous as it aims to sensitize us to the fluid boundaries between us.

This topic contains the following sessions:

session ⦚ Part One: Trust

Part one: Trust

In 2014 I went to a payday lender in my neighborhood to borrow $750 to pay rent and buy groceries. It took me 2 years and $1600 to pay that debt. I did not ask a friend for the money I needed because I could not accept that anyone I trusted would want to help me, or that they could afford to help me. I didn’t know when or how I would be able to pay back the loan, and I wouldn’t want anyone to have to share my precarity with me. I also didn’t know whom I could explain my situation to without feeling ashamed. I didn’t want to undergo a negotiation that could expose my private economic failure, or to invite someone else to expose their private financial status to me. Instead, I went to a storefront debtshop I knew was hideously exploitative and extortionate and asked a stranger for money from behind thick glass. These days, I could do it over an app without seeing another human being, assuming that I could afford my phone bill. As more people fall below the poverty line or live in a state of constant economic emergency, “fringe” financial service companies have developed a multitude of easy and anonymous systems to offer fast loans through impersonal systems that sanitize exchange. This level of automation may reduce a feeling of shame for needing financial help, but it also eliminates the potential for experiencing care or practicing negotiation. There are a million ways to get quick money without feeling like a burden on any one. In an age where we are taught we can’t trust anyone but ourself, and when asking another to trust us is deeply uncomfortable, the quality of social bonds, and even our ability to imagine and create those social bonds corrodes. This doesn’t just happen in the debt industry, but across a world reshaped by capitalism as we’re constantly told to trust corporations and politicians we know are ripping us off just so we don’t have to learn to trust ourselves and one another. I have identified three of the toxic lessons experiences like these teach us that we need to unlearn if we are going to build a post-capitalist future.

Three toxic lessons to unlearn

Bad support

Bad support, which is usually given by corporations but also sometimes by austerity-minded governments, begins when you’re led to believe that you are receiving some kind of help that will allow you to thrive, but then this ‘help’ reveals itself to take more than it ever gives. Often and obviously this comes in the form of extortionate debt, a life line that’s actually a noose, but it can come in other forms too: a dream job that turns into a nightmare, etc. The worst part of this lesson is that it trains us to expect bad support or unexpected punishment when we are most in need, so we may start to avoid seeking any kind of support and believe in self reliance which is impossible for a cooperative species. Worse still, we may reproduce this pattern when we are asked for support, because it is all we know: we become bad support for others. This may happen because we fear our support for others will be bad and so we never learn to offer it. Or when we offer support, we’re so scared of making a mistake that we overdo it and exhaust ourselves, or offer non-transformative support that maintains the status quo.

The atrophy of the sharing muscle

If we can only receive help from corporations or institutions, we lose the skills and practices involved in asking for and offering help from people in our community. Having relationships where our central resources are carefully shared is fundamentally intuitive to humans, a cooperative species. Like language these practices are far from innate. They take energy, time, and practice. Central resources include housing, money, and our skilled labour. Sharing them requires lifelong practices of communication and negotiation. Unfortunately, since sharing is so devalued in this society, we are led to believe that it’s easy or automatic. But when we do not actively practice sharing our resources, we lose the muscles needed to do so, and we may even forget that this kind of hard core interdependence is possible or desirable. Indeed, it can seem like a threat. Attention and care are also central resources, and, while we all have the capacity to produce and receive them it’s not automatic and requires practice and structure.


If we don’t have experiences sharing resources, or sharing our stories of struggle in an unfair financial and social landscape, we may feel like we alone are failures: failienation. If we feel that our inability to thrive is our personal responsibility and that we alone have failed (instead of realizing that the systems of support have failed all of us), we may not want to share our story or ask for help because we assume that we would be a burden on other people (if we assume they are not feeling like failures themselves). This is a self-defeating defense mechanism and often manifests in everyday life as being anti-social or even incurious towards others. It’s vital to recognize that falienation also affects the fortunate. Say that you’ve worked out a way to survive well enough in this brutal financial landscape and your material needs are covered or exceeded. This can be alienating in part because your security comes largely from your ability to purchase what you need, rather than rely on others, and partly because you are living in a society where some people’s comfort comes at the expense of others. In a system where only some are permitted to thrive, we come to resent one another, in all directions, which maximizes distrust and makes it even harder to learn to share central resources.

Learning to trust ourselves again for the first time

The Hologram is a social technology to rebuild the social trust that has been dissolved by living in and with Capitalism. Decades of neoliberalism and austerity have taught us that our health is our personal responsibility. Most governments’ responses to the current pandemic have allowed whatever trust we had in them to look out for our welfare to melt like salt in hot water, and now we have to gargle with this stuff. Many people have lost their jobs and their ability to pay rent, and the state (in most cases) has done little to nothing to support them. The last crystals of trust in society have dissolved.

This is (always already!) the time to ask: How do we imagine our own care, before or during an emergency, within a set of completely unstable conditions?

The Hologram creates a space where it is possible to have repeated social experiences of commitment and attention from people who are doing so without economic motivation. It is a practice-ground where these invaluable experiences can be given and received, accepted and sanctioned. The assumption of The Hologram is that we can train ourselves to trust each other and to trust ourselves. We are in for the fight of our lives in the years to come to save the world from capitalism, but whatever post-capitalism we hope to build can’t be magicked into existence and will not be handed to us. To better be able to join the struggle for it, and to prepare to take our place within it as cooperative, interconnected animals, we need to practice new forms of trust. It is simple as an idea and much harder as a practice, because we have all been taught toxic lessons. So, experimenting with sharing hardcore resources, starting with time and energy, may feel uncomfortable or dangerous. It is only with repetition and persistence that we can “remember” or rebuild some of these skills that we had to shed to survive a hyper individualistic financial landscape. We believe this is a practice that anyone can participate in.

Questions for consideration

  • Can we do this without experts?
  • Can we do this without space?
  • Can we do this without money?
  • Can we do this without stability?
  • Can we do this when we are all a little sick?
  • Can we do this when we have been taught that we can only trust experts?
  • Can we do this when we don’t even trust ourselves?

Activity 1

  1. On paper make a T chart. On the left side write a list of who you call when you are really stuck but need to make a decision.
  2. On the right side list all the people who come to you for the same reason.
  3. Which side has more people?
  4. What’s the difference between the people who you trust, and those who trust you?
  5. What would it take to help the people who need support to be able to become people who you could go to for support? Or, what would help your supporters become better at what they do for you? And, what would make you better at offering support?
  6. For each person, and in relationship to you, consider the following: a. Boundaries (positive and negative) b. Courage (yours and theirs) c. Skills (yours and theirs)
  7. Based on your considerations, circle the three people you might approach to be your triangle, if you were to be a hologram.
  8. Based on your considerations above, circle the three people whom you might learn from if they were a hologram and you were in their triangle.
session ⦚ Part Two: Wishes

Part two: Wishes

Nothing makes me feel more alive than helping solve other people’s problems. It makes me feel powerful, useful, connected and of service. It is necessary work, and it uses all my skills: deep attention, creative problem solving, vengeful empathy. But the focus on problems, which tend to arise in moments of or approaching crisis, means we can never plan very far into the future. Because most of my loved ones have very little money or security, we use chewing gum to plug the leaks only long enough to get us to the next disaster. This is the way most of us must live right now at the intersection of many multi layered crises. We feel we can’t dare to wish for anything in case it distracts us from the crisis at hand, as if wishing were an unacceptable indulgence. Sybille Peters is an artist who has theorized wishes as a fundamental part of rigorous research practices. If it wasn’t for her work I think I would be unable to use the word without rolling my eyes at the same time. But what if we challenge ourselves to see through these emergencies and to go towards our wishes despite all the holes in our boats? After all, those holes are only going to get plugged, not really fixed, until we reach some sort of destination. Right now we keep going in circles. I think that in some way we use our own personal crises as a distraction when we are afraid of what we might wish for. So long avoided in the name of survival, we may not know our wishes, or we may not recognize them, especially if our wishes do not comply with what is on offer. We may feel like our wishes are not utterable, or that we don’t deserve to have wishes, either because we’re obviously a failure or because we already have too much. We may feel that our wishes don’t make sense in a capitalist context. We may have never seen a good wish come to fruition. We may feel that our wishes are too weird or individualistic or simple to talk about in the company of people we respect, who appear to have much better wishes. Or maybe there simply isn’t time to talk about this bullshit, which will keep us from the work of survival… and inevitably lead us to more disappointment. Making wishes in the apocalypse feels risky. But maybe the apocalypse in one way came from too many neglected wishes.

If all our crises are connected, then all our wishes are conspiring

I have a sixth or seventh sense that your deepest wishes may not be that different from mine. It takes time to be able to understand and articulate them. Even if I knew my wishes I may not be able to describe them because there aren’t many opportunities to practice that type of thinking or speaking. I don’t think wishes can live in a vacuum. Wishes are social. We create them together as we survive and learn what we want to escape and what we want to go towards. We hold them together. It is hard to wish for what we haven’t yet seen. And what if all we know is that we don’t want any more of what we have been exposed to? This is very scary. We may sometimes fixate on solving problems as a way to avoid having dangerous wishes. Our wishes might demand that we abolish this society and create a new one, one that can meet all our wishes. An honest wish can make it hard or even impossible to continue to participate in this society. How are you going to go to work for minimum wage if you know it is completely disconnected from what you want or believe in? What if the only way to meet your wish in our present society is to do something or benefit from something you hate? Me too. But the dangerous wishes are there, under the bed like a monster designed by you for you.

The wish beneath the wish

As a member of a Triangle in the Hologram there is an opportunity to see someone’s struggles in relationship to their spoken or unspoken wishes. In isolation it can be really hard to remember our larger goals and wishes, especially when we have learned to be placated with bad news, untrustworthy information and massively unequal and unfair living conditions. This project asks all participants to uphold a forceful optimism: we will survive better together. We can create a world where our wishes are contingent on each others’ fulfillment, not on endless competition. And we suspect that the wishes we each have, when put together, can give us the energy and sustenance we need to engage in the coming crisis. We can solve each others’ problems as we go towards our dreams, and getting closer to what we want will give us the energy to continue to deal with the never-ending list of emergencies. The Hologram is one methodology for unpacking our wishes, because I suspect that there is always a wish hiding below our wishes. For example, you wish for a house on a nice piece of land, somewhere quiet and beautiful. Many people do. But the first level of unpacking includes the following questions: Why might you wish for that? Had you been taught to want that? What are you reproducing? Who else benefits from that wish? Who suffers at the hand of this wish? Is another layer beneath that? It’s important not to get caught up in beating ourselves up for our wishes, but ask deeper questions, to understand what they are trying to say. What kind of person is constructed by this wish? A taxpayer? A head of household? A gardener? A home decorator? A mother? Does the wish produce the character that you need and want to become, in the conditions that we are living in? What is below this wish? Is it that you seek stability? Do you desire safety? Do you want to experience natural beauty every day? Do you want to ensure your access to food? Do you want to be able to create a safe space for others in your community? There is always a multitude of wishes below the original wish. Maybe it’s wishes all the way down. By looking below the wish without shame, we may be able to understand what it is that is non-negotiable, and how we can meet the wish without compromising our values. Because if we fail to question and complicate our wishes, most of us at some point will have a hard time striving to meet our unquestioned wish within a system that is actually killing us or others so that only a handful can have their wish fulfilled, if indeed it is their wish and not a proxy. The work of excavating our wishes, of carefully and optimistically discovering our wishes beneath our wishes, and the ways our wishes are connected, is some of the work we can do in the Hologram.

Questions for consideration

  • What have you been taught to want?
  • What do you wish you wanted?
  • What do you want not to want?
  • What do you pretend to want?
  • What if you do not want what is on offer?
  • What do you want?

Activity 2

Move your arms as if you are swimming freestyle, extending one, then the other, in constant motion in big circles, elbows pulling the arms above your shoulders.

As you swim imagine yourself in a vast ocean. Night is falling and a storm is coming. You can’t see the shore, so you use your intuition to orient you. Project yourself in that direction, and swim vigorously so that the motion will naturally put your breath into rhythm. Continue for 7 minutes.

Now, make a list of the three biggest challenges you currently face. If you overcame each of these challenges, recovered your energy, and realized you could safely make a wish, what would that wish be?

What would it feel like to have support confronting these challenges? How would the three people you listed in Activity 1 offer you the kind of support you need to get to the wish? Create an invitation to your triangle that describes the type of support you would like to receive if they would join your Hologram.

session ⦚ Part Three: Time

Part three: Time

We don’t have time for this!

Time is the number one barrier to participation in The Hologram project, with good reason: we guard our time against anything that could chip away at the hours and energy we are made to dedicate to work, pleasure or survival. Under capitalism, time has become the most valuable commodity we have, outside of our body. As capitalism becomes more and more punishing and demanding, we have less and less time to imagine a different future. We’ve even heard people say that the ability to “imagine” something outside of work and survival is a “privilege.” But as we’ve already seen, capitalism is, among other things, a brilliant technology of weaponized avoidance. For our purposes, it helps us avoid at least three basic truths: 1. Humans are fundamentally cooperative and interdependent 2. We live on land and are part of that land 3. We will die

What would it mean to live without forgetting these truths? Our time would be very different. If we focused on learning how to cooperate without coercion we would have to reorganize what we produce, how we produce it, and why. If we acknowledged that we lived on land, and that land was alive, and we are a part of it, we would laugh at the absurdity of the concept of private property. If we lived our whole lives embracing the knowledge that we will die, we would better consider future generations as we made decisions. We might spend our whole lives carefully considering our uses of materials and time, knowing that our collective material and social traces produce the next generations’ world. We would recognize that the now-dead once did so for our benefit. We would know that, when we die, we become each others’ soil. If we remembered and believed these three truths, how would we spend our time? What would our relationships look like? Where would we live and how? What would be our “work” and how would we be valued?

How and why The Hologram wastes your time

The Hologram aims to train us to create and live in a post-capitalist future, when work (as in labour exploited for a wage) is abolished. We will still need to cooperate, but in new ways, motivated by the above truths, not the need for someone else to profit and for us all to compete. When liberated from being confined to a “job,” how would we express and share our passions, skills, powers and dreams? In post-capitalism, we will all contribute our time and energy, but likely in very different ways. Today, for many of the readers of this text, participation in the Hologram feels like an impossible time commitment in an already over-busy life, but this is exactly why you should try it. It is a practice for liberating time, though it also takes time. It does so for participants at all stages. The following walks you through three phases of one’s participation to explain.

You are the hologram

We suggest that you who are reading this begin participating in The Hologram by inviting three people to act as your Triangle. You, the Hologram, facilitates a conversation where your group decides who should play what role (who is in charge of asking about and holding social, mental/emotional, and physical health information). Next you decide together how long this experiment will last. When will you meet, and for how long?

Sample plan: You may meet on the first Wednesday of every third month, or on the day after the seasons change four times per year. You may start with a one year commitment to this process, or something else. Perhaps you meet for two hours each session. This seems possible, right?

Consider what this would do to your sense of time. The Hologram is an impractical and life-giving social planning technology. How far in the future are you able to imagine right now? What in your life will be in place in three months, in six months, in two years? It may be scary to look into the future. If it isn’t, you may be delusional. In such an unpredictable time, it is hard to know what will remain of our current lives in the future. But if we don’t begin to construct some ideas and practices that will shape our future in ways that serve us, then tech corporations, banks, right wing governments and other anti-social saboteurs will have a complete run of it. The Hologram model asks us to put a formal agreement together with people in our community that will extend, outlandishly, into the future. Beyond the multiple overlapping crises that we will face, we can make commitments that structure our future selves and give us a sense of belonging no matter where we are. Making a decade-long plan with your friends seems like heresy while we work daily to survive a deranged and predatory economy, alone and alienated, unable to prepare for the next crisis. This is exactly why you may want to commit to spending a few years with The Hologram, with your triangle.

You care for your caretakers

Being cared for, and being a hologram is never a one-way street. In order to receive care from other people, it is crucial that you help ensure that those people are cared for. It is not optional, it is required. So, in one of your early meetings you, the hologram, must help your triangle consider the timeline in which they will become holograms and develop their own triangles of support.

Sample plan: During your second Hologram meeting, the hologram proposes that each of the members of her triangle begin to invite three people to be their triangle/supports, to make themselves a hologram. It is agreed upon that this will take place before the next meeting. You talk together about what would make for a good triangle member.

As a practicing hologram, you have created and fulfilled a role for yourself that does not yet exist in our society. In this post-capitalist “job”, in being vulnerable and open to receiving care, you are the expert and the teacher. No one knows more than you about what makes you healthy. Just like starting a new job, you have to create a workspace that is appropriate for the work you need to do. So, it is your job to arrange and coordinate the triangle. Under capitalism, this kind of work is not valued. We value it in The Hologram.

If time is money, then being the hologram, or participating in a Hologram, is like burning money. It’s a sacrifice that reveals your divestment from the accelerationist value system. Through the sacrifice we become different animals that can survive and see beyond the current economic landscape. If we use this collective work as an excuse to disentangle from capitalism’s way of valuing our time, and valuing us, we may begin to see what we are or what we could become without it. How would you identify yourself if you never had to have a “job” again? What would you do all day if you didn’t need to “work” in order to live? How would you value your time if it was disconnected from money? How would you cooperate and contribute if you could do so in the way and in the conditions you chose? What would your role be in the post-work, post-capital future? What would a satisfying day look like?

You become triangular

When the three members of your triangle each have transitioned to holograms with their own triangle supporting them, it is your chance to transform into a caretaker within someone else’s Hologram. This is the pinnacle of The Hologram project. Sample plan: in your third meeting, you, as hologram, inquire if the three members of your triangle have established themselves as holograms. If so, you can ask for their help to become a member of a triangle for a new Hologram. Maybe the new hologram is a co-worker or friend you’ve told about the project, somebody who understand the point of the project is solidarity, not charity. As a future member, you shouldn’t organize a new hologram’s triangle for them, but you can help and offer suggestions. It is important that each hologram take the initiative and responsibility to organize their Hologram and triangle.

Questions for consideration

A. In the world we want to create, how will we value our time? Do we measure it? Do we even know it is there? What would we do all the time? How will we value ourselves and each other? B. What will your post-capitalist “job” be?

Activity 4

Write, walk, think, or draw as you imagine 10 years in the future. If that is overwhelming, here are some questions to help you distill your thoughts.

  • What do you know about yourself and your situation at that time?
  • What do you not know about yourself and your situation at that time?
  • What do you look forward to taking place between now and then?
  • What do you fear may take place between now and then?
  • What can you plan?
  • What will make you feel prepared to handle what is coming?
  • What do you wish for yourself?
  • Why? What’s underneath that desire?
  • What do you wish for you and for everyone?
  • How can you be best prepared to make that possible?

Please do not avoid the global, political, and environmental situation, and your connection to community and society in your thoughts

Activity 5

How did you stay together with your Triangle for 10 years? Write, walk, think, or draw as you imagine 10 years in the future as a Hologram. If that is overwhelming, here are some questions to help you distill your thoughts.

Imagine that you found three people to be in your Hologram, and that you stayed together for 10 years. They each had their own Hologram. You were also part of someone else’s Triangle, maybe two people’s. There is a sense of trust between people, but also something more specific. These are new kinds of relationships that are formal, sustainable and warm. You feel like you are part of something that is different than your previous experiences of family, friendships, work relations, social movements, or professional caretakers. When you are caring for your Hologram, you feel like you are part of something larger.

  • How did you stay together with your Triangle for 10 years?
  • What skills did you personally develop to make this possible?
  • What are the benefits, to you, of having been in this group for so long?
  • What are the challenges you already faced together with your triangle?
  • What kinds of processes did you have to develop, and skills did the group have to learn, in order to do this?
  • How does it feel to imagine having this role in the Hologram, versus not having it?
session ⦚ Part Four: Patterns

Part four: Patterns

Is this the end or is this the beginning?

Whether actually or ideologically, the things we relied on to help us survive turned out not to work in the ways we hoped they would: financial system, medical system, government. Long before COVID-19, a lot was crumbling (and the effects of the crumbling was always worse for people outside of white heteronormativity), but now it is not possible to avoid it for anyone.

According to an abolitionist framework, whenever broken systems crumble we have two types of work to do. One is to support the destruction of what isn’t working and perhaps mourn its loss. The other is to create cooperative systems and ways of living that will work in the future and allow us to thrive. Now and in the coming months, economic recession, many people will experience a kind of end of the world: we will lose jobs, houses, aspirations and a sense of “normal” and many things we thought were necessary. But maybe we well also realize that so much of what we felt was normal and necessary wasn’t working for us, individually or collectively, but we had been made too busy trying to survive to notice. For some of us, the lockdown is the moment when the band-aid gets ripped off and we have an excuse to start fresh. We can demolish in the morning and rebuild in the afternoon.

We are able to reproduce our lives within capitalism and other systems by forming habits of behaviour, of thought, of hope, of fear and of relationship, and these habits also do their part to reproduce those broader systems. These systems keep us so busy and on edge of survival (physical, emotional, social) that we rarely have the consistency of time to examine let alone change our habits, even if they don’t actually serve us well. From within the lockdown. we have a chance to change some of our habits and patterns, so we don’t have to go back to an expensive and violent normal. It’s interesting to think about the world we want to live in in a theoretical way, but now we have a chance to experiment with how we live our daily lives and how we value ourselves and each other, and let those practices define the future. Of course, contrary to the new age, self-help industry’s suggestion, simply believing something doesn’t change reality, and that kind of individualism will only reproduce capitalism. Organizing and organization will be required, and we have the fight of our lives ahead of us. But a revolution like the one we need will not come about or stick unless we, as its participants, transform ourselves together. Changing our patterns and habits alone won’t liberate us, but it will help us prepare for liberation, and for the world we will have to build.

Prediction, cognition and emotion

“Predictions are basically the way your brain works. It’s business as usual for your brain. Predictions are the basis of every experience that you have. They are the basis of every action that you take. In fact, predictions are what allow you to understand the words that I’m speaking as they come out of my –” Lisa Feldman Barrett

Neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett explains that, while we typically assume prediction is a complex and advanced mental function, it’s actually at the core of how we think, and deeply connected with our emotions. As we experience the world and even in our dreams our brains are constantly making predictions about what will happen next, based on our past experiences. “Predictions are primal” she explains “They help us to make sense of the world in a quick and efficient way. So your brain does not react to the world. Using past experience, your brain predicts and constructs your experience of the world.” This all happens at lightening speed, outside of our conscious mind. A lot of our emotional life stems from this: when our past experience has shaped our brain to expect somethign good from an experience, we can be pleased, calm and satisfied when our predictions about that experience are right, and the opposite is also true. We can become distraught, angry or hostile when our predictions are incorrect.

Ultimately, then, the way our brain experiences and makes sense of the world is through a combination of habit or patterns and emotion. This agrees with a lot of our common experiences of feeling trapped in cycles or stuck in a rut. When we provide support to friends or family, it’s not just about commiseration but helping them recognize patterns and unhelpful emotional responses. If that’s all true, and if the brain is as elastic and changeable as we know it is, then we can repattern and transform the brain, and ourselves, by creating and sustaining new habits and patterns.

What happens when everyone, at the same time, experiences the need to create new habits, when the pressures within which we created our patterns disappear?

De-habituation from capitalism

So many of our patterns and habits have been formed as ways to survive within the pressures of capitalism, but in this moment many of those pressures have evaporated. There is a rare opportunity to experiment and build new habits and patterns.. For example, within capitalism, we have habituated ourselves to imagine that when we receive something, even if it’s a life-giving object or service, we are obligated to reciprocate somethign considered to be of equal value, whether it is for gum or toothpaste, massage or rent. On the one hand, maybe the impulse for fairness comes from a good place, but in many ways this habit is deeply unhelpful. For instance, most of our most important relationships, with friends or parents, are necessarily unequal in terms of the time, energy and “resources” one of us commits relative to the other. Your brain is so programmed that you give something equivalent to what you receive, but that’s not always appropriate. Sometimes people give and they don’t want anything in return. In fact, this inclination is absolutely essential to society and life. It works because, as the saying goes, what goes around comes around: giving without the need for reciprocal exchange is something we all benefit from and we all do, but not always with the same people. But in spite of the fact this is central to our lives, it’s hard to see and trust because our brains are so patterned by our experience of capitalism that insists that all value comes from competitive exchange. We feel compelled to give, or even guilty if you don’t reciprocate. This is a big gross pattern. I have a friend in Palestine and she told me that until recently her mom had never bought food. She had only grown it or raised it or was given it. To spend money on food was, for her, absurd. I have only ever bought food. This made me consider how deeply limiting my experience and patterns have been, formed as they are in a transactional culture.

Creating new patterns

The Hologram necessarily relies on and makes possible the creation of new patterns. When three people turn their care and attention on one it fundamentally challenges many of the habits we have formed to survive under capitalism. We cannot change our habits alone. It is partly for this reason that we consider the hologram a teacher and not just a subject of care: when she allows herself the vulnerability and generosity to accept help in identifying, breaking and forming new patterns, she offers an opportunity for the whole triangle to learn how such a process might work. Even accepting such care, or learning to provide it, necessarily means we have to break many patterns and habits. In The Hologram we quite literally rewire our brains, together. Here are some examples of patterns we transform:

Complicating reciprocity You receive care but you don’t give back to the person or people who gave it to you. There is no equal exchange, tit for tat. There’s a chance here to reprogram our ideas about reciprocation and transaction within a caring network of people, when we know that care is being well distributed and that reciprocation is always happening, and it isn’t a mystery how to do it well. Importantly, The Hologram as a distributed social technology, “works” when many hologram groups are interlinked, so that reciprocity isn’t a two-way street but a network: those who provide care do, in the end, also receive it, but from others.

Learning to see each others’ patterns This is the primal idea of the hologram: even after a short time, but especially after a long time (10 years), a triangle is likely to be able to see a hologram’s patterns and help her move past them if they do not serve her. There is something profoundly powerful and transformative about observing and identifying others’ patterns and they help us recognize our own patterns and habits which, while they might be very different, perhaps emerged from similar pressures and circumstances. This is one important reason why the hologram is a teacher, not a patient.

Creating new patterns Within the hologram we have chances to think about creating new patterns for each other. A lot of us have had really shitty experiences receiving attention, care, commitment or asking for support. We build up psychic defence mechanisms based on these bad experiences, which makes it harder and harder to receive support. In the Hologram we have the opportunity to give ourselves and each other positive experiences of these things, outside of our family, friendship and professional commitments.

Activity 6

To give yourself healing hands, so you can heal anyone or anything, even time.

  • Rub the palms of your hands together briskly for 3-5 minutes.
  • Then stretch your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor, palms up, thumbs pointing back as if you are balancing a dish on each hand. Set a timer and do the “Breath of Fire” for 3 minutes: forcefully exhale from your nostrils in a rapid, rhythmic way (your body will automatically inhale between breaths). You can start by letting your tongue hang out and pant like a dog, then close your mouth and keep breathing through your nose.
  • After three minutes, inhale and hold the breath in and, with your arms still out to your sides, bend your wrists so your palms are facing out (away from the body), as if you were pushing out the walls on either side of you. Feel the energy in the center of the palms flowing to your entire body. Exhale and relax the breath.
  • Rub your hands together again for 2 minutes and continue Breath of Fire.
  • Inhale and hold your breath. With your arms still out to the sides, turn your elbows so your hands are in front of your chest, like you’re holding an 8-inch ball a few inches in front of your diaphragm, with the right hand flat on top of the ball and the left supporting it from below. Meditate on the exchange of energy between the palms of the hands for a few minutes.
session ⦚ The Practice

The Practice

You are now ready to practice The Hologram. The following will offer you the basics. The Hologram remains a work in progress and is designed to be highly adaptable, so you are encouraged to change it and make it your own. A triangle consists of three people who accept an invitation from a hologram to make a formal commitment to supporting her health by participating in seasonal meetings. In these meetings, each member of the triangle focuses on one of the three aspects of her health: physical, psychic, social. The job of each member of the triangle is to ask really good questions, help identify the hologram’s patterns, and to support her with co-research and in-depth knowledge of her health when she needs to make big decisions.

The hologram’s job is to facilitate a conversation with three people who have accepted her invitation to join the triangle. Unlike a patient being treated by a doctor, a hologram’s role is like that of a teacher, helping the Triangle to understand how she achieves her healthiest possible state and also recognize their own patterns, needs and wishes in contrast and conversation. The hologram shares their personal stories, their powers of communication, and their well-articulated vulnerability to teach the triangle how to care for and with her. She shows great respect and gratitude for the members of the triangle, and is also observant of their needs and desires, helping them to become better at offering useful questions.

This guide is written for holograms seeking to assemble triangles, but can also be used for triangle members seeking to find holograms.

How Will You Identify People For Your Triangle?

No one knows what will work until it does. Invite people who make you feel comfortable, whose attention and care you enjoy, and people who would like to do it for you. Additionally, you might ask yourself these questions before deciding who to invite:

  • Do I want the members to know each other?
  • Do I want to see the members of the Triangle on a daily basis?
  • Do I want the members to all be local?
  • Do I want to use this as an opportunity to develop new relationships, or to add a new layer to already existing relationships?


  • “Oh no, I invited the wrong person out of cruel optimism about them or us and it was a bad idea. How do I get rid of them and pick a new person?! We recommend that you provide a trial period where you can experience the group for 1-2 sessions with the awareness among the group members that if the dynamic of the group is not great, there will be a chance to change the group.

How Much Personal Information do I reveal?

You can decide. Whether we are online, on the phone, or at work, we are constantly warned to protect our privacy, but it is hard to keep in mind what we are guarding it from. The truth is that there are many types of predators who are seeking to profit off of our information and our vulnerabilities, but those individuals and corporations are not here in this triangle. The goal is to learn to trust, and to want to share as much information as is necessary (but maybe not more) to help your triangle understand where you are coming from and where you may be going, so they can go there with you!

How Do I Reciprocate?

Reciprocation is somewhat automatic in this project, but is not a one-for-one exchange, like paying for a hot dog. For The Hologram project to really work, every person must be a hologram as well as a member of someone else’s triangle (not for someone in your triangle, though). The most important healing that you will receive from this project is when you successfully care for someone else. This networked reciprocation means that you will not be directly giving back what you receive from your triangle, but you will be a part of a larger cycle of reciprocation and the production of health, which can never be transactional. For this reason, it is the calling of each hologram to proactively help her triangle all find their own triangles and become holograms themselves. She must also seek to become part of a triangle for someone not in her triangle. The hologram can reciprocate by virally reproducing The Hologram.

Important Things for The Triangle to Remember

  1. While it is possible that someone might have a medical or social work background, no one in a triangle is an expert, and no one should pretend to be. Being in a triangle is not about offering professional medical advice, it is about learning to ask supportive and transformative questions.
  2. While The Hologram is about asking questions, the triangle members one should not disappear their own stories, their needs, or their wisdom. Triangle members are welcome to share anecdotes and stories from their lives that might help the hologram see their situation and clearly state their personal needs.
  3. The triangle, with the hologram, will make group decisions, and will structure the way the group meets.
  4. When called upon in an emergency or a pressing situation, the triangle can choose to show up to support The Hologram as individuals or as a trio. The triangle becomes most active when the hologram needs to make a big decision. This is when all the accrued knowledge of the triangle, about the hologram, and notes, become valuable. In an emergency, the triangle may support the hologram by providing in-person support, accompaniment to or coaching for important appointments, and cooperative research. The goal of the triangle is to back the hologram to make good decisions with support.

What Role Does Each Person Play?

A Hologram begins when the hologram and triangle agree to meet for a certain period of time at a certain frequency: once a week for a month; once a month for three months; around the solstices and equinoxes for two years; on the hologram’s birthday for the rest of her life. It might make sense to begin with a shorter period of more frequent meetings then change later, or, if the group does not gel, to reform the triangle with new members. But The Hologram works best when practiced consistently over a long period of time to facilitate pattern recognition and transformation. Within the given period, the three members of the triangle will select one area of focus in the meetings with the hologram. One person will focus on asking questions and taking notes on one of the three zones of health: the physical (body), the psychic (mental, emotional, intellectual), and the social (relationships, work, money, housing). Of course, these health zones of each person are completely entangled and overlapping, and the conversation will be, too. The important thing is that there is a member of the triangle to hold the awareness of each of the various zones of health, who can watch for patterns and feel when something is going well or not. We have not yet experimented with rotating roles within the Triangle, but that is an option.

What if I Want to Quit? What if I Want Someone Else to Quit?

The group should decide what to do in the event that one of the members of the triangle wants to quit. Because the project is about constructing new experiences of trust and cooperation, it is ideal if the group can adapt to support each member to stay in a healthy way. When that cannot happen, there needs to be an exit plan in place, wherein the triangle member that exits is replaced, and that the new member is welcomed into the group with care and patience. This exit strategy should be discussed at the first meeting of the Hologram.

How do we Keep Notes and Records?

This is up to your group (including the Hologram) to decide. The notes are a tool for the future, to help you remember when something that occurred in the past and help everyone recognize patterns and habits that can only become clear in hindsight. Well-labeled and organized notes can be really useful. The notes can be shared among everyone in the group, or just kept to individuals who wrote them. Since some people find drawings and diagrams more useful, we have built some tools for how to organize and document some patterns visually. Notes can go into a shared folder online if you feel safe doing so, and we are making a safe space for that to happen.

When do I Become a Hologram?

As we described in the Time section of the course, each member of the triangle will become a Hologram. This means you will invite three people to make a Triangle for you, and begin the process again. We recommend that this happens shortly after your second or third successful meeting supporting your original Hologram. This is something you can and should discuss with the Hologram you care for. Since you support her, it is in her best interest to support you in getting the care you need.

Initial group decisions to make

  • How will the hologram meet? (Online, in person, where, and by what platform?)
  • How long will this Hologram continue?
  • How frequently will the Hologram meet?
  • How long will each meeting be?
  • How do you want the session to feel and what needs to happen to produce that feeling?
  • How should a meeting begin? How should it end?
  • How should notes be kept?
  • What if someone wants to leave the group, or people can’t work together?
  • How will you deal with conflict?
  • Can the triangle meet without the hologram?
topic ⦚ Community Safety from Racialized Policing Using Contextual Fluidity

An Emerging Practice Model for Anti-Oppressive Pedagogy Embracing Cultural Diversity

(Note: This is a kernel of a topic on “Creating Community Safety from Racialized Policing Using Contextual Fluidity”. The sessions other than ‘Centering margins’ using storying as ‘agents of change’ are yet to be written.)

This topic will lay the groundwork for creating community safety using contextual fluidity1 amid the increasing criminalization of care, cultures of violence, and on-going genocide. It will generate discussion centering on margins and inspire those who resist being excluded, oppressed, and live under the constant threat of violence. Tatum states that a subordinate group has to focus on survival in a situation of unequal power2. Borrowing from black abolition feminist scholar Andrea Ritchie, movements against police violence should promote “…nurturing values, visions, and practices”.3 Freire’s underlying message of conscientization in Pedagogy of the Oppressed is that it is everyone’s responsibility to respond to the situation positively and thoughtfully.4

Texts on Contextual Fluidity:


To see a comprehensive list of references for this topic go to the collection.

  1. Nelson, C.H, and Dennis H. McPherson. 2004. Contextual Fluidity: an emerging practice model for helping. n.p.: 2004. ↩︎

  2. Tatum, Beverly Daniel. &ldquo;Chapter 2: The Complexity of Identity.&rdquo;, in <em>Can We Talk About Race?: And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation</em>, Beacon Press, 2008, 18. ↩︎

  3. Andrea J. Ritchie,2017.‘Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color’.Beacon Press., 239. ↩︎

  4. Paulo Freire,2014.‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition’.continuum., 6. ↩︎

session ⦚ ‘Centering margins’ using storying as ‘agents of change’


  • How do we get people to understand our situation or context?
  • How can we use stories (informally) as a centre for research to respond to dangers which have been over-looked?
  • How can we use stories and performative memory for personal safety and solidarity in the here and now?

‘Co-creating empathy’ using personal narratives (ref) and inquisitive non-judgmental validating conversations. Stories give new insight into what people have endured and with it the time and space to reflect on those experiences helping ‘co-create empathy’.


Video: Paul Parking, “Reimagining Empathy: The Transformative Nature of Empathy”, TEDxTalks, July 9 th , 2015.

Video: Dr. Jane Goodall explains how she uses stories in conversations with people thinking polar opposite. Dr. Jane Goodall’s Advice for Getting Others to Care About the Environment

Digital Learning Platform: The living library is a world-wide movement creating a safe space for dialogue challenging stereotypes and stigma using the praxis of personal narratives (stories). Topics are openly discussed between people and readers. First Person Discourse: first-person discourse 6 (embodied knowledge 7).

topic ⦚ Transhackfeminism


When we use the term in the context of this syllabus, we mean a re- politicization of feminism through (bio)practice, as a multiplicity of methods. This proposal has its origin in the transhackfeminist manifesto by Pechblenda and to the first Transhackfeminist meeting THF!, as well as its subsequent versions, nodes and tentacles and presence in Hack the Earth. In general terms, “transhackfeminism” refers to hacking_with_care, using hacking with a meaning of (active) resistance and transformation to generate transversal knowledge through transdisciplinary artistic, aesthetic or cultural practices/ proposals. To work on producing knowledge collectively: without differentiating between theory and practice; as well as to embrace, protect and advance in free culture. To create communities where people meet, exchange, experience and share knowledge. To work on human and non-human alliances and solidarity through DIY/DIWO/DIT biotechnology, artistic and cultural practices.

To stay in touch with the material-affective dimensions of doing and engaging (bio)practices.

Decolonizing Technologies

To take as a starting point the assumption that colonialism has invaded and embedded the digital realm and our technologies in general. Jodi Dean calls part of this process “communicative capitalism”1. Ulises Mejias warns us how the network broadens participation yet also exacerbates disparity, increasing exclusion rather than inclusion2. Nicole Starosielski talks about the inherent and continuous colonial relationships embedded in the undersea cables3. Meanwhile, we are reminded of the materiality of technologies in Parks and Starosielski’s work Signal Traffic4.

How then can we imagine the decolonization of technologies and of cyberspace? What would such processes, epistemologies, and practices entail? How can feminist anti-colonial, post-colonial, and/or indigenous frameworks shape and strengthen our analysis in our collective reflection on such questions? At the methodological level, can radical speculative fiction or storytelling a la Octavia’s Brood (2015)5 help us produce our vision(s) of decolonized technologies? In this stream we will explore the intricacies of colonial technologies while at the same time trying to conceive what decolonial technologies mean.

Queer, Feminist and Anti-Racist Pedagogies

What are the queer, feminist and anti-racist pedagogies that inform our work? How, in turn, are theses pedagogies informing and shaping the direction of our queer, feminist and anti-oppressive hacker movement? What are the relationships between queer, feminist and anti-racist pedagogies and the technologies we aim at using and creating (whether decolonial, autonomous, transfeminist, etc.)? What differentiates the pedagogie(s) we embrace from the pedagogies of other hacker culture(s)? What is the significance of using such pedagogies in our work? This topic will allow us to question, deepen and share such pedagogies. Our ultimate desire for this topic is to start the co-production of a manual about what we mean by queer, feminist and anti-racist pedagogies. Such a manual will be invaluable for our work (teaching FemCrypt, gender and tech institutes, etc.). Clearly articulating the pedagogies that sustain our work will help us take stock of where we are, who we are and where we want to go.

Hacking with Care

The issue of care is central for and integral to queer, feminist and anti-racist hackers. In this topic, the concept of hacking with care is understood as a practice which foregrounds the art(s) of well-being as powerful means to encourage, mirror and sustain connexions to ourselves, altruism, and to embody a web of trust. With Hacking with Care, we wish to contribute to the resiliency and “prosperity” of what we see as an extended network of caregivers: hackers-activists, lawyers, journalists, artists, whistle-blowers, and many others with or without a “profession” or a “name”, distant and near, free and imprisoned, each and everyone of us a node in this human support network.

This topic contains the following sessions:


To see a comprehensive list of resources on Transhackfeminism for this topic go to the collection.

  1. Jodi Dean,2009.‘Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies: Communicative Capitalism & Left Politics’.Duke University. ↩︎

  2. Ulises Ali Mejias,2013.‘Off the Network: Disrupting the Digital World’.Univ Of Minnesota Press. ↩︎

  3. Nicole Starosielski,2015.‘The Undersea Network’.Duke University. ↩︎

  4. Lisa Parks & Nicole Starosielski,2015.‘Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructures’.University of Illinois. ↩︎

  5. Walidah Imarisha,2015.‘Octavia's Brood’.AK Press. ↩︎

session ⦚ On Surveillance and Bio Data

Biononymous_Biogenfutur Protocol to generate Eraser and Replacer Sprays

We generally tend to believe that any type of DNA testing requires hyper-sophisticated technological devices, as well as complex knowledge that requires specific and, in most cases, academic training. This workshop aims to replicate an open protocol to learn how to do a DNA extraction from your cheeks cells, as well as to generate two sprays that, on the one hand, can erase traces of DNA and on the other can replace the traces of DNA left by an individual with a mixture of many DNAs, which prevents an identification process based on a DNA test. Why is that? Because when we talk about surveillance, we are very aware of certain risks and control strategies based on big data or meta data, but generally we are not so aware of the importance of bio data and control techniques that can be implemented with biological data.

This workshop will introduce participants to methods and processes to learn how to extract DNA samples from cheek cells, how to erase your DNA and how to replace it with genetic noise, that is to say: how to articulate tactical tools of counter-surveillance.

Taking evolutionary biology as a reference, if surveillance is a strategy based on struggle, our response is based on mutual aid.


  • Introduction (30 min)
  • How to extract your DNA (1 hour)
  • How to erase your DNA (1 hour)
  • How to replace your DNA (30 min)
  • Wrap up (30 min)


To extract: electric kettle/ shrink wrap/ measuring cups/ 1.5ml micro centrifuge tubes/ 9% saline solution/ 10% chelex solution/ tube racks/ centrifuge (optional)/small cups/ micropipet

To erase: distilled water/ bleach/ measuring cups/ funnel/ spray bottle/ kimwipes tissues or paper towel/ nitrile or latex gloves

To replace: DNA mixture/ distilled water/ DNA perservative (optional) / pipets/ spray bottle

LTT [Learning Tools Together]

Proposal: to learn how to extract a DNA sample in a simple way, losing the fear related to the specificity of biotechnologies. Development of two tools for bioanonymity: DNA eraser spray / DNA replacer spray.

Learn how to be protected from against new forms of biological surveillance.


Print copies of the reference material (guides/protocols - see below) and give one copy to each participant.

If you don not want to make copies, and in case you have access to computers and internet, you can consult the online protocols.

Step 1: Introduction (30 min)

Brief introduction to the relationship between biological data and control/surveillance structures.

Recommendation of readings, projects and different resources in relation to this issue (see references section below).

First contact with the protocol to generate the sprays as a trigger for doubts, questions and proposals.

Step 2: How to extract your DNA (1 hour)

Follow the steps indicated in the protocol developed by Biononymous and Biofutures.


Step 3: How to erase your DNA (1 hour)

Follow the steps indicated in the protocol developed by Biononymous and Biofutures.


Step 4: How to replace your DNA (30 min)

Follow the steps indicated in the protocol developed by Biononymous and Biofutures.


Step 5: Wrap up (30 min)

Once the activity has been carried out, we can dedicate time for collective debate/reflection (in case the activity was done in a group) on which issues, concerns, interests and/or surprises we found in relation to bio-surveillance. Are there any care tactics that we can articulate/implement? Or, for example, how do we consider the impact of affection (care) when we share information, resources, tools and take care of each other?



  • Biononymous

  • Biogenfutur

  • Anti face. Hacking facial recognition

  • CGS : Center for Genetics and Society Advocating responsible uses and effective societal governance of human genetic and reproductive technologies and other emerging technologies. Good overview of the issues involved and what is at stake.

  • CRG – Council for Responsible Genetics A regular publication + web resources explaining many of the social, ethical and environmental implications of genetic technologies. Has a fabulous list of resources & publications.

  • Forensic Genetics Policy Initiative “Setting Human Rights Standards for DNA Databases Worldwide… A collection of resources on the human rights implications of DNA databases.”

  • Genetics & Public Policy Center Everything public policy and genetics (US based). “Conducts rigorous legal research and policy analysis, performs policy-relevant social science research, crafts robust policy options and recommendations, convenes and consults key stakeholders to identify common ground and develop consensus, and influences national genetics programs and policy.” Check out their state by state break downs of laws ie. about surreptitious DNA testing.

  • Genome Canada Newsletter and policy portal (Canadian) examining genomics and its ethical, environmental, economic, legal and social aspects.


session ⦚ On Gender, Essentialism and Biomedical Violence

Biotranslab. Open Laboratory of Hackable Gyna(eco)logy

“There are not two sexes, but a multiplicity of genetic, hormonal, chromosomal, genital, sexual and sensual configurations. There is no truth about gender, the masculine and the feminine, apart from a set of normative cultural fictions.” - Paul B. Preciado. Testo Junkie. Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in The Pharmacopornographic Era1

Biotranslab, articulated and coordinated by Pechblenda, one of the multiple disruptive nodes of Hackteria is a nomadic laboratory open to experimentation with biomaterials and technology(ies), based on a learning-by-doing approach. As a queer lab, it seeks the opening of a particular space-time, a place for the confluence of cyber-cyborgs, cyber-witches and degenerate alchemists.

With influences ranging from cyberfeminism, posthumanism, trans*activism or new materialism among others, Biotranslab casts light on horizons which are neither non-essentialist nor binary, and which stretch beyond notions of gender, race, sex, species and class. Thus nature is understood as a place of conflict traversed by technology which must be continually re-articulated and hacked.

From a trans-hack-feminist perspective, Biotranslab is a co-laboratory based on Do It Together bio(info)technology — namely, self-managed and collective forms of organisation, work, care, learning, and so on — with which to consider a critical review of gynaecology through tools and technology of biological exploration. With a view to sharing knowledge related to certain practices, beyond social and cultural constructs of reductionist sciences, this workshop looks to create emancipatory techno-bio-political tools that enable control over the access to the body and another gynaecology to be reclaimed, as well as generating DIT materials of diagnoses that form communities of shared knowledge.

Pedagogical tips: It is important to generate a comfortable space for dialogue as well as an intimate space where the cervical views can be carried out. Not all participants need to feel comfortable under the same circumstances. It is recommended that the workshop be held over three days. This helps to generate bonds and constituent relationships among the participants. But since resources (both material and temporary) are not always available, this session can be adapted to the availability of each context: from 1 day to 5 days or, why not, a summer long lab.


  • Cutter / sharp knife
  • Screwdriver, small
  • Hotglue gun
  • Soldering iron (optional)


Microscope (for 1 microscope)

Basics: 1 Webcam/ Cardboard (thick) / Wood, 20 x 30 cm/ Foamboard, 20 x 30 cm/ M4 adjustable screw, approx. 15 cm long, with fitting screw nuts/ Duct tape/ Blu-Tack adhesive/ Hot glue/ Rubberbands.

Optional external LED light source: 1 switch/ 1 white light-emitting diode (LED)/ 1 battery (9V)/ 1 wired battery connection/ 1 resistor (1 k Ω )/ 1 potentiometer (20 k Ω )/ 30 cm insulated wire/ garden wire.


Print copies of reading materials and give one copy to each participant. *If you don not want to make copies, and in case you have access to computers and internet, you can consult the online materials/guide.

Making the DIT MICROSCOPE includes converting an ordinary webcam into a microscope. The webcam’s conversion can be quickly carried out manually. The electronics remains unaltered, only the position of the lens is changed. A solid platform enables fixing and accurately focusing on tiny objects of study. The objects are illuminated with a light-emitting diode (LED).

The DIT MICROSCOPE consists of three components, assembled in this sequence:

  • Converted webcam
  • Stable observation platform
  • Illumination with a light-emitting diode (LED)


You can spend some time doing an introduction on transhackfeminist practices, for example, possible issues to keep in mind in the introduction:

Quick overview of some individual and collective research processes. Path towards the technological autonomy of body, mind and environment. Thinking together nature and technology, artificial and not-artificial, and other binomials. Body, immersion of the body in technology: crossings, extensions and hybridizations. Potentialities of the technological body, performativity and transgender. Uses of technology /postgender/chimeras and body extensions. Recreate, invent and perform our desires dreaming and fantasizing with new experiences.

Step 1: Build a microscope

Introduction of the main optics construction technique for the elaboration of a microscope from a webcam.


Biotranslab reference:

  1. Beatriz Preciado,2013.‘Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era’.The Feminist Press at CUNY. ↩︎

topic ⦚ Hormones, Toxicity and Body Sovereignty


Since the rise of industrial capitalism (petrochemical, agricultural, and pharmaceutical) in the mid to late 1800s, synthetic molecules have been produced and manufactured at an alarming and unrelenting pace and now pervade every aspect of the planet. These synthetic molecules are synonymously known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), and xenoestrogens because of their estrogen-mimicking and estrogen-displacing properties. From the discovery of PCBs in the Mariana’s Trench, the deepest parts of the Earth, to whole populations of birds, frogs, and fish failing to produce viable offspring, to the trans-generational cancers inherited from grandmothers who were prescribed diethylstilbestrol during pregnancy to prevent miscarriage, this microscopic moment on the scale of geologic time is already (and continues) to be marked by unprecedented levels of environmental toxicity, drastic planetary changes and collective species mutations.

Writer Rob Nixon has called this phenomenon of the Anthropocene a kind of “slow violence” that is everywhere yet difficult to perceive. In contrast to blatant catastrophic events such as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the effects of environmental toxicity are gradual and therefore imperceptible in a way similar to climate change. The effects of these synthetic molecules on the human body have been linked to neurological (autism, lower IQ, mood disorders) and physiological effects (diabetes, obesity, early-onset puberty, worldwide sperm count drop), as well as various reproductive cancers. These molecules drift, seep, wander, flow, invade wherever they please, carried by both air and water in invisible and unimaginable ways. Furthermore, the presence of these molecules are unequally distributed, reflecting pre-existing lines of inequality and more often affecting black, indigenous, and marginalized communities.

So what does it mean if our bodies are industrially modulated, that our sex, gender, and reproduction are not as fixed and recalcitrant as we were told they would be? How do we situate our bodies, identities, and fears in the midst of toxic and alienating environments? Most importantly, how do we discard old notions of the normative body so that we can breed new subjectivities that include ALL ways of being? Despite many lobbying and activist efforts to change legislation on their production, molecules continue to queer, risk, and harm both humans and non-humans. At the same time, we have the State policing of non-normative bodies on the basis of oppressive gender constructs, from violent intersex surgeries to the denial of hormonal healthcare to trans individuals. Therefore in the spirit of Pirate Care and the formation of micro-resistances, we must take back sovereignty of our bodies from patriarchal and hegemonic forces, and refigure strategies for living, acting, and caring in a permanently polluted world. Intersecting between body and gender politics and environmental toxicity, this topic and its sessions call on participants to undo the trap of eco-heteronormativity, reassess toxicity without rhetorics of purity, neutralize fears, decolonize somatic fictions, demystify hormones, and ultimately rewrite a future that undoubtedly embodies queerness.


This topic includes the following sessions:


Click here to for a complete Hormones, Toxicity and Body Sovereignity reading list

session ⦚ Excavating Histories and Fictions

If gender constructs of “male” and “female” are social fictions validated by patriarchal science, then we should be able to define and create our own fictions. In the first part of this session, participants will collectively read articles and chapters that help excavate the strange and twisted history of hormones and how this has allowed patriarchal institutions to cement the binary system of gender in the public mind. This collective excavation also hopes to reveal the complex entanglements between petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries, medical science, corporate marketing, marginalized bodies, and environmental health.

The second half of the session will talk about current work being done by artists, performers, and open source practitioners who are paving the way to decolonize our bodies from these violent histories and constructions of binary gender.


Present Practices

session ⦚ Micro-Macro Connections

The goal of this session is to reveal the invisible connections between material culture and consumerism (macro) and their molecular origins (micro). These connections are highly politicized because they have been intentionally made invisible by the corporations who manufacture these products. So how can we make visible the harmful molecules that are present in our everyday lives, in what we wear, buy, and consume? How is our shampoo political?

Participants will go on a walk and perform a “xenoestrogen witch hunt” visiting common convenience stores, food markets, and perhaps even residential and industrial sites, depending on the local context of the workshop. Using print and online resources, participants will be able to identify toxic ingredients and molecules and strategize on ways to avoid them in the future.

Connecting this with body and gender politics, the participants are also encouraged to rethink their own bodies and gender subjectivities through the molecular lens. How are our bodies industrially modulated? How is this inextricably tied to corporate and industrial capitalism? How does the presence of these harmful molecules disrupt not only our physical bodies but also on the ideological level, i.e. our prescribed notions of normal and natural? How can and should we act in a permanently polluted world?

Text Resources

Online Resources

session ⦚ Urine Hormone Extraction Action

Using a basic understanding of chemistry principles such as polarity and solubility, participants will build and perform a urine-hormone extraction protocol using cheap and easy-to-find materials. This protocol was generated through the project Estrofem! Lab, dedicated to the collaborative production of hormone hacking protocols for citizen investigation of bodies and environments. In addition, the participants will be encouraged to think of the protocol as a kind of cooking recipe, referring to the fact that we have always been biohackers.

The results of this short experiment will be a brown sticky substance that is a collection of all kinds of steroidal-like molecules, and will be followed by a reflective discussion: What kinds of queer, disobedient embodiments can we find in urinary hormones? How can we generate new subjectivities around hormones? Can we imagine speculative scenarios where we recycle hormones produced in the body?


  • Paper towels
  • Scissors
  • Cups (for urine)
  • Glass bottle cutter
  • Tweezers with needle nose
  • U-post fence bracket
  • Angle bracket
  • 2 metal threaded rods per bracket (500mm/9.5mm)
  • Zip-ties (large, colorful prefered)
  • Pipe clamp with black rubber and threaded nail (various diameters)
  • Any glass bottle, recycled
  • Cigarette filters, variety of brands to compare
  • Blue to Pink Silica Gel (bulk on Amazon)
  • Parafilm
  • Methanol
  • Falcon Tubes (50mL)
  • Falcon Tube Rack (able to boil)
  • Hotplate
  • Aquarium air pump with ¼” tubing
  • Pot for boiling

DIY Column Construction

Two metal rods are fixed to a bracket by zip ties. One pipe clamp per metal rod is then fixed by zip ties. Make an incision around a glass bottle using the glass bottle cutter. Pour hot water around the incision, then cold water. This should cause the two pieces to separate. The cut glass bottle will be the column. Wrap the neck opening with parafilm. Poke a small hole with tweezers. Pack column with a layer of cigarette filters (preferably to take off the wrapper). This will be the nonpolar environment. Pack column with a layer of silica gel (amount depends on volume of bottle). This will be the polar environment.

Urine Extraction

Collect a urine sample in a plastic cup. Place a new plastic cup underneath the column (waste collection). Pour methanol (5-10mL) down the column. This is the “conditioning” step. Now pour water down the column, washing any excess methanol. Dispose the waste down the drain if it gets too full at this point. Pour your urine sample down the column. This is called “loading the sample.” Repeat at least 5 times to ensure binding of hormones to the stationary phase. Pour the waste down the drain. Now “elute” the hormones (get them off the stationary phase) by pouring methanol (4-5mL) down the column. (Methanol is a solvent described in many scientific papers as having effective binding properties for steroidal molecules). Repeat at least 5 times to ensure efficient elution of hormones. Make sure the final elution ends up in a 15mL falcon tube. Place the falcon tube of methanol-hormones in a pot of boiling water. Use air pump to facilitate the evaporation of methanol. This process varies depending on amount of methanol. Once you see a dry, brown, sticky substance, you can take the tube off the hot water. The final product is a collection of hormones, or steroidal molecules in general. To isolate only estrogen would require an additional step of purification, which needs to be further investigated. Smell and share with your friends!

Text Resources

topic ⦚ Fostering equity and diversity in the hacker/maker scene


Pirate Care is an emergent phenomenon where a growing number of initiatives related to health and care find themselves inhabiting grey regulatory zones, which pop-up more and more often. At the same time, a lot of projects born within the maker community, intersecting with hacker culture, are using open source and digital technologies to co-create solutions in situations where public or private institutions are idle.

These initiatives share the vision that technology can be redirected toward new purposes and grounded to sustain different narratives, in which citizen perceive themselves as “contributors” rather than “consumers” of technology and science. Actively countering the deterministic trends of both these domains, the makers’ approach enhances the relation with the world through concrete material engagement, by challenging normative views of knowledge production and expertise.

Hackers and Makers ideally embrace an egalitarian vision of making, but very often, in practice, we see that at the level of access and opportunities such values lack a concrete application, because making always takes place in spaces and times influenced by institutional, societal, and individual histories.

This contribution to the Pirate Care Syllabus is a tentative effort to start a process of sharing resources and practices to recognise, on one side, how science and technology have been playing a leading role in the toolbox of the powerful, by limiting the self-empowerment of historically marginalized communities and/or reinforcing existing values and biased ideologies. On the other side, this tpoic hopes to spread a set of resources and tools within the maker community, to help it avoid the same mistakes other disciplines have done in the past and to bring awareness on the different opportunities unfolding with a more diverse approach.

From an activist perspective, the word “decolonising” is becoming more and more useful for naming and understanding broader implications of phenomena that have a long history in shaping the social, much beyond physical borders. As Beatrice Martini highlights in the introduction of her reading list:

”One example of this kind of ‘borderless colonial’ phenomenon comes from digital technology. While many technical innovations are asserted as universally positive and beneficial to communities worldwide, beyond borders and across cultures, a closer analysis of who holds the power, who has agency, and whose interests are promoted, can often reveal a very different picture.” <

Therefore we need to pay deeper attention to what constitutes a “community” and how the unequal distribution of agency impacts the way learning and making can take shape across the borders of gender, race, and class.

In recent years, the science and tech community has been taking a self-reflexive look at the role these fields of expertise played historically and presently in society, to prevent perpetuating mistakes and address patterns of exclusion. In the same way, this syllabus topic is an invitation for the maker/hacker community to embed this perspective in our practices because even science, which is first of all a method, but soon became an industry and a dispositive of power, has proved to be harmful, if not guided by ethical principles of equity.

As makers and hackers, developing a perspective look at our places and practices means being aware that people can simultaneously experience privilege and oppression depending on the context. The image below shows the framework by the Intersectionality concept which was coined by lawyer and civil rights advocate Kimberlé W. Crenshaw in 1989, and rooted in the research and activism of women of color, extending back to Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” speech in 1851. It reveals how the most pressing social justice issues can’t be productively addressed through traditional frameworks or by explaining these problems as the product of just one axis of exclusion. We need to take a deeper look at the interconnected factors that influence power, privilege and oppression and the intersectional approach helps focus on systems and contexts to be decolonised.

In the makerspaces, hacking and fablab context, this means considering who is impacted (or not) by the work that we do, whose voices are missing, questioning assumptions made in activities, while we engage the community or design our educational programs.

Below, you will find a series of publications, links and media to explore different points of view addressing the issue.

This topic has (so far) three sessions, where I proposed 3 possible activities to inspire action:

Intersectionality Spectrum

Reading Resources




On decolonizing as a concept

On gender diversity

On horizontality



Wanna contribute? Drop me a message on twitter @zoescope

session ⦚ Diversifing Your Narratives

Role models play a crucial part in developing girls’ and women’s interests, and this applies to many unrepresented subjectivities. The workshop encourages participants to learn about the history and evolution of both science and technology, with the aim of exploring their constructs while also highlighting the contribution of colonized populations, women, LGBTQ+, and differently-abled persons.


  • Introduction:
  • Warm-up:
    • In turn introduce yourself and tell what is/was your role-model and why (5 minutes each).
  • Discussion:
    • Which new role-models emerged in the fablab community worldwide and locally? (30 min).
  • Working group:
    • Explore Wikipedia and discover which of the role-models listed above do not have an entry, discuss which ones could be created to give prominence and recognition to hidden protagonists, and which you might wish to translate in your language (45 min).
  • Wrap up:
    • Write a list of possible entries which could be done with a collaborative Wikipedia Edit-a-thon event (30 min).
session ⦚ Mapping the Unspoken

This workshop aims to collectively visualize what remains ‘unspoken’ in a makerspace or hackerspace; to analyze the invisibility of conditioning deriving from certain habits and practices; and, finally, to think about which behaviours should be encouraged in order to embody the values of diversity.

  • Warm-up:
    • Introduce yourself and tell which machines and tools you use or not use in your space - makerspace, fablab or hackerspace - and why (5 minutes per participant).
  • Discussion:
    • For each of the machines and tools, make a list of who is using them, why and how (40 min).
  • Working group:
    • Imagine how to involve a more diverse crowd and make your space more accessible (30 min).
  • Wrap up:
    • Write up the main insights from the discussion in order to activate some concrete practices that can foster equality and accessibility (30 min).
session ⦚ Etextiles as a Tool to Decolonize Electronics

This workshop focuses on how it is possible to introduce eTextiles as part of a curriculum to create opportunities of working across the domains of both crafts and technology, reintroducing a historical link between computing, engineering, and traditionally women-led crafting. Depending on the context, location and background of participants (students, citizens, teachers…) it is possible to tailor this theory/practice workshop to different lenghts of time, varying from 3 hours to 3 days.

Here is the paper summarizing the key aspects of the workshop:

topic ⦚ Politicising Piracy

Politicising piracy - making an unconditional demand

Politicising Piracy topic has a double goal: to understand cultural piracy as a form of politics and to look at various practices of piracy from their specific socio-economic context of emergence, their technological underpinnings and their specific forms of political intervention.

Piracy in technological context

There is a tendency to conceive of cultural and knowledge piracy as a phenomenon of recent date, largely in connection with the pirating of popular cultural or scholarly works, where such copying is done by means of an industrial-grade, home or personal copying device. However, the material practice of copying is of older date and is co-originary with the techniques and technologies of writing. A cultural expression is created from collective meaning-making, and thus writing and recording always has a pre-requisite reproduction and dissemination.

Before the introduction of the printing press, the manuscripts were hand-copied, copying was laborious, and dissemination limited to precious few copies. With the introduction of movable type print, the books could be mass-produced, and copying and dissemination became easier. However, it was reserved for the few who had access to a printing press. Tape and optical media democratised that ability to copy, but dissemination remained difficult and costly. In the age of digital networks, the act of copying exploded as every action – downloading and opening a file, visiting a web page, editing a text – now entails copying from one part of a computer environment to another. And dissemination to a global network is always only a click away. The gist of this technological change is that before, very few actors had access to a copying device, whereas nowadays, copying devices are ubiquitous and networked, so the boundaries between writing, reading, copying, and sharing are more permeable.

However, the context of piracy is only partly defined by technologies. It is equally defined by law, which nowadays treats cultural works as a form of property and protects them by means of copyright. Copyright essentially regulates who has a right to copy, distribute, and access cultural works and under what terms. It parcels out collective meaning-making into individualised acts in order to create property titles and enable commodification of culture. Digitisation has both expanded the accessibility of cultural works beyond the limitations of physical items, allowing for an item to be copied and disseminated almost at zero marginal cost. It has also allowed for various forms of control of access and enforcement of copyright by technological means, including copy-protection measures and centralised streaming platforms. The attempts to stop sharing have largely proven inefficient, unless there is a high level of control over communication channels and draconian fines.

In a telling example, in the 1984 Betamax case, the Universal Studios and the Walt Disney Company sued Sony for aiding copyright infringement with their Betamax video recorders. Sony won. The court’s decision in favour of fair use rather than copyright infringement laid the legal ground for home recording technology as the foundation of future analogue, and subsequently digital, content sharing. Five years later, Sony bought its first major Hollywood studio: Columbia Pictures. In 2004 Sony Music Entertainment merged with Bertelsmann Music Group to create Sony BMG. However, things changed as Sony became the content producer, and we entered the age of the discrete and the digital. Another five years later, in 2009, Sony BMG sued Joel Tenenbaum for downloading and then sharing 31 songs. The jury awarded US$675,000 to the music companies (US$22,000 per song).

Piracy in economic context

More fundamentally still, piracy is a consequence of the social regulation of access to culture that is primarily rooted in the commodity-based system of cultural and knowledge production. The central instrument in that regulation over the last two centuries is the intellectual property. Copyright has a fundamentally economic function – to unambiguously establish individualised property in the products of creative labour. Once a legal title is unambiguously assigned, there is a person holding the property right with whose consent the contracting, commodification, and marketing of the work can proceed (Bently 1994). By the beginning of the twentieth century, copyright expanded to a number of other forms of creativity, transcending its primarily literary and scientific ambit and becoming part of the broader set of intellectual property rights that are fundamental to the functioning and positioning of capitalist enterprise. The industrialisation and corporatisation of the production of culture and knowledge thus brought about a decisive break from the Romantic model that singularized the authorship in the person of the author. The production of cultural commodities nowadays involves a number of creative inputs from both credited (but mostly unwaged) and uncredited (but mostly waged) contributors.

However, copyright has facilitated the rise of rights-holding monopolies, who can neither provide a viable subsistence for the authors nor optimal access to the cultural works, as their mission is primarily defined by their business bottom line. The level of concentration in cultural and knowledge industries based on various forms of intellectual property rights is staggeringly high. The film industry is a US$136 billion industry dominated by six major studios. The recorded music industry is an almost US$20 billion industry dominated by only three major labels and four streaming platforms. The publishing industry is a US$120 billion industry where the leading ten companies earn more in revenues than the next forty largest publishing groups. Academic publishing in particular draws the state of play in stark relief. It is a US$10 billion industry dominated by five publishers and is financed up to 75 percent from library subscriptions (Larivière 2015).

Furthermore, the commodified cultural and knowledge production is part and parcel of the global economy, where the most affluent economies also command the bulk of global science and research investment - and are able to use their intellectual property rights to maximise the value they can extract in the international division of labour. As already pointed out, the transition to digital networks has expanded the accessibility of cultural works beyond the distribution of physical items. Yet, in that expansion of access, the traditional institutional avenues of decommodified access to culture and knowledge. For instance, libraries and universities were drastically limited (American Library Association 2012) in providing free access to the works in digital form. The new digital cultural and knowledge industry, resulting from wedlock of centralised digital platforms and copyright monopolies, exploited territorial, institutional and economic divides to deny access to culture and knowledge to a mass of people across the world. This motivated them to create their own piratical systems of access. They thus collectively built the largest globally accessible repositories of culture and knowledge, doing for access in the digital world what public institutions were not allowed to do. At the same time, the industry ended up denying wages to a growing number of cultural and knowledge producers, who thus became doubly locked out: both the access to the works they themselves require access to so as to be able to produce their work and the wages needed to buy them. It thus comes as no surprise that, particularly in the domain of knowledge production, the authors are the most ardent advocates of universal open access and many accept the piracy as the next-best solution to the systemic denial they are subjected to.

Defining piracy, historically

Piracy is an illicit act of copying and disseminating of works of culture and knowledge that is done in contravention of authority and/or law. When we speak today of illegal copying, we primarily mean an infringement of the legal rights of authors and publishers. There is an immediate assumption that the infringing practice of illegal copying and distribution falls under the domain of juridical sanction, that it is a matter of law. Yet if we look back at the history of copyright, the illegality of copying was a political matter long before it became a matter of law. Publisher’s rights, author’s rights, and mechanisms of reputation – the three elements that are fundamental to the present-day copyright system – all have their historical roots in the context of absolutism and early capitalism in the seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe. Before publishers and authors were given a temporary monopoly over the exploitation of their publications in the form of copyright, they were operating in a system where they were forced to obtain a privilege to print books from royal censors (Biagioli 2002). The transition from the privilege tied to the publisher to the privilege tied to the natural person of the author would unfold only later.

In the United Kingdom this transition occurred as the guild of printers, Stationers’ Company, failed to secure the extension of its printing monopoly and thus, in order to continue with its business, decided to advocate the introduction of the copyright for the authors instead. This resulted in the passing of the Copyright Act of 1709 (Rose 2010), also known as the Statute of Anne. The censoring authority and enterprising publishers now proceeded in lockstep to isolate the author as the central figure in the regulation of literary and scientific production. Not only did the author receive exclusive rights to the work, but the author was also made the identifiable subject of scrutiny, censorship and political sanction by the absolutist state. (Foucault 1980)

Before the efforts to internationalise and harmonise intellectual property rights got underway with the 1883 Paris Convention on the Protection of Industrial Property and the ensuing 1886 Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the copyright was protected only as far as the jurisdiction of the copyright-granting national authority reached. Copyrighted works and patented inventions were reproduced freely in foreign markets, contributing to the edification of people and the economic development of societies. Over the next century, and then in particular with the post-socialist economic globalisation instituted in free trade agreements, the internationalisation and harmonisation of intellectual property rights started to codify and enforce the unequal exchange between unevenly developed economies and create legal justification for enclosure of intangible commons (Midnight Notes Collective 1990). Making a cultural expression an exclusive property of someone was always a dubious proposition. It might have been justified to secure autonomy from patronage. But as an instrument to secure livelihood in the generalised market relations, for most artists it proved a pitiful substitute for wages. And even worse, as a mechanism of protection of collective rights and larger social interests in the conditions of asymmetry of economic power, it failed miserably (Shiva 2001, Perleman 2001) continuing colonial and neocolonial histories of plunder by means of other forms of property (Bhandar 2018). As a mechanism of exclusion, it granted large intellectual property holders concentrated in the Global North a capacity to concentrate economic power to the detriment of both creators and recipients across the globe.

Against this historical background, cultural and knowledge piracy as a practice assumes a different relief. It is not merely reducible to free-riding aimed at gaining access to something that is the property of others but can be viewed as a challenge to the property-form as a form of regulation of social production of culture and knowledge. In that way, it is not different in nature, but only in kind from the different challenges to how privatisation, property, and exclusion regulate social production of food, housing, health, or education. The rise of digital networks and expansion of accessibility has only exacerbated that eminently political tension. The neoliberal rollback of the socialised access to those services and goods, and the public institutions tasked with providing that access, have precipitated that tension into a full-blown crisis of social reproduction.

Piracy as a politics of prescription

The sessions in this topic start from an understanding of piracy as a form of politics. Piracy calls for the abolition of property and commodification as regimes of regulating exclusion from the socially produced communal wealth. The implication of this demand is a radical socialisation of the system of cultural and knowledge production. Piracy is then neither appealing to a grey-zone nor asking for a conditional toleration of infringing practice, but is issuing an unconditional demand. That makes it eminently political. In this view, piracy can be understood as a form of politics of prescription (Hallward 2005) that re-articulates the terms of the debate and divides the political terrain in two - one can only be for or against the unconditional demand it makes. Such political intervention does not seek to open a “middle of the road” perspective but demands that everyone takes a side.

In the face of an historic opening for a socialisation of the cultural and knowledge production, created, in this case, by the technological change, that necessity of taking sides becomes more apparent than it was before. Rather than expanding commodification, it is easy to imagine that the cultural and knowledge production become socialised in order to produce a common wealth. Yet this is also urgent in the face of Googles and Amazons of this world that are rising to aposition of new, platformed rentiers controlling the levers of cultural and knowledge production. Such situations of having to take sides are not unprecedented. For instance, the revolutionary events of the Paris Commune of 1871, its mere “working existence” (Marx 1871), a brief moment of “communal luxury” set in practice (Ross 2010), demanded that, in spite of any circumstances and reservations, one took a side. And such is our present moment too.


The sessions that follow are propositions to learn from various forms of cultural and knowledge piracy. Each of them approaches exemplary cases of cultural and knowledge piracy from three angles: a) what are the politicising interventions into the terrain of struggle over cultural and knowledge production and access that they make, b) what are the technological principles they base their strategy on, and c) what are the forms of legal persecution they face. In contrast to politics of counter-surveillance and leaking, which reserves counter-power only for a small number of savvy hacker figures, they look to piracy as a form of mass politics of redistribution and socialisation of production that everyone can practice.

This topic includes the following sessions:


To see a comprehensive list of resources on Politicising piracy go to the collection….

session ⦚ Photocopying


The session introduces learners to a long history of cultural and knowledge piracy. The practice of illegal copying and dissemination of works of culture and knowledge did not emerge with the digital networks. The purpose of this session is to discuss piracy as a long-standing practice emerging in response to the economic regulation of cultural production, creative labour and economic inequalities. Learners will find out more about the history of copying, copyright and unevenness in the creative and knowledge economy between the Global North and the Global South.

The session introduces learners to:

  • a) a long history of illegal copying and historical transformations of what actually constitutes the illegal act of copying,
  • b) a workflow to scan and copy texts using a photocopier,
  • c) a workflow to prepare on paper and in digital texts for the next sessions.

The example proposed as a point of entry into these historical legacies will be the legal case filed by a group of Britain-based academic publishers against the Rameshwari Photocopy Services, a print shop providing students at the Delhi School of Economics with the copied textbook materials from these publishers at a price an average Indian student can actually afford. In a surprising decision, a Delhi court has decided that the right of access to knowledge in the context of education trumps the commercial right of the publishers.

The hands-on aspect will be learning to use a photocopier to scan and copy reading materials for the next session.


Duration: 90 minutes

Methods: reading and discussing, learning by doing, learners have to use a photocopier

Task 1:

Learners should read in advance the following two texts:

  • Liang, Lawrence. “Academic Freedom and the Ownership of Knowledge.” Café Dissensus (blog), September 15, 2016.

  • Mars, Marcell, and Tomislav Medak. “System of a Takedown: Control and De-Commodification in the Circuits of Academic Publishing.” In Archives, edited by Andrew Lison, 47–68. Minneapolis, MI: University of Minnesota Press &, 2019.

The discussion should start from learners’ own experiences of copying and sharing in their education, how did their institutions tolerate, encourage or participate in the practice of sharing of texts, discuss if that illegal or legal

Task 2:

Learners should access a photocopier and:

  • learn how to copy on the machine so as to create and export a PDF
  • print copies of the texts for the next session


Kate Eichhorn,2006.‘Breach of copy/rights: The university copy district as abject zone’.

Lawrence Liang,2016.‘Academic Freedom and the Ownership of Knowledge’.Café Disensus.

Lawrence Liang,2017.‘Paternal and defiant access: copyright and the politics of access to knowledge in the Delhi University photocopy case’.

Marcell Mars & Tomislav Medak,2019.‘System of a Takedown: Control and De-commodification in the Circuits of Academic Publishing’.University of Minnesota Press &

session ⦚ Download/Upload


The next session focuses on large repositories of digital text, so-called shadow libraries, that are technologically organised around actions of download and upload from and to server infrastructures. The session introduces learners to:

  • a) workflows used in digital text sharing, collection-building and collection-maintaining;
  • b) three shadow libraries: Library Genesis, Aaaaarg and Memory of the World, and the legal pressures they face;
  • c) politicising interventions that articulate practices of digital text sharing as massive, collective and commoning.

The goal is to get learners acquainted with three examples of shadow libraries that are created by communities of contributors and benefit a broader public. The fact that they maintain centralised repositories and they do not obfuscate their existence entails a need for an articulation of politics of collective disobedience and practice of collective custodianship. This session covers a lot of practical ground and different debates, requiring more time than the remaining sessions in this topic. You can break these segments up into separate chunks of time or re-organise them into one longer workshop. Depending on the number of participants and their skills, the time needed for each segments might vary from what is proposed here.

Segment 1: Download / Upload

Duration: 90 minutes

Methods: learning by doing, learners have to use their own computers to complete the tasks.

Goal: In this practical segment, the learners will acquire first-hand knowledge of how to download and upload, create collections and maintain collections on Library Genesis, Aaaaarg and Memory of the World.

Task 1:

Task 2:

  • login to Aaaaarg,
  • download from Aaaaarg,
  • add a request for an item and upload that item,
  • start a new collection, add items to your collection (go to an item -> collections column -> ‘sort into collection’)
  • start a discussion, add to an existing discussion

Task 3:

  • download from Memory of the World,
  • install Calibre, add an item to Calibre, edit its metadata (right-click -> edit metadata)
  • for the advanced learners: install in command line (> pip3 install accorder) and test the accorder tool, use the local version of the collection HTML file created by accorder

Discussion: Learners should summarise the differences between the three shadow libraries, particularly focusing on public accessibility, how the work of uploading items is organised, how the bibliographic metadata is handled and what type of engagement of the community of uploaders and the community of downloaders they suggest.

Segment 2: Library Genesis

Duration: 90 minutes

Methodology: reading & discussion, analysis of the interface

Goal: In this segment, the learners will get acquainted with the history, community and communication infrastructure of Library Genesis. Library Genesis has emerged as the largest shadow library after the collection of Gigapedia/ (shut down under legal pressure) was merged into its collection, and is presently the largest of shadow libraries by some margin, holding over 2 million titles. Library Genesis’s code, database and collection are all downloadable, and there is a number of mirrors providing alternative access to some or all of its holdings.

The segment starts by discussing two texts documenting the history and operation of Library Genesis that the learners are asked to read in advance. They are then given time to analyse the segments of the Library Genesis website and the bulletin board forum of the Library Genesis.

The aim is to get learners to see how the politics of community is implemented and how it follows from the technical aspects of the Library Genesis.


Dennis Tenen & Maxwell Foxman,2014.‘Book Piracy as Peer Preservation’.Computational Culture - A Journal of Software Studies., also available at

Bodó, Balázs. &ldquo;The Genesis of Library Genesis: The Birth of a Global Scholarly Shadow Library.&rdquo; In Shadow Libraries: Access to Knowledge in Global Higher Education, by Joe Karaganis, 25–51. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2018.

Duration: 90 minutes

Methodology: advance reading and discussion guided through questions

The learners are asked in advance to read up on Aaron Swartz, on Elsevier v Library Genesis case, and read the texts Aaaaarghhhhh, a Lawsuit!, letter and ‘System of a Takedown’. The discussion should first start from going back to the shutdown of Gigapedia/ that led to the ascendancy of Library Genesis. Learners are asked to summarise the aspects of legal cases around shadow libraries and reflect on the larger context of struggles over copyright and intellectual property that these are part of. They are asked to reflect on the denial of access and limitation of the mission of public libraries, and the complementarity of shadow libraries and public libraries.

The discussion should then focus on implications of the three shadow libraries Library Genesis, Aaaaarg and Memory of the World. They operate in plain sight, have large communities of contributors and maintain largely centralised repositories - what strategies do they use to diminish legal vulnerability and what arguments do they use to publicly articulate their work? What role does in those strategies play the societal institutions of production and dissemination of knowledge with their missions and processes — for instance, public library and its mission of providing decommodified access to all literature to all of the society.

To conclude, the discussion should focus on the letter, to analyse the main points around the inversion of property form into a commons, collective disobedience and response to the larger context of socio-economic crisis and the crisis of public access to knowledge.


American Library Association,2012.‘An open letter to America’s publishers from ALA President Maureen Sullivan’.American Library Association.

Balász Bodó,2018.‘The Genesis of Library Genesis: The Birth of a Global Scholarly Shadow Library’.MIT Press.,2015.‘In Solidarity with Library Genesis and Sci-hub’., also available at

Marcell Mars & Tomislav Medak,2019.‘System of a Takedown: Control and De-commodification in the Circuits of Academic Publishing’.University of Minnesota Press &

Blakie Purvis,2016.‘Aaaaarghhhhh, a lawsuit!’., also available at

Aaron Swartz,2008.‘Guerilla Open Access Manifesto’.

Dennis Tenen & Maxwell Foxman,2014.‘Book Piracy as Peer Preservation’.Computational Culture - A Journal of Software Studies.

TorrentFreak,2017.‘Sci-Hub Ordered to Pay $15 Million in Piracy Damages’.

session ⦚ Blackboxing


Unlike massively participatory practices of cultural and knowledge sharing that were analysed in the session: Download/Upload, this session focuses on practices of creating pirate infrastructures that crucially depend on the work of savvy technologists who create forms of access that need to remain obfuscated and black-boxed in order to secure that such access remains functional. The example session focuses on is Science Hub, a search engine and repository that provides access to 85% of paywalled academic articles (Himmelstein et al. 2019), that was single-handedly created by Alexandra Elbakyan. In 2015 Science Hub was sued by the largest academic publisher in the world Reed Elsevier and in 2017 by the American Chemical Society. The US courts ruled against Science Hub, awarding plaintiffs $US15 million and $US5 million respectively in damages. Elbakyan has been outspoken in defending the unconditional universal access against the economic interests of publishers. In response to Elsevier’s suit, Elbakyan famously responded: “If Elsevier manages to shut down our projects or force them into the darknet, that will demonstrate an important idea: that the public does not have the right to knowledge. We have to win over Elsevier and other publishers and show that what these commercial companies are doing is fundamentally wrong.”


Duration: 90 minutes

Methods: learning by doing, learners have to use their own computers to complete the tasks.

Goal: In this session, the learners will learn how to use Science Hub and how to set up a proxy tunnel similar to what Science Hub might be using. Furthermore, they will get acquainted with the history of Science Hub and with Alexandra Elbakyan’s public interventions that have sought to articulate the principle of her action as rooted in communism that is congenial to science. Learners will also discuss the legal prosecution of Science Hub.

Task 1:

Discover how to find the current address of Science Hub and acquaint yourselves with the methods of searching:

  • via the title of the article
  • via DOI number, i.e. a unique identifier number allocated to academic journal article
  • via pasting the URL of the paywalled article after the URL of Science Hub

Task 2:

Here goes the task of opening an ssh tunnel.

Task 3:

Learners should in advance view the following talk:

To prepare, read in advance the following three texts:


Daniel S Himmelstein, Ariel Rodriguez Romero, Jacob G Levernier, Thomas Anthony Munro, Stephen Reid McLaughlin, Bastian Greshake Tzovaras & Casey S Greene,2018.‘Sci-Hub provides access to nearly all scholarly literature’.

Aaron Swartz,2008.‘Guerilla Open Access Manifesto’.

topic ⦚ Flatten the curve, grow the care: What are we learning from Covid-19

Questo documento ha una versione in italiano: Riduci la curva, aumenta la cura: cosa abbiamo imparato da Covid-19

Hay una versión de este documento en español: Aplanar la curva, aumentar el cuidado: Qué estamos aprendiendo del Covid-19

Hierzu existiert auch eine deutsche Version: Flatten the curve, grow the care: Was wir von und mit Covid-19 lernen können

An invitation to join the collective note-taking

This is a collective note-taking effort to document and learn from the organising of solidarity in response to the urgency of care precipitated by the pandemic of Coronavirus (SARS-Cov-2). The first round of notes, thoughts, protocols and propositions, or sessions as we categorise them here in the syllabus, reflects, largely, the experience of organising amidst outbreak and lockdown in Italy. In keeping with the spirit of this syllabus, we focus on those practices that foreground care, labour, technology and disobedience. They are meant to offer both practical guidance and inspiration to organising and living with the outbreak elsewhere. But are also meant to help articulate demands to shift our societies from capitalism, productivism, patriarchy and racism to societies centred on collectivising the shared task of regenerating the interdependent well-being of humans and nature.

Unlike the remaining topics in this Pirate Care Syllabus, this one is closely following developments that are unfolding. It is thus partial and provisional to the Italian, Croatian and British contexts from which we write. However, we encourage others to contribute to building a larger body of notes documenting solidarity in the time of quarantine. Please get in touch with us and propose practices you would like to document, you can reach us through the following channels:

Flatten the curve, grow the care

“Flatten the Curve” has become both a guiding principle for public health responses and a rallying call encouraging people to actively pursue phyisical distancing. The spread of the virus should be slowed down so that around 20% of those who hospitalisation and around 5% of those who require intensive care remain at any moment low enough in number so that hospitals have enough of staff and equipment to provide everyone with the best chances of recovery and survival. The spikes caused by the exponential spread of the virus and medical cases have cripled the healthcare systems in Wuhan and across Italy, and this is what we want to avoid. Hence, “Flatten the Curve”.

However, we want to claim that “Flatten the Curve” is not enough. Not only do we want to keep the spread of the contagion within the limits of health care system’s capacity, but rather that the social crisis resulting from the response to and the aftermath of the pandemic will require a re-focusing of societies on modalities and capacities of care. Something that we think is already pre-figured in the practices and forms of organisation documented here. Hence, “Grow the Care”.

A common health care crisis

The Coronavirus outbreak has demonstrated the weaknesses of the public health system that has far too few ICU beds and ventilator and respirators to deal with the sudden spike in infections, thus contributing to increased mortality from the outbreak. In Italy, the system is so overstretched that the ERs are not able to timely attend to acute conditions such as heart attacks and many surgeries have been postponed, leading to many additional preventable deaths. Time-critical procedures as pregnancy terminations are being postoponed too.

Medical staff at hospitals is working under conditions of war-like duress - under-equipped, overworked and overexposed - leading to a growing number of them getting infected and having to go into isolation and requiring assistance. Service workers - particularly, cleaners, carers, domestic workers, deliverers, workers in grocery stores, just as many others who can’t work from home - are exposed to the contagion.

The vulnerability of many at-risk groups is contributing to the crisis. First, there is the elderly and those living with other health conditions. Then there are those who are undocumented migrants and can be refused medical care. Those who don’t have medical care coverage and face a crippling debt if they need testing or end up in hospitals. Those who don’t live in a home of their own: homeless, refugees, elderly in retirement homes, women in safe houses or foreign students on campuses. But also many who cannot avoid to work: cleaners, workers in grocery stores, food industry and transport, carers - and industrial workers, who are asked to continue as nothing is happening.

A combined crisis of care, work and environment

Over the last few decades, capitalist development has privatised, defunded and undercut the public mission of the healthcare systems across the world. It has surrendered to market forces many other institutional and non-institutional aspects of social reproduction, such as cleaning, cooking, child care, elderly care, and education. These sectors depend on a large army of labour, frequently consisting of women and migrants, who work in precarious conditions of low wages, limited benefits, zero-hour or on-demand contracts, informal arrangements and illegality. As the societal tasks of care have been subsumed to capitalist accumulation, the forces of labour have been fragmented and individualised, excising their own reproduction from the networks of mutual support and social action. Isolation is already a prevalent condition.

The last four decades have seen a two-to three-fold increase in zoonotic leaps of viruses from animals to humans. The zoonotic leaps such as Coronavirus, which seems to have originated from bats (and is found also in other animals), are a consequence of the incursion of industrial agriculture and farming into natural habitats and of growing inclusion of wild species into capitalist food commodity chains that have created conditions for such spillovers. Degraded ecosystems, with their complexity reduced to benefit industrial agriculture, have a lower capacity to halt the spread of epidemics. This will only worsen as planetary ecological destabilisation is expected to spawn new pathogens at an increasing rate. Recent studies are also highlighting the correlation between the severity of the impact of coronavirus and the rates of air pollution in affected areas.

For the majority of people on this planet, who are deemed expendible from the point of view of capital, to die from epidemics or even common viruses has been the norm for a very long time. The pre-existing conditions of neo-colonial poverty, poor health, malnutrition and degraded habitat can weaponise viruses and epidemics. It is believed that 60% of deaths from the Spanish Flue was in Western Bengal. The worst is, however, that many of these diseases have known cures and vaccines. In the UK, for instance, the life expectancy between the richest and the poorest kids is today of 18 years. What Coronavirus is introducing is a class-less variable in the disposition of care provisions, making it impossible, for the moment, to sort out the damned from those who can be saved along the usual axes of discrimination. This condition will not last for long.

A crisis of domesticity

Due to the advised physical distancing and the cancellation of many public activities, many precarious workers are now facing weeks and months without work and income. Compensation for self-isolation does not exist in many places. Staying at home in deepening poverty is a horrific prospect. They will be joined by armies of laid-off workers.

Nurseries, kindergartens and schools are closed, creating an impossible situation for many parents who are required to work. In many cases, the elderly, who are most at-risk from the pandemic, are forced to stay with kids, creating an emotionally difficult situation in homes and families.

But there are also who suffer mentally ill, disabled and suffering severe conditions for whom remaining isolated to home is not feasible. And then there are those who face domestic violence for whom the lockdown equals continued abuse. The violence will only grow as neither adults nor kids can pursue their interests outside of home nor can socialise. The isolation without a radical rethink of how we organise self-determinative work, free time and conviviality will start to leave its psychological toll.

Organizing for an alternative future

The pandemic is likely to push an already unstable global economy into a tailspin, triggering measures to restore capitalist accumulation that will, judging from the past, might bring about further reductions to the public care system, dismantling of labour protections, discouraging civic life and deepening inequality and poverty. The fallout might set back efforts to counter and adapt to climate change that might lead to comparable disasters. Against these prospects, the loss of organising capacity to effectively make political claims while the outbreak is ongoing might prove crippling.

We are living through a time of deep transformation that will impact our collective future beyond the emergency of containing the epidemic. It is both a time of acceleration, a time of uncertainty expressed in statistical predictions, a time of suspension. The shape of what is to come is not written in stone, but it will greatly depend upon our joint reflection and capacity to organise political actions. There will be an urge to simply “go back to normal, quickly”. And that tendency or hope, however understandable on the psychological level, will need to be collectively addressed, and also healed.

But we also live in a time where we have been provided with a peek into an alternative future.

The challenge today and in the next period of time is and will be how to keep the surge in solidarity provoked by this multiple crisis - that is, as a force motivating people to come together and make demands for systemic changes in public health and for the environment, for moving beyond the capitalist addiction to growth, speed and consumption. This last point is what has been in the back of our mind as, like many others, we began to sieve and collect some of the stories and information gathered here. Experiences and examples linked here are taken from different places in the world, in the spirit of internationalism and translocalism, which might be one of the lessons we re-learn from the virus.


In this topic we address what are the immediate ways to attend to the critical care needs that distancing, isolation and quarantine are introducing or making worse and that we can address in a collective and mutualist manner. These are the notes documenting interventions and practices in response to the Coronavirus pandemic:

These are also some sessions already in the syllabus that provide more sources to learn about pirate care practices that might be critical to develop further understanding of the present crisis:


“Flatten the Curve, Grow the Care” is collaboratively written and translated by: Maddalena Fragnito, Valeria Graziano, Marcell Mars, Tomislav Medak, Cooperation Birmingham, Tomasso Petrucci, Dan Rudmann, Antonia Hernández, Rebekka Kiesewetter, Tobias Steiner, Katja Laug, Janneke Adema.

Further reading

See individual sessions and the page with Resources and texts on Coronavirus.

session ⦚ How to assist people in home isolation

Drafted by the Pirate Care Syllabus crew. Last edit: March 21, 12am CST.

Ovaj dokument dostupan je i na hrvatskom: Kako pomoći ljudima u kućnoj izolaciji

Questo documento ha una versione in italiano: Come assistere le persone nell'isolamento domestico

Dieses Dokument existiert auch in einer deutschen Version: Wie kann man Menschen während der Hausisolation unterstützen

Hay una versión de este documento en español: Cómo asistir a personas aisladas en sus hogares

Rationale for organising assistance

The most significant thing people can do to reduce the virus spread and the mortality is to practice avoid close contact (2 meters distance in closed spaces, 1 meter in open air), working from home and home isolation. People belonging to at-risk groups (over 60 years of age and/or suffering from chronic conditions such as cardiovascular and heart diseases, high or low blood pressure, diabetes, lung or immune system diseases), should not leave their home. People who have recently travelled, or people who have onset symptoms, and are advised or ordered to go into isolation, have to stay at home and avoid contact with others. In many places, as lock-down measures are introduced, everyone else, who doesn’t have a duty to go to work, should remain at home and leave only to do necessary purchases. Thereby we lower the risk of further significant spread.

The home isolation, however, creates significant obstacles to securing the regular provision of food, medicines, toiletries and other consumables, as well as obstacles to attending to routine tasks such as taking out the rubbish or collecting mail. Isolation implies a radical workaround of how those who are in isolation organise their daily lives. And the conditions of isolation might lead to disorientation, lack of social contact, and emotional difficulties.

If you are not in an at-risk group and wish to organise as a group or as an individual to assist your family members, friends, neighbours or strangers, here are the things you can take into consideration to build different scenarios how to assist them in their needs during home isolation:

Let them know you are ready to assist

You can let them know that you can provide assistance by posting a note in the building entrance, leaving a note under or next to their door, or ringing them up. You can also publicise it on social media or on a webpage, but assume that older people might not be Internet-savvy, so rely on paper and phone. Leave a phone number as a contact and basic information about yourself or your group to establish initial trust. Let them know in your note that if they themselves might not need assistance that they can inform their friends and family who might need assistance that you are offering help.

Your initial note can be very simple, for example:

Dear neighbours,

if you need assistance with getting your food and medical provisions, collecting mail or taking out your dog for a walk please give us a call at

[your phone number here]

and we’ll do those errands for you, taking necessary measures to precaution not to expose you to the contaigon.

Stay at home and stay healthy, please do not hesitate to contact us, we’re here to help,

[Describe shortly who you are and your name, e.g. “Neighbour from the ground floor”, “Neighbourhood mutual aid group”]

What to consider when arranging assistance

When arranging assistance make sure to:

  • Go with the person in home isolation through guidelines on home isolation, assistance to at risk groups and similar official guidance, e.g. Irish Health Care guideline to establish what they need to do to organise their daily life during a prolonged home isolation and what they need to organise it in that way?
  • What provisions do they need? Can you order that online and have it delivered, or is it better that you deliver the provisions yourself?
  • Do they have the medicines they need? Do they need a prescription? Can you pick up their medication from the pharmacy? Do they have masks, soap and desinfectants? Do they have a thermometer and fever and cough medicine?
  • Can they prepare a meal or do they need help? Can you make them a meal? Or instead arrange to have food delivered to them from a soup or solidarity kitchen?
  • Do they need to have their rubbish put out or mail collected?
  • Do they have a house pet? Does it need to be walked?
  • Do they have money? Do they have cash? Can they pay online? Do they have a trusted person who can withdraw cash for them? Do they need financial assistance?
  • To minimise your movement, try to plan and do errands for several days at once.

What to consider when delivering items

When delivering things, consider also the following:

  • Avoid close contact (2 meters in closed space and 1 meter in opern air, and keep the interaction short) to prevent the transmission of the virus by air.
  • It is best to drop things in front of their door for them to collect once you have moved away to the advised distance.
  • They can also do the same with rubbish or anything they have to give to you.
  • If you can’t avoid direct social contact, the person in isolation should wear a mask. First leave them a mask if they don’t have one.
  • Carefully handle the items in order to avoid transmission of the virus via surfaces. Use disposable gloves to handle items you will deliver and things you are taking over.

What to consider if you live with the person in home isolation

Persons who are in isolation, either because they might be or are infected, or because they belong to one of the at-risk groups, frequently will live in a shared household with other people. For those who are older, seriously ill, infirm or disabled who depend on the assistance of others, yet live in locations and situations where such assistance cannot be provided by qualified institutions and trained carers, the advised social distancing and isolation might not be easily implementable, and direct contact will be necessary. If you have a person in isolation in your home or are a live-in carer, consider the advice for carers for children or someone else in self-isolation in the following guideline.

In short:

  • If possible, the person in isolation should use a separate room. Regularly ventilate and disinfect the room.
  • If possible, that person should use a separate toilet and bathroom. Otherwise, toilet and bathroom have to be disinfected after use.
  • That person should be isolated from other persons in the household who belong to one of the at-risk groups.
  • If that person needs the care of other persons, reduce the number of carers. If the person is infected, make sure that the carers don’t belong to one of the at-risk groups.
  • Carers should maintain the distance (two meters) if you’re not providing direct support, use the mask for as long as they are in the same room, and wash their hands before and after contact.
  • Desinfect the surfaces, separate out their rubbish, particularly tissues and other contaminated items. Keep the contaminated rubbish firmly tied up in a plastic bag in the room with the person in isolation and take it to the bin separately just before the regular collection.
  • Use separate cuttlery and dishes, wash and disinfect after use.
  • Wash separately, regularly and at high temperature bedding, towls and clothes.

Maintain regular contact and provide emotional support

Check-in with them on a regular basis. Listen. Engage. Consider the following:

  • Do they have everything they need? Are they feeling well? Do they need medical assistance?
  • As people stay in social isolation, they might be missing contact and emotional support, be ready to spend time talking with them and understanding how they are feeling and coping.
  • If you think they are not emotionally well, have a psychological help hotline at hand and advise them to seek consultation.
  • If you desire to get informed on how to provide autonomous psychological support, consider looking at the topic Psycho-social autonomy in our Pirate Care Syllabus.

Further reading / resources

Examples of communities organising assistance

Neighbours helping neighbours in home isolation in Vienna1

Barcelona neighbourhood Gràcia mutual support call on Telegram2

Solidarity Brigate to face the emergency in Milan3

Facebook group to assist people in Zagreb and beyond

COVID-19 UK Mutual Aid groups: a list by Freedom News

Queer Relief Covid-19 Berlin - Getting Help


  1. The note says: Dear neighbours! - If you are over 65 years of age or have an immune disease, i.e. weakened immune system, we (Fredi and Andi - Door 12) want to support you so you can stay healthy. / We don’t belong to an at-risk group and we can land you a helping hand. If you have errands to be done (shopping and other activities in public), we are glad to be able to help. You can simply leave us a note on our door, in our mailbox or simply call at +43… Together Vienna will make it through the pandemic <3. / Kind regards, Fredi and Andi ↩︎

  2. Translation by Bue Rübner Hansen: ORGANIZE SOLIDARITY IN YOUR BUILDINGS AND STREETS - What can you do?: 1⃣ Organize yourselves in groups in your building or along your section of the street to identify the people who need support and help with things such: grocery shopping, childcare, etc.; 2⃣ In order to organize yourself, you can: convene meetings of stairscases or street sections, visit all floors in your building to know the situation in each flat, install an information board at your entrance.; 3⃣ It is important to let everyone know that they are not alone, that they can count on the help of the neighborhood.; 4⃣ Generate communication channels between everyone in the building or street section. Both digital (via mobile phone) and physical (a sign at the entrance can be enabled to keep everyone informed and share needs); 5⃣ All of this should be done following the health care tips to avoid spreading the infection. ↩︎

  3. The note says: We fight fear together to defeat the virus. This initiative was created to address the risk of the collapse of the national health system during the Covid-19 emergency. To participate send a mail to: ↩︎

session ⦚ Disability and chronic illness in the pandemic

Hierzu existiert auch eine deutsche Version: Behinderung und chronische Krankeit während der Pandemie

Questo documento ha una versione in italiano: Disabilità e malattie croniche nella pandemia

A history of struggle against the disposability of disabled lives

People with disabilities or chronic illnesses have been long subject to a denial of care. No matter where we are, we have had to contend with the shortfalls in medical treatment, adaptation of built environment, access to assistive technologies, personalised assistance and many other unmet requirements. However, we have equally been subject to imposition of care. We have had to wrestle our autonomy away from familial overprotection, forced institutionalisation and segregation in specialised institutions. There is a long history of our communities organising and struggling to overcome this double – objective and subjective – disablement.

Social model of disability and disability rights movement

A critical juncture in this history arrived in the 60s and 70s, as the inchoate disability rights movement started to level a critique against the then-dominant medical model of disability. The medical model,1 which replaced the earlier eugenics model, viewed disability primarily as an individual affliction that had to be addressed through medical treatment and socialised through specialised institutions. However, the medical model was reductive as it failed to comprehend the individual affliction in its social context and thus has perpetuated the exclusion of our communities from the most aspects of social life.

From this critique emerged an integrative, social model of disability,2 which considers physical, sensory, cognitive or psychological impairments as they appear in the social world of physical barriers, prejudicial attitudes, invisibility and ability-prioritising sphere of labour. Institutional, cultural and environmental factors, modelled around the norm of able-bodiedness, converge to limit people with disabilities in achieving their different capabilities and aspirations. It is this process of social disablement, and not the impairment itself, that defines disability.

From this enlarged understanding of disability, the disability rights movement in the 1970s initiated a cycle of protests, campaigns and direct actions, inspired and supported by the larger civil justice and labour movements, that contested the power of economic interest and paternalistic institutions to demand an unconditional recognition of disability rights and creation of inclusive institutional settings. People with disabilities had a right to individually and collectively define their own requirements and a right to pursue independent living.

Ed Hall&rsquo;s banner at the Peopel&rsquo;s Museum in Manchester

Radical model of disability and continuity of struggle

While the social model initially had emphasised the structural exclusion and relations of power, through its successes over the next two decades, it increasingly narrowed its focus on disability as isolated from other forms of structural oppression. It also largely ignored the relations of (inter-)dependence that continued to be constitutive not only of the lives of many people with disabilities who required care and assistance but also of the entire able-bodied population in various forms throughout their lives. From these shortcomings, in the 1990s emerged the radical model of disability that rested on the understanding of disability as one of many different ways of being, foregrounding positive identification, self-empowerment, intersectionality and queering, cripping and madding of the ableist society.

However, achieving disability rights, formulated under the social model of disability, still remains a challenge even in the highly progressive and affluent contexts. Ultimately, this has always depended and will continue to depend on our continued capacity to organise our in/interdependent living and mobilise against the discrimination, paternalism and neglect. This painful awareness that nothing is achieved that cannot be lost is enshrined in our slogan that also works as a warning: “Nothing About Us Without Us!”.

Therefore, after a history of struggle, it should be clear, particularly to public health authorities and political decision-makers, that the disability community and the allied communities of people with chronic illnesses, obesity or bodies broken by exploitation, poverty or unemployment will not sit still while others make the decisions in the current pandemic that risk making our lives disposable again.

The pandemic and the threat to our lives

World Health Organisation3 estimates that around 15% of the global population lives with some form of disability, many of whom are additionally afflicted by secondary conditions, co-morbidities, earlier ageing and premature death. These afflictions are compounded by inadequate medical care, lacking social protection, unemployment, poverty and social isolation.

All these factors become factors of additional risk in the situations of epidemics, as these social determinants of health inequality create conditions for faster transmission and higher morbidity and mortality.4 With the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, where morbidity and mortality are particularly high among those with underlying health conditions, people with disabilities or chronic illnesses now face a situation of extreme vulnerability. Most of us are best advised to avoid getting infected to start with.

However, that vulnerability can become amplified by the public health and political decisions in the pandemic in several ways:

A perpetuation of invisibility in public health guidance

First, public health measures, protocols and messaging frequently do not include adequate consideration of specific requirements of people with disabilities or chronic illnesses.5 In a situation of significant danger to our lives we are again made irrelevant and invisible.

For instance, in public guidance, we are typically lumped together as “other at-risk groups”. While the disability and chronic illness often come with the prospect of limited mobility and living a life largely confined to home, many among us depend on regular professional or family assistance and therefore cannot simply maintain distance and isolate as advised by the public health guidance. Given that care workers typically assist more than one person and work in more than one institution, forced to do so by low wages and precarious work arrangements, they are themselves both at risk of getting infected and transmitting the infection.

For such reasons, public health protocols, guidance, messaging and hotlines need to be put in place that will be specifically aimed at reducing the risk of infection for people with disabilities and assistants. Also, social protection measures need to be put in place to have additional assistants at hand, to guarantee that all assistant work – professional or not – during the pandemic is paid and that assistants can get a sick pay in the case they get infected.6

Furthermore, the sense that there is a continuity of making disability and chronic illness invisible in inadequate public health measures and messaging is only reinforced by the contrast we can observe in what societies are willing to do to create accommodations for able-bodied people who now have to live and work confined mostly to their homes and thus depend on the essential work of others. Under different circumstances, for our lives, those accommodations are simply not to be had.

Availability of critical medical supplies and medical treatment

Second, people with disabilities or chronic illnesses frequently require oxygen tanks, ventilators and protective equipment such as masks and gloves. However, at present these are in short supply and a failure to include among priority receivers people with disabilities or chronic illnesses when securing these supplies might aggravate existing health conditions and increase vulnerability.

Vulnerability is also increased for those among us who need to visit hospitals for medical treatments such as dialysis or therapy for critical acute conditions. Hospitals have to plan in advance such emergency capacity and make arrangements to reduce the risks of transmission to disabled out-patients, which might become difficult if an outbreak overwhelms the capacities of hospitals.

Most at risk are those among us, however, who are in nursing homes or boarding schools. These institutions should have procedures in place and be subject to stricter supervision, particularly if they are privately managed, to avoid cases of massive neglect and defection of nursing staff as has reportedly happened in some nursing homes in Spain.

De-prioritising and triage

Third, as a sudden spike in the need for beds, ventilators or medical staff threatens to overwhelm the healthcare system, public health authorities and hospitals are forced to make hard decisions on allocation of insufficient resources between patients requiring critical care. On principle, those who have smaller chances of recovery given their underlying health conditions or their clinical outlook are de-prioritised. As the harrowing situation in Lombardy has demonstrated, doctors have no other choice but to follow such guidance when doing triage whom to place on ventilator support and whom to let die.7 The danger here is that people with disabilities or chronic illnesses are implicitly de-prioritised. In fact, in some U.S. states, such as Alabama and Tennessee, critical care plans explicitly de-prioritise people with an intellectual disability or spinal muscular atrophy, assuming their lives are worth less.8

People with disabilities or chronic illnesses are thus de-prioritised and made disposable in two ways: first because of their greater needs requirement when it comes to medical supplies and treatment – and then when it comes to critical care because of their underlying health conditions. For these reasons, the American Association of People with Disabilities has sent a letter to Congress demanding “a statutory prohibition on the rationing of scarce medical resources on the basis of anticipated or demonstrated resource-intensity needs.” 8 Otherwise, the discrimination and disposability of lives will be perpetuated through the measures that are designed to save lives in the first place.

“Nothing About Us Without Us!”

As the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic spreads, the disability and chronic illness communities are mobilising and organising, knowing fully well that the decision-makers and institutions are quick to neglect their prior commitments to disability rights. Our response is not confined to actions of governments and institutions. We are contributing to broader solidarity networks organising collective assistance and mutual aid, providing guidance for people with disabilities9, chronic illnesses10 or conditions such as obesity11.

However, given the dangerous consequences of neglect, it is essential that we mobilise to demand from public health authorities to include us in the decision-making processes that will ultimately reflect on our chances of survival


  1. Understanding Disability ↩︎

  2. Michael Oliver: “The Politics of Disablement” ↩︎

  3. Disability and health ↩︎

  4. Health Inequalities and Infectious Disease Epidemics: A Challenge for Global Health Security ↩︎

  5. ‘The Cripples Will Save You’: A Critical Coronavirus Message from a Disability Activist ↩︎

  6. People with a disability are more likely to die from coronavirus – but we can reduce this risk ↩︎

  7. The Extraordinary Decisions Facing Italian Doctors ↩︎

  8. ‘I Will Not Apologise for My Needs’ ↩︎

  9. COVID-19 Resources for the Disability Community and COVID-19 Disability Community Preparedness Resources (U.S. Based) ↩︎

  10. A Chronic Illness Patient’s Guide to Coronavirus ↩︎

  11. Fat-Assed Prepper Survival Tips for Preparing for a Coronavirus Quarantine ↩︎

session ⦚ Histories of public healthcare

Questo documento ha una versione in italiano: Storie dell'assistenza sanitaria pubblica

Dieses Dokument gibt es auch in einer deutschen Version: Geschichte(n) des öffentlichen Gesundheitswesens

Histories of public healthcare

Around the world, the Covid-19 pandemic is forcing governments to face the question of healthcare as a universal right that should be publicly funded through general taxation and feely available to all.

On March 17th, 2020, The Spanish Ministry of Health has announced that the government is putting all private hospitals in the country under state control indefinitely, to combat the spread of COVID-19 infections. “For the duration of this crisis the State will take control of all private hospital facilities and manage all of the resources for the common benefit of all of our people,” Ireland’s Health Minister Simon Harris declared on 24th March. In the UK instead, the NHS will need to ‘to rent 8,000 private hospital beds for £2,400,000 per day’. South Africa Department of Health spokesperson Popo Maja said in an interview with Business Report that the government was not looking to nationalise private hospitals because of the epidemic.

In this context, this session puts together some stories of how the national health services came into existence in various countries and thanks to important social struggles. What becomes apparent again and again is the link between pirate care practices, social struggles and the creation of publicly-funded welfare provisions.

(If you wish to contribute to cover other countries/region, please get in touch - contacts in the intro page).

Italy: Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN)

Italy is a major case of policy success in health. According to the 2017 OECD data, life expectancy at birth in Italy is 83.1 years, compared to the 80.9 years of the European Union average: but the total health expenditure per inhabitant is 2,483 euros, against 2,884 of the average EU (a 15% gap). It is a paradox worth probing that the European country with the longest life expectancy has achieved this result with reduced spending. ).

The pressure for creating a public health care system in 1978 was born from an unprecedented alliance between left political forces, advanced experiences renewing medical practice, radical health activism, struggles by trade unions, workers’ groups, student and feminist movements.

The outcome – the 1978 reform – was a universal, public, free health service, offering a wide range of provision outside the market, largely modelled on the British NHS and reflecting the definition of health spelt out by the WHO in 1946.

Abandoning the tradition of a corporatist health system with its limited coverage of separate professional groups, Italy’s reform introduced a public and universal health service, financed through general taxation, freely available to all – not just to Italian citizens, but to all those living in the country.

In several areas – mental health, occupational health, women’s health, drug treatments - new knowledge on illness prevention, new practices of service delivery and innovative institutional arrangements emerged, with a strong emphasis on territorial services addressing together health and social needs.

Image from: L’Ambiente di Lavoro, by Ivar Oddone et al.

The intellectual guidance for Italy’s health reform came from personalities that combined strong competence and political commitment. Besides Franco Basaglia and his work on radical psychiatry, Giulio Maccacaro was the founder of ‘Medicina Democratica’, a radical health movement; Giovanni Berlinguer was a scientist and member of parliament for the Communist Party; Alessandro Seppilli was a public health specialist and Socialist mayor of the city of Perugia; Laura Conti was a key figure of the Socialist Party and pioneered the Italian environmental movement; Ivar Oddone was an occupational physician and a former partisan – he inspired a character in Italo Calvino’s first book.

Out of their work, an integrated vision of health – physical and psychic, individual and collective, linked to the community and the territory – emerged. A new, less hierarchical type of doctor-patient relationship was proposed; the model of a decentralized health organization was introduced, with elements of participation; the centrality of preventive medicine over cure was emphasised. As Giulio Maccacaro had argued in 1976, the strategy was a bottom-up “politicization of medicine”, challenging the way industrial capitalism was exploiting workers and undermining health and social conditions in the country.

This political strategy viewed health as combining a collective dimension and an individual condition; collective struggles were therefore needed to address the economic and social roots of disease and public health problems. This approach was paralleled by the feminist movement in addressing women’s health issues, including the important experiments in self-organized health clinics.

Decades of ‘managerial reforms’, cutbacks of funds and privatisation efforts have indeed lowered the standards of service, introduced ‘tickets’ paid for by patients, and led to a highly uneven capacity of services across Italy’s regions today.

One of the first actions by the Italian government on March 17, 2020, when the pandemic broke out, was to increase funds for the health emergency by 3 billion euros and to hire 20,000 doctors, nurses and supporting staff. This was a recognition of past policy mistakes – cutbacks, privatisation and commodification – and of the need to fully recognise the role of universal public health as an alternative to market provision.

The birth of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS)

Serving over one and a half million patients and their families every day, the NHS (National Health Service) is the biggest service of its kind in the world. It is universally regarded as a national treasure - the most remarkable achievement of post war Britain.

Yet the National Health Service very nearly did not happen at all. In the months leading to its launch it was bitterly opposed - by the Tory Party and the national press. But its most vicious and vocal opponents were the very people its existence depended on - surgeons, nurses, dentists and Britain’s 20,000 doctors. To get the NHS at all required the persistence and determination of one man - Nye Bevan, Labour’s minister of health.

Before July 1948, Britain’s 2,700 hospitals were run by charities or councils. The only people entitled to free treatment were those with jobs.

In 1945, the new Labour government came in on a manifesto that promised a revolution in health care. Health minister Nye (Aneurin) Bevan, wanted to build a health service based on four principles: it was to be free at the point of use, available to everyone who needed it, paid for out of general taxation, and used responsibly.

Bevan, who came from a miners’ family, was inspired by the Tredegar Workers Medical Aid Society in South Wales, a pioneering mutual aid scheme which provided medical benefits, dental care and funeral expenses to its members for just pennies a week.

Public health in the USA

SOURCE: (AUDIO) (EN) How the Bad Blood Started, episode 4, 1619, New York Times podcast. Hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones. September 13th, 2019.

We begin this story in the fall of 1866, with a woman named Rebecca Lee Crumpler. Rebecca Lee Crumpler is a young black woman who was born free and raised in Pennsylvania by her aunt. Her aunt was a medicine woman. She used to go from home to home tending to the sick, and Rebecca liked to tag along and to help her. She liked it so much that she went on to become a nurse, and she was so good at being a nurse that she makes the really unusual decision to go on and become a doctor. So she eventually goes to the New England Female Medical College, which is a college that was specifically built to train women in medicine, and that’s really extraordinary. Because around the time she graduates, there’s about 54,000 doctors in the country, and only 300 of them are women, and only one of those women is black. And that woman is Rebecca Lee Crumpler. And so about a year after she finishes medical school, the Civil War comes to an end, and she makes another unusual decision, which is to completely uproot her life and to head down to the South because four million people have just been released from slavery into freedom. And Crumpler knows that it’s going to be a huge challenge to help these people assimilate into society and to address their many basic needs, including health care.

These were people who just literally were told, you’re free to go, but given no resources to go with. So they were forced to take up residence in abandoned prisons, former military barracks, empty churches, refugee camps. They’re crammed together in very close living quarters. They don’t have the tools necessary to maintain good hygiene. And as a result of all of this, they’re getting sick. But they can’t tap into any health care system, because at that time, there really isn’t any organized health care system to speak of. Most medical care is provided at home by family members, or by doctors who would actually visit the house. And the only hospitals that exist are much more like institutions for the very poor or for people who get sick and don’t have any family members to take care of them. And those facilities were private, and they were run by charitable groups. And when the newly emancipated turned to those facilities for help, they were turned away. They were told no. And they start dying in really high numbers, so much so that in some towns and cities, their bodies are littering the streets.

This is a massive public health crisis. And so to deal with this crisis, the federal government creates what ends up being the nation’s first federal health care program. It’s called the Freedmen’s Bureau Medical Division. And this is what Rebecca Crumpler is heading south to do.

One of the crazy things about the Freedmen’s Bureau Medical Division, which is, it was founded in utter ambivalence. Officials wanted their communities clean enough to prevent diseases that might eventually spread into white communities, but they don’t want to provide any free assistance, because they’re worried that it’s going to create dependency among the black American community. And so what they do is they open these hospitals, and they staff them with a few doctors. But then they close them down at the first sign of progress, and they refuse to send resources that their own doctors, including Crumpler, are requesting.

As you have all of these people dying from preventable things, a theory emerges.

And the theory goes that this high death rate is actually just nature taking its course. So black people aren’t dying for want of basic necessities, they’re actually dying because they’re biologically inferior to whites and ill-suited for freedom. The argument became that African-Americans specifically were literally going extinct, and that to provide any type of funding or resources to fight that would be wasteful and foolish, because you’re just trying to prevent the inevitable.

So this is the first example of government-funded health care, and it is an example of something that was set up to fail.

And Rebecca Lee Crumpler understands this, and she decides to write a book. It’s called the “Book of Medical Discourses in Two Parts.” And it’s not addressed to her colleagues in the white medical community or to segregationists in Congress. It’s addressed to the black community, specifically to black mothers and black nurses. And what she tells them in this book is how to take care of themselves, how to prevent diseases like cholera, how to treat basic ailments like hemorrhoids and bronchitis. And what’s so profound about this book is that she’s telling black Americans, you’re not inferior. You’re not going extinct. You can take care of yourself.

Fast forward to January of 1947. President Truman wants a government-run health insurance program that everybody pays into ahead of time and that people can draw from when they need it.

By the time Truman’s giving this address, the nation’s health care system has grown up a bit from the days right after the Civil War, but not by much. All of the hospitals that were created through the Freedmen’s Bureau have been closed down except for one that’s in Washington D.C. And other hospitals have been built, but there’s not nearly enough of them, especially in the South. And to make matters worse, the hospitals that do exist are all segregated. In fact, a “separate but equal” clause had actually been written into the law. And what that meant was black patients had to either go to their own black facilities, which were few and far between in a lot of places, or they were relegated to the basement wards of white hospitals, and those wards were small, and they did not provide as good care as you got in the white facilities.

But it’s not just black Americans who are not getting enough care. It’s many poor white Americans as well. So at that time, most Americans were not insured. And the insurance that did exist was employer-based, which means you had to get a certain type of job where the employer actually offered this benefit, and then you could have it. Basically, the whole system is not working, and Truman sees this as one of the most pressing problems the country is facing. And so he decides that national health insurance is the fix.

But then, days after Truman wins the election, the American Medical Association, which is the largest and arguably the most powerful professional organization for doctors in the country, launches this massive campaign to take it down. What the A.M.A. understands is that a national health insurance program is probably going to hurt their profits.

The A.M.A. hired a P.R. firm. It’s actually the first political consulting firm in the country. And together, they devised this plan to completely torpedo universal health care. What it looks like is all-out war. It’s radio ads. It’s newspaper ads. It’s magazine ads. They’re delivering pamphlets and mailers to people’s homes. In the end, they send some 100 million pieces of literature all across the country. And what’s on that literature and what’s in those ads is a campaign slogan. It says, “Keep politics out of medicine.”

And that campaign works. Popular support for the bill suddenly plummets. It fails to get through Congress, and the health care system the nation is left with at the end of this fight is still too expensive for most Americans to afford and as segregated as it has ever been.

Medicare is actually born from the ashes of Truman’s failed national health insurance program. Beginning under President Kennedy and continuing under President Johnson, under Montague Cobb’s leadership, the nation’s black doctors (who had formed the National Medical Association, or the N.M.A., because they were excluded from the A.M.A.) come out in full force to support Medicare. They lead protests, they lobby Congress, and they launch their own public relations campaign explaining to the nation that, in fact, this won’t destroy medicine. This will make medicine more equitable. And their message is what it’s been for a long time: Health care is a human right, and that any program that expands access to health care is the duty of a free and democratic society. Meanwhile, the fight for civil rights is escalating all across the country outside of the medical world.

Of course, that effort culminates in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which says that discriminating on the basis of race is unconstitutional. And more specifically, it says that the government can pull federal dollars from any facility or entity that does not comply with the law, and that includes hospitals.

And so Medicare passes in 1966, and what happens is within four months of implementation, nearly 3,000 hospitals desegregate. But of course, the health disparities between black Americans and white Americans persist to this day.

Further Resources

COVID Ready Communication Playbook for Medical and Front Line workers A crowdsourced playbook put together by VitalTalk (a start-up based in Seattle) to provide some practical advice on how to talk about some difficult topics related to COVID-19 Available from their site for free download in: Arabic / العربية, Chinese (Simplified) / 中文(简体), Chinese (Traditional) /中文(繁體), Czech / Čeština, Danish / Dansk, Dutch / Nederlands, English / English, Finnish / Suomen Kieli, French / Français, German / Deutsch, Hebrew / עברית, Hindi / हिन्दी, Italian / Italiano, Japanese / 日本語, Norwegian / Norsk, Portuguese / Português, Russian / Русский, Spanish / Español, Swedish / Svenska , Tagalog / Tagalog, Vietnamese / Tiếng Việt

session ⦚ Reproductive rights, Violence and Care Work

Questo documento ha una versione in italiano: Diritti riproduttivi, violenza e cura

Dieses Dokument existiert auch in einer deutschen Version: Reproduktive Rechte, häusliche Gewalt und Carework

Este documento tiene una versión en español: Derechos reproductivos, Violencia y Cuidado

Reproductive rights

While routine and non-urgent procedures are being postponed in the areas most affected by the epidemic, the exceptionality of the situation is negatively impacting women’s right to a safe abortion. In the USA, for instance, Republican lawmakers are demanding that any new funding to combat COVID-19 include the anti-abortion Hyde Amendment.


Therefore, organising networks that can map which hospitals are guaranteeing access to abortion is becoming a priority. In Italy, a Telegram Channel and a 24h hotline (+39 3319634889) were opened by the activist network Obiezione Respinta, in order to provide a mapping service (updated daily) and information about hospital and farmacies that guarantee reproductive rights. Another example is this list of hopital where is still possile to get an abortion, made by Consultoria Autogestita Transiti in Milan.

Further Reading:

Domestic violence

Warning: for many, #stayathome is by no means a reassuring invitation. An increase of domestic violence at a time of forced domesticity, something that we can easily imagine, was plentifully in evidence in the first epicenter of the pandemic in China, where divorces have been spiking and the hashtag #AntiDomesticViolenceDuringEpidemic #疫期反家暴# was used over 3,000 times in the first month of the epidemic.

More recently, we have seen similar trends emerging in the second epicentre, Italy, a country notorious even in less difficult times for its high numbers of femicides at the hands of “those who hold the house keys”. During the last few days, chilling videos of domestic violence have begun to circulate on social media. These are videos that we will not link here, but that feminist sentinels on the net are mapping and trying to contain the cases.

The most significant action to combat domestic violence in these times of forced and prolonged proximity was put in place by the network of Italian anti-violence centers DiRE, with the support of the national transfeminist movement Non Una Di Meno. This network has so far secured the regular operation of national and regional domestic violence hotlines.

In this context, it becomes increasingly clear how gender violence is a structural device against which a perspective of systemic transformation must be activated, with initiatives ranging from educational prevention to workplace measures.

Further Readings:

Further Resources:

  • Survival kit for men under pressure Three umbrella organizations with expertise in working with boys, men and fathers in Germany (Bundesforum Männer), Austria (Dachverband Männerarbeit Österreich) and Switzerland (mä published a “Survival kit for men under pressure ”. The document makes recommendations for self-management to help men get through this crisis without using violence. This leaflet is available in Français, Deutsch, Italiano, English, Español, Português, Türkçe, Kurdî (Kurmancî), Shqip, Srpsko-hrvatski, Al-ʿarabiyya, Fārsī, Tamil, Tigriññā, Somali, Russkiy, Polski, Magyar, Slovenský, Nederlands. (Links from main webpage)


Workers who face the greatest health risks during the pandemic are the workers that carry out essential social reproduction tasks, such as cleaners, nurses, homecarers, cashiers and sexworkers. Yet, as feminist critiques explained many times over, these job are often worse off in terms of salary, hardship, precarity and safety conditions. They are also most often performed by women and migrants.

The statement of anonymous hospital cleaner from Bergamo (one of the cities hit hardest by the pandemic) has been shared many times on social media:

We are the invisible workers. We are the ones who get up at 5am in the morning, but nobody sees us. The only trace of our existence is the cleaning we do, which often goes unnoticed, as it is taken for granted. But we exist, we are here too. We too, the workers of the hospital cleaning service, are doing everything we can to make our organization as safe as possible during this period. We are here, despite the fact that no one talks about us, despite the fears, given the risks that we and our families are facing. We are here and we work, even if our collective bargaining agreement expired years ago, leaving us with ridiculous wages. Yes, we are working too, unceasingly like others, for ourselves and for the whole community.


Furthermore, even the economic redistributive measures set aside by the Italian government after a few weeks from the start of the pandemic, the “Cura Italia” decree, do not seem to ‘see’ care workers in the domestic and assistance sector. The measures in favor of this sector, in fact, are vague and not sufficient, also because many of the people who carry out these tasks are unregular workers and mostly migrants. Instead, it is precisely from this sector that we should start again to think of a new form of ‘care democracy’.


Another request, on the European scale, sets that it has become absolutely necessary to support care providers through an income that recognizes their public function and helps them carry it out in the best possible way. This document starts from the Green New Deal for Europe platform.


In the UK, cleaning, portering and catering staff at Lewisham Hospital - where Coronavirus cases have been treated - have walked out after private contractor ISS failed to pay the wages of the hospital workers.


In the meanwhile, a recent report on carework released by the NGO Oxfam estimates that:

Taxing an additional 0.5% of the wealth of the richest 1% over the next 10 years is equal to investments needed to create 117 million jobs in education, health and elderly careand other sectors,and to close care deficits.


Further Resources:

  • SWARM HARDSHIP FUND ( The Sex Workers Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM) is a sex worker led collective based in the UK. The project was founded in 2009 to advocate for the rights of everyone who sells sexual services. Thet set up a hardship fund to help the sex workers who are most in need. All donations made to SWARM until 30th April will go directly to this fund.

Trans Rights

Some goverments are use the climate of emergency to try passing legislation that reduces the rights of trans people.

UK: -Liz Truss and Child Transgender Health Care, 24th April 2020

Other resources from the Pirate Care Syllabus

For a broader introduction to the many issues connected with care labour, you can have a look at the sessions Situating Care and The Crisis of Care and its Criminalisation.

Further reading

Other resources and repositories

session ⦚ Domestic violence in quarantine

Warning: for many, #stayathome is by no means a reassuring invitation. An increase of domestic violence at a time of forced domesticity, something that we can easily imagine, was plentifully in evidence in the first epicenter of the pandemic in China, where divorces have been spiking and the hashtag #AntiDomesticViolenceDuringEpidemic #疫期反家暴# was used over 3,000 times in the last month.

More recently, we have seen similar trends emerging in the second epicentre, Italy, a country notorious even in less difficult times for its high numbers of femicides at the hands of “those who hold the house keys”. During the last few days, chilling videos of domestic violence have begun to circulate on social media. These are videos that we will not link here, but that feminist sentinels on the net are mapping and trying to contain the cases.

The most significant action to combat domestic violence in these times of forced and prolonged proximity was put in place by the network of Italian anti-violence centers DiRE, with the support of the national transfeminist movement Non Una Di Meno. This network has so far secured the regular operation of national and regional domestic violence hotlines.

In this context, it becomes increasingly clear how gender violence is a structural device against which a perspective of systemic transformation must be activated, with initiatives ranging from educational prevention to workplace measures.


(Examples of concrete pirate care and bottom-up practices, both emerging and pre-existing)

AWARENESS AND COMMUNITY RESOURCES The Chilean feminist collective Red Chilena contra la Violencia Hacia las Mujeres launched a series of resources under the Twitter hashtag #enrednoscuidamos. These resources aim to create awareness on the systemic quality of domestic violence and offer as well practical information.

Juntas en Acción is a Chilean network that addresses women’s rights. They released the document Violencia de Género en Chile - SPA that dennounces the insufficient state policies in Chile for preventing gender violence and presents proposals for a more efficient management and perspective.

PREVENTIVE INITIATIVES FOR MEN In the Argentinian region of Neuquén exists since 2018 the Dispositivo de Atención a Varones (DAV). They work with men offenders (when there is already a denounce) to prevent relapse, trying to deconstruct their notions of masculinity and power within their families. As developed in this article - SPA, the center offers therapy for closed groups, where they work around the topics of paternity, sexuality, violence, etc. A critical aspect they address is the notion of property over other members of the family (partner, children). They also confront ideas of individual and personal senses of the law with current legal frameworks, trying to introduce the concept of responsibility with a community. DAV works with people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, and they observe that violence acquires many forms, more or less subtle, and different strategies of concealment. Life stories are incorporated in the narratives as a way to connect (or disentangle) people with their upbringings.

There is also an article in the Argentinian magazine Revista Anfibia - SPA on other preventive initiatives.


(what’s been happening, other news that impact the situation)


(critical thinking / analysis pieces - also not corona-specific, but about the issue in focus)


(links to other repositories, syllabi, practical advice, how-to, etc.)

A prevention contribution by the umbrella organizations for work with boys, men, and fathers in Switzerland (, Austria ( and Germany ( This leaflet formulates recommendations for self-management to help men get through the crisis without violence. The document makes recommendations for self-management to help men get through this crisis without using violence. This leaflet is available in: Français, Deutsch, Italiano, English, Español, Português, Türkçe, Kurdî (Kurmancî), Shqip, Srpsko-hrvatski, Al-ʿarabiyya, Fārsī, Tamil, Tigriññā, Somali, Russkiy, Polski, Magyar, Slovenský, Nederlands. (other links from main webpage)

Deutsche version

Versione italiana

English version

Versión en Español

  • VARONES Y MASCULINIDAD(ES) - (ES) Herramientas pedagógicas para facilitar talleres con adolescentes y jóvenes. (A pedagogical tool to develop workshops for young men).
session ⦚ Kids in quarantine

Questo documento ha una versione in italiano: Bambini/e in quarantena

Dieses Dokument existiert auch in einer deutschen Version: Kind sein während der Quarantäne

Este documento tiene una versión en español: Niñes en cuarentena

Crisis of domesticity

Forced domesticity puts a strain even on non-violent people and families. For many, #stayathome is by no means a reassuring invitation. To read up more on domestic violence resulting from forced domesticity you can go to the session Reproductive rights, Violence and Care Work. And too often the youngest victims of the domestic violence - children - risk being overlooked altogether. If a co-habitating group also includes children, perhaps confined to a house that is too small and without accessible outside space, the situation becomes very complex and escalate! Therefore, it is useful to find ways of ensuring a peaceful and joyful coexistence for all.

Explaining the pandemic to the kids

The first step in that direction for kids is to explain, in the language appropriate to their age, how are we living through this emergency period and why such situations occurs.

In the last weeks, many initiatives aimed at kids have been put in place to ease the prolonged time at home or in self-isolation, including different uses of existing technologies; demands for the lifting of paywalls to access digital archives; the production of children-specific content covering the ongoing emergency; and finally, collective care practices between families, neighborhoods and larger groups of people.

New unthinkable fields of negotiation between adults and children…

Keeping the kids active

Here are some tips and experiences from the Italian context for inspiration:

Don’t forget to dance!

Not moving is deadly for anyone, especially for the kids. In forced quarantine, it is useful to define a time of day where you dedicate yourself to the bodily activity, everyone according to your physical abilities. If you can’t leave the house to walk or run, just turn up the music and dance to exhaustion!

Record your own audio stories and share them in your community

Read aloud stories for children into a recorder, articulating the words well and without haste. You already have a recorder, it’s your smartphone! Invite other people to do it as well and open an email to collect the audio content. To spread the stories you can open a Telegram channel where you can upload them from time to time (but be careful that two per day are more than enough!). Or uplaod them to various chats you maintain with your communities. Here is an example of an Italian Telegram Channnel opened recently.

Produce and use content made by children for children

Understanding what is happening is not easy for anyone, let alone for children who are not clear on what a virus is and, for this reason, can only perceive the current restrictions as incomprehensible. For this reason, talking with the little ones is important and can also lead to the creation of new points of view and new content around the emergency. Producing some of this content with them (audio recordings, videos, drawings, writings…), or showing them this content, is a way to share what is happening without language barriers. Furthermore, it serves to overcome the fear of the unknown.

There are also guides to the epidemic aimed at kids, such as Guida Galattica al Coronavirus / A Curious Guide for Corageous Kids (in ENG and ITA). On the net, there are many more “homemade” materials that are very funny and useful for spending time together, which can be easily accessed or replicated together with a smartphone.

This video (in ITA) is a useful example. This is an Italia radio channel “In diretta per le amiche” done by kids.

To get kids inspired to do animation, they can watch through EXPERIMENT 120 YouTube playlist of experimental films selected and aggregated by Studio Walter. EXPERIMENT 120 presents “120 years of experimental films for children and young people in 22 films, most of them being very short (between 1 and 4 minutes), and which can be watched from the age of 7. The films can be enjoyed by people of all languages.” To get them to start creating animation, they can follow this Instagram tutorial created by Cool Marbles Stuff.

Collectivize the child-care

In this emergency, many families are facing enormous financial and work-related difficulties. In some cases, they have will lose months of wages, in others, they are forced to go to work despite the fact that schools are closed. Leaving children with their grandparents is to be avoided, since age and underlying health conditions are one of the main reasons for mortality in the case of a Coronavirus infection. Therefore, it is better to organize child care in another way:

a. Coordinate with other neighborhood families to manage the kids together (forming a fixed, closed group would be the best). b. Organize a neighborhood baby-sitter service through people who make themselves available for play (check if there is a solidarity group active in your area).

Here’s a Milanese example, a simple shared spreadsheet, on how child care can be set up through the coordination between people who need help from people who have time available, and with the support of a lawyer to manage eventual limitations of movement.

Don’t give up on kids socialising!

Even children can use technologies. In this period of isolation, tools like allow you to organize collective video calls that even kids can participate in. Organize virtual pick-nicks with other families and chats among children. While the children interect with each other, go do something else, respect their privacy!


Depending on the school, children are given more or less homework at this time.For children in the preschool and elementary school groups, the suggestion is to decide together with them a specific time of day in which to do homework without leaving them alone, while not burdening them with an excessive workload. It is better if they read an extra book out of their own will!

For teenagers, things are more complex, because they can use different kinds of online lessons. Here, too, the advice would be to consider the emotional aspect of the students, given the complexity of the situation, and not only their performance and productivity.

Further reading / resources

session ⦚ Conviviality without proximity

Questo documento ha una versione in italiano: Convivialità senza prossimità

Von diesem Dokument gibt es eine deutsche Version Zusammensein ohne Nähe

As people stay in extended isolation, they are resorting to imaginative ways to organise collective, convivial and political moments. These are just some examples of the ways people are organising sociality and conviviality:

Web radios

The outbreak of COVID-19 in northern Italy coincided with March 8th - International Women’s Day. The transfeminist social justice movement Non Una Di Meno had to cancel most of the mobilizations and collective actions it had planned for the occasion, including the Women’s Strike due to take place on the following day, March 9th. So, instead, they organised a number of alternative dislocated initiatives - some of them offline, like hanging banners from buildings, but most of them online. One of the most impactful was the Non Una Di Meno Radio, broadcasted both through stream and through FM by way of collaboration with local radios.

Web radio can be a powerful tool to organize and socialize in times of home isolation. Here are some resources on how to get started:

Tools to build a web radio

Web radio experiments

Oldies but goldies

Conference Calls


During this crisis, online video conferencing has come to the fore.

Problems with corporate tools

Many of the main conference call tools people are using during the lock-downs have come under public scrutiny for having policies that might damage their users.

ZOOM: According to Jamie Zawinski, one of the founders of Netscape and, Zoom is particularly ‘terrible’:

Zoom’s privacy page states: “Whether you have Zoom account or not, we may collect Personal Data from or about you when you use or otherwise interact with our Products.” This includes, but is not limited to, your physical address, phone number, your job title, credit and debit card information, your Facebook account, your IP address, your OS and device details, and more.” Further, the app allows your boss to spy on you far beyond what’s okay in an office setting (Zoom has an attention-tracking feature that can alert hosts if you look away (update: as of April 2, 2020, Zoom have removed the attendee attention tracker feature due to widespread protests).. From EFF: […] “Admins have the ability to join any call at any time on their organization’s instance of Zoom, without in-the-moment consent or warning for the attendees of the call.”

Zoom Meetings Aren’t End-To-End Encrypted, Despite Misleading Marketing: The meeting is secured with end-to-end encryption, at least according to Zoom’s website, its security white paper, and the user interface within the app. But despite this misleading marketing, the service actually does not support end-to-end encryption for video and audio content, at least as the term is commonly understood. Instead it offers what is usually called transport encryption. […]

Without end-to-end encryption, Zoom has the technical ability to spy on private video meetings and could be compelled to hand over recordings of meetings to governments or law enforcement in response to legal requests. While other companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft publish transparency reports that describe exactly how many government requests for user data they receive from which countries and how many of those they comply with, Zoom does not publish a transparency report.

SOURCE: Zoom is bad and you should feel bad

We are very aware that engaging, experimenting with and learning about different tools and alternative technologies is something that not everyone is able to do, as conditions of work and life vary and often are not supportive of such extra efforts. However, the technopolitical aspect of the pandemic is calling for a very serious collective reflection around our technological futures. Could mainstream technological infrastructures be created beyond corporate solutions that extract data and provide employers and governments with biased surveillance tools? There are many initiatives out there that have been producing some amazing alternatives which go in the direction of empowering users and communities in their relationship with tech. While we are not purist in our approach, as our online presence is part of broad ecosystems and connectivity is in this time more important than ever, we hope some of the resources linked here will inspire and sustain others in become less entangled with set ups we don’t want nor consent to.

Alternative tools

Introduction to some of the key issues:

(some) Video conferencing tools

  • - a multi-user video conference client, or use ours, all our tools are 100% free, open source, and WebRTC compatible.
  • Collective Tools: a cooperative cloud company. Encrypted open source video conferencing.
  • - free, no limit on participants, in a browser, no login/account, and fully p2p encrypted even in multiple-participants calls
  • [](no registration, browser-based, FLOSS)
  • []

Repositories with v useful resources / tools:

Other resources on online meetings:

Digital Solidarity Networks

Digital Solidarity Networks is a shared listing of tools, practices and readings for digital solidarity and conviviality.

Let’s chat further on IRC, in the #digital-solidarity-networks channel For access from the web browser, you can use to join the channel (no password needed)

To whoever encounters this pad: this is work-in-progress, please join! This is the start of a listing of some resources regarding mutual aid strategies and social closeness through alternative digital infrastructures in times of physical distancing, remote working or care giving, etc. This pad contains examples of collective digital alternative practices, in a time where everything points to the further consolidation and accelerated normalization of the Big Tech industry (Zoom, Facebook groups, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype, etc.). Other attitudes are possible.



On 14th March, at midday, a long applause erupted from the windows and balconies in many cities in Italy. The initiative, circulated on social networks and neighborhood chats, was an opportunity to thank - at a safe distance - all those who are in the front line during these difficult days for the country: doctors, nurses, specialists, but also all those workers who would like to stay at home but cannot because of their employers refusing to shut down production.

On the same day, also in Spain, millions of people have decided to thank health personnel for the enormous effort they are making these days to stop the expansion of the Coronavirus. At 22:00, shortly after the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, finished his public appearance, the residents of many Spanish cities, such as Barcelona, Madrid, Oviedo and Benidorm, opened the windows of their houses and started applauding with strength and joy to thank all the cleaners who are working like crazy to face the COVID-19. In some residential neighborhoods of Madrid, such as Montecarmelo, where many families with children live, the round of applaus was anticipated to 9:00 pm, so that the little ones could also participate.

All across Italy, similar flash-mobs at a distance, as they have been called, are being organised at different times of the day with live music concerts, DJ sets, and improvised performances to ease the isolation.

Quarantine kitchen

by Ajam Media Collective SOURCE:

Tehran has been under a state of semi-quarantine for weeks. Millions have avoided leaving the house for fear of spreading coronavirus. Schools, universities, theaters, and gyms have been closed. A growing silence has fallen on public spaces. Fear is worsened by US sanctions on Iran, which have led to shortages of basic medicines and sanitary supplies needed to combat the virus’ spread. Under quarantine, Iranians cook, they share recipes, they experiment with new and old spices and ideas, they find joy in flavors and mixing and discovering. These stories have become the inspiration for Golrokh Nafisi, a Tehran-based artist whose latest series is called “Quarantine Kitchen.” Nafisi drew portraits of her friends preparing new recipes, based on the stories they told her of their experiments under quarantine. She is developing the series and has asked that anyone with a similar story please contact her and share their story, so she can draw them as well.



“As millions of Chinese people are stuck at home during the Coronavirus outbreak, nightclubs across the country are keeping them entertained by holding “cloud raves” online. Clubbers have been tuning into video platforms like Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, and participating in them virtually. Some DJs and clubs have been livestreaming on Kuaishou, another popular Chinese video platform. Here’s how it works: DJs video their performance either from a music venue, or their studios and homes, then livestream it on Douyin. While some DJs have been performing live, others are prerecording their gigs and broadcasting them on Douyin’s livestream later on. During the cloud concerts, edited versions of the bands’ past performances were screened for viewers. While it wasn’t actually live, the appeal comes from the knowledge that people were watching the concerts together, sharing their thoughts through comments in real time. No playbacks were available so that means if you missed it, you missed it. People who are quarantined or staying indoors can tune into any music event they want. Some ravers have even posted videos of themselves dancing at home to the music. These cloud raves have been extremely successful, with millions of viewers tuning into some of these livestreams. According to Vice, almost 2.3 million people tuned into Beijing club Sir Teen’s cloud rave on February 10, with more than 100,000 viewers joining within the first 30 minutes.

Cloud clubbing is also lucrative as hell. On February 9, a live streaming of the nightclub OneThird receive almost 20 million TikTok Coins from viewers, which equates to over 1 million RMB ($143,000). Another event held on Valentine’s Day attracted 4 million online viewers and raised 570,000 RMB ($81,500) for medical personnel battling the coronavirus at the frontline.””

Cloud sleeping


“One live streamer who goes by the moniker SheiJiaDeYuanSan had over 18 million people watching him in a 12-hour-long slumber. Why the viral demand for a regular guy taking a ridiculously long nap? There are no answers, at least not yet.

He too is confounded by his overnight fame. The viral sensation told that, despite attracting sudden popularity and revenue from cloud sleeping, he’s had enough of it. People were threatening to unfollow him if he did not go to sleep, despite it being only 5 p.m. in the afternoon.”

Virtual aperitifs


In Italy, where the aperitif is a well-established social ritual, circles of friends, but also bars and pubs, are also testing remote modes of conviviality by organising virtual get-togethers via video conferencing apps such as HouseParty or Meeting Zoom. In Varese, one cafè organized an I-peritivo live on Instagram, asking participants to make a donation (instead of paying the bill) to the local hospital to help face the Coronavirus emergency.

Given that many commercial video conferencing platforms charge after a set amount of users is reached, people are reportedly also discovering ways to go around such limitations. For example, by connecting with the first 4 friends on WhatsApp (which does not allow more than that) and simultaneously with 2 more via Skype.



QuarantineChat was created by artists Danielle Baskin and Max Hawkins.

Once you sign up, you’ll be subscribed to periodic calls. Your caller ID will always say “QuarantineChat” when your phone rings. After a brief moment on hold, you’ll match with another random person. You don’t have to pick up if you’re busy—your partner will be automatically matched with someone else. And you can join and leave the line whenever you’d like. It’s private. You use your phone number to sign up for Dialup, but your matches will only ever see your username. All calls are end-to-end encrypted.

Sharing Dreams

Dreams under confinement is a collective document where you can record the dreams you have under whatever level of confinement. Some of the dream might be read on radio - Mayday radio (London) or Droplet radio, Copenhagen. No one’s dreams will be read without consent.

Pandemic Dreams Archive is a study on Dreams – Art and Clinic, part of the work “HIJACKED FUTURES X THE ANTI-HIJACKING OF DREAMS” – a methodology focused on creative and speculative processes (science / speculative fiction) developed since 2015 applied in different countries. To learn more, access the texthijacked futures X the antihijacking of dreams.

Collective Diaries

Further reading / resources

session ⦚ Those who can't go home: prisoners, refugees and homeless

Questo documento ha una versione in italiano: Chi non può tornare a casa: prigionieri, rifugiati, senzatetto

Dieses Dokument gibt es auch in einer deutschen Version: Die, die nicht nach Hause können: Gefangene, flüchtende Menschen und Obdachlose

This session, unlike others presented here, does not contain tips for moving into action, but it offers an archive of relevant news that can help to start common debates and reflections on what demands we should collectively place for a more just future.

Conditions in prisons

Prison Riots

Since Saturday 7 March, in more than twenty Italian jails prisoners have been protesting and rioting. In just a few days, dozens of people got injured, ten prisoners died (according to the authorities, of an overdose after stealing drugs and methadone in the infirmaries, although this information has been disputed) and about seventy have escaped. Demonstrations continue in several institutions, and in some cases detainees are still occupying various sections of the prison complex.

The reasons behind all these episodes are different and have to do both with the new emergency that Italy is experiencing, and with the chronic emergencies that the prison system has been experiencing for decades, such as overpopulation and under-resourcing. A common thread linking many cases is the fear of the new Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) infection and anger over the measures taken by prison authorities to contain it. The decision taken by the Ministry of Justice suspended, among other things, bonus day releases, partial freedom regimes and meetings with family members from 9 to 22 March. The measures have been prolonged. The only communications allowed between those who are serving a sentence and those who wait outside are phone and video calls, where the prison is able to guarantee them. The measures sparked the anger of those who thought it was yet another limitation of their rights, given that the infection could also spread through the workers and the prison police.


In Brazil too, over one thousand prisoners escaped four prisons on Monday 16th March, after the day-release privileges were suspended and limitations were placed on visitors amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: Hundreds of Brazilian Prisoners Escape After Prison Riot Over Cancelled Easter Exits Due to Coronavirus

Solidarity initiatives

While similar restrictions are put in effect in other countries, many advocacy groups are asking for amnesties and the early release of prisoners serving time for minor offences, putting the case for a more comprehensive reform of the justice system on the international agenda, to move beyond jailing as the default mechanism to cope with crimes, in favour of prison abolitionism and reparative/resotrative justice options.

See also

In Durham & Raleigh, NC (USA), two different demonstrations held in early April push for the release of prisoners on the local and state-level, as well as experimenting with the “car demo” as a tactic. Source: Car Demos Surround the Jail and Governor’s Mansion in Durham & Raleigh, NC

Emergencies in refugee camps

Geneva, 10 March 2020 – The world’s response to the COVID-19 crisis must encompass and focus on all, including those forced to flee their homes. The elderly among the world’s forcibly displaced population are particularly vulnerable, warned today UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, launching its initial COVID-19 appeal. UNHCR is urgently seeking an initial US$33 million to boost the preparedness, prevention and response activities to address the immediate public health needs of refugees prompted by COVID-19. More than 70 million people globally have been forced by persecution, conflict, violence and human rights violations to flee their homes. Of those, more than 20 million are refugees, of whom 84 per cent are being hosted by low or middle-income nations which have weaker health and water and sanitation systems.


The overcrowded and horrific living conditions in the hotspot camps on the Greek islands provide the perfect storm for a COVID-19 outbreak, warns Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders in a statement released on 13th March. As the first COVID-19 case has been confirmed on Lesbos, elsewhere on the island, evacuation of the camps has become more urgent than ever.In some parts of Moria camp there is just one water tap for every 1,300 people and no soap available. Families of five or six have to sleep in spaces of no more than three square metres. There are 42,000 asylum seekers trapped on the five hotspots on the Greek islands, which only have the capacity to host 6,000 people in total. Among them are many patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, who are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.


An initiative:

Facing homelessness

Here are some resources that look at the impact and articulation of care for those facing homelessness during the coronavirus emergency. Many workers in precarious conditions, freelance and zero hours contract worldwide are at severe risk of becoming homeless at the moment, due to the lack of income and inability of paying rent. While some countries are introducing some mitigating measures - for example in Italy, where the government temporarily suspended mortgage payments and reduced household bills (and is considering a suspension of rents too) - in many areas such measures are not in place and add a significant burden to those tenants already stretched for making ends meet, especially in urban areas without rent caps or tenants rights, where speculation on rents, gentrification and airbnb-fication are left unchecked. Moreover, as campuses close down, many students are facing a housing crisis.


(According to a leaflet first circulated in Spain)

Appeal to the citizens to avoid the infection - namely those with the “becoming a policeman” virus…

If you see a street vendor, do not call the emergency number to report him or her. Buy something from this person. If you notice that he or she is not wearing a mask, do not charge him or her, but try to get one for him or her.

Don’t be a cop.

If you hear that your neighbor has symptoms, don’t look out the window to see if he or she is complying with the quarantine. Ask him if he needs anything.

Don’t be a cop.

If you see people on the street in your neighbourhood, don’t suspect the worst. Do not call the emergency number. Maybe they’re on their way to work. Not everyone has the privilege of locking themselves in with a full fridge.

Don’t be a cop.

If you have to go shopping, don’t give those around you a dirty look because you’re afraid of contagion. Say hello. Make conversation. They’re not enemies.

Don’t be a cop.

If you meet someone who lives on the street, don’t cross the street. If you can, leave the house with some food, an extra mask, some water in a can.

Don’t be a cop.

LET’S AVOID THE SPREAD OF THE POLICE VIRUS It’s a virus that won’t go away.

Further reading

session ⦚ Rent strikes

Questo documento ha una versione in italiano: Rent strikes

Von diesem Dokument gibt es auch eine deutsche Version: Mietstreiks

The measures of support during the crisis concern the freezing of mortgages and the blocking of evictions, but often there is no real protection for renters. This problem affects a large part of the countries of the world, where many people who have lost their source of income are subjected to this often unsustainable expense. From the first of April, a general and indefinite strike called for by grass roots organizations and renters unions will begin, involving both those who cannot afford it but also by those who, out of solidarity, do not want only the weakest to be hit by the economic crisis induced by the lockdowns.

The call to a rent strike started from two very different places, coincidentally in the far west of Europe and America: the Canary Islands and the West Coast. In the Canaries, it was proclaimed by a trade union born with the occupations of the squares in 2011, which for almost a decade organized the tenants of the poorest areas of the city of Las Palmas to resist evictions.


Rent strike initiatives / demands

USA: Rent Strike 2020 is an activist organization based in the USA working to build a nationwide mutual aid community and working-class power during the Coronavirus outbreak. We are a disaster relief organization owned and controlled by regular working people. Our demands to every Governor, in every state, are extremely simple: freeze rent, mortgage, and utility bill collection for 2 months, or face a rent strike.

NORTH AMERICA: [map](( of the rent strike campaign in the United States and Canada.

BARCELONA (ES): Sindicat de Llogaters i llogateres di Barcellona (ES)

GRAN CANARIAS (ES): Sindicato de Inquilinas de Gran Canaria

RENT STRIKE LONDON (UK): London Renters’ Solidarity Group

ITALY: A fast-growing movement is organizing Italian rent strike. A large Telegram chat serves to coordinate numerous regional groups and support people every step of the way. Instructions are available on a website, and there are regular collective calls using Jitsi. The interesting aspect is that the movement is addressing both tenants and owners with the aim to make banks pay for the crisis and not people.

Also, the tenants union ASSOCIAZIONI INQUILINI E ABITANTI has started a campaign demanding a rent suspension.

LONDON (UK): The London Renters Union prepared a Q&A about tenants’ rights during the Coronavirus pandemic and a template letter you can use to start conversations with landlords about the rent crisis (en español).

BAY AREA, California: Bay Area residents are joining forces to call for a region-wide, complete with map and strike resources. #BayAreaRentStrike

CROATIA: In a petition letter, the Right to the City - Zagreb has called on the government to suspend all evictions, mortgage payments and rent payments for anyone affected by the pandemic as well as to secure public housing for all homeless persons. As the Croatian rent market is a predominantly black market, the Right to the City - Zagreb has also initiated a tenant mutual support group on Facebook to acquaint tenants with and organise around their rights.

Other news

Italy: The Tenants Union Unione Inquilini has written an open letter to the Pope, demanding that the Vatican renounces to collect rents during the quarantine and makes available the empty housing units it owns for the homeless and the infected. The Vatican owns 20% of Italy’s real estate assets (around 115.000 housing buildings).

Moreover, in Milan, the news portal Off Topic responded to the call of the municipality seeking empty flats to face the rising housing emergency in the city with an infographic detailing all of the 6489 empty Airbnb apartments currently available. The map was created by Inside Airbnb, an independent, non-commercial set of tools and data that allows you to explore how Airbnb is really being used in cities around the world.


(critical thinking and historical analysis pieces - also not corona-specific, but about the issue in focus)

Rent Strike? A Strategic Appraisal of Rent Strikes throughout History—and Today

Other resources

(links to other repositories, syllabi, practical adivses, how-to, etc.)

Guide by Food not Rent campaign, L.A. (USA)

A step-by-step guide to protecting yourself as much as you can while not paying rent during the COVID crisis, by the Food Not Rent campaign in Los Angeles, USA. Included below is a letter to send to your landlord, notifying them that you will not be paying your rent for the month, as well as instructions on how to join online meetings of your Local Chapter of the L.A. Tenants Union, so that so that your decision or inability to pay will be joined with that of tenants across LA. You are not alone. Together we can demand the rent forgiveness we so clearly need. Share this guide with your family, your friends, and your neighbours:

Toolkit from 5 Demands campaign (USA)

The toolkit is a step-by-step guide with links to organizational tools and online resources to help you build collective power within your communities and leverage it against your landlords.

Resource and Organizing Package for the 2020 Pandemic #CANCELRENT #RENTSTRIKE #CANTPAYWONTPAY (USA)

With 59% of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck and so many confined in isolation, it is obvious that many people are just not going to be able to pay their rents or mortgages for some time. While many states have passed 90-day eviction moratoriums and stays for mortgage holders, there are still few protections for renters, who are fast becoming among the most vulnerable people in our society. Even many leading retailers have announced they will stop paying rent. Surely some will be able to work things out with compassionate landlords, but many will need to band together to resist predation. This document is for all of you.

session ⦚ Mutual aid for those who have lost work

Questo documento ha una versione in italiano: Mutuo aiuto tra/per coloro che hanno perso il lavoro

Dieses Dokument existiert auch in einer deutschen Version: Hilfe für die, die ihren Job verloren haben

Precarity, layoffs and moneylessness

As public events are getting cancelled, educational, cultural and recreational institutions closed, measures of distancing, home isolation and quarantine introduced, and the economy slows down, the outbreak creates conditions of unemployment, where workers suddenly face rent, subsistence and medical costs they are no longer able to cover. First affected are the precarious - temporary, zero-hour, on-demand and freelance - workers, and among them inordinately women and migrants. They will be joined by parents with kids that can’t go to nurseries, kindergartens and schools or carers attending to the elderly or disabled members of the family in isolation, who will have to give up their work to attend to those who need their care. As the pandemic spreads and persists, the employers will be shedding workers, adding many more to those who already are in a situation of insecurity. At the same time, many precarious workers who belong to at-risk groups and should stay at home will have to continue to work in overexposed conditions as cleaners and carers as they cannot afford not to work.

This calls for a number of temporary measures, such as the expansion of sick leave to all workers, suspension of work requirements for workfare, quarantine allowances for carers, suspension of rent and mortgage payments and subsidy of living costs. Some governments have no choice but to roll-out such measures. But we need to acknowledge that the situation is largely the consequence of a long-term casualisation of labour, dismantling of social protections, privatisation of social care provision and systemic devaluation of care work. Thus, in the longer, post-pandemic horizon, this calls for more systemic demands such as the abolition of casualised labour conditions, the introduction of a job guarantee, the expansion of healthcare and social security to all, and (better) compensation for care work. Or even more radically, the introduction of a Universal Basic Income and Universal Basic Assets, or thorough rethinking of the purposes of the economic system and the division of labour in it.

However, at the moment, many people will be left without money, so they will depend on the support of their friends and family or mutualism to make it through the period of the pandemic. Here are some ideas about how to redistribute and attenuate their hardship, but also potentially lay the groundwork for networks of support and collaborative economy for the future:

Mutual aid ideas

Money: solidarity funds

Within your community (political, neighbourhood, household, among a group of friends, or with your family) you can organise a common pot to redistribute money in order to prevent hunger and support each other’s needs. This can be done in a very simple manner by creating a shared spreadsheet with three columns: list of participating people, weekly amount of contributed money, and a dividend for each person. Agree on the principles of contribution and dividend in advance. To transfer money, you can either have a messenger who can collect and redistribute physically or use a shared account or a tab in the same bank to send the money around. You can also open a common wallet to collectivise income in a group.

Resources: shared purchases and goods

You can also do the same for purchases. Create a spreadsheet with two tables: the first with a list of participating people and weekly amount of contributed money, and the second with a list of needs and prices. Keep the balance of accounts. Make the purchases together.

You can also share non-consumables such as tools or vehicles, organise a distributed library of things, by keeping a shared spreadsheet with columns for items, lenders and borrowers. For sharing to be sustainable, establish rules such as: return things clean, return on time, learn to use them properly and report damages immediately. Source: Five simple rules

When you can, buy the groceries from your local producers, ask them to organize a pick-up meeting every week with already mixed boxes of fruits, vegetables or whatever else. Try to keep the money circulating in your community for as long as possible.

Labour: Common.coin

However, given that currently there is little money that precarious workers can pool together, they can try to organise a mutual exchange of labour they can themselves provide to the community.

This they can do for instance by means of a distributed ledger (i.e. blockchain) system that was developed MACAO Cultural Centre in Milan, together with and a number of other communities, to collectivise economy and labour in the centre. To create a system of shared labour for your group, you can start a Common.coin wallet using this tutorial and create your own currency here. For technical support reach out to

Labour: Timebank

Timebanks are money systems where currency is accounted in time that is needed to provide services to other member of the community. For every service offered by one member, another member needs to agree to credit the time needed to complete that task. Timebanks can be organised by communities larg or small to help their members coordinate allocation of labour to collective needs. There are many easy-to-use software implementations to facilitate exchange on timebanking principles.

Organise a telephone hotline for lawyers and union representatives to provide workers (precarious or otherwise) with counsel related to their labour rights (e.g. how to avoid being forced to work where it entails risk or more generally where employers are loading off the cost of the crisis on workers). Find a good overview of labour-related issues in Italian here.

Fight for a Quarantine Universal Basic Income!

Further reading

session ⦚ Mutual aid and sex work

Questo documento ha una versione in italiano: Mutualismo e lavoro sessuale

Von diesem Dokument gibt es eine deutsche Version: Gegenseitige Hilfe und Sexarbeit

Conditions of sex work in the pandemic

COVID-19 pandemic is dramatically affecting the lives of sex workers. Due to the generalized criminalization of sex work, sex workers fall into the group of people most affected by the pandemic. Most of the #sexworkers are unable to access the social benefits set up as emergency measures by the governments. It is indeed a moment of despair and fear: many sex workers, some of them young, mostly women and trans people, are migrants, alone and without a family network to rely on; many are mothers and with their job they support the whole family.

In these weeks and even more in the weeks ahead, the #emergency will be pushing many of them to the brink of the abyss, giving rise to increasingly grave conditions of hardship and poverty. And it is bound to get worse. People who are engaging in prostitution activities in free, agreed or forced form are already in a position of human and social vulnerability, but now they face the risk of falling into extreme poverty. They might be forced to resume work out of sheer necessity, disregarding the epidemiological measures, exposing themselves to the prosecution and risking their own and collective health.

For these reasons, sex work support groups, associations and unions in many countries are organizing. In addition to distributing food and medicines, various initiatives have opened mutual aid and donation funds to financially support the sex workers. These are some examples:

Examples of organising


  • Solidarietà immediata alle lavoratrici sessuali più colpite dall’emergenza! Ombre Rosse

“We want to break the silence and stand by the side of all the sex workers who are most vulnerable in this emergency situation. For this reason, we are launching a network of solidarity that can help in concrete terms and reach as many people as possible through the national anti-trafficking platform, associations and collectives that have been working for years to support the complex reality of sex work. All the money donated will be used to financially and materially assist male and female workers in situations of extreme need.

#neveralone #supportsexworker



“FAST (Action Social Fund for Trans) is a good example of the extent to which the most invisible populations and those most affected by social inequality need help. It was not created in direct connection with the Covid-19 but it responds to problems that we have always encountered and that have been only amplified in the current epidemic.


“SWARM is launching a hardship fund to help the sex workers who are most in need. All donations made to SWARM from 13th March - 30th April will go directly to this fund, and will provide mutual aid to sex workers in the UK who are in severe financial hardship. We are asking for donations from allies, from organisations, and from other sex workers who feel in a position to help. Please support the sex worker community during this uncertain time.” [^1]


  • Fondo de Emergencia para las Trabajadoras Sexuales OTRAS

“As sex workers, crossed by migration, race, class and gender identity, we are especially vulnerable to this pandemic: due to the fact that we do not count as workers with rights, we face a total State invisibility.


session ⦚ Organising a solidarity kitchen

Dieses Dokument gibt es auch in einer deutschen Version: Eine Solidaritätsküche organisieren

Reflections from Cooperation Birmingham1

Covid-19, a “not-so-natural” disaster

The global Covid-19 pandemic is being faced by governments and covered by the media as a natural disaster. And in a way they are right: as scientists predicted, the rapid change in climatic conditions has created a favourable environment for the virus to spread. However, other factors have also contributed to the transmission and mortality of the disease. Global capitalism and the frenetic movement of people and goods that it entails; an endemic lack of funding (or plain privatisation) of public healthcare systems all over; cultural inclination to frequently socialising; and most importantly, widespread lack of access to basic goods such as healthy food or clean water and air. Critical geographers already discovered decades ago that natural disasters are not purely natural, but to a great extent they are socially constructed. Or as Neil Smith, in his account of hurricane Katrina, puts it – natural disasters don’t just create indiscriminate destruction, “[r]ather they deepen and erode the ruts of social difference they encounter”.2

From disasters to solidarity

But there’s a more hopeful side to natural disasters which seems to be reproduced across temporal and geographical scales: the outstanding popular responses based on solidarity and cooperation. In this extreme situations in which the social order is temporarily broken, people tend to organise together in order to fulfil each other’s basic needs and ensure their collective survival.3 Whilst there’s goodwill in all the help being offered, the current pandemic is proving that it’s not enough. A clear lack of experience in political involvement and structured organising by most of the population is decimating mutual aid efforts in the UK.

Take as an example WhatsApp groups created to connect residents of the same street or area in several cities, which have become the locus of popular self-organisation in times of Covid-19. Whereas they might be useful to help some people in self-isolation access basic goods, their reach is very limited. They embody a type of solidarity which, even if necessary, is insufficient because it is exclusively based in locality, which is translated in a lack of coordination among networks. Moreover, unequal access and ability to use technology or lack of time to follow conversations are factors that, when not taken seriously, prevent many members of the community from being actively involved. In the end, these groups tend to become taken over by a few residents who dominate the interactions and/or modify the scope of the group – and with it its potential effectiveness.

Solidarity Kitchen Structure by Birmingham Cooperative

How to organise a solidarity kitchen

Aware of these dynamics, and of the fact that structure and purpose are key factors in mutual aid efforts, Cooperation Birmingham has recently brought together several grassroots organisations and workers’ cooperatives to create a solidarity kitchen. Funded with donations collected through an online platform,4 we offer warm meals to people in self-isolation in Birmingham. We ask no questions and we take no money, we practice solidarity without conditions.

Securing access to a professional kitchen

Two infrastructural dimensions are basic in the organisation of the Cooperation Birmingham solidarity kitchen: physical and political infrastructures. As obvious as it may sound, in order to provide cooked meals you need a kitchen, the bigger and better suited, the more meals you will be able to provide. Key to the success of the project, thus, is the participation of the Warehouse Cafe, a centrally located cafe, organised as a workers’ cooperative and home base to several leftist and environmental organisations. The temporary closure of the business when the pandemic started has given us access to a professional kitchen.

Social measures encourage solidarity

Not only that, but many of the workers of the cafe (including the chefs) who are currently furloughed, are contributing with their labour to the project. But not only cafe workers, over 40 people contribute regularly to the project by cooking food, cleaning the kitchen, delivering meals and doing backroom work. This constantly expanding group is mostly composed of people who are not able to engage in waged labour in the current situation. This fact shows the real importance of adopting social measures directed to covering the basic needs of workers, as they encourage solidarity and mutual aid and have an impact that surpasses economic calculations.

Organising - horizontal, practical and open

As for political infrastructures, the experience in organising of most of our members is key for the success of the project. We work on an ideally horizontal but practically layered structure of decision-making in which decisions are made by a mix of consensus and pressing-need. The main decisions are made in open online meetings that take place usually three times a week. For smaller issues related to the daily operations we have created working groups that have a certain degree of autonomy and specific tasks assigned. The assessment of the operations in the open meetings allows all members to reflect on the general direction of the project, but also on specific practical matters.

Thus, the fluid interaction between open meetings and working groups avoids the accumulation of power and ensures that the political orientation of the project remains in the correct path. It is important to acknowledge that all political infrastructures are open, and we encourage both volunteers and users of the kitchen to join a working group and attend to the open meetings.


Crucial for the correct functioning of our political infrastructures is technology. We have an open online forum5 where whoever is interested in joining the solidarity kitchen, or just curious about it, is able to see at a glimpse the form of our political structure, join a working group and read the minutes of the meetings. We also make use of social media, which is key for ensuring transparency, reaching new users and recruiting volunteers. And of course, instant messaging apps provide a much needed bridge between political and physical infrastructures.

Councils externalising social services onto the commons

As nice as it may sound, our solidarity kitchen is far from perfect, and we try to learn from our mistakes and fill our gaps. It has been difficult to deal with a huge workload different levels of involvement that have led some organisers to the edge of burnout very soon. However, we have been put in a very difficult situation by the Birmingham city council, which is denying responsibility and relying on the commons to respond to the crisis. Instead of setting a relief operation of sufficient scale that would reach most of the vulnerable population in Birmingham, the city council has been directing people to community efforts like ours. After our second day of operation, the council started referring calls to us, which meant a surge of over 500% in food requests from one day to next. At the same time we received a call from a council worker offering support to our solidarity kitchen, but our scope was always filling gaps, not taking over. Since then, we have had to cap food deliveries at around 100 daily meals and we’re trying to involve new members and recruit volunteers, that ensure the sustainability of the project and a controlled expansion. In this situation, we are overburdened with a responsibility that should not fall on us and is disproportionate with our capacity, which has a toll on our physical and emotional well-being.

A perspective beyond the current crisis

At the same time, though, this systemic externalisation of social services onto the commons makes the existence of politicised mutual aid projects like ours more important than ever. Because our purpose is not just to respond to the current crisis, we need to look beyond. What awaits after the immediate public health emergency is an economic crisis of unprecedented magnitude that will change the capitalist system as we know it. Socio-economical reconfigurations that follow disasters and crises traditionally offer “an opportunity for elites to recapture and even intensify their power”.6 However, there’s also a window of opportunity that we should try to seize. We need popular mutual aid efforts such as Cooperation Birmingham to become strong alternative institutions that take power from political elites and redistribute it among the working class. We need to have a major role in writing the new rules of the world to come. A world defined by the worst economic crisis of our times and by climate change, an uncertain world in which the elaborate system of social ordering will start to crack.7 A world of hope.


  1. ↩︎

  2. Neil Smith: “There’s No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster” ↩︎

  3. Rebeca Solnit (2010). A Paradise Built In Hell. The Extraordinary Communities That Arise In Disaster. Penguin Books. ↩︎

  4. ↩︎

  5. ↩︎

  6. Ashley Dawson (2017: 257). Extreme cities: The peril and promise of urban life in the age of climate change. Verso Books. ↩︎

  7. John Holloway (2010). Crack Capitalism. Pluto Press. ↩︎

session ⦚ Mutual benefit model for restaurants and communities


  • Small business restaurants
    • are shuttering en masse as their dining rooms become uninhabitable due to the possibility of virus transmission,
    • causing thousands of people to lose their source of income and ability to sustain themselves and their families.
  • Households:
    • are now where people are having to work their jobs, provide homeschooling and childcare, prepare food, and find a sense of normalcy amongst panic.
    • In order to suppress the rate of infection, people should be staying within those households as much as possible, ideally only leaving to replenish necessary supplies.
    • As available spaces for households to get their supplies (ie grocery stores) grows increasingly limited, those spaces become increased vectors of virus transmission.
    • The current shelter-in-place reality may be our norm for the next 12-18 months.


  • How might small business restaurants serve the needs of their communities and simultaneously maintain their businesses and workers?
  • Can we alleviate the dependency on grocery stores and decrease peoples’ need to leave their homes and potentially spread the virus?
  • Can we provide relief to households who are having to juggle too many tasks while living through a fearful situation?
  • Can we help workers who need income and support?

Could a small business restaurant embedded within a community could provide all meals for [X] amount of households per week at an average of $[X]?

Restaurants might develop a new model for this time by providing a full meal plan for households to pay a fixed weekly cost to have all their food needs covered. Households could pick up their food in a touchless system, quickly and efficiently in staggered times.

A neighborhood focused model could be adapted and used in a multiplicity of contexts to incisively develop sustained communities that might push back against the spread of the virus.


  • Small business restaurants
    • A subscription service could provide more consistent and forecastable income.
    • Cooking larger serving sizes of food would allow more exact product orders and less food waste.
    • Less dependence on single serving packaging would lower costs and waste.
    • An opportunity to organize larger scale support for business.
  • Households
    • Less time spent worrying about buying food and preparing meals for the week.
    • Complete meals would ideally mean better nutrition to weather illness.
    • Less time spent in potentially dangerous shared spaces.
    • Reduce kitchen injuries and food handling issues to keep people out of hospitals.
    • Increased access to safely handled food with a reduction in the amount of touches on food products.
    • By organizing as a community to support a small business restaurant, individual costs go down when compared to ordering takeaway food on a per-meal basis.


  • Could multiple restaurants work together to share workload and provide variety for their communities?
  • Could the week’s provisions be a combination of prepared food and essential grocery items?
  • How might this system meet a multiplicity of dietary needs and restrictions?
  • What is the physical and technological infrastructure needed to facilitate this system?
session ⦚ The agricultural pipeline

Among the many systemic flows that the coronavirus emergency has brought to light there is also the unsustainability of capitalist industrial model of agricultural production. The supplies that sustain the nutritional needs of millions of people are organised across global chains of production that are unequal as they are unsustainable.

One of the issues of the industrial agricultural model is the length of the supply chains, which makes them vulnerable to potential bottlenecks. Yet another problem for many countries is their dependency on far away producers who might decide to reduce or suspend imports during a crisis. Not to mention the overall environmental impact of agro-business (see Coronavirus and the planetary environmental crisis.

In this session, we consider specifically the pirate care initiatives that are confronting one specific aspect of the food supply chain: the fact that limitations on movement and the closure of borders to face the epidemic are causing a shortage of cheap labor, often of foreign origin, on which industrial agriculture is based. The considitions in which this kind of agricultural labour is undertaken are often brutal, facing extremely low wages and long hours; informal arrengements with the employers that are mediated by organised crime cartels; mixed with the constant fears associated with the status of being an irregular migrant subject to racism and social discrimination. Many seasonal workers are also refusing to migrate for the season as they fear for their health and of not being able to get back to their countries of origin.

Below some resources to support our collective learning and mobilizing around this issue.

Initiatives / demands

(concrete pirate care and bottom-up practices, both emerging and pre-exisitng)

In Italy, the ngo Terra! and the trade union Flai CGIL call for an amnesty against the Coronavirus, to ensure access to care and clean work for those who live in the ghettos of our country. The proposal was launched in an open letter addressed to the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, and Ministers Teresa Bellanova (Agriculture), Nunzia Catalfo (Work), Lamorgese (Interior), Roberto Speranza (Health) and Provenzano (South). SOURCE: Regolarizzare i braccianti stranieri per proteggerli dal Coronavirus e dal caporalato, 20 Mrch 2020.

Other news

(other news that impact the situation)

In the UK, where 98% of harvest workers are migrants, the industry has issued a campain called ‘Feed the Nation’, which calls for a ‘land army of employees’ to support British farmers and growers. Yet, despite the campaign targeting “students, job seekers and anyone who has been laid off work due to the impact of Covid-19, such as those working in hospitality and catering”, only 10,000 people signed up to pick fruit and vegetables, leaving around 90,000 positions still vacant.

From the Feed the Nation ad, Concordia Volunteers:

Working on farms can be tough – It can be hard work, long hours, early starts, in sometimes difficult weather conditions. We want to be open and honest with you. You will be at least paid minimum wage and many farms pay National Living Wage or more, depending on how much fruit and/or vegetables you harvest, and the role you do on the farm.

SOURCES: Call for Brits to pick fruit and veg amid coronavirus outbreak Government urged to charter planes to bring farm workers to UK

From Austria: Hauptsache billig: Was Corona über die Ausbeutung von Erntearbeiter innen verrät, an article by the Sezonieri campaign about the current situation, placing it in the context of prevailing practice in agricultural seasonal work.


(critical thinking / analysis pieces - also not corona-specific, but about the issue in focus)

Other resources

(links to other repositories, syllabi, practical adivses, how-to, etc.)

Sezonieri (AT) are a coalition of PRO-GE trade union with agricultural workers´ activists. They cooperate with non-governmental organizations which stand up for the rights of harvest workers. They represent the interests of agricultural workers. They want to prevent the exploitation of farm workers, improve their working conditions, and have the experience to enforce rights – if necessary – through the courts and with public authorities / administrative bodies.

session ⦚ Tech and science in the time of COVID-19

Questa sessione è disponibile anche in italiano:Scienza e tecne al tempo del Covid-19

Dieses Dokument gibt es auch in einer deutschen Version:Technologie und Wissenschaft in Zeiten von COVID-19

The politics of technology at a time like this can become much more apparent than when our digital infrastructures runs smoothly. Massive transition to digital communication, platform infrastrcutures and automated processes as we avoid meeting live, doing shopping and direct human contact are bound to have long-term knock-on effects on technological ecosystem and yet larger effects on labour. The perennial technopolitical concerns over lock-ins, net neutrality, dataveillance, ownership over data, public ownership over communication infrastructure and the entrenched power of technological oligopolies are staring at us back.

This session, unlike others presented here, does not contain tips for moving into action (unless, perhaps, if you are an engineer), but it offers an archive of relevant news that can help to start common debates and reflections on what demands we should collectively place for a more just technopolitical future.


During this crisis, online video conferencing has come to the fore. Many management strategies for COVID-19 involve increased use of VPNs and online video chats that rely on digital infrastructure. A growing number of colleges are moving classes to online platforms. Yet few of us pay attention to extra burden than the increased data traffic is placing on the capacity of the net and the individual providers and how this will impact differently those with slower or more limited access. Also, more essential online services, for example conference calls between healthcare practitioners and patients, find themselves competing with less essential apps and games. In China, for instance, several crashes have been reported.

Public health and safety are the top priorities in managing the COVID-19 outbreak. Data centers play a key behind-the-scenes role, providing mission-critical technology to support emergency communication for public agencies, emergency services and 911 systems. Major hospitals also rely upon data centers for data and images storage and transmission. Few are aware that data centres too are under pressure to continue to provide seamless services while also protecting their staff.

The role of connectivity is something that merits some collective reflection. One point of departure comes from Ian Alan Paul,

It appears that at least two new kinds of subjectivity have already begun to take shape, both of which are mutually constitutive, intimately dependent upon, and shaped by the informatic infrastructures and apparatuses that now run through and organize much of our planetary society. On the one hand, we have the domesticated/connected subject, who in being confined to their home is pushed to invent new ways to reconnect to and participate in a virtualized economy. On the other hand, we have the mobile/disposable subject that serves as the circulatory system of the pandemic, a subject that becomes increasingly vulnerable and precarious as it is compelled to move at ever greater velocities. In order for domesticated/connected subjects to materially sustain themselves, they must be coupled with the mobile/disposable subject that fulfills the minimum material needs of society while ensuring the social possibility of isolated yet networked domestic life.

Problems with corporate tools

Many of the connectivity and remote working tools that have become widely adopted during the lockdowns, some have come under public scrutiny for having policies that might damage their users.

Gennie Gebhart, associate director of research for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a leading nonprofit digital rights group, warned that “As we move more of our everyday lives onto these platforms, we’re going to be looking at new and different and maybe even greater privacy risks in terms of corporate surveillance and employer surveillance”.

SLACK: Your boss may be able to read your Slack DMs and Slack retains data, even when you can’t see it.

SOURCE: Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts: Are Your Remote Work Apps Spying on You?

ZOOM: According to Jamie Zawinski, one of the founders of Netscape and, Zoom is particularly ‘terrible’:

Zoom’s privacy page states: “Whether you have Zoom account or not, we may collect Personal Data from or about you when you use or otherwise interact with our Products.” This includes, but is not limited to, your physical address, phone number, your job title, credit and debit card information, your Facebook account, your IP address, your OS and device details, and more.” Further, the app allows your boss to spy on you far beyond what’s okay in an office setting (Zoom has an attention-tracking feature that can alert hosts if you look away (update: as of April 2, 2020, Zoom have removed the attendee attention tracker feature due to widespread protests).. From EFF: […] “Admins have the ability to join any call at any time on their organization’s instance of Zoom, without in-the-moment consent or warning for the attendees of the call.”

Zoom Meetings Aren’t End-To-End Encrypted, Despite Misleading Marketing: The meeting is secured with end-to-end encryption, at least according to Zoom’s website, its security white paper, and the user interface within the app. But despite this misleading marketing, the service actually does not support end-to-end encryption for video and audio content, at least as the term is commonly understood. Instead it offers what is usually called transport encryption. […]

Without end-to-end encryption, Zoom has the technical ability to spy on private video meetings and could be compelled to hand over recordings of meetings to governments or law enforcement in response to legal requests. While other companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft publish transparency reports that describe exactly how many government requests for user data they receive from which countries and how many of those they comply with, Zoom does not publish a transparency report.

SOURCE: Zoom is bad and you should feel bad

We are very aware that engaging, experimenting with and learning about different tools and alternative technologies is something that not everyone is able to do, as conditions of work and life vary and often are not supportive of such extra efforts. However, the technopolitical aspect of the pandemic is calling for a very serious collective reflection around our technological futures. Could mainstream technological infrastructures be created beyond corporate solutions that extract data and provide employers and governments with biased surveillance tools? There are many initiatives out there that have been producing some amazing alternatives which go in the direction of empowering users and communities in their relationship with tech. While we are not purist in our approach, as our online presence is part of broad ecosystems and connectivity is in this time more important than ever, we hope some of the resources linked here will inspire and sustain others in become less entangled with set ups we don’t want nor consent to.

Alternative tools

Introduction to some of the key issues:

(some) Video conferencing tools

  • - a multi-user video conference client, or use ours, all our tools are 100% free, open source, and WebRTC compatible.
  • Collective Tools: a cooperative cloud company. Encrypted open source video conferencing.
  • - free, no limit on participants, in a browser, no login/account, and fully p2p encrypted even in multiple-participants calls
  • [](no registration, browser-based, FLOSS)
  • []

Repositories with v useful resources / tools:

Robots, AI and the automation of healthcare

While the corporate sector emphasizes the benefits of digital tools for healthcare, they are usually less keen to speak about issues such as the politics of surveillance and data collection; the private ownership of key software and tools which hospitals might end up relying upon; the loss of jobs in the care sector and the repercussions on the quality of care that automated, remote services might generate.

IN CHINA: Chinese technology giants are accelerating their efforts in the field of health-care technology in areas from cloud computing to artificial intelligence (AI) amid the new coronavirus outbreak. Giant companies such as Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent, Huawei and DiDi have all launched new health tech features aimed at diagnosing cases and finding a vaccine for the coronavirus.

Hospitals in China have turned to a trio of robots to help halt the spread of the flu-type virus. The robots include a food delivery robot, sanitizing robot, and directional guiding robot that can help people avoid unnecessary human contact. They are currently being utilized across 10 provinces in Chinese hospitals.

China has become the world’s largest market for industrial robotics and the fastest-growing market worldwide, surging 21% to $5.4 billion in 2019, while global sales hit $16.5 billion, according to the International Federation of Robotics in Frankfurt. China counts more than 800 robot makers, including major players SIASUN and DJI Innovations. China is on track to account for 45% of all industrial robot shipments by 2021, up from 39% in 2019. One robot that can work a 24-hour shift can replace three workers and cost in the range of $43,000 to $72,000. With salaries in China going up as much as 20% annually in recent years, China business consultant Bill Edwards foresees an inevitable push to robotics. “Wages in China are no longer cheap,” he observed.

Open Access

Open access to scientific knowledge remains one of the central demands for healthcare justice. Laboratories around the world have been able to share genome sequences of the newly emerging coronavirus (hCoV-19) through GISAID, an initiative that promotes the international sharing of all influenza virus sequences to help researchers understand how the viruses evolve, spread and potentially become pandemics. GISAID does so by overcoming disincentives/hurdles or restrictions, which discourage or prevented sharing of influenza data prior to formal publication. The Initiative ensures that open access to data in GISAID is provided free-of-charge and to everyone. However, the GISAID is an exception to the way medical/scientific research and data are kept as privatized assets to be capitalized upon. In 2015, Liberian public health officials co-authored a New York Times op-ed that lamented the amount of critical Ebola research that was unknown or inaccessible to scientists and health workers at the center of the 2014 epidemic.

To bypass existing paywalls, in January 2020 a group of online archivists have created an open-access directory of over 5,000 scientific studies about coronaviruses that anyone can browse and download. The download was made possible via Sci-Hub, a free scientific research repository sometimes called “the Pirate Bay of science.” Sci-Hub’s site says it provides free access to over 78 million research articles by downloading HTML and PDF pages off the web, in some cases bypassing paywalls. Because of this, major scientific publishing companies—most prominently Elsevier—have repeatedly sued Sci-Hub for copyright infringement.

The responses of the maker scene

Amid the global shortage of medical supplies and equipments, various makerspaces and fablabs have been discussing and mobilising around certain areas of intervention, calling attention once again to the political tension between autonomous technologies and the necessity of regulations and standards. This is a tension that is not resolved with quick deliberation, but one that merits a large collective reflection moving forward.

A key example from Italy took place at the Chiari Hospital (Brescia), which had to face an emergency within the emergency, when the medical staff realized that the supply of valves necessary for the functioning of a resuscitation tool was running out and that the manufacturer had run out of spare parts due to the high demand. A local 3D printing company, involved by a Milanese fablab, was contacted and they were able to produce a copy of the valve in less than 6 hours. However, the manufacturer is now menacing to sue and technically producing this piece of equipment could also incur in legal troubles as it has not been certified as safe by the health authorities. The Italian Republic, like many others, could stop or prevent an eventual lawsuit via a legislative act of 2005 (LD 10 February 2005, n. 30, Art. 141) regulating state expropriations of registered or patented industrial property rights if this is “in the interest of the country’s military defense or for other reasons of public utility.” (via @zoescope).

Further reading

Other Makers resources

The problem with working online

As many tasks and meetings are moved online, including, crucially, teaching activities, we urgently need a workers-led reflection on the use and owneership of online platforms. These tools risk to prepare the terrain for a restructuring of working conditions that might justify further layoffs and increase worker’s surveillance. Importantly, issues of ownership of these technological infrastructure (owned by companies that are making profit via the licences and the reselling of the data collected); questions of privacy and opt-out options for users; and of control over the generated contents (let’s think for example, at lectures being recorded which can then be used to replace teachers) feature strongly here. If you are part of a union or if your workplace is introducing tools for remote workflows, consider raising some of the issues and launching an equiry into what tool are deployed and how.

Here is a reflection from a teacher on the rush to move all teaching online:

For my colleagues who are now being instructed to put some or all of the remainder of their semester online, now is a time to do a poor job of it. You are NOT building an online class. You are NOT teaching students who can be expected to be ready to learn online. And, most importantly, your class is NOT the highest priority of their OR your life right now. Release yourself from high expectations right now, because that’s the best way to help your students learn. If you are getting sucked into the pedagogy of online learning or just now discovering that there are some pretty awesome tools out there to support students online, stop. Stop now. Ask yourself: Do I really care about this? (Probably not, or else you would have explored it earlier.) Or am I trying to prove that I’m a team player? (You are, and don’t let your university exploit that.) Or I am trying to soothe myself in the face of a pandemic by doing something that makes life feel normal? (If you are, stop and instead put your energy to better use, like by protesting in favor of eviction freezes or packing up sacks of groceries for kids who won’t get meals because public schools are closing.)


Concerns around the use and abuse of tracking technologies during the pandemic abound.

Some articles tracing the cources of concern:

-U.S. and Europe Turn to Phone-Tracking Strategies to Slow Spread of Coronavirus. The Wall Street Jurnal, April 3rd 2020

While some initiatives, campaigns and collectives are starting to push back:

In the Netherlands: Safe against Corona. Protect our health and protect our rights The Dutch government is exploring the use of an app meant to offer you insight into whether you have been in the proximity of someone infected with the COVID-19-virus. Should the authorities deploy such an app, then it should meet with the following requirements. These requirements have been drawn up by experts in the fields of information technology, computer security, privacy and the protection of constitutional rights. We believe these principles to be necessary for the protection of our freedoms and rights as well as our safety and social cohesion. Should these principles not be met, we don’t have confidence in any such app and we will resist its implementation.

Further reading

Series of 3 articles by By Jaromil (

Other resources from Pirate Care

Further Resources

session ⦚ Coronavirus and the planetary environmental crisis

Questo documento ha una versione in italiano: Coronavirus e la crisi ambientale planetaria

Zu diesem Dokument gibt es eine deutsche Version: Der Coronavirus und die planetarische Krise der Umwelt

Environmental roots of the pandemic

According to epidemiologist Dennis Carroll, the ongoing research from EcoHealth Alliance, an organisation protecting wildlife and public health from the emergence of diseases in an integrated way,1 shows that the last four decades have seen a two- to three-fold increase in zoonosis – leaps of pathogens from animals to humans.2 The increased incidence of epidemics such as Coronavirus is a consequence of, on the one hand, the rapid incursion of industrial agriculture into wildlife habitats and, on the other, the growing inclusion of wild species into capitalist commodity chains.3 The interface zones between the receding wildlife habitats and encroaching farms and plantations facilitate zoonotic leaps (with a particular contribution of the fruit bats, the only flying mammal species and susceptible to many pathogens that attack other mammal species).4 Once pathogens leap from wildlife species to industrially farmed animals, intensive farming provides them with perfect conditions for quick spread and mutation. From there pathogens can then easily jump to human populations. The leaps from industrially farmed animals such as pigs, fowl and dromedary camels to humans have been at the root of avian flu, swine flu, SARS, MERS, H5N2 and H5Nx flue epidemics. At the same time, the clearing of rainforests for purposes of industrial farming, imposed on many territories by neoliberal adjustment programs 5, is pushing indigenous populations deeper into natural habitats and closer contact with wildlife species. This process has been at the root of HIV and Ebola epidemics.

Degraded ecosystems, with their complexity reduced to benefit the industrial farming, have a lowered inherent capacity to halt the spread of epidemics among the wild species. Therefore planetary ecological destabilisation - a combination of climate change, land-use change and biochemical rifts - is expected to spawn new pathogens at an increasing rate. In fact, one of the indicators of destabilisation of planetary boundaries proposed by the Stockholm Resilience Institute are novel entities, which include human-made non-living materials and living beings such as synthetic pollutants, radioactive materials, nanomaterials, micro-plastics or genetically modified organisms, and can also be understood to include the mutagenic viruses that emerge from conditions created by the actions of industrial agriculture.

Environmental consequences of the pandemic

In the early days of lockdown in Hubei satellite images of particulate pollution released by NASA were making rounds. Images were suggesting that the cessation of industrial production and the reduction of traffic have radically reduced the air pollution and that might save as many 77.000 lives.6 Large North Italian cities such as Milan, notorious for their air pollution levels, have experienced a radical reduction in pollution as well.7 As travellers started to abort their travel plans, in a seeming display of entirely irrational behaviour, the air carriers were let to resume their flights with almost no passengers on board. The pollution from the now grounded fleet of commercial aeroplanes is the cause of 16.000 preventable deaths every year.8 And the irony of the matter is that lowered air pollution is beneficial to recovery from Coronavirus. More significantly, the slowdown in economic activity during the outbreak and lockdowns is bound to have a significant impact on lowering global greenhouse gasses emissions.

However, the reduction in pollution and emissions coming from the breakdown rather than from a politically-driven and participatory transition is not something we should cheer for. Weighing relative numbers of dead bodies is a dismal Malthusianism in disguise.9 As the world leaps back from the crisis, the vulnerable communities will be left to suffer, while the environmentally impactful patterns of the capitalist system of production will come back with full force. In fact, Saudis and Russians are waging a price-war by pushing more cheap oil onto the world market far above what is currently needed in conditions of reduced demand. Once the outbreak slows down, the world might be awash with cheap oil, which might open an avenue to quickly undo the emissions reduction that we saw during the outbreak. To cut a long story short, creating a sustainable and just life for all calls for politics and not breakdown. It’s politics that is a terrain on which to build a collective determination to seize the control and then transform or wind-down polluting industries, build-out sustainable systems of food, housing and transport provision, and cast a wide net of social support such as universal healthcare.

Environmental lessons from the pandemic

Still, while we are in the midst of the crisis, there is an opening to reconsider how our systems of production and consumption are organised and what are their purposes. Radical demands for coordinated management of social adaptation, massive effort to save human lives, collective willingness to change the organisation of our daily life, radical redistribution and willingness to accept the uncertainty in the face of tragedy surprisingly seem possible. TINA-doctrine seems suddenly, if for a moment, reduced to a ridiculous historic fetish of a group of sociopaths who have benefited from the complacency of an extended peace-time period and growing affluence to willfully indulge with their class into a social experiment of throwing people’s lives under the wheels of profit-making.

From the current pandemic we have learned many valuable lessons for the ecological transition:

  • lives can take precedence over the economy
  • responses to massive threats to human lives can only be socially planned and managed
  • a lack of global cooperation can exacerbate the threat (but will boomerang, as Trump’s administration or the EU are now finding out)
  • an important pillar of managing threat is taking back control over privatised social services and infrastructure
  • companies can be pushed to submit to government-imposed management if their business model is made no longer viable and be commandeered to produce for social needs
  • fiscal policies are an essential instrument of directing social adaptation
  • commodified provision of housing, food and health can be socialised
  • in critical moments the work of social reproduction, otherwise backgrounded, made invisible and considered economically secondary to production replaceable things, emerges as essential and most valuable to societies
  • people are contributing en masse to that work of social reproduction
  • patterns of daily life can radically change overnight facing a massive threat and be embraced by the people
  • what becomes critical for a radical change is how to organise the freed human capacity for socially sustaining work and convivial free time

There are evident parallels between the global ecological destabilisation and the Coronavirus pandemic. Both are seemingly invisible processes, for most existent more as claims made by scientists than their own lived reality – until they become painfully felt in the loss of human lives and the collapse of ways of life that seemed unchangeable hitherto. Yet global environmental destabilisation is distributed highly unevenly in terms of geography and temporal scales. The affluent will be able, at first, to limit their exposure, whilst the poor in the sacrificed zones of the southern hemisphere are already left to suffer. But in due time, no one will escape the runaway destabilisation of the planetary ecosystems. To our benefit, timescales of urgent action are not measured in weeks but in years and decades, and we are likely not to be in lockdown for most of that time.

With the about-turn in the socio-economic doctrine and the sense of what is possible, we can see this as a historic opening to re-set the terms of the political debate over a long-term threat and to organise collective action to push for a just and sustainable future that will save lives and ecosystems. What is happening now is a drastic departure from the political status quo, showing that human lives come before capitalist accumulation. If people can understand the crisis precipitated in a sudden spike of viral spread, now more than ever we should be able to visualise the crisis precipitated by the slow and even more deadly ecological destabilisation. A radical, socially managed transformation has been shown to be possible. It has to be, however, made urgent. And it has to start from the conditions of socio-economic trouble that the pandemic will leave in its wake.

Further reading

For texts referenced in this session see the Notes section below.

. . .


  1. EcoHealth Alliance’s Publication ↩︎

  2. “The Man Who Saw the Pandemic Coming” ↩︎

  3. Robert G. Wallace: “Coronavirus: »Agribusiness would risk millions of deaths.«", Robert G. Wallace: “Big Farms Make a Big Flu” ↩︎

  4. Jim Robbins: “The Ecology of Disease” ↩︎

  5. Robert G. Wallace, Rodrick Wallace (eds.): “Neoliberal Ebola: Modeling Disease Emergence from Finance to Forest and Farm” ↩︎

  6. “Study: Coronavirus Lockdown Likely Saved 77,000 Lives In China Just By Reducing Pollution” ↩︎

  7. “Coronavirus Causes Decline in Air Pollution Across Northern Italy” ↩︎

  8. “Aircraft emissions ‘responsible for 16,000 deaths per year’"" ↩︎

  9. Eric Holthaus: “No, the coronavirus is not good for the climate” ↩︎

session ⦚ Resources and texts on Coronavirus

Making sense of the pandemic

Where to find public health advice on prevention and symptoms

Home isolation

Resrouces on organising care and mutual aid

Labour, precarity and joblessness


Reproductive rights

Domestic violence

Drug addiction

Homeless, refugees, prisoners

Coronavirus and environmental crisis

Socialising and conviviality

Coronavirus, science and technology

Massive digitisation and automation

Open science

Open & DIY tech

Political demands

Other useful reading lists