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Press Release

Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College Hosts 11th Annual International Conference on “Citizenship and Civil Disobedience,” October 11–12

Mark Primoff
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— Across the United States the tradition of American civil disobedience is being reinvigorated as a form of mass citizenship. At the same time, this turn toward civil disobedience reveals a fraying consensus on issues such as economic and racial equality, social discrimination, immigration, and the uses of American power abroad. Hannah Arendt argued that civil disobedience succeeds when it expresses new ideas that inspire the majority, and was critical of political movements that failed to transform protest into a political revolution. The Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College’s 11th annual international conference invites leading scholars, activists, and writers to explore questions of citizenship and civil disobedience, and discuss if and how today’s movements and acts of civil disobedience can create a new meaningful politics in America. The two-day conference, Citizenship and Civil Disobedience,” takes place from Thursday, October 11 to Friday, October 12 in Olin Hall, on Bard’s Annandale-on-Hudson campus. For registration information, please visit

As soon as several inhabitants of the United States have taken up an opinion or a feeling which they wish to promote in the world, or have found some fault they wish to correct, “they look out for mutual assistance, and as soon as they have found one another out, they combine. From that moment, they are no longer isolated men but a power seen from afar, whose actions serve for an example and whose language is listened to.” It is my contention that civil disobedients are nothing but the latest form of voluntary association, and that they are thus quite in tune with the oldest traditions of the country.

—Hannah Arendt, “Civil Disobedience” (citing Alexis de Tocqueville)

The Arendtian tradition of citizenship and civil disobedience involves not individual acts of conscience but political movements that mobilize organized minorities. This inquiry into the power of political dissent to unify a plurality animates this year’s conference. Citizenship and Civil Disobedienceconvenes a diverse group of thinkers to consider questions such as: Is civil disobedience an exemplary act of citizenship? Why is citizen activism emerging across the political spectrum? Can civil disobedience help reunite majority opinion around common truths? Is civil disobedience a means for dissidents on the left and right? Are we today in a revolutionary situation? Should violence be used in civil disobedience? Does democracy require civility?

Featured speakers include:
Kenyon Victor Adams, multidisciplinary artist, poet, curator, and creative director, also known as little ray
Roger Berkowitz, academic director of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College
Leon Botstein, president and Leon Levy Professor in the Arts and Humanities, Bard College, chairman of the board, Central European University, and board member, Open Society Foundations
Mark Bray, historian of human rights, terrorism, and political radicalism in modern Europe at Dartmouth College and author of the national bestseller Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook
Deirdre d’Albertis, dean of Bard College
Marion Detjen, academic director, Bard College Berlin's Program for International Education and Social Change
Debbie Dooley, grassroots activist, former delegate to the Republican National Convention, and cofounder of the Atlanta Tea Party
Kevin Duong, assistant professor political theory Bard College
Elizabeth Price Foley, professor of law at Florida International University College of Law in Miami
Nelly Ben Hayoun, designer and filmmaker
Samantha Hill, assistant director, Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College
Sarah Jaffe, author of Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt
Jonathan Kay, Canadian editor of Quillette
Seon-Wook Kim, professor, Department of Philosophy, Soongsil University, Seoul, South Korea, and president of the Korean Society for Hannah Arendt Studies
Dennis Maloney, retired teacher and principal
Uday Singh Mehta, author of The Anxiety of Freedom: Imagination and Individuality in Locke’s Political Thought
Chantal Mouffe, professor of political theory at the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster in London
Susan Oberman, director of Common Ground Negotiation Services, a private mediation practice in Charlottesville, Virginia
Chiara T. Ricciardone, National Endowment for the Humanities/Hannah Arendt Center Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Bard College
Peter Rosenblum, professor of international law and human rights, Bard College
Rebecca Saletan, editorial director of Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House
Yasemin Sari, assistant professor of philosophy, Department of Philosophy and World Religions, University of Northern Iowa
Annie Seaton, director, Difference and Media Project, Bard College, and conceptual artist with the Yam Collective
Amy Schiller, writer and faculty, Brooklyn Institute for Social Research and Brooklyn College
Judith Shulevitz, essayist and editor who has helped found or relaunch several magazines, including Lingua Franca, New York magazine, and Slate, currently a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times
Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, Harvard University
Allison Stanger, Russell Leng ’60 Professor of International Politics and Economics and founding director of the Rohatyn Center for International Affairs at Middlebury College, and author of One Nation Under Contract: The Outsourcing of American Power and the Future of Foreign Policy
Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock, Berlin-based conceptual artists
Micah White, public intellectual, lifelong activist, and cocreator of Occupy Wall Street
Thomas Chatterton Williams, author of a memoir, Losing My Cool, and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine.

All events, unless stated otherwise, take place in Olin Hall.

Thursday, October 11
10:00 a.m. Welcome by Deirdre d'Albertis

10:15 a.m. Citizenship and Civil Disobedience
Roger Berkowitz

10:45 a.m. Saving America Once Again: Comparing the Anti-Trump Resistance to the Tea Party
Theda Skocpol
Moderator: Peter Rosenblum

11:50 a.m. Break

12:00 p.m. Roundtable: Civil Resistance
Debbie Dooley, Theda Skocpol, Judith Shulevitz, Rebecca Saletan, Dennis Maloney, and Callie Jayne
Moderator: Samantha Hill

1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:15 p.m. (OPTIONAL) Breakout Sessions

                        Lessons from the Resistance
                        Moderators: Theda Skocpol, Judith Shulevitz, Rebecca Saletan
                        Location: Olin 201

                        Civics and Civil Disobedience: Responsibility to the World
                        Moderators: Susan Oberman and Yasemin Sari
                        Location: Olin 204

                        MYTHOLOGY NOW! The Deep Black 
                        Moderator: Nelly Ben Hayoun
                        Location: Olin Auditorium

2:00 p.m. Refugees and Citizenship
Seon-Wook Kim
Marion Detjen
Moderator: Thomas Chatterton Williams

3:15 Lecture: Renata Stih and Prof. Dr. Frieder Schnock
Moderators: Roger Berkowitz and Nelly ben Hayoun

4:00 p.m. Break

4:30 p.m. Where Do We Go from Here?
Micah White and Chiara Ricciardone
Bard students enrolled in the workshop “How to Change the World: Theories and Practices”

5:30 p.m. Allison Stanger
Moderator: Uday Mehta

6:30 p.m. Wine and Cheese Reception
Location: Olin Atrium

Friday, October 12
8:30 a.m. (OPTIONAL) Breakout Session

                        Workshop: Political Protest
                        Moderators: Micah White and Chiara Ricciardone
                        Location: Olin 204

9:30 a.m. Welcome: Leon Botstein

9:45 a.m. Violent and Nonviolent Protest
Uday Mehta and Mark Bray
Moderator: Kevin Duong

11:15 a.m. Break

11:30 a.m. Organizing from the Ground 
Sarah Jaffe and Elizabeth Price Foley
Moderator: Jonathan Kay

1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:15 p.m. (OPTIONAL) Breakout Sessions

           The Radical Left in the Age of Trump
Moderators: Mark Bray and Kevin Duong
Location: Olin 202

           Talking to the Tea Party
Moderators: Debbie Dooley and Elizabeth Price Foley
location: Olin 204

2:00 p.m. A Politics of Radical Democratic Citizenship
Chantal Mouffe

3:00 p.m. MLK and the Legacy of Civil Disobedience in America
Kenyon Adams, Thomas Chatterton Williams, and Amy Schiller

4:30 p.m. Wine and Cheese Reception
Location: Olin Atrium

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayers of the People is a secular liturgical performance of King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Conceived by Kenyon Victor Adams (little ray) and directed by Bill T. Jones, this participatory ritual/performance appropriates the structure of an Episcopal liturgy and brings to life King’s response to a letter from eight religious leaders urging him to stop disrupting the peace, which he wrote while imprisoned. Audience participation (chanting of text and following directions to stand, sit, kneel to the best of your ability) is strongly encouraged. Copresented by New York Live Arts.

Location: Chapel of Holy Innocents, Bard College [map]
Tickets: Please visit our Registration webpage to register and reserve your ticket(s).
Limited supply!

Arendt Center conferences are attended by nearly a thousand people and reach an international audience via live webcast. Past speakers have included maverick inventor Ray Kurzweil whistleblower Edward Snowden irreverent journalist Christopher Hitchens businessman Hunter Lewis authors Teju Cole, Zadie Smith, Masha Gessen, and Claudia Rankine New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus New York Review of Books editor Ian Buruma Wall Street Journal columnist Walter Russell Mead and presidential candidate and political activist Ralph Nader. Previous conferences have explored crises of democracy, the intellectual roots of the economic crisis, the future of humanity in an age increasingly dominated by technology, the crisis in American education, and American exceptionalism.

For a full conference schedule and bios of featured speakers, please visit For more information or answers to questions about the conference, please contact or 845-758-7878.


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This event was last updated on 09-10-2018