Speaker: Activism involves staking it all in taking stand
HOUGHTON — Visual activist and author Nicholas Mirzoeff discussed politics and activism at Michigan Technological University on Friday during a presentation on “Ungovernable Aesthetics.”
The lecture was part of the Distinguished Lecture Series being hosted by Tech’s Department of Humanities.
Mirzoeff described political involvement and activism as a way of life.
“It’s a way to live that sets the value of the way that you live over even the possibility of staying alive,” he said.
Although he said he hoped it does not come to that for people, he said that mindset is a way for people to approach choices and deciding what to stand up for.
He described the possibilities and choices that people have to make over their own lives.
“There are other ways to live, and there are other ways to claim power and to claim possibility through social movements but also just through the ways that we live, that don’t necessarily rely on a president or senator or congressperson to do it for us,” said Mirzoeff.
Police brutality, the middle passage and slave trade, ethnic cleansing of Native Americans and white supremacy were some of the things Mirzoeff addressed in his lecture, which covered topic from ancient history to current issues.
He discussed protests and acts of activism examples like Standing Rock and the Black Youth Project 100 as ways for people to damage institutions and fight against colonization.
These acts represent freedom and change the way that people feel about who you are, he said, stressing the importance of the role of young people in dismantling these institutions and creating change.
Patricia Killelea, assistant professor of English at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, said she came because she was interested in hearing about visual culture and indigenous communities.
She enjoyed his talk on ungovernability and use through tribal nations.
“We did have a really good discussion,” she said. “It was an excellent event. It was worth coming from Marquette.”