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Social change conference at Massey hits the mark with youth

Social change conference at Massey hits the mark with youth

A conference at Massey University this week on social change highlights the need for a long-term approach to bringing about significant changes in addressing inequality and social justice issues, says organiser Dr Warwick Tie.

The theme of this year’s Social Movements, Resistance and Social Change conference is titled: Ka whawhai tonu mātou: Beyond capitalism - beyond colonisation.

The conference was initiated by Massey University four years ago, and is being hosted this year by Massey and Economic and Social Research Aotearoa (ESRA) in Auckland, from September 6 to 8, at Massey’s Albany campus.

Dr Tie, a sociologist in the School of People, Environment and Planning at Massey, says that “the exponential growth in the conference over those four years demonstrates the need for such huis bringing scholars, activists and policy makers/practitioners together with the aim of social change across Aotearoa/New Zealand.”

In addition, he points out, the conference is attracting many younger people – a positive sign that counters the accepted view that youth are not interested in political issues.

The conference’s programme offers presentations on numerous topics relevant to election issues currently being discussed in the media, such as alternative arrangements to address poverty and economic inequality, as well as our prison system. However, presenters tend to be focused more on long-term social transformation rather than narrower, shorter-term perspectives framed by election cycles, he says.

Keynote speakers include veteran Māori activist Moana Jackson, who will speak on Wednesday with Mereana Pitman. One of the key workshops is on the work of Matike Mai Aotearoa, a movement for constitutional transformation founded in Māori values.

Themes explored over the three-day event include democracy and power, colonisation to decolonisation; social change at work, creative social change, the activist academy, and animal rights.

Panel discussions will embrace wide-ranging topics, including on:

· Te Moananui a Kiwa: Navigating the Nuances and Implications of Colonisation

· Media activism

· Whose kaupapa for a climate justice coalition?

· Researching poverty to make a difference: Rediscovering the scholar activist tradition in psychology

· What is to be done? A panel on alternatives to prison

· Constitutional Transformation in Aotearoa – the Matike Mai project

Conference workshops will include topics such as:

· Te Tiriti-based health practice

· West Papua - Emerging Solidarity and Resistance in Aotearoa

· White Privilege - Access Acknowledge and Solidarity

· Indigenous resistance and action

· Tangata Tiriti: immigration and settler colonialism

· Brown Girls Speak: On Decolonising the Ivory Tower

The conference agenda is framed around a number of ideas and questions:

· As political, economic and ecological crises deepen so does the urgency of our need to find new ideas and new methods of organising.

· What are the brightest ideas and models emerging from our activist work and from our research?

· How do we affirm Te Tiriti o Waitangi while conceiving and working for a future beyond capitalism and colonisation?

· How do we find new, effective ways of co-producing knowledge from across the academic-activist divide?

Other conference highlights are the launch of Counterfutures: Left Thought and Practice journal (Issue 4), as well as a book launch forPrecarity: Uncertain, insecure and unequal lives in Aotearoa New Zealand (Massey

University Press). For more programme details click here:


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