Empire Unclothed, Speaker Bios
We are grateful to Kolya Abramsky, Walden Bello, Mama Charlotte, and Marie Cruz Soto who are joining the Movements of Movements Conversations to address the US elections and their implications for humanity and Mother Earth.
Walden is currently a professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Binghamton and senior research fellow at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies of Kyoto University in Japan. He served as a member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines from 2009 to 2015, during which he was chairman of the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs. His resignation from the House in 2015 in protest at the policies of the Aquino administration is the only instance of a resignation on principle in the history of the Congress of the Philippines.
He is the author or co-author of 20 books, including Food Wars (London: Verso, 2009), Capitalism’s Last Stand? (London: Zed, 2013), Dragons in Distress: Asia’s Miracle Economies in Crisis (London: Penguin, 1990), and Development Debacle: the World Bank in the Philippines (San Francisco: Institute for Food and Development Policy, 1982).
Charlotte Hill O’Neal aka Mama C is an internationally known writer/poet, visual artist, musician, priestess, film maker and long time community activist of more than three decades of experience. She was born in Kansas City, KS in 1951 and has lived in Africa since 1970. She is the mother of two children, co-founder and Programs Director of the United African Alliance Community Center UAACC located outside of Arusha, Tanzania. Mama C's music is by the jazz, blues and gospel for which Kansas City is famous. She notes that, “As a member of the Black Panther Party I was taught the importance of building international solidarity among all people while honoring my Ancestral roots. That philosophy has never changed and many of my poems and songs reflect this burning desire and mission to spread peace, love and unity through my art”, Mama C reflects.
She launched her first book of poetry, Warrior Woman of Peace in 2008 and her second book of poetry Life Slices: A Taste of Magic in 2016. She is currently working on her memoir entitled "Hard Head."
Kolya Abramsky is an archivist at the George Padmore Institute archive in London, where he is responsible for cataloging the late John La Rose’s personal archive relating to the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union of Trinidad and Tobago. He is interested in the struggle over memory, and the importance of preserving and recuperating historical memory for emancipatory politics today. He moved into archival work following more than 15 years as an organizer, educator, and researcher, on different social, political, and economic aspects of the global energy sector. He was very active with different global anti-capitalist networks and processes from the late 1990s-mid-2000s. In his work on energy, he was, formerly, the International Energy Officer for the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa; coordinator of the World Wind Energy Institute, based in Denmark; a Visiting International Scholar and Winner of the Manfred-Heindler Award for Energy and Climate Change Research at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Science, Technology and Society in Graz, Austria. Together with the NGO Focus on the Global South, he produced the website Understanding China’s Energy Landscape: Achievements, Challenges and Conflicts - Past, Present, Future. He has edited two books: Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution: Social Struggles in the Transition to a Post-Petrol World, and Restructuring and Resistance – Diverse Voices of Struggle in Western Europe.
Marie Cruz Soto
Marie Cruz Soto is interested in imperial/colonial processes of becoming (i.e., in the creation and naturalization of coloniality), and in those struggles to un-become upon which survival sometimes hinges (i.e., in the imagining of a different world). She is particularly interested in the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, and in how militarized colonialism has shaped the makings of the Viequense community. Her work explores how the long history of violent displacements and dispossessions in the island has ensured a vulnerable and unruly population. Her work consequently engages with the violence of militarized colonialism and with the proposals of anti-colonial and anti-militarism struggles. Cruz Soto is also a peace activist who has participated in Viequense community initiatives, in the organization New York Solidarity with Vieques and in transnational networks of solidarity against US military bases. As part of this work, she has, for example, given public lectures and participated as a petitioner in the United Nations Decolonization Hearings on Puerto Rico. At Gallatin, she teaches courses that delve into feminist and anti-colonial epistemologies, into the workings of the US Empire, into struggles to narrate the past and claim places, and into the formation of communities and the edification and transgression of boundaries.