Introducing ‘Seditious Acts’: AGITATE! Special Volume with CRES

AGITATE! Editorial Collective

O those who pass between fleeting words
From you the sword — from us the blood
From you steel and fire — from us our flesh
From you yet another tank — from us stones
From you tear gas — from us rain
Above us, as above you, are sky and air
So take your share of our blood — and be gone
Go to a dancing party — and be gone
As for us, we have to water the martyrs’ flowers
As for us, we have to live as we see fit.

Mahmoud Darwish “Those Who Pass Between Fleeting Words,” Middle East Report 154 (September/October 1988).

Seditious Acts has emerged from a  journey that members of the CRES writing group and AGITATE! committed to in 2019: a commitment to celebrate resistance, sedition, and dissent in spaces of learning, even in the face of ever-increasing institutional repression. Since then, we have lived through many life altering events. A global pandemic has wrecked unfathomable loss of life and community and coincided with the powerful resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, just a few miles away from the University of Minnesota campus where many of us learned and labored at the time. In higher education, the recent years have witnessed a concerted right-wing campaign against academic freedoms and attacks on fields of study such as critical race theory and gender and queer studies. We have also seen an erosion of initiatives and policies aimed at making higher education more accessible and inclusive. Most recently, the genocidal war in Gaza and the responses to student uprising for justice in Palestine have revealed many truths and lies about the institutionalized transnational systems of annihilation, oppression, and violence that we are breathing in. At AGITATE! as in CRES, these times have required us to prioritize organizing and activism in our communities and in our intellectual, pedagogical, and creative work even as we have made professional, personal, and geographic transitions while grieving and mourning many losses. Through all these challenges, however, we have kept our vision for Seditious Acts alive and moving forward. Amidst planetary violence, as Darwish asserts memorably, “we have to live as we see fit.” Co-creation is never easy, but it becomes deeply rewarding when it emerges from a shared vision and gains its meaning and momentum through co-traveled paths. This volume is such a co-creation.

Seditious Acts amplifies the voices and experiences of students of color in higher education while highlighting the violences that academia inflicts on those marked as ‘others.’ It recognizes the role that communities of care play in making it possible for students from marginalized backgrounds to survive and thrive in academia. Seditious Acts is a witness testimony of higher education from the margins. 

Seditious Acts comes at a time of a global uprising against the war, genocide, and continued occupation and calculated annihilation of Palestine. Students at university campuses across the United States and beyond are protesting the ways in which neoliberal universities, which operate more like corporations than places of learning and put profits above justice, are complicit in the settler colonial genocide in Gaza. They are challenging and questioning the white supremacist and racial capitalist foundations of the university. They are holding academic institutions accountable in ways envisioned by the authors of Seditious Acts, who courageously call for an exposing of the university and its neoliberal investments while building relationships of care, mutuality, and community that exceed such violent structures.

This volume reflects the shared experiences of many Indigenous, Black, Brown, Asian, and other students of color, and of Queer, first-generation and working class, immigrant and refugee students who are consistently invisibilized, marginalized, and tokenized in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We hope that it will open up ways for our readers to grapple with what is unfolding on university campuses today. Collectively, the essays in this volume show that the violent crushing of student protests and the punitive actions against students and faculty demonstrating solidarity with Palestine is only another episode of repression in the history of higher education in the US. They help us locate the current student-led movement in solidarity with Palestine in a long and rich history of student activism against war and imperialism, settler colonial institutional practices, and gender and racial discrimination in a transformative search for justice, equality, and liberation. 

This volume is made possible by the labors of many, beginning with the members of CRES who organized the Seditious Acts conference in 2017 at the University of Minnesota. CRES created a space for students who otherwise felt out of place in the university to articulate their experiences of alienation and to imagine strategies of being in the university by engaging in epistemic practices and agitations that defy its neoliberal diktats. Most of the essays in the volume began as conference presentations. In the last five years, all the members of the AGITATE! Editorial Collective have played a part in co-making the final versions that appear here. It gives us deep joy to share the results of our labors with you in the form of Seditious Acts: AGITATE! Special volume with CRES

AGITATE! Editorial Collective

Efadul Huq
Emina Bužinkić
Keavy McFadden
Madelaine Cahuas
Nithya Rajan
Richa Nagar
Sara Musaifer

Suggested Citation:

AGITATE! Editorial Collective. 2024. “Introducing ‘Seditious Acts’: AGITATE! Special Volume with CRES.” In eds. José Manuel Santillana Blanco, Kidiocus King-Carroll, Naimah Zulmadelle Pétigny, and Kong Pheng Pha in collaboration with AGITATE! Editorial Collective. Seditious Acts: AGITATE! Special Volume with CRES: