Rediscovering the Field in Actions of Global Resistance
This paper cites solidarity, “a unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group,” (“Solidarity” def. 1) as a concept that is particularly useful to understanding rebellion against processes of globalization, and grounds its analysis of globalization in a solidarity action with CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman of color, taken by American anarchists in Portland, Oregon on June 6th, 2012. This analysis relies heavily on Anna Tsing’s articulation of scale in “The Global Situation” (Inda & Rosaldo eds. 2008:66-98) and couples Tsing’s concept with Paul Routledge’s notion of convergencespacein “Convergence Space: Process Geographies of Grassroots Globalization Networks” (2003)—together, the two texts weave a portrait of a mutating world that engages heavily with notions of place and space even as globalizing processes such as neoliberal economics seek to elide both concepts in favor of creating a “boundariless” world. By proxy, anthropology emerges as a key tool for understanding neoliberal globalization—through a lens that takes locality, situatedness, and scales of effect into account, the alleged mobility offered by advocates of globalization is revealed as being possible only in the context of enormous social and economic privilege. Tsing and Routledge’s contributions to contemporary anthropology allow us to see the way that privilege has informed the development of this imagined—embodied mobility, as their work specifically addresses how social and economic processes create space and engender or inhibit movement with regards to the largely imagined spaces and temporalities of a globalizing world, giving readers vantage into the mostly theoretical but wholly affective zones that result from processes of globalization. Only anthropology reveals that the “global” mobility imagined by the most privileged class is inextricably reliant on widespread—and locally situated, concrete, and very tangible—oppression and abjection.
The two primary theoretical sources I pair to support this argument are “Toward Planetary Decolonial Feminisms,” by Marcelle Maese-Cohen (2010), and Black Bloc, White Riot, by A.K. Thompson (2010). Together, these two works illustrate seemingly polar but fundamentally connected facets of the radical front against global neoliberalism: queer women of color representing and resisting from the Global South, and white, middle-class, (implicitly) male anarchists rioting in the America, Canada, and Europe. Both texts also focus on the significance of space, place, and scale in exchanges about globality, further reifying the thesis of this paper: that anthropology alone allows us to access the “imaginary” spaces and timeframes that contain and fundamentally shape processes of globalization. Following Paul Routledge, an anthropological lens irrefutably reasserts the importance of reaffirming locality in actions of global resistance.
My exposition of the oppression and immobility created by global neoliberalism grounds itself in the case of CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman of color from Minneapolis who was charged with second-degree manslaughter as a result of defending herself from an unprovoked, physically violent, and outwardly transphobic and racist attack on her person the night of June 5th, 2011. I particularly focus on the resulting backlash to CeCe’s sentence that, in radical communities especially, has primarily sought to expose how CeCe’s state-sanctioned oppression displays the connectivity of social issues defined in the 3rd-wave feminist concept of intersectionality, “an analytic technique for surfacing complexity and embeddedness” (Roskos 2004:131) that specifically analyzes “how social and cultural categories intertwine” (Knudsen n.d.:61). In this paper, I focus on a solidarity action with CeCe that was committed in Portland Oregon on Wednesday, June 6th, 2012; a Molotov cocktail was thrown through the window of a Wells Fargo branch in North Portland and a communiqué sent to the Portland Police Bureau and local news stations. Because this paper deals in conceptual landscapes and imagined communities (Anderson 2006), my analysis of the Wells Fargo Molotov and the black bloc tactic will remain primarily in the theoretical realm; I seek, first and foremost, to understand the theoretical work that black bloc and insurrectionary tactics do as well as the conceptual (read: mediatized) response that both have generated.
In her 2008 essay, “The Global Situation,” Anna Tsing clearly outlines the significance of critical terminology to understanding global political contexts—her analysis deeply engages the semantics and rhetoric that contribute to supporting institutions of globalization. Foundational to Tsing’s analysis is the concept of scale, which she defines in her 2005 book, Friction. Tsing writes, “Scale is the spatial dimensionality necessary for a particular kind of view, whether up close or from a distance, microscopic or planetary. I argue that scale is not just a neutral frame for viewing the world; scale must be brought into being: proposed, practiced, evaded…a ‘globalism’ is a commitment to the global” (58). As Tsing’s definition implies, notions of scale have great bearing on social and political configurations—“Contestants [in the definition of the ‘globe’] form themselves in shifting alliances, mobilized for reasons of power, passion, discipline, or dis-ease, mounting campaigns for particular configurations of scale” (Tsing 2008:67). In this way, scale is the cornerstone of a politics that takes place into account; scale is the imagination of conjoined, interpolated localities. This paper relies on scale because it allows for an understanding of global processes that is fundamentally constructed, shifting, and—when making claims at its own objective reality—entirely rhetorical.
Particularly, Tsing cites the concept of ‘circulation’ as being the fundamental rhetorical prop to politics of globalization; she specifically highlights the capitalist economic associations that ‘circulation’ evokes, writing: “‘Circulation’ is in global rhetoric what the ‘penetration’ of capitalism was in certain kinds of Marxist world-systems theory: the way powerful institutions and idea spread geographically and come to have an influence on certain places. The difference is significant; where penetration always evokes a kind of rape…circulation calls forth images of the healthy flow of blood in the body and the stimulating, evenhanded exchange of the marketplace” (Tsing 2008:75). In this excerpt, as in all rhetorical contexts, imagery and metaphor are everything; both Tsing’s argument and the arguments of theorists who use marketplace imagery positively rest on a presumed psychological response to the word “circulation” and its accompanying implications.
A crucial metaphor to be taken from Tsing’s analysis of globalization is the situating of a globalized world as a fundamentally economic one. Of course, this is also the model that Tsing fundamentally critiques. She writes,
Images of society as a market…assume a ‘level playing field’ of exchange that erases the inequalities of property and the processes of labor exploitation. Market models appear to be inclusive, but they privilege social actors who, because of their economic resources, are able to participate in markets…bourgeois governments and social institutions have promoted market thinking to naturalize class and other social distinctions. By training the attention of citizens on the equalities and opportunities of circulations and exchange, they justify policies of domination and discrimination. Recent endorsements of ‘global circulation’ as the process for making the future partake in the obfuscations of inequality for which market models are known (Tsing 2008:75).
It is within this analytical moment that my arguments rests, and from where it will develop—Tsing clearly shows that the work of rhetorical constructs in placemaking (Tsing 2008) have become essential to defining where the ‘field’ of anthropology (and by proxy, any locality) can be found… if it can be found at all. Jean and John Comaroff support this understanding; in “Ethnography on an Awkward Scale; Postcolonial Anthropology and the Violence of Abstraction” (2003), they write,
How – given that the objects of our gaze commonly elude, embrace, attenuate, transcend, transform, consume, and construct the local – do we arrive at a praxis for an age that seems… post-anthropological? Of an age in which we are called upon not to study in places at all, indeed not to trust ‘anthropological locations’, but rather to study the production of place? If we are not sure what ‘the field’ is [anymore]…? (151).
It is this question that my essay seeks to answer. I argue that we can rediscover the field in acts of resistance to globalization.
Similarly, Paul Routledge articulates the possibility of rediscovering place and space—of redefining the field as a locally situated and grounded place—in his 2003 essay, “Convergence Space: Process Geographies of Grassroots Globalization Movements.” Routledge contends with Hardt & Negri’s assertion that “the emerging global economic system [which they term] ‘Empire’ [is] … ‘a decentered, deterritorializing apparatus of imperial control.’ Characterized by an absence of boundaries, they argue that there is no place of power – constituted by networks, it is both everywhere and nowhere, a non-place” (Routledge 2003:334). By proxy, Hardt & Negri also assert that, “resistance must [in turn] create a non-place—everywhere and nowhere—from where alternatives to Empire are posed” (Hardt & Negri 2000:205-18). But in response Routledge notes, “geopolitical and geoeconomic power does get territorialized in certain places. For example, the United States… The problem with this formula is that it ignores the geographical contexts and contingencies of political action…pos[ing] resistance as practicing a reactive politics that mirrors ‘Empire’, rather than articulating a different kind of spatial politics” (Routledge 2003:334). Here Routledge acknowledges the same fact that supporters of CeCe McDonald—and particularly those that have been taking direct political action in solidarity with her—seek to convey: that power, even when decentralized, still has direct and concretely situated effects.
The details of CeCe’s case support this assertion. On June 5th, 2011, a white man and woman named Dean Schmitz and Molly Flaherty verbally and physically assaulted CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman of color, outside of a bar in Minneapolis. Their attacks were fueled by racism and transphobia—the attack was entirely unprovoked. CeCe’s attempts to protect her own life resulted in the death of Schmitz, CeCe’s primary aggressor, and as a result CeCe was initially charged with murder in the second degree. CeCe’s case has become of interest to radical communities due both to the obvious injustice of her sentence and to the clear role that institutionally sanctioned forms of oppression, such as the racism and transmisogyny evident in the perimeters of CeCe’s trial and sentence, have had in bringing her predicament to bear.
For purposes of clarity, the following is an account of the attack and its’ aftermath. This description can be found at SupportCeCe.wordpress.com, a website created by CeCe’s community in Minneapolis. The website is dedicated to accurately telling CeCe’s story:
There are varied accounts of what happened on June 5, but CeCe and the people she was with all agree on the following details. Around 12:30 am, CeCe was walking to the grocery store with some friends, all of them young, African American, and either queer or allied. As they passed a local bar, the Schooner Tavern, a group of older, white people who were standing outside the bar’s side door began hurling racist and transphobic slurs at them, without provocation. They called CeCe and her friends ‘faggots,’ ‘niggers,’ and ‘chicks with dicks,’ and suggested that CeCe was ‘dressed as a woman’ in order to ‘rape’ Dean Schmitz, one of the attackers. When CeCe approached the group and told them that her crew would not tolerate hate speech, one of the women said, “I’ll take you bitches on,” and then smashed her glass into CeCe’s face. She punctured CeCe’s cheek all the way through, lacerating her salivary gland. A fight ensued, during which one of the attackers, Dean Schmitz, was fatally stabbed.
The only person arrested that night was CeCe. She is now being falsely accused of murder.
…CeCe’s friends have faced harassment on the street by people they recognized from the scene of the fight that took place on the night of June 5. Individuals circled the block that CeCe’s friends were walking on and called them ‘niggers’ and ‘faggots’ and told them to ‘go back to Africa.’ When they attempted to wave down a passing squad car for assistance, the officer driving the car said he would not help them (SupportCeCe 2012).
In a final caveat, “The Department of Corrections has not determined where McDonald will spend the remainder of her sentence, but it is likely that she will go to one of Minnesota’s men’s prisons… [CeCe] has been held in a men’s facility for the past year, and twice been sent to solitary confinement against her will” (SupportCeCe 2012).
On Monday, June 4th, 2012 a verdict was finally reached: “CeCe was sentenced to a 41-month prison term by Judge Daniel Moreno. Although she initially faced two charges of second degree murder, on May 4th she accepted a plea agreement to a reduced charge of second degree manslaughter due to negligence” (SupportCeCe 2012), and it was decided that CeCe would be held in the men’s section of the Minnesota Corrections Facility in St. Cloud. CeCe’s response to this decision speaks directly to the aptly politicized nature of her case; her blog states: “Prison sucks. Period. CeCe is not safe in any prison, women’s or men’s. Prisons are not safe for anyone. Period… For now, CeCe is fine being in a men’s facility. For supporters to push for her to be transferred from one hell to another only serves the purpose of misdirecting energy away from the real problems of incarceration in the U.S., and the problem of the Prison Industrial Complex as a whole” (SupportCeCe 2012). Both CeCe and her supporters are acutely aware that the forces subjugating her are systemically sanctioned in a context that extends beyond prisons in the United States.
Local responses to the sentencing were quick and impassioned; “On the night of June 4th, hours after CeCe’s sentencing, supporters took to the streets outside the Hennepin County Jail and staged a noise demonstration so that CeCe–and others incarcerated in the jail–could hear them inside. Leslie Feinberg, renowned transgender activist and author of Stone Butch Blues and Trans Liberation, was arrested in solidarity with CeCe. Leslie is currently being held in the Hennepin County Jail on probable cause for property destruction” (SupportCeCe 2012).
Actions were expediently taken across the country as well. On the morning of Wednesday, June 6th, 2012, “A Wells Fargo bank branch manager in Portland, Oregon discovered a broken window and an unlit Molotov cocktail inside the building… An anonymous message posted on an anarchist website took responsibility for the action they called a small gesture of solidarity with CeCe McDonald, the young black transgender woman the state of Minnesota has said will initialy [sic] incarcerate as a male” (Rivas 2012). It is believed that Wells Fargo was specifically attacked as a response to its recent investment in private prisons.
Despite, or rather because of, its role as one of the leading sub-prime mortgage lenders prior to the 2008 crash in the housing market, [Wells Fargo] was handed $37 billion from the U.S. government… Flush with billions in bailout money…Wells Fargo has been busy expanding its stake in the GEO Group, the second largest private jailer in America…[and] a driving force behind the push for ever-tougher sentences is the for-profit prison industry, in which Wells Fargo is [now] a major investor. At the end of 2011, Wells Fargo was the company’s second-largest investor, holding 4.3 million shares valued at more than $72 million. By March 2012, [Wells Fargo’s] stake [in GEO] had grown to more than 4.4 million shares worth $86.7 million (Davis 2012).
The following communiqué was submitted to Anarchistnews.org on the same day as the Portland Molotov was discovered, and an excerpt reads as follows:
As a small gesture of solidarity with CeCe, and all others who suffer under the hand of the racist, trans-misogynist capitalist state, a Molotov cocktail has been tossed through a large window of a Wells Fargo in Portland, Oregon late last night. The flaming bottle flew easily through the window spewing fire and glass into the building, a delightful and brief escape from the monotony of the endless spectacle.
Banks like Wells Fargo continue to profit and flourish at the expense of people like CeCe, funding the police and prison industrial complex which protect banks’ interest and profit through brute social control. Capital is such filth!
Solidarity also to those experiencing political repression here in Portland, by petty cops and worthless detectives who look to old cases and insubstantial evidence in order to make examples of our comrades. And still, you pigs remain helpless in the face of our actions against you and the property you try to protect.
QUEERS MAKE TOTAL DESTROY!!
…AND THEY WERE RIGHT — (A)TTACKING IS SO EASY! (anon 2012).
In continuation of his response to Hardt & Negri’s advocation of tactics that seek to create ‘non-places,’ Paul Routledge writes, “in this paper I will argue that, rather than constituting a ‘non-place’ of resistance, grassroots globalization networks forge an associational politics that constitute a diverse, contested coalition of place-specific social movements, which prosecute conflict on a variety of multi-scalar terrains that include both material places and virtual spaces” (Routledge 2003:334). More than anything, a clear reflection of this idea is what can be seen in the June 6th response to CeCe’s 41-month sentencing. By centering their anger and frustration on a specific Wells Fargo location – rather than, say, taking to the streets in a general protest of Wells Fargo – the people who acted in solidarity with CeCe effectively created a convergencespace; a visible “affirmation of the importance of the politics of scale” (Routledge 2003:335) that still speaks with visceral clarity to the physical reality of CeCe’s predicament. The Wells Fargo at 5723 NW Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is now an icon, an embodied signifier of not only the geopolitical impact of neoliberalism and the oppressive biopower that has resulted from actions taken to further globalization, but also the deep disdain for and commitment to the destruction of all three on the part of globalization’s dissidents.
Significantly, this triplicate message is actually the sub-layer of signified communication in the case of the Wells Fargo Molotov; as has been stated numerous times, the primary intent of the attack was to locate the aforementioned global forces of neoliberalism and biopower as institutionally reinforced aggressors against CeCe, and to directly express solidarity with her as a subject of assault on the part of the State. In an email to KGW, a local Portland news station, that was also sent on Wednesday, June 6th, the agents who committed the attack explain:
Wells Fargo stands as an easy target, funding the prison industrial complex along with the policing and judicial system which uphold the banking system and its profits… With such institutionalized corruption forcing beautiful queers like CeCe through such immense hardship, attacking these institutions directly is a small but necessary gesture. Just as the police attack our comrades to reify their position of power, we queers and dissenters attack back to assert just the opposite — that police and state control is illusionary (Rollins 2012).
In this message, CeCe’s comrades make clear their understanding of a fundamental structure that Routledge neatly articulates; that “the emergent phase of ‘roll-out neoliberalism’…is witnessing an aggressive intervention by governments around issues such as crime, policing, welfare reform and urban surveillance with the purpose of disciplining and containing those marginalized or dispossessed by the neoliberalism of the 1980s” (Routledge 2003:334). Simply, both Routledge and those responsible for the June 6th Molotov action recognize that “Neoliberal policies have resulted in the pauperization and marginalization of indigenous peoples, women, peasant farmers and industrial workers and a reduction in labor, social and environmental conditions on a global basis” (emphasis mine, Routledge 2003:334), and CeCe’s supporters recognize her penalization as the direct result of the increased State surveillance and repression as it has been engendered by the security culture that is a direct result of globalism as Tsing defines it.
Incredibly, the response of CeCe’s supporters produced tangible results: Wells Fargo withdrew its participation from the upcoming Portland Pride Parade as a result of the June 6th Molotov. KPTV, the local Portland branch of Fox News, wrote of the incident: “Wells Fargo Bank won’t be participating in this year’s Portland Pride Parade because of safety concerns, a company spokesman confirmed Friday. The decision comes just two days after vandalism at a Wells Fargo Bank branch on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard…A Wells Fargo spokesman said the company doesn’t want to put employees at risk of assault or the company’s replica stagecoach at risk of vandalism during the parade” (Fox 12 Webstaff 2012). In the event of Wells Fargo’s withdrawal from Pride, a solidarity action involving property destruction had a huge ripple affect that was widely celebrated in radical spaces. The withdrawal was a victory and the tactic a success because it prevented Wells Fargo from enacting a semiotic gesture designed specifically to elide the large-scale economic injustices that Wells Fargo is widely known to be guilty of committing.
However, many people and media sources find it incredibly difficult to understand or recognize solidarity when it is accompanied by physical force. Given that anarchists took credit for the Molotov thrown in solidarity with CeCe, the attack has been associated with a tactic known a black bloc, in which
Individuals wear black clothing, scarves, ski masks, motorcycle helmets with padding, or other face-concealing items. The clothing is used to conceal marchers’ identities, allow them to appear as one large unified mass, and promote solidarity. The tactic was developed in the 1980s in the European autonomist movement’s protests against squatter evictions, nuclear power and restrictions on abortion among other things. Black blocs gained broader media attention outside Europe during the1999 anti-WTO demonstrations, when a black bloc damaged property of GAP, Starbucks, Old Navy, and other multinational retail locations in downtown Seattle (Young 2001).
In a widely critiqued article, “The Cancer in Occupy” (2012), journalist Chris Hedges describes “The Black Bloc anarchists” as being “the cancer of the Occupy movement…[and] a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state… They confuse acts of petty vandalism and a repellent cynicism with revolution…[and] any group that seeks to rebuild social structures, especially through nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, rather than physically destroy, becomes, in the eyes of Black Bloc anarchists, the enemy.” Many believe that black blocs are a direct threat to the mobility, freedom, and safety offered by liberal governments and must be ousted from radical politics. For this reason, I will be using the analysis of Fritz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth written by A.K. Thompson in his 2010 book, Black Bloc, White Riot, to query the notions of solidarity implicit in physically destructive solidarity actions and exemplified in the Portland reaction to CeCe McDonald’s sentencing in an attempt to show the affective work that black bloc actions do on the imagined spaces created by agents of globalization, such as Wells Fargo.
In Black Bloc, White Riot Thompson specifically addresses the place of the white middle class activist in anti-globalization struggles; Thompson “argues that the anti-globalization movement constitute(s) an attempt by white activists to reconnect with political—and, hence, human—being” (Thompson 2010:back jacket). However, before proceeding it must be asserted that the race, gender and class statae of CeCe’s June 6th supporters cannot and must not be assumed. Thus, my use of Thompson will contend primarily with the way in which CeCe’s Portland solidarity action and many other black bloc-oriented and/or militant insurrectionary actions interface with the imagined spaces, temporalities, and motilities proffered by global neoliberalism, particularly those created by the media.
In “The Coming Catastrophe,” Thompson presents a caricature of the white, middle-class activist, as many know him. After what Thompson characterizes as being a fundamental failure in the part of anti-globalization to protest the World Trade Organization’s 1999 meeting in Montreal, many felt that “The urge to destroy…could not be confused with the more important work of organizing…and [that] the focus on ‘tactics’ that had pervaded the movement had the fundamental weakness of self-absorption. What could the violent temper-tantrum of a black-clad punk bent on smashing a window mean to someone with real problems?” (Thompson 2010:131-2). It is here that Thompson’s analysis intersects with that of Routledge, Tsing, and the supporters of CeCe McDonald—the communiqué submitted with the Wells Fargo Molotov clearly states that the action was fundamentally an act of personal resolution enacted to communicate a disdain that resonates across multiple social and economic scales.
It is in the idea of violently communicated dissent that Thompson’s critique of Fanon rests; Thompson writes,
In The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon draws an explicit connection between the capacity to produce social change through violence and acquiring what (following Aimé Cesairé) he calls a human soul. Through violence, Fanon’s colonized undergo a dramatic transformation in which they cease to be objects at the mercy of historical circumstance and become history’s privileged actors. At the moment of this transformation, the colonized come to embody historical contradictions within their own person and make decisions based on these contradictions. Here, the measure of the human soul is its capacity to decide… This process of becoming is not an abstract appeal to untapped human potential. It does not require a normative assumption about what it means to be human to operate. Instead, it begins from where the colonized begin and initially takes the forms of a refusal (emphasis mine, Thompson 2010:136-7).
Here, Thompson clearly situates those affected by global neoliberalism in any way—a category that includes not only white middle class males, but any person who is subject to a State—as being part of an oppressed class that shares a fundamental struggle with all people who have the “real problems” that concerned the critics of the direct action that occurred in Montreal in 1999.
Thompson’s use of Fanon is bold; indeed, a review of Black Bloc, White Riot by Geoff Bylinkin in Perspectives, an anarchist literary review, reads:
[Fanon] argued about the transformative and liberatory power of force and militancy within the context of a brutal and violent system of colonial oppression of Black and Third World people. The idea that this is easily related to the theatrical pseudo-violence of white punk rockers breaking Starbucks windows seems dubious. In the context of a North American settler colonial societies whose very existence is based on the colonization and genocide of indigenous people, and, in the case of the United States, chattel slavery and apartheid, the application of Fanon to the black bloc seems confused and not rooted in the material conditions and real history that Fanon always addressed (Bylinkin 2011:70).
A reading of Thompson’s usage of Fanon in consideration of the notion of solidarity in the face of globality redeems it; as Bylinkin accuses Thompson of neglecting “material conditions and real history,” he also seems to be forgetting the rhetoric and conditions that ground contemporary political actions. In a globalized world, power no longer acknowledges that there exist categorically unique local domains, and this is precisely the problem—under the auspices of globalization the world is falsely rendered boundariless. Marcelle Maese-Cohen quotes Gyatri Spivak in her 2010 essay, “Toward Planetary Decolonial Feminisms”: “I propose the planet to overwrite the globe. Globalization is the imposition the same system of exchange everywhere. […] The globe is in our computers. No one lives there. [… But] if we imagine ourselves as planetary subjects rather than global agents, planetary creatures rather than global entities, alterity remains underived from us” (13). Again, the significance of rhetoric in combating (and defining) globalization is brought to the fore.
It is possible that, in specific contexts, there is a rhetorically “wrong” way to display political anger. However, the idea of an effective instance of social Becoming via rebellion by tactical force, such as that defined by Fanon, cannot be thrown away simply because it is taking place outside of an explicitly colonial context. Maese-Cohen writes,
That many worlds are possible because there are many epistemologies is an understanding of difference that moves beyond the personal or cultural and instead views alterity as a heterogenous source for strategic responses to oppression. As Chela Sandoval explains, “If we are courageous enough to legitimate this multiplicity of tactical approaches as valid, our movement will be less likely to oppress its own people through the forcing of certain ‘correct’ political lines. What U.S. third world feminists are calling for is a new subjectivity, a political revision that denies any one perspective as the only answer, but instead posits a shifting tactical and strategic subjectivity that has the capacity to re-center depending on the forms of oppression to be confronted” (Maese-Cohen 2010:14).
In the case of CeCe McDonald, the Portlanders who used physical force to express solidarity with her were absolutely proclaiming alterity in the manner described above, using their action as a voice to participate in the same kind of scale-making that Tsing cites as being fundamental to that which defines the very notion of the ‘globe.’
Solidarity is what connects supporters of CeCe’s cause with their own concerns—that draws the feelings of CeCe’s advocates to the ground and connects their actions both with the conceptual spaces of globalization and the very real locales of Portland and Minneapolis. Solidarity indexes tangible spaces through which actions and actors flow, with ‘flow’ being “a movement stimulated through political and economic channels” (Tsing 2008:76). Solidarity actions are scale-making flows in themselves, “not just interconnections but also the recarving of channels and the remapping of possibilities of geography” (66).
Thus, when seen through an anthropological lens, the actions of CeCe’s supporters and all who protest the deleterious consequences of globalization—actions which often take the form of physically aggressive political measures—constitute intentionally disruptive flows that seek fundamentally to redefine scales of value in a context of resistance that is rapidly developing into a planetary community. In these recarved channels (Tsing 2008:66), bodies are being privileged over capital, and life over production. As technology allows for greater communication, boundaries are indeed being breached—but in radical circles they are not being erased. Rather, each community brings to bear “alternative modes of liberation—modes that…bear the traces of nonhegemonic or subaltern thinking, the survival of which evinces simultaneously the constitutive underside of modernity and the possibility of other worlds. The ‘otherness’ of these worlds must…be understood as an epistemic diversity” (Maese-Cohen 2010:14). Thus, difference and similarity coexist fluidly in communities of resistance with the understanding that each serves it’s own function; supporting difference reaffirms groups’ unique identity, while accentuating similarity enables collective vocalization and the enhanced embodiment of force. Without the affirmation of difference—and, by proxy, place—collective support falls apart, for particular communities often get neither their needs met nor their voices heard.
CeCe is unquestionably being oppressed…and although her oppression is taking place on a different scale from both that of Thompson’s “black-clad punks” or Fanon’s dissidents, all have been forced to contend on some level with the intense biopower wielded by States, corporations, and international organizations. Of course this difference of scale must be recognized and acknowledged, but Fanon’s definition of oppression—as being the circumstantial inability to make free decisions based on rational choice due to subjection by force—applies to subjects of governments defined by a commitment to the ‘global’ rather than the local. As Anna Tsing notes, the effacement of place, of locality, in planetary discourse is what enables the perpetuation of market-driven flows and governmental models that fundamentally privilege certain actors while systematically veiling and neglecting the needs of others. Thus, reckoning with oppression is not only what ties together communities of solidarity in the face of globalization’s homogenizing force, but also what makes evident the systematic denial of need and disparity endemic to globalizing governments. A scalar understanding of planetary organization and an anthropological approach to navigating conceptually constituted social processes and zones are what enable an understanding of the characteristics uniting communities oppressed by globalization—as well as the necessity of reading contemporary direct action as a tangible reaction to global oppressions on a local scale. Analyzing these intentionally situated responses to globalization as they unfold is what will return anthropology to the field.
2012 “Queer Attack Squadron: CeCe Solidarity Molotov (Portland).”
solidarity-molotov-portland>. Accessed 7/8/12.
2011 “Writing Resistance: Team Colors Collective’s Uses of a Whirlwind and A.K.
Thompson’s Black Bloc, White Riot.” Perspectives. New York: Institute for
Comaroff, John & Jean
2003 “Ethnography on an Awkward Scale; Postcolonial Anthropology and the
Violence of Abstraction.” Ethnography, June(4):147-179.
2012 “Wells Fargo’s Prison Cash Cow.” Salon.com,
1976 History of Sexuality: Vol. 1. Paris: Editions Gallimard.
Fox 12 Webstaff,
2012 “Wells Fargo won’t participate in gay pride parade after vandalism.”
Portland-bank-157513145.html>. Accessed 7/10/12.
2012 “The Cancer in Occupy.” Truthdig.com, <http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_cancer_of_occupy_20120206/>. Accessed 7/7/12.
Knudsen, Suzanne V.
n.d. “Intersectionality - A Theoretical Inspiration in the Analysis of Minority
Cultures and Identities in Textbooks.” Electronic document,
http://www.caen.iufm.fr/colloque_iartem/pdf/knudsen.pdf. Accessed 7/12/12.
2010 “Toward Planetary Decolonial Feminisms.” Qui Parle, 18(2):3-27.
2012 “Portland Bank Targeted Over Transgender Case.” KGW.com,
bank-157513145.html>. Accessed 7/8/12.
2004 “From the Center to the Margins: The Radicalization of Human Rights in the
United States.” Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, 4(2):129-133.
2003 “Convergence Space: Process Geographies of Grassroots Globalization
Networks.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 28(3):333-49.
2012 Oxford English Dictionary Online.
<http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/solidarity>. Accessed 7/10/12.
2012. <supportcece.wordpress.com>. Accessed on 7/8/12.
2010 Black Bloc, White Riot. Oakland: A.K. Press.
2005 Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton
2008 “The Global Situatuion.” Inda & Renato Rosaldo eds. The Anthropology of
Globalization: A Reader. Second Edition. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing.
Young, Daniel Dylan
2001 “Autonomia and the Origin of the Black Bloc.” A – Infos,
<http://www.ainfos.ca/01/jun/ainfos00170.html>. Accessed 7/25/12.
 This phrase implicitly references Benedict Anderson’s notion of imagined community (Anderson 2006), with particular relevance to Anderson’s description of linear time’s role in shaping globalizing nations as imagined communities: “The idea of a sociological organism moving calendrically through homogenous, empty time is a precise analog of the idea of the nation…a solid community moving steadily up (or down) history” (2006:26).
 The recent “explosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies and the control of populations” (Foucault 1976:140).
 The use of gendered language is intentional; Thompson also devotes a chapter, “You Can’t Do Gender in a Riot,” to the radical potentiality of binary gender-smashing inherent in black bloc actions, and in doing so acknowledges that the stereotypical presentation of black bloc participants as being irrefutably masculine if not actually male.