2016 IAS Writing Grants

We would like to congratulate four recipients of IAS writing grants for 2016. We chose these four out of sixty-two applications. They are: Henna Rasanen, writing Weltuntergang: A Queer Post-Apocalyptic Graphic Novel; Jeremey Louzao, writing “The Friendly Neighborhood Anarchist: Embracing the Groundwork that Makes Revolutions Possible;” Mona Luxion, writing “#Printemps2015: Lessons from Québec’s Stunted Anarchist Anti-Austerity Mobilization;” and Toshio Meronek, writing “They Won’t Quit: LAGAI Queer Insurrection.” Congrats! Our next deadline to apply for a writing grant is January 15th, 2017. Go here to apply for a grant.

Henna Räsänen is a queer femme Berlin-based political comic artist and illustrator and worked as an editor for two political comic anthologies: Sikala – Comics on Factory Farming and On The Way To Peace, targeting governmental structures of violence. Henna draws regular cartoons for the feminist magazine Tulva (Finland), as well as strip comics for Ubik Magazine (Finland) and is part of the Finnish Femicomix network. Henna hosts comic workshops on queer norms, and has self-published two issues of A Hypothetical Love Triangle comic zine.

Henna’s project is titled, WELTUNTERGANG: A Queer Post-Apocalyptic Graphic Novel 

WELTUNTERGANG narrates the end of the world, told from an anarchist and queer perspective, set in the surprisingly lively ruins of Berlin, Germany. It follows on a small group of queers, scavenging and surviving a few years after the collapse. The graphic novel focuses on issues affecting especially the queer community, while simultaneously speaking to a broader audience, creating a world, in which queer protagonists are not singled out, while specific queer issues come to importance. Dealing with community building and consensus decision-making strategies as a part of survival, Weltuntergang comments on the actual, alarming political landscape of North-Europe. Through the characters’ intersectional portrayals of various genders, races, classes, body types, abilities, ages and backgrounds, the novel employs dark, prickly humor, and like dystopian sci fi often does, uses fiction to comment on our world; from today’s North-European closure of its borders to the rise of the right-wing in the author’s native country, Finland.
Jeremy Louzao is a long-time anarchist organizer in the Seattle area, partaking in global justice affinity groups, collective community info-shops, anti-violence support groups, youth empowerment non-profits, Guatemalan ex-guerrilla communities, and most recently focusing on high school teaching and school reform work.

His project is called “The Friendly Neighborhood Anarchist: Embracing the Groundwork that Makes Revolutions Possible”
Anarchism’s “beautiful ideal” has remained woefully underdeveloped as a sustained, strategic orientation for mass-based social struggle on the ground. Anarchism so often remains a mild contributor, a sort of token sidekick to revolutionary movements–rarely getting a stage to strut its full strategic stuff. This project will argue that contemporary antiauthoritarian currents have tremendous potential to break from stale and rigid models of organizing and to actually build a winning mass politics, by embodying a uniquely humble, yet strategic anarchist disposition toward radical groundwork. It will explore in-depth 1) how radicals can personally embrace uniquely antiauthoritarian approaches to mass work: as listeners, accomplices, connectors, educators, and cheerleaders, and 2) how we can solidify that mass work into actual popular power through expressly non-cadre forms of mass organization.
Mona Luxion is a white settler living in Montreal/Tio’tia:ke, where they are a PhD candidate, and organizes against militarism and capitalism in various forms. Born and raised in Chicago, Mona’s introduction to movement politics came through anti-imperial and environmental justice struggles in the early 2000s. Today, they can often be found preserving food with their roommates, facilitating workshops and working to reconcile struggles for necessary public services and infrastructure with anti-state, antiauthoritarian politics.

Luxion’s project is called “#Printemps2015: Lessons from Québec’s Stunted Anarchist Anti-austerity Mobilization” 
Looking at the efforts to spark a broad-based social movement in opposition to the austerity budgets (politique déficit zéro) by Québec’s Liberal government in 2014, this essay will draw on interviews with movement organizers as well as seasoned activists who remained on the sidelines in order to understand the aims and aspirations of the mobilization and why, despite widespread opposition to austerity across Québec society, the campaign failed to mobilize sustained large-scale participation. “#Printemps2015” will investigate the impact of the specter of Québec’s massive student-led popular uprising in 2012 on organizing in 2014-15, and the use of rhetoric highlighting the effects of austerity budgets on a wide variety of issues. The lessons of #printemps2015 are likely to be useful for other movement-building efforts, offering both a source of inspiration and a critique of the ways in which solidarity and intersectionality are practiced in North American anarchist organizing communities that are predominantly young, white, and university-adjacent.
Toshio Meronek is an independent journalist focusing on politics, the Bay Area, disability, LGBT/queer issues, and prisons. He covers Silicon Valley for TruthOut, and has also reported for Al JazeeraIn These Times, and The Nation. His work has appeared in several anthologies—most recently in Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex (AK Press, 2015)

Toshio’s project is tentatively titled, “They Won’t Quit: LAGAI Queer Insurrection”

Plenty of flash-in-the-pan radical organizations have emerged for short periods only to dissolve quickly into the ether. Many have laid groundwork for future antiauthoritarian justice activism, but few have had the staying power of the San Francisco Bay Area’s LAGAI—Queer Insurrection. Taking on often-unpopular but critical political positions, its comrades have popularized direct actions around the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian liberation; shut down the Golden Gate bridge to spotlight the AIDS crisis; and produced the longest-running prisoner-focused newspaper in the US, UltraViolet. Today’s activists have much to learn from LAGAI’s members, which include both lovers and frenemies, and people all over the gender spectrum. This project will attempt to figure out what extraordinary factors have led the group to thrive and stay true to its radical roots over multiple generations.