1 July 2020

The SG Showcase is a series of interviews with the PSA's Specialist Groups, explaining what they do and why - and how you can get involved. In this edition, we hear from the Anarchist Studies Network Specialist Group.

Meet the team

The ASN has a new committee, effective June 2020

Jordi Maiz Chacon, medieval history, economics, social minorities and historiography (UNED Balearic Islands), co-convenor.

Laurence Davis, political theory, ideology (University College Cork) co-convenor

Benjamin Franks, political theory, applied ethics, social research (University of Glasgow) membership

Alex Prichard, political theory, international relations theory (University of Exeter), co-convenor

Thomas Swann, organisation theory, political economy, cybernetics (Loughborough University), co-convenor

Elizabeth Vasileva, political philosophy, postanarchism, ethics (independent) co-convenor.

The new committee would like to express their gratitude to the outgoing convenors, Ruth Kinna, Uri Gordon and Alex Christoyannopoulos, for their work over the last few years.


What are the aims of your Specialist Group?

The formal aims are to ‘co-ordinate and promote the re-investigation of anarchism as a social praxis’. We use ‘re-investigation’ because anarchy is usually represented as a condition of disorder in mainstream political theory and international relations theory. The inclusion of ‘social praxis’ highlights the group’s commitment to work with groups and individuals working outside HE who consider themselves anarchist. ASN members are not principally interested in ‘outreach’ but in co-production and learning from third sector organisations, sharing and exchanging knowledge. The biennial conferences (since 2010) and other specialist group events are the principle vehicles for this dialogue, regularly attracting 150-200 participants. In addition, the ASN maintains a website and an informal online chat space that enables researchers to access help and advice, exchange ideas and promote and publicise research initiatives. Since its foundation in 2008, ASN has stimulated a substantial body of research with specialist and well-known academic publishers and in a range of journals, including Political Studies and British Journal of International Studies.

The Anarchist Studies Network is a support network for people working on, or incorporating in their work, the field of anarchism in its many forms. We encourage the study of anarchism within academia by building links between scholars across subject areas, as well as groups located outside the official sphere of academia, including those formed for activism and public intellectual life. We support collaboration and the creation of an inclusive space to share ideas, thoughts, and research. We also aim to foster an interdisciplinary dialogue between anarchists and other scholars.


What activities do you undertake as a group?

ASN hosts a variety of events and activities. The biennial Anarchist Studies Network conference is our flagship event which attracts people from all over the world. The conference is a focal point for many scholars to share new research, present ideas or simply meet like-minded people in convivial settings. The conference actively supports early-career or underfunded participants with grants and is committed to working on inclusion and dismantling structures of power within the space. We also organise smaller workshops and research activities lead by our members, notably through the PSA’s annual conferences. Our members actively contribute to an informal blog for more accessible anarchist writings (https://anarchiststudies.noblogs.org) and share knowledge and best practice through online discussions.

The ASN is an international research network. Affiliated with the with the North American Anarchist Studies Network, it promotes interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches to politics. Members conduct research in political theory, political philosophy, ideology, history of ideas, gender studies, international relations, utopian studies and social movements research as well as in cognate fields: anthropology, sociology, psychology, geography, transnational history and critical management and organisational theory. Working with the PSA, members have produced two iterations of the Anarchism Teachers’ Topic Guide and contributed to consultations on ‘A’ level politics curriculum changes.

With success in consecutive Pushing the Boundaries competitions ASN has forged links with TRISE (Transnational Institute of Social Ecology), a hub for activist academics interested in democratization, urban politics, ecology, education and training, and promoted innovative community-led research. In 2019 ASN supported the Warzone Dialectogram Project. This involved the display of an ethnographic, visual map of the Belfast social centre, Warzone Collective, an anti-sectarian initiative that had been working for 30 years to bridge ethnic, social and religious divides in Northern Ireland, evicted in 2018 to make way for flats.


How can new members get involved or find out more?

There are two websites. The PSA website /specialist-groups/anarchist-studies is used to advertise group events. The ASN website https://anarchiststudiesnetwork.org/ serves the entire group and has reading lists, information about research, links to other anarchist research institutes and publishers as well as events. ASN is on facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/2401584783

To join the ASN members list, contact Benjamin Franks (b.franks@glasgow.ac.uk). Information is available on the PSA Anarchism Specialist Group website.



And finally...

The 6th International Conference of the Anarchist Studies Network will be held in collaboration with Nottingham University Business School from 2 – 4th September. ASN conferences aim to broach new frontiers in anarchist scholarship and encourage cross-pollination between disciplines. The central theme for this conference is Anarchy in Crisis. Given the circumstances, the conference will most likely be held online. Please keep an eye on our website for updates and how to participate.