The Renewing the Anarchist Tradition (RAT) conference, sponsored by the Institute for Anarchist Studies, aims to provide a participatory and scholarly space in which to reexamine, reinvigorate, and make relevant the social and political tradition of anarchism.
Each year, RAT brings together anarchists, anti-authoritarians, and libertarian leftists who want to critically engage both the tradition itself and the world in which we live. Participants and presenters at the conference thereby contribute to developing a more rigorous contemporary theoretical framework for anarchism as well as a stronger basis from which anti-authoritarian movements can organize and resist.
In a historical moment characterized overwhelmingly by war, exploitation, forced displacement, dispossession, and environmental devastation, it might seem strange to spend a peaceful fall weekend in conversation with friends and comrades in Vermont. But the IAS believes that the contemporary context makes it more important than ever to foster a space in which to collectively and honestly appraise the strengths as well as weaknesses of different anarchist practices, platforms, convictions, dogmas, truisms, and theories in helping anarchists and like-minded radicals to understand and ultimately transform the layered systems of domination and oppression that structure it. The IAS also sees RAT as a place to discuss and share theoretical tools from beyond the anarchist tradition(s) that can add to building more sustainable social movements and practices, and eventually a world characterized by freedom, justice, and dignity for all.
RAT aims to nurture and support a new generation of anti-authoritarian public intellectuals from different backgrounds and experiences. So when RAT is described as "a scholarly conference," the IAS is referring to a quality of the presentations and discussions--not to some professional identity of the participants. You do not have to be an academic to attend or present at RAT. All you have to do is be ready to actively participate in the conversations and debates, as peers who are creating the conference space together. In the past, RAT has served as a forum for organizers, scholars, writers, artists, educators, publishers, and students from a range of anarchist and libertarian left tendencies to come together to engage in challenging yet respectful dialogue. Participants have observed that RAT offers a distinctive social environment in which long-term conversations and relationships between anti-authoritarians from various places and political contexts can be built.
At previous conferences, presenters have proposed topics that ranged from the character of social change to the ongoing relevance of categories such as class, community, and labor; from the changing shape of the state and capital to emergent forms of both domination and resistance in a globalizing world; from the character of twenty-first-century technology to the functions and potentials of anti-authoritarian art and propaganda; and from anarchism's relation to geopolitical concerns such as terrorism and war to its ability to grapple with issues of identity such as race, gender, and sexuality.
For the archives of past RAT conferences, including the full program description for each, see:
Renewing the Anarchist Tradition Archives