Last December was a busy time at the State Violence Research Network. At the time facilitated just by Philip and myself, the 2019 conference CFP had just closed and we were frantically reading abstract submissions and planning out the provisional programme. This month is different. We’re just as busy dealing with greater number of abstract submissions, but we are joined by four incredible Working Group facilitators, some of whom have organised their own conference panels, and who are helping to grow the network, develop new initiatives, and take the SVRN to the next level.
On Wednesday December 11, we held the first facilitators meeting, which brought the six of us together in one room (one of us via video link) to discuss the direction of the network and the working groups, and new initiatives the keep the network growing. I’m happy to announce three new plans right here, right now!
TL;DR – The SVRN now runs a Discord server, which you can join by clicking here and opening an account. This is the first port of call for all Working Group discussions and projects.
One of the big discussions we had during the meeting concerned our working groups, and how to make sure they are working as well as can be. The working groups were set up as a means of expanding the network by appealing to more specific research and activist interests, and as a means of decentralising control of the network away from just the core facilitators. We are happy that the working groups have begun this process, but we feel the use of a Discord server as the centre of SVRN communication and discussion is the next step in helping these groups reach their full potential.
We have chosen Discord for a number of reasons. First, it’s free for us to run and for you to take part in, which is a huge bonus. Second, it stops the facilitators being the hub at the centre of a wheel, with working group members being forced to communicate with each other through the facilitator. You will see on the Discord that each WG has its own channel, where members can speak, discuss, and participate freely, without the mediation of a facilitator. As such, new projects, events, and discussions should be easier to take part in and contribute to, and this will put more power in the hands of members.
Finally, the Discord also features a discussion channel for the SVRN facilitators. We have chosen to keep this channel public so the network retains its commitment to transparency and the avoidance of hierarchy as much as possible. Feel free to see the discussions going on and to contribute and make suggestions for the direction you’d like to see the SVRN go.
The SVRN prides itself on being a non-traditional academic network. The use of a Discord server for all members and collaborators is one of our attempts to model how networks can be run, and we hope you’ll join us there in showing how this can work to the benefit of all.
TL;DR – The SVRN is launching a podcast. While this won’t replace the SVRN Blog, it provides another means by which we can promote the work of our members and collaborators, encouraging greater interaction between the network and the public.
The discussions surrounding the use of a Discord server focused on how to encourage greater interaction and engagement between the network, its membership, and the wider activist and academic communities. While we think the Discord is a primary way of doing this, we have also taken on board suggestions from a number of people that a podcast is a very effective way of highlighting the work and activism our membership is engaged in, as well as raising the profile of the network outside its current reach.
To that end, we will be launching an SVRN podcast in the new year, which will feature interviews and discussions with our members, collaborators, and activist groups. We don’t have an exact date for when the first one will take place, but expect it in mid- to late-January. If you’re interested in being interviewed for the SVRN podcast, please send us an email with the subject ‘SVRN Podcast’ with a short description of yourself and your work to email@example.com
This is not the end of the SVRN Blog. We are always happy to read submissions for blog posts, and you can find more information about that by clicking here.
TL;DR – The SVRN is seeking financial independence and sustainability outside of university influence. To that end, we have started a Patreon page. Please visit it here, and consider becoming a regular donor.
One of the problems faced by the SVRN, or indeed any other research network, is the lack of funding sources. In our position as postgraduate students (most of us, at least), finding decent and reliable sources of funding to continue running the network is almost impossible. We are also acutely aware of the problematic position that a research network dedicated to exploring, critiquing, and exposing state violence accepting funding from universities occupies.
As a result, we have decided to launch a Patreon page. For those of you not familiar with Patreon, the site allows a group to receive regular monthly donations from a number of ‘patrons’. A regular Patreon user would then normally offer special benefits, additional content, or privileged access to those supporting them in exchange for these monthly donations.
The SVRN doesn’t charge for membership and, we hope, never will. We also make no profit from our conferences, and our ticket prices are capped at £30 for waged participants. At our last conference, 40% of attendees paid nothing. We aim to keep things this way.
As such, we are asking for your support on Patreon as an act of mutual aid. We have three levels of donations: £1/$1.50, £3/$4, £5/$6.50. We don’t expect members or anyone else to feel obliged to support the Patreon to gain access to membership, conference participation or attendance, the Discord server, the podcast, the blog, our working groups, or indeed any of our events and initiatives. We will remain as open and accessible as possible. But we do ask that, if you can afford to support us this way, to please consider it.
Our goals with the Patreon are two-fold. If we meet our first monthly goal, we can achieve financial independence for our core functions, and survive a loss of funding for at least a year. Our second goal is to be able to independently fund a new Working Group, which would examine the university as a space of and participant in state violence. This allows us to reflect on our own position as a collective associated with a space of historic and current state violence.
Any support you could give would be very much appreciated. You can find our Patreon page by clicking here.
If you’ve made it down this far, thank you for reading. We will now be spending the next few weeks going through all the incredible abstracts that have been submitted for the #riotrebelresistrepress conference, building the provisional programme, and then notifying all those we are invited to take part in the conference by the second week in January. We will have information about registration and our public launch event soon.
In the meantime, please come and join in our discussions on the SVRN Discord. The Working Groups are always looking for new members, and so is the network. We’ve tripled in size since this time last year, and we’d love to have you as part of the crew.
George and Philip, SVRN co-facilitators
If you are interested in joining the State Violence Research Network, please click the Membership and Mailing List page above and fill in the form. To join the SVRN Discord server, please click here. If you are interested in supporting the SVRN financially by becoming a Patron, please see our Patreon page here.