IDEAS AND FUTURES: A COLLABORATIVE FOR JUST AND VIBRANT SOCIETIES

Ideas and Futures:  A Collaborative for Just and Vibrant Societies is a non-profit dedicated to fostering collaborative, international intellectual and creative approaches to contemporary crises of polity, society, democracy and imagination in relation to ongoing struggles for dignity, freedom and sustainability.  We believe that the humanities are vital to these discussions and advocate vigorously for their capacity to contribute to the most pressing social questions, urgencies and debates.  We value and encourage experimental work that crosses boundaries of media, discipline and nations.

We hold seminars on a variety of topics spanning the arts and literature, social transformation, migration, international cooperation, labor and the quality of life, as well as environmental and economic sustainability.  We also foster collaborative research groups comprising academics, artists, activists and anyone who wants to think collaboratively on a number of themes especially social justice, equality, citizenship and the role of arts and humanities in society, and enable collaborations between national and international scholars, artists, activists and thinkers.  We are proud to be part of a large group of advisors and collaborators committed to such work.

The Ideas and Futures e-platform is open-source dedicated to making such work available to all.


FOUNDING DIRECTORS



ADVISORY BOARD/COLLABORATORS

a group of American and international scholars, subject specialists, activists, writers and artists.

Ayad Akhtar (Writer)

Photograph Credit: Vincent Tullo


Ayad Akhtar is a novelist and playwright. His work has been published and performed in over two dozen languages. He is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Ayad is the author of Homeland Elegies (Little, Brown & Co.), which The Washington Post called “a tour de force” and The New York Times selected as a Top 10 Book of 2020, calling it “pitch-perfect…virtuosic.” His first novel, American Dervish (Little, Brown & Co.), was published in over 20 languages. As a playwright, he has written Junk (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Kennedy Prize for American Drama, Tony nomination); Disgraced (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony nomination); The Who & The What (Lincoln Center); and The Invisible Hand (NYTW; Obie Award, Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award, Olivier, and Evening Standard nominations). Among other honors, Akhtar is the recipient of the Steinberg Playwrighting Award, the Nestroy Award, the Erwin Piscator Award, as well as fellowships from the American Academy in Rome, MacDowell, the Sundance Institute, and Yaddo, where he serves as a Board Director. Additionally, Ayad is a Board Trustee at New York Theatre Workshop and PEN America, where he serves as President.

Osseina D. Alidou (Rutgers University-New Brunswick)


Ousseina D. Alidou is Professor in the Department of African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University. She is a theoretical linguist and cultural critic. Her books include: Engaging Modernity: Muslim Women and the Politics of Agency in Postcolonial Niger (a runner-up Aidoo-Schneider Book Prize of Women's Caucus of the Association of African Studies); Muslim Women in Postcolonial Kenya: Leadership, Representation, Political and Social Change; Writing through the Visual and Virtual: Inscribing Language, Literature, and Culture in Francophone Africa and the Caribbean co-edited with Renée Larrier; Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Africa with Ahmed Sikainga and A Thousand Flowers: Social Struggles Against Structural Adjustment in African Universities, co-edited with Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis. Professor Alidou is the recipient of several national and international scholarly and service awards and currently serves as ASA Vice President. Her other previous appointments and services include: Chair of the All African Studies Programs (USA) (2009-2011) and Director of the Center for African Studies at Rutgers University (2009-Spring2015). She currently serves as a Senior Faculty Advisor to UNESCO BREDA’s Gender and Transformative Leadership Curriculum Design for African Universities and Civil Society.

Paul Amar (UCSB)


Director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies and Professor at the Department of Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a political scientist and anthropologist who speaks seven languages and has published in nine languages. He holds affiliate appointments in Feminist Studies, Sociology, Comparative Literature, Middle East Studies, and Latin American & Iberian Studies, and has been awarded two Fulbright Fellowships in the past. Before he began his academic career, he worked as a journalist in Cairo, a police reformer and sexuality-rights activist in Rio de Janeiro, and as a conflict-resolution and economic development specialist at the United Nations. His books include: Cairo Cosmopolitan (2006); New Racial Missions of Policing (2010); Global South to the Rescue (2011); Dispatches from the Arab Spring (2013); and The Middle East and Brazil (2014). His book The Security Archipelago was awarded the Charles Taylor Award for "Best Book of the Year" in 2014 by the American Political Science Association.

Nancy Cantor (Chancellor, Rutgers University-Newark)


Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of Rutgers University–Newark, is recognized nationally and internationally for emphasizing the role of universities as anchor institutions in their communities, especially by forging diverse, cross-sector collaboratives and leveraging publicly engaged scholarship to advance racial equity and equitable growth. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and member of the National Academy of Medicine, she previously led Syracuse University and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and was provost at the University of Michigan, where she was closely involved in the defense of affirmative action in 2003 Supreme Court cases Grutter and Gratz.

Belinda Davis (Rutgers University-New Brunswick)


Belinda Davis is professor of History and Director of the Rutgers Center for European Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is author or co-editor of four books, including her forthcoming The Internal Life of Politics: Extraparliamentary Opposition in West Germany, 1962-1983 (CUP), and several dozen articles, on themes including popular politics and social movements; conceptions of democracy and how change takes place; gender; history of everyday life; oral history, memory, and emotion; urban history; transnational history; policing, violence, and terror; and consumption. Her graduate students have completed or are completing dissertations on topics ranging from Turkish “guestworkers” in West Germany, to identities in German-Polish and German-Czech borderlands, to sexualities in twentieth-century Germany and Hungary, to Holocaust survivors’ memory and resettlement, to “lived ideologies” (antifascism, socialism) in the postwar Germanies and Europe. She is currently co-editing the anthology Social Movements After ’68: West Germany and Beyond (under revision for Berghahn Press) and working on the collection of interviews Precarity and Change: Poverty and Homelessness in COVID Philadelphia.

Talib Dhanji (Ernst and Young)

Finance Advisor


Talib is a Partner within EY’s Global Commodities Markets practice. He has an accounting degree from the University of Houston and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). He has over 20 years of industry, audit and advisory experience. He is an active participant in various civic and non-profit initiatives in Houston. He currently serves as the Chairman for OPEN Houston, The Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs. OPEN is a voluntary not-for-profit association dedicated to the promotion of entrepreneurship and professional development. OPEN’S membership spans entrepreneurs, corporate professionals, financiers, community leaders, academics and students. Talib led a multi-year project to set up a community based sports and educational institution and program based in Houston. The project raised over $3 million to build out a state of the art educational and sports facility for both adults and children. He also currently serves on the advisory board of the University of Houston SURE program. SURE™ provides an educational platform that facilitates a value-added partnership between UH students, industry experts, and entrepreneurs from under-resourced communities, which aims to produce socially engaged students and to stimulate urban renewal by empowering entrepreneurs in under-resourced communities.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. (Writer and Activist)


Bill Fletcher, Jr. has been an activist since his teen years. Upon graduating from college he went to work as a welder in a shipyard, thereby entering the labor movement. Over the years he has been active in workplace and community struggles as well as electoral campaigns. He has worked for several labor unions in addition to serving as a senior staffperson in the national AFL-CIO. Fletcher is the former president of TransAfrica Forum; a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies; an editorial board member of BlackCommentator.com; and in the leadership of several other projects. Fletcher is the co-author (with Peter Agard) of “The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1934-1941”; the co-author (with Dr. Fernando Gapasin) of Solidarity Divided: The crisis in organized labor and a new path toward social justice; and the author of ‘They’re Bankrupting Us’ – And Twenty other myths about unions. Fletcher is a syndicated columnist and a regular media commentator on television, radio and the Web.

Laura Harris (NYU)


Laura Harris is Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies and Art & Public Policy. She holds a Ph.D. from New York University, an M.A. from the New School for Social Research, and a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. Harris’s research interests include film, media and visual studies, hemispheric American studies, black studies, and feminist and queer studies. She is the author of Experiments in Exile: C. L. R. James, Hélio Oiticica and the Aesthetic Sociality of Blackness . She has also published in Social Text, Women & Performance, Criticism, The South Atlantic Quarterly and other journals.

John Keene (Rutgers University-Newark)


John Keene is the author and co-author of a handful of books, including the award-winning collection Counternarratives and the forthcoming collection Punks, and has received many honors, including a 2018 Windham-Campbell Prize and a 2018 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. His translation projects include poetry, fiction and essays from Portuguese, French and Spanish, among them the Brazilian writer Hilda Hilst's novel Letters from a Seducer. He chairs the Department of African American and African Studies, is Distinguished Professor of English and African American Studies, and also teaches in the Rutgers-Newark MFA in Creative Writing Program, at Rutgers University-Newark.

Biju Matthew (Rider University, New York Taxi Workers Alliance, India Civil Watch)


Biju is Secretary, National Taxi Workers Alliance (AFLCIO), a co-founder of India Civil Watch International (New York) and Lamakaan (Hyderabad). His political and intellectual work follows three vectors — neoliberalism, especially its four decades of reorganization of work, diasporic right wings, especially Hindu nationalism and finally questions of internationalism, new left movements and political strategy. He is author of Taxi! Cabs and Capitalism in New York City (Cornell, 2008) and several other popular and academic essays. He is Associate Professor of Information Systems and American Studies at Rider University, NJ.

Mora McLean (Independent Historian)


Mora McLean is an independent historian and program strategist and president emerita of the Africa-America Institute (AAI), a non-profit that promotes education for and about Africa and the worldwide African Diaspora. She is editor of West African Youth Challenges and Opportunity Pathways (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), a collection that examines obstacles that impede, and potential pathways to improve, the material and psychological well-being of youth in and from West Africa. Her research explores the projection of American cultural and ideological understandings of “progress” and “development” onto the Caribbean and the African continent through the eighteenth and twentieth centuries.

Fred Moten (NYU)


Fred Moten is Professor in the Department of Performance Studies, Tisch School of the Arts. He teaches courses and conducts research in black studies, performance studies, poetics and critical theory. He is author of In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition; Hughson’s Tavern; B. Jenkins; The Feel Trio; The Little Edges; The Service Porch and a three-volume collection of essays whose general title is consent not to be a single being and All that Beauty). He is co-author, with Stefano Harney, of The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study and A Poetics of the Undercommons and, with Wu Tsang, of Who touched me?. He has served on several editorial boards and as a member of the Critical Theory Institute at the University of California, Irvine and on the board of directors of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, CUNY. He is winner of the MacArthur Genius Award.

Andrew Perrin (UNC, Chapel Hill)


Andrew J. Perrin, Ph.D., is a cultural and political sociologist focusing on culture and technology in US politics. His research considers the construction of public opinion, political deliberation, and media. He is author, coauthor, or translator of five books, including most recently American Democracy: From Tocqueville to Town Halls to Twitter (Polity, 2014). He is currently Ruel W. Tyson Professor of Sociology, and Director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Samah Selim (Rutgers University, New Brunswick)


Samah Selim is a scholar and award-winning translator of Arabic literature based between the United States and Egypt. She is the author of Popular Fiction, Translation and the Nahda in Egypt (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). Her most recent translation is Arwa Salih’s The Stillborn: Notebooks of a Woman from the Student Movement Generation in Egypt (Seagull Books, 2018). In 2018 Selim won a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Grant to translate Jordanian author Ghalib Halasa’s semi-autobiographical novel Sultana (1987) into English. During the Egyptian uprising of 2011 Selim was a member of the Mosireen video collective translators’ unit and she is a founding member of the Cairo-based Turjoman translators’ collective. She currently teaches at Rutgers University’s Department of African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures.

Phevos Simeonidis (Disinfaux Collective, Refugee Activist)


Phevos Simeonidis is a researcher and human rights activist from Athens, Greece. Since 2015 he has been involved in the refugee solidarity struggles in the Balkans. He also is an MA graduate from the Centre for Research Architecture (Goldsmiths, University of London) where he also completed his internship with Forensic Architecture. He is currently the acting director of the Disinfaux Collective with his work focusing on far/alt-right narrative creation and performativity online, militarized border regimes, and human rights violations in the external borders of the EU.

Soili Smith (Rutgers University-Newark)


Soili Smith is a PhD Candidate in American Studies at Rutgers University-Newark. Her research concerns neoliberalism, refugees, and the aesthetic dimensions and state performance of ‘refuge’ in settler colonies. She is also a writer of fiction and poetry, with publications in Ideas & Futures, Joyland, Minola Review, and elsewhere. She has an MFA in Fiction from Rutgers University-Newark, a BA in Literature and Creative Writing from Concordia University in Montreal, and a BSc in Biology from the University of Northern British Columbia. In the academic off-season she lives in northern BC, where she works in forestry and silviculture.

Eleni Takou (Human Rights 360)


Eleni Takou is co-founder and Deputy Director of the Greek NGO HumanRights360 She has worked in the Advocacy and Programs sector of several NGOs. During 2015, she served as Chief of Staff of the Minister for Migration Policy in Greece. Prior to this, she has been coordinating the Racist Violence Recording Network, a coalition of CSOs under the auspices of the UNHCR Office in Greece and the Greek National Commission for Human Rights. She has also been a consultant on issues of statelessness for UNHCR Greece. Her work is focused on refugee protection, migration, hate crime, strategic communication and anti racism advocacy. She is co-writer of the book Persistent Myths about Migration in Greece and co-editor of the book X Them Out - The Black Map of Racist Violence