The Politics of the Possible

Community Engagement in Momentous Times


May 2-3, 2017

Commencing each day at 9:00 a.m.

Verney Room, South Ross 674.

Free and open to all members of the York community. As space is limited, attendees will be admitted on a first-come first-served basis for each session.


This two-day community participant and graduate student centred workshop features a series of roundtables and keynote addresses on the politics of the possible. It is envisioned as a space for progressive activists, community organizers, and academics to share knowledge, build relationships, and mobilize to counter domination for a world where power comes from the people.

The Politics of the Possible Workshop draws inspiration from and seeks to contribute to social justice campaigns, organizations, and movements in Toronto and around the globe.  At work through such activism are the progressive political imagination, the creation of novel political spaces and practices, and the building of solidarity for a different world, a better world, for everyone.

These are momentous times. Across the globe we see how justice, freedom, and equality are unrealized, undermined, and threatened through colonial, imperial, capitalist, and military entanglements. We see the rise of the Alt-Right and other forces embracing the ideologies of the far right, including Islamophobia, misogyny, xenophobia, transphobia, and white supremacy. We see mass poverty, gendered and racialized violence, threats to human rights and the free press, environmental destruction, urban expulsions and the fortification of borders that deny hope to the most vulnerable.

The challenges confronting us in these momentous times stem not only from the current political context but also from the difficulties in forging alliances and mobilizing in the different worlds of progressive politics and activism. The Politics of the Possible Workshop seeks to address the tensions, roadblocks, and limits to the possible, while also gaining insight from and contributing to progressive action in different spheres of community engagement.

Over the two days, we will discuss actually existing forms of domination and how they are being resisted in Toronto, Canada, and beyond, including in neighbourhoods, communities, schools, workplaces, and the electoral arena. We will reflect upon the successes of past and present campaigns and movements, contemporary challenges, community-based and collaborative strengths, pathways to new connections, the role of academic researchers in supporting the aspirations of communities, the potential for harnessing novel techniques and practices, as well as how to strategize for the difficult but necessary work of building the kind of world we want.

The Politics of the Possible Workshop brings together 48 participants, including grassroots organizers, current and former York University political science graduate students, York faculty from political science, as well as York faculty and students from education, environmental studies, geography and social work, a York visiting scholar and a doctoral student from the University of Toronto, and two international keynote speakers: Kieran Allen, professor, University College Dublin, and Ann Withorn, professor emeritus, University of Massachusetts (Boston).



This event is made possible by funding from the Department of Political Science, Founders College Master's Office, and Graduate Studies and Research (Liberal Arts and Professional Studies), as well as from Global and Community Engagement (Liberal Arts and Professional Studies), Faculty of Graduate Studies, and the Jean Monnet Chair at York University.


Founders College