Kevin Suemnicht

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Illinois, Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10032

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Suemnicht, Kevin (Illinois, Chicago, U. of) ""There Is No Word for What We Must Become": Social Movement in Southern Illinois"

This study considers the dialectics of becoming within “Carbondale Spring,” a movement for regional autonomy in Carbondale, Illinois. Spearheaded by a coalition of white anarchists and Black community organizers, the movement proposes to cut the municipal police force’s budget in half in order to create a network of worker cooperatives, food autonomy initiatives, an alternative energy fund, and a collective of social workers to replace the police. These initiatives constitute “revolutionary infrastructure,” the material groundings in the movement’s efforts to escape capitalism and produce an alternative way of living. Named for the bituminous coal industry that fueled it growth, Carbondale is now a city in decline – with coal no longer a pillar of its economy, its population shrinking, its university-based economy also in peril, and long-standing racial segregation and poverty now starkly revealed. Through an exploration of the movement and its efforts, this project engages literature on the anthropology of social movements, revolutionary infrastructure, and environmental anthropology to explore the ways in which people attempt to create alternative social projects – a place of exile, social justice, and mutual aid from within the otherwise bleak endgame of the climate catastrophe.