Why the Gerusia collective?
Gerusia is a collective engaged in left-oriented theoretical, political and activist work. By developing a social critique grounded in anti-capitalism, marxism, feminism and critiques of social-economic exploitation, Gerusia constitutes a gathering place for all those who fight with different means for a society organized according to people’s needs, and not according to the needs of the market and the logic of profit. Gerusia works on its activities together with other social groups with whom it cooperates – regional left organisations, trade unions, groups fighting for worker rights, progressive student, feminist, lgbtq, artist and other groups. The Gerusia collective is engaged in a linked economic, political and social analysis by organising public debates, lectures, seminars, schools, video-campaigns, as well as by participating in struggles and resistance. ‘’Stvar’’ (The Thing) – The Journal of theoretical practices is the main organ of the collective: published annually it contains critical texts, translations and interviews in accordance with current Gerusia projects. Every issue of Stvar is free and each of Gerusia’s theoretico-political activity is public.
A brief history of Gerusia
Gerusia was established in February 2005, initially as a Club of Philosophy Students from the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad. Its aim was to encourage students to engage with philosophy by investigating subjects that were under-represented in the academic field as well as to initiate cooperation between students on a regional and international level. Among its first activities were the organization of an international conference Identity.Freedom (October 2005), the publication of an anthology under the same name (2006) and the organization of weekly ’’Philosophical Conversations’’ in the Bunker (Student Cultural Centre, Novi Sad) which lasted approximately one year (from March 2006 to March 2007). Around this time KSF Gerusia began to develop into an organization around which a new generation of young authors emerged, creating a philosophical space that stimulated creativity. It also began to serve as an alternate educational body because it focused on theories that were excluded from the academic discourses present at the university. During August and September Gerusia organized the ’’Summer School of Psychoanalysis’’, as well as the international summer school “Subject.net“ at Petrovaradin Fortress, in cooperation with the Student Philosophy Society (Študentsko filozofsko društvo) from Ljubljana (August 2007). Two conferences then followed: “Nihil.net” (November 2007) and ‘’FF–Loudest Filmosophy’’ (FF-najglasnija filmozofiranja) in March of 2008 that took place in the Youth Centre CK 13. That same year members of Gerusia took part in the First May Summer School in Ljubljana. During 2009 and 2010 Gerusia continued to organize reading sections (on Foucault and then Marx) as well as a series of lectures in CK13, simultaneously inviting more people to participate in its work and expanding its range of activities. This period was marked by the first publication of our journal Stvar whose first issue came out in February of 2010.
Gerusia also became engaged in new wave of student protests in the Balkans and our members wrote texts on the subject (on students in Zagreb in 2009, and the Belgrade protest in 2011). As a result of its intervention in Novi Sad, Gerusia became directly engaged with political issues. This influenced its theoretical work, which now focused more on a critique of the capitalist organization of social space and dominant neoliberal ideology, as well as an effort to establish theoretical grounds for the new Left. As a consequence of this Gerusia ceased to be a Club of Philosophy Students and become a theoretical-political collective, a framework within which it still functions today.
In 2011 members of Gerusia organized a lecture by the Hungarian philosopher, publicist and politician Gaspar Miklos Tamas in Art Klinik, Novi Sad, and in 2012 its members participated in a conference on the contemporary critique of ideology, which took place at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory. Over several months in 2012, Gerusia members took part in a collective research project entitled Group for Property, which was organized both in Novi Sad (in the Student Cultural Centre) and Belgrade (at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory). Our members participated in this project by thoroughly investigating the concept of property in the works of Hobbes, Hume, Rousseau, Proudhon and Marx. In the summer of the same year Gerusia took part in the summer-school “The Left“ (organized by the Centre for Political Emancipation) in Fruška Gora.
During the autumn semester of 2012 and spring semester of 2013 Gerusia organized a series of lectures called Introduction to Radical Theories. The project was supported by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Southeast Europe. This program had two causes: the first was to open space for political polarization in Novi Sad and Serbia, outside of (non)-existing political options. The second one was to politically confront the pacification of theory, as well as to popularize radical theories that can contribute to transformative social processes. The goal was to achieve this by opening public debates about the history of alternative social, economic and political theories that can be applied in the analysis of modern forms of social and economic exploitation. The Introduction to radical theories was thus a public educational program intended mostly for students and people who are interested in critical social theory and politics in general. As part of this project, many movies about important characters and movements in the history of social critique were translated for the first time. This made the Hungarian journal Ex Symposion dedicate one whole issue in 2013 to Gerusia. It included both collaborative and individual authored texts, interviews as well as visual and poetic content produced by Gerusia’s members. Gerusians also made public promotion of its journal and introduced themselves and their group in Budapest and Pécs. The same year Gerusia a attended summer school named “Dilemmas of the Contemporary Left“ in Fruška gora.
During 2013 the government in Serbia intensified its anti-labour politics which culminated in the proposal for a new labour law. Gerusia started increasingly engaging in the field of labour rights. Since this new law suppressed many workers’ basic social rights, Gerusia engaged in discussions with other organizations and also participated and organized a series of workshops and events dedicated to the analysis of this new labour law. Gerusia was also part of an action to intervene in ‘’public’’ debate on the new labour law in Novi Sad. Soon enough, cooperation was established with those trade unions dealing with the same problem, and it became formalized by signing a mutual agreement of cooperation with the Association of Independent Unions of Novi Sad (Savez Samostalnih Sindikata Novog Sada SSSNS, the biggest trade union section in Novi Sad) at the end of December 2013. Together with the SSSNS and Youth Center CK13, members of the collective Gerusia launched a video campaign against this law, and participated in a series of lectures, analysis and texts about the labour legislative, as well as in concrete public actions, strikes and protests against the new labour law and other anti-labour legislative measures.
In 2014 Gerusia organized a political education project named Left in Serbia: Elements for developing a political position, that organized nine debates (in January: WHAT WILL HAPPEN WITH THE NEW LABOUR LAW?; in February – THE BOLOGNA REFORM AND HIGHER EDUCATION; in March – EXPERIENCES OF YUGOSLAV SOCIALISM; in April – TRANSITIONAL PROCESSES IN POSTSOCIALIST COUNTRIES; in May – THE CITY: LOCUS OF CLASS STRUGGLE; in June – WHOSE EU?; in September – ORGANIZATIONAL FORMS: DIRECTIONS FOR THE LEFT; in October – LEFT FEMINISMS; in November – TRADE UNIONS AND RESISTANCE). With this program Gerusians attempted to contribute to the establishment of an alternative political position fighting neoliberal capitalism. Transcripts of all lectures that took place as part of this project were published in the 6th and 7th editions of the magazine STVAR.
Who are the Gerusians?
Andrea Jovanović, Đorđe Hristov, Ivan Radenković, Maja Solar i Saša Hrnjez.