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BISR Frankfurt School Raffle!



The Brooklyn Institute is coming to Philadelphia!

To celebrate this momentous occasion, we are incredibly excited to launch the Brooklyn Institute Frankfurt School raffle.
If you live in or around Philadelphia, sign-up for the the Brooklyn Institute Philadelphia mailing list by November 20th  and you will be entered in the raffle. The winner will receive a Brooklyn Institute tote-bag with our selected critical theory reads: Walter Benjamin’sIlluminations, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment, and Marx’s Capital Vol. 1. Enter today!

Slouching Towards Election Day



Join us for a live audience recording of the Podcast for Social Research!

Jude Webre, Samantha Hill, Soraya Batmanghelichi, and Ajay Singh Chaudhary will discuss the forms and feelings of electoral politics in light of the least popular election in recent American history. What’s the historical background for the shape and weight of this presidential election? And why does it feel so apocalyptic? What’s the relationship between perception and reality in the American political scene? Panelists will confront these questions and more as we slouch towards election day together. The recording will take place at 61 Local on October 19th at 7pm, to be followed by a Q&A session and a live screening of the last presidential debate.

Jude, Samantha, and Ajay will be reacting to these articles as the foundation of their conversation: “American Elections: A Dialogue on the Left” (Nancy Fraser and Andrew Arato) and “How a Trump Presidency Would Unleash a Torrent of Racist Violence–and Devastate the Left” (Arun Gupta).

Suggested Donation: $8

A Letter from Ajay

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research does not espouse an official political ideology. We are a scholarly organization and house a wide variety of viewpoints. That said, speaking in my personal capacity as the Institute’s Founding Director, there is a type of critical politics that emerges from the work we do – which is often left-leaning – but is not explicitly partisan.

When we founded the Institute nearly 5 years ago, I chose to name us after the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research. This was not because the small number of founding faculty were all deeply invested in the Frankfurt School (they weren’t), but because I hoped we could create a home for critical scholarship and education that honors the legacy of their work. It was also because I, personally, as a Jew and as a Leftist, have taken many Frankfurt School ideas to heart. I have always viewed one part of our Institute’s work as trying to rebuild a new, 21st century form of that efflorescence of intellectual and political work associated with the Frankfurt School – this time not only with Jews (assimilated, atheist, observant, and otherwise) and not only with men!

As such, it is impossible for me to teach Adorno’s rather convincing argument that conspiratorial thinking offers a foundation for fascism out of one side of my mouth while remaining silent about the spread of those ideas with the other. Anti-Semitism (alongside racism, misogyny, class power, and so on) is a pervasive phenomenon.  In this year’s political cycle, we have seen it clearly with the rise of the so-called “alt-right” but also, less frequently, in the left too, as well as in mainstream liberal and conservative spaces.

Because BISR is a particularly – perhaps uniquely – flexible organization, we are able to act on our intellectual and political imperative to remove all of our programming from the Brooklyn Commons despite the significant logistical and financial challenges that this decision entails. But I feel we owe it to our students, faculty, staff, and friends to make this move. We look forward to bringing rigorous, scholarly engagement in the diverse areas in which we work to new spaces that better reflect these institutional values.

Ajay Singh Chaudhary, Executive Director

Official BISR Statement on Bollyn Event / Brooklyn Commons

As an organization committed to scholarly rigor and critical dialogue, the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research is dismayed that The Brooklyn Commons proceeded with an event last night featuring Christopher Bollyn, a noted white nationalist, anti-Semite, and conspiracy theorist. It has become increasingly evident that our institutional mission does not align with that of The Brooklyn Commons, and we have made the decision to find alternate venues for all BISR programming going forward.

As scholars, we value the free and open exchange of ideas, and engage with individuals across a broad political spectrum. Yet given the nature of Mr. Bollyn’s highly specious arguments, we do not believe that the notion of free speech as a “marketplace of ideas” is reason enough to proceed with such events, nor that any productive exchange of ideas can actually occur in such settings. Commercial spaces are able to choose to whom they offer a platform; we regret that The Brooklyn Commons offered one to Mr. Bollyn.

Above all, our pre-eminent concern is always the safety and comfort of our students and faculty as we lower barriers for critical inquiry and learning. It is our opinion that a venue that hosts anti-Semites, white nationalists, and their friends not only has no place in progressive, left, or any spaces, but is also antithetical to any kind of pedagogically sound environment.

We look forward to welcoming new and returning students as our Fall Term begins.


Statement from Multiple Organizations on Christopher Bollyn Event at the Brooklyn Commons

As organizations that work out of the Brooklyn Commons, we reject the antisemitic politics of Christopher Bollyn. We do not have any say in event booking and management at the Commons but agree that such politics should have no place in leftist spaces.


Ajay Singh Chaudhary (Brooklyn Institute for Social Research)

Bhaskar Sunkara (Jacobin Magazine)

Michael Lardner (Marxist Education Project)

John Tarleton (The Indypendent)

Shatia Strother (FUREE)

Marie-Claire Picher (Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory)

Bill Koehnlein (Marxist Education Project; Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory)

James Dingeman (WBAI)

Right to the City Alliance


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