The Mobile Agora Project
In Ancient Greece, the agora was a public square and marketplace that functioned as a forum for the exchange of discourse and goods, a platform through which citizenship was defined (as abstract principal) and enacted (as practice).
The Mobile Agora Project (MAP) will create itinerant microagoras within existing informal markets, establishing a research hub and cultural + pedagogical + economic platform for dialogue and exchange around issues affecting immigrant communities in the markets’ surrounding neighborhoods.
The project’s primary research will assess if/how informal markets function as repositories of culture, mapping how transnational economic and cultural networks intersect in these markets. Through this research, methods and strategies to amplify, mobilize and/or hack these networks will be developed to transform these sites into incubators for reimagining community and citizenship.
MAP will be composed of four modules: 1) A popup shop selling goods produced by local community cooperatives, 2) a trailer (R+D Lab) that will function as an audio recording/production studio, a small workstation/display space, and a library with materials for loan and/or free distribution, 3) a mobile hyperlocal radio station wagon, and 4) a Roundtable/Forum that will host artmaking workshops, lectures, and performances.
MAP programming will be designed and executed in close collaboration with local community advocacy groups and will invite public practitioners to develop insite research projects that engage vendors, surrounding communities and/or the general public.
We are requesting funding from SPArt to organize a pilot version of MAP at the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet, in collaboration with a women’s cooperative from the Centro Comunitario Corazones Verdes, and RAIZ, a local chapter of the Immigrant Youth Coalition.
This pilot will include:
1) Corazones Verdes Shop
Cog•nate will invite the women’s cooperative from the Familias Corazones Verdes Community Center in Santa Ana to exhibit and sell their products, as well as host demonstrations and workshops on the production of “manualidades verdes”, handmade crafts/artisan goods made from recycled/repurposed materials.
2) R+D Lab Trailer
During this first iteration, longtime swap meet vendors will be invited to record their oral histories aboard the trailer, while newer vendors and visitors will be invited to document their experiences at the Swap Meet, discussing the objects that they sell/buy and the reasons behind their choices.
3) Radio Station Wagon
The Cog•nate Cruiser will serve as a local broadcasting unit, establishing a hyperlocal radio station covering the radius of the Swap Meet. In addition to transmitting the oral history and testimonies collected in the trailer, it will also transmit insite recordings of the Swap Meet, and recordings produced by the public in response to a series of engagement prompts.
For this iteration of the project, we will be collaborating with RAIZ, a chapter of the Immigrant Youth Coalition, a statewide network of young activists advocating for the rights of undocumented migrants, to host workshops and info sessions on current Deferred Action immigration policies, and provide knowyourrights and deportation defense trainings.