Name: ERIC TURNER
Location: ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO, USA
Mission: TO TRAVEL THE WORLD, MEET AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE AND ENGAGE OUR IDEAS
I have been to many crazy festivals in my life, but Bangface Weekender 2008 will always hold a special place in my heart as the most mental! It was here that I met Eric and we’ve been randomly bumping in to each other at festivals since.
Eric grew up in Italy and lived there until he was 17. In the late 90s he took part in several student protests and was briefly involved with a small Communist party. In 2001 he moved to Switzerland and took part in the anti-Iraq war protests there. “My interest to study social movements grew out of my involvement in these various protests at different points in my life. When I moved to the UK for university in 2003 I was involved in more student protests and actions and then later on in Anarchist activity in London including the G20 protests in 2009.”
Since 2010 he has been enrolled in the PhD program in Sociology at the University of New Mexico, where he also teaches Sociological Theory. Eric wrote his Masters dissertation on the unemployed movement (Piqueteros) in Argentina, “however for my PhD I wanted to write about something closer to a society I’d lived in. These opportunities grew plentiful at the start of my PhD: first, the rise of the 5 Star Movement in Italy inspired two articles, published in ‘Social Movement Studies’ in 2012 and ‘Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements’ in 2013. However my dissertation is a quantitative project which explores differences in mobilization and repression of Occupy Wall Street in 74 different cities.”
Besides Eric’s involvement in academia he also has a strong interest in raving and festivals, which sparked him to write a talk titled ‘Reflections on Transformational Festivals, Civil Sphere and New Social Movements’. “I gave this talk at several festivals including Boom (Portugal), Sunrise (England), Magikana (Wales), Manifestival (New Mexico, USA) and Enchantment Burn (New Mexico, USA) as well as at a couple of events in squats in Cardiff and London. The talk was turned into a paper which was published in Psypress UK in 2013.” You can read the paper here. He has since developed a new talk on why ending the war on drugs is both possible and necessary, “which I gave at Burning Mountain in Switzerland in 2014. I am also now the chief organizer of talks and workshops at Enchantment Burn in New Mexico.”
Eric also wrote “a very enthusiastic review of Bangface Festival, published in ‘The Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture’ even though out of the three times I went there I only paid for it once! The other two times I really experienced the festival from a social point of view by having to rely on the goodwill of the paying customers who were staying in the chalets. Because of this, me and my friends were put up by a group of lovely Danish people from Aarhus, who have since then become good friends.”
Having read a vast amount over the years Eric’s influences include Noam Chomsky, Antonio Gramsci, Charlie Brooker, Doug Stanhope, David Graeber, CLR James & George Orwell. “All of them have produced amazing material, both written and spoken, driven by their unique critique of society and their passion for social change. That is what I strive to do with my work. I do talks at festivals out of passion and desire to connect my ideas with new audiences and willingness to bring academic conversation outside the so-called ‘ivory towers’. We sociologists tend to have interesting ideas but also have a tendencies to retreat behind our office walls and not share them with the general public.”
The biggest thing which Eric has had to overcome is “the stage fright that comes with speaking to audiences both large and small. My talk at Boom Festival in 2012 was my first talk at a festival. I had only spoken at a conference once before, and I had only been teaching for a year. It was the biggest audience I have ever spoken to, there must have been 300-400 people there. Yet in spite of all that, the talk went really well, the audience really liked it, there was some good discussion and the talk was also featured in the official Boom Documentary.”
Eric is due to finish his PhD in the next year or two and “Developing the drive to slowly work on something as massive as a PhD and getting it done can be hard. Statistical work can be really painfully slow, but it is one of the easiest ways to get generalizable results. I hope to move to Europe or California once I get it done.” Currently he is busy organizing talks at the Enchantment Burn decompression event in October as well as speaking at conferences in Arizona and Denmark. “Next year I do want to bring my talks to more festivals such as Eden, Fusion or possibly Glastonbury.” If anyone is interested in reading any of Eric’s other articles then feel free to drop him an email and he will send you the pdf.