2017 Festival: Equality/Inequality
2017’s theme is “Equality & Inequality.” The world’s eight richest men are as wealthy as half the world’s population. A staggering, almost incomprehensible statistic, which expresses only the scale of economic inequality. How do people—writers, artists, mothers, day laborers, teachers, intellectuals—create a lifeworld under the inescapable and often debilitating fact of inequality? How do they transcend or at least come to terms with inequality? We’d like to examine the phenomenon of inequality in all its forms and deal with it as an existential, objective reality that impacts race, gender, health, aesthetics, class, and all human relations.
As tempting as it might be in the current climate to focus only on the problem of inequality and present a series of panels on its almost limitless categories and injustices, however, we would like to anchor the Festival in the idea of equality. The Declaration of Independence posits liberty and equality as mutually supportive aspects of American democratic culture. And yet Americans have come to see the desires for freedom and for equality as pulling in opposite directions, as though we can only enjoy one at the expense of the other. This is a false dilemma, the result of which has been to privilege freedom at the expense of equality. This year’s OBF is aimed at shattering that dilemma and its associated confusions. It will be an examination of and an exercise in equality.
Among others, Danielle Allen, Angela Davis, Judith Butler, Wendy Brown, Ishmael Reed, Chris Jackson, Arlie Hochschild, Quincey Troupe, Anthony Marra, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Mistah F.A.B., and Jeff Chang will be joining us this year. We are curating panels on “Equality in the Arts,” “Universal Income,” "The Free Press,” “Inequality in Academia,” “The Commodification of Feminism,” “Public Health and Private Profit,” “Identity and Class,” “Standing Rock and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights,” “Racial Profiling,” and of course multiple panels on the election of 2016 and the future of American Democracy.