The Summit: A General Assembly with Representatives of Real and Possible Countries

Panel Discussion Thu 23 Jun 2005 5.30PM-7.30PM The New School, Wollman Hall
55 West 11th Street (enter at 66 West 12th Street), 5th Floor
Free admission
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Leaders, diplomats, and spokespersons from both internationally recognized and self-declared countries will gather at the conclusion of the Vera List Center's "Homeland" cycle to consider, propose, and debate what constitutes a country.

In recent years, a number of new countries have been created, from East Timor to Macedonia. Prompted by such real-world events (and just as often preceding them), many artists have also created countries that problematize the phantasms and fictions at the center of all nation-states. Building on a long literary and philosophical tradition going back to Sir Thomas More's Utopia and Voltaire's Candide, self-declared countries such as the dual kingdom of Elgaland-Vargaland, the State-in-Time, and the New Free Republic of Carolina appropriate the insignia and rituals of homeland to propose new models of citizenship and community.

The conference is introduced by Jonathan Bach, Professor of International Affairs at New School University who speaks about sovereignty, and the historical, political, and philosophical underpinnings of the modern nation state. His presentation is followed by a historical overview by cultural critic George Pendle of utopian (and often failed) attempts to create new countries.

After this theoretical and historical foundation, the conference features presentations by Ambassador Raymond Loretan, Consul General of Switzerland in New York, artist Gregory Green (citizen of The New Free State of Caroline) and artist Eames Demetrios (Geographer-at-Large, Kymaerica). Each speaks about their country as a political, social, and emotional institution, and the rituals, objects, and symbolism associated with that. The personal frames the discussion of some of these contemporary notions of nationhood.

The evening culminates with a citizenship drive during which leaders from self-declared countries will orate on the virtues of their respective homelands and invite guests to abandon their involuntary national affiliations and instead choose the citizenship of a country whose values they consciously endorse. Merchandise and citizenship forms from various countries will be available.

Sina Najafi, editor-in-chief, Cabinet magazine

Jonathan Bach, Associate Professor of International Affairs, The New School
Eames Demetrios, artist and geographer-at-large, Kymaerica
Gregory Green, artist and citizen, The New Free State of Caroline
Ambassador Raymond Loretan, Consul General of Switzerland in New York
George Pendle, cultural critic and author of Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons (Harcourt Brace)

This event is co-presented as part of the Vera List Center's program cycle on "Homeland" and by Cabinet magazine to launch its Summer 2005 "Fictional States" issue.