Thursday, May 20 18:00 PDT / 21:00 EDT
Zoom // Free
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Join UNIT/PITT and VIVO Media Arts Centre for a conversation focused on labour activisms in France in the ‘70s, one century after the Paris Commune of 1871. Special guests Nathan Crompton (Simon Fraser University), Karen Knights (VIVO Media Arts Centre), and Donald Reid (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill) will engage in a discussion anchored around a set of videos from the era housed in the Crista Dahl Media Library and Archive at VIVO Media Arts Centre. 

For this event, the speakers will touch upon the economic, social, and political contexts in which these unique videos were produced, and how they made their way to a tape repository in Vancouver, Canada. Capturing the spirit of France 100 years after the Paris Commune, the selection of videos discussed are valuable resources for thinking about how the events of 1871 resonate in 2021. 

Moderated by Roxanne Panchasi (Simon Fraser University, La Commune 2021 Free School), the event will include brief clips (with English subtitles) from videos drawn from the archive at VIVO, as well as time for Q & A. 

This will be a virtual event held over Zoom Webinar. Attendees will not be visible, but they may submit questions and comments through the Chat and/or Q&A function. Live Closed Captioning and Live Transcription will be available through Rev Live Captions. For additional enquiries related to access and accessibility, please email

Panelist Bios:

Donald Reid is an historian of French labour and of the 1968 years. He has published books on French coalminers and the sewer men of Paris. His most recent work is The Lip Affair, an account of a decade-long struggle of watchmakers who seized their factory in 1973 and started up production under their own direction. They mobilized the French left to sell the watches they produced, and paid themselves.

Karen Knights is Manager and Special Projects Lead at the VIVO Media Arts Centre’s Crista Dahl Media Library & Archive. She has 22-years of accumulated experience at VIVO as Librarian, Archivist, Distributor, Development Coordinator, and Programmer since 1984. As an independent curator and writer she has undertaken several historical surveys of artist-run media archives. Karen’s current focus is on activating the CDMLA Special Collections through a series of Archivist Internships, digitization projects, and exhibition series. She curates regularly for VIVO’s Sticky Impulse Archive Nights series and recently for Recollective, an archival research and remediation series originated by grunt gallery, VIVO, and Western Front. Karen is Lead for VIVO’s case study, Gendered Violence: Responses and Remediations, part of York University’s SSHRC project, Archive/Counter-Archive.

Nathan Crompton is based in Vancouver on the unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations. He is an organizer with Our Homes Can’t Wait (OHCW) and a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University. His PhD research focuses on the rise and fall of twentieth century French autogestion (sometimes translated as “self-management”). His thesis traces the movement’s political origins in the wake of working class self-management after 1968, and its subsequent impact on regionalist, feminist, and anti-racist movements in the second half of the 1970s.

This event is a co-production between La Commune 2021, a virtual free school hosted by UNIT/PITT, and the Crista Dahl Media Library and Archive at VIVO Media Arts Centre. Thank you to Video Out Collection for making the screening of these works possible.