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radicalimagination 16/02/2015 - 11:11AM

"Debt: Our Common Problem" series in Halifax

One of our newest locals (in Halifax, Canada) is being organized by The Radical Imagination Project (, a research and public events platform dedicated to celebrating, investigating and spreading radical ideas and culture. To kick off their programming, they've organized a four-part series in January and February titled "Debt: Our Common Problem," which has been enjoying strong attendance and has stimulated important conversations on a universal but often taboo topic.
"The truth is, debt touches all our lives in some way," says Max Haiven, one of the co-director of the Radical Imagination Project, "whether it is student loans or payday loans, the international debt system or mortgages, we're all involved. But we're trained never to speak about it. This series is about breaking that silence and individualization around debt and, as the title indicates, talking about debt as our common problem."
"We've partnered with and are screening at the new downtown location of the Halifax Public Libraries to make sure we draw in a wide cross-section of the public. People want to talk about this. It's about letting people know that, as our comrades in the American activist group Strike Debt put it, 'you are not a loan'.This series is about having a conversation about debt as a systematic, structural and universal aspect of our current experience, of the way capitalist power works today. But it's also about showing that debt looks and feels different depending on how it intersects other forms of oppression and exploitation including race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality and ability."
The series began with DEBT TRAP, a film about Canadians of different backgrounds struggle with debt, and was followed two weeks later by LIFE AND DEBT, a celebrated documentary about the neocolonial effects of the international debt system on Jamaica. Next was PAYBACK, a film based on the book by the same title by Canadian author Margaret Atwood that explores debt as a cultural phenomenon. The series will be capped off by LIVING WITHOUT MONEY, the story of an elder German woman who has renounced her worldly belonging and lives a life based on gifts, solidarity and reciprocity.
"If debt is our common problem, then it requires we imagine and then create common solutions," Haiven explains "We are not demanding a world free of debt so much as one where we can throw off the chains of economic debt and, instead, think about the wealth of social bonds that hold society together and make our lives meaningful."
Haiven was interviewed about the series by Asaf Rashid for the CHSR (Fredericton) radio program From the Margins. Listen here: