Kari Lydersen

Revolt on Goose Island: The Chicago Factory Takeover and What it Says About the Economic Crisis

Revolt on Goose Island: The Chicago Factory Takeover and What it Says About the Economic Crisis

Melville House Press, 2009

December 5, 2008: It wasn’t supposed to work like this. Days after getting a $45 billion bailout from the U.S. government, Bank of America shut down a line of credit that kept Chicago’s Republic Windows & Doors factory operating. The bosses, who knew what was coming, had been sneaking machinery out in the middle of the night. They closed the factory and sent the workers home. Then something surprising happened: Republic’s workers occupied the factory and refused to leave. Kari Lydersen tells the story of the factory takeover, elegantly transforming the workers’ story into a parable of labor activism for the 21st century, one that concludes with a surprising and little-reported victory.

Praise for Revolt on Goose Island

"There is much talk about ‘audacity’ these days, but true chutzpah is when the workers take over the factory and take on the bank. Kari Lydersen’s invaluable account of the Republic sit-down strike is an instruction manual for worker dignity.” —Mike Davis, author of Buda’s Wagon and City of Quartz

"I've feared for some time that labor reporting would vanish. But this book restores my faith that there remain reporters with an eye and a heart and a thirst to tell important stories about workers in the best tradition of good labor writing." --Stephen Franklin, former labor writer, the Chicago Tribune

Interviews About Revolt on Goose Island

Book TV on C-SPAN2:

Democracy Now: http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/18/ex_ceo_of_worker_occupied_chicago

WBAI with Doug Henwood, "Behind the News" Sept 17, 2009

KPFA: http://againstthegrain.org/program/306/id/181433/tues-5-04-10-chicago-factory-occupation-greek-ferment

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Shoot an Iraqi: Art, Life and Resistance Under the Gun

By Wafaa Bilal and Kari Lydersen
City Lights Press, 2008

Starred review in Publishers Weekly
Book List: Top 10 Art Books of 2009

Wafaa Bilal's childhood in Iraq was defined by the horrific rule of Saddam Hussein, two wars, a bloody uprising, and time spent interned in chaotic refugee camps in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Bilal eventually made it to the U.S. to become a professor and a successful artist, but when his brother was killed at a U.S. checkpoint in 2005, he decided to use his art to confront those in the comfort zone with the realities of life in a conflict zone. Thus the creation and staging of "Domestic Tension," an unsettling interactive performance piece: for one month, Bilal lived alone in a prison cell-sized room in the line of fire of a remote-controlled paintball gun and a camera that connected him to internet viewers around the world. Visitors to the gallery and a virtual audience that grew by the thousands could shoot at him 24 hours a day. The project received overwhelming worldwide attention, garnering the praise of the Chicago Tribune, which called it "one of the sharpest works of political art to be seen in a long time," and Newsweek's assessment "breathtaking." It spawned provocative online debates and ultimately, Bilal was awarded the Chicago Tribune's Artist of the Year Award.

Structured in two parallel narratives, the story of Bilal's life journey and of his "Domestic Tension" experience, this first-person account is supplemented with comments on the history and current political situation in Iraq and the context of "Domestic Tension" within the art world, including interviews with art scholars such as Dean of the School of Art at Columbia University, Carol Becker, who also contributes the introduction. Shoot an Iraqi is equally pertinent reading for those who seek insight into the current conflict in Iraq, and for those fascinated by interactive art technologies and the ever-expanding world of online gaming.

Praise for Shoot an Iraqi :

"Once I picked up this manuscript, I could not put it down. There is something so urgent and compelling about Bilal's story, as though he is speaking to our time. His story is not just for those interested in the arts; it is a human story of the horror, frustration, and tragedies of war."
—Mary Flanagan, artist and author of re:skin (MIT Press)

"This is an unsettling and gripping book. It poignantly recounts a dark and imaginative experiment inspired by an excruciating and ghastly reality. Its unsettling effects couldn't be more welcome: we desperately need to be shocked out of our collective zombification, and this book does that by leading us through a wild labyrinth at once aesthetic, political, and existential. Potent stuff."
—Danny Postel, author of Reading "Legitimation Crisis" in Tehran


Out of the Sea and Into the Fire: Latin American-US Immigration in the Global Age

By Kari Lydersen

Common Courage Press, 2005.

From the misty highlands of Chiapas or the idyllic coast of Honduras; to the harsh dry desert of the U.S.-Mexico border; to a frozen street corner in Chicago or a sweltering tomato field in Florida; these are the stories of Latin American migrants in the age of globalization. As the effects of free trade policies become felt throughout the region, we look at the personal tales of people forced to leave their homelands and forge a new existence in Latin American cities, in the border netherlands, or in the U.S. Behind the acronyms like NAFTA, FTAA and PPP, we see fishermen sadly leaving the sea in Oaxaca, young women toiling in toxic conditions in maquilas at the border, immigrants bravely and successfully fighting for their rights in the U.S.


“Kari Lydersen brings it. In putting her considerable journalistic talents to use drawing badly needed attention and critical examination to the plight of those uprooted and displaced by the forces of capitalist globalization, Lydersen demonstrates in one well-reported piece after another that journalism still has the power to sway both hearts and minds. -- Brian Awehali, LiP Magazine.

“With the Middle East on fire, and the Central American wars a distant memory, Latin America has ceased to be a fashionable destination for ambitious young American journalists. But we still need solid reporting from the Spanish-speaking world, and Lydersen delivers it with grace, intelligence and a vigorous point of view.” --Scott Sherman, contributing writer, The Nation.

“In Out of the Sea and Into the Fire, Kari Lydersen describes a U.S.-Mexican border that serves as "festering seam" dividin g rich and poor, powerful and weak. Lydersen's writing conjures up sensuous images of Latin American culture juxtaposed against the violent, polluted and desperate realities of a world in which profit has become the overriding motive in human interactions. Born out of an intimate understanding of life in the colonias and shanties of Tijuana and other border cities, as well as that in immigrant communities in the U.S., Lydersen's writing is both intensely indignant and a powerful call to action. Out of the Sea and Into the Fire is social justice reportage at its finest." --Sasha Abramsky, author of Hard Times Blues.

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