Populism and Class Politics: A Conversation with Emily Welty on the Occupy Wall Street Movement
The book Occupying Political Science: The Occupy Wall Street Movement from New York to the World (2013) came out on the heels of the Occupy movement. The four editors of this book – Emily Welty, Christopher Malone, Matthew Bolton, Meghana Nayak – were all author-participants of the movement. The book thus features their firsthand account of the event(s) as scholar-activists. Both Slavoj Zizek and Alain Badiou have written about Occupy the Wall Street (OWS) pinning hopes for possible revolutionary openings through the uprising, and in a similar vein this book characterizes OWS as the sudden irruption of singularity, as the heterochronos, or as a kairos moment of new beginnings. As political scientists, however, the editors seem to have refrained from capturing OWS through any preexisting theoretical lens as the movement itself posed a daunting challenge to a priori political notions or conceptions. In the words of the editors, the book describes the ‘palimpsestic’ nature of the movement; it has multiple layers, sources, and trajectories of inspiration as well as grievances of its participants. In mid-2018, Ajay Gudavarthy met with one of the book’s editors – Emily Welty – who teaches in Pace University, New York. Ajay conducted most of the interview for Kairos: A Journal of Critical Symposium. An earlier dialogue with the book began through Anindya Sekhar Purakayastha’s review in the Journal of Social Movement Studies. Anindya has continued this conversation with Emily since after.