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What's to be Done? Activism Today - the Melbourne Workshop
An ARTE/ZDF Documentary Series & Fibreculture Initiative

Read a report about this event
By Brett Neilson and Ned Rossiter

Wednesday 10 December, 2003

VENUE: Boardroom, Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)

Entry Free - All Welcome

Key themes: autonomists, multitudes, youth labour in the new media industries and the role of unions, the local possibilities of political organisation in relation to the Net.

At the 2001 G8 summit in Genova, discontent with globalization-as-usual once again burst into the open as activists alerted the general public to a multiplicity of new types of political, economic, social, and cultural conflict.

This event screens two of the four-part German documentary series What's to be Done? Each documentary explores a new dynamic of democratic involvement and political intervention, searches for contemporary forms of solidarity and self-organization, and features innovative examples of linking the local and the global from across the world. Each documentary returns to the question of perspective, strategy, and the organizational logic of the movement.

Two of the documentaries will be screened for the first time in Melbourne. A third film - Globalize it!, by Petra Andits - will also be screened.

This event will also include workshop-style panels with the following speakers: Brett Neilson, Alex Kelly, Angela Mitropoulos, Steve Wright, Petra Andits, Camille Barbagallo, and Ned Rossiter. Following the screenings of the documentaries, speakers will present short responses (10-15 minutes) as a way of contextualising themes that are relevant to many in Australia today.

The aim of this event is to begin formulating strategies for political organisation amongst creative labourers in the new media industries.


2-2.30pm Introduction of speakers and participants

2.30-3.10pm Screening: A world to invent, documentary by Florian Schneider, Germany, 2002

Which forms of subjectivity are carried out by current modifications of the world that, until recently, were characterized as "globalization"? Theorists and visionaries try to outline the potential of new developments and changes. Four thinkers - Michael Hardt, Toni Negri, Saskia Sassen, and Franco 'Bifo' Berardi - reflect on the question at the heart of the series: What's to be Done?

3.10-4pm Panel & floor discussion: Steve Wright, Angela Mitropoulos, Brett Neilson

4-4.15 Short Break

4.15-4.35pm Screening: Globalize it!, a documentary by Petra Andits, Firenze, 2002

Made in Firenze in November 2002, this is a documentary about the European Social Forum. The film constructs a holistic picture, documenting the variety and heterogeneity of opinions, worldviews and the ambience of the gathering of the "anti-globalization" protestors. It is definitely not an activist film, since the filmmakers' purpose was not to create sympathy for the rally's participants; yet, while trying to be objective, the film reveals the often humorous, demagogic and banal aspects of such gatherings.

4.35-5pm Panel & floor discussion: Petra Andits

5-5.35pm Screening: The Unorganizeables, documentary by Florian Schneider, Germany, 2002

Three examples of creative workplace struggle in California, where a new wave of migrant activism is revitalizing union culture.

5.35-5.45pm Short Break

5.45-6.30 Panel & floor discussion: Camille Barbagallo, Alex Kelly, Ned Rossiter

6.30-7pm Strategies for organised networks of new media labour


Petra Andits is a graduate of the University of Budapest with MA degrees in both Anthropology and Scandinavian Studies. She is now a PhD candidate in Anthropology, School of Political and Social Inquiry, at Monash University.

Camille Barbagallo is currently the Young Unionists Network Co-ordinator at Victorian Trades Hall Council and has been an activist in the student and anti-capitalist movements for a few years now. (

Alex Kelly is a media-making ratbag who has been involved in a swag of projects including media circus, indymedia, skatv, radio-free baxter and green pepper magazine (am*dam). She is currently very excited by squatting, hope and recognising activism in wildly different forms.

Angela Mitropoulos has written on border policing, sovereignty and work regimes (including for xborder, Borderlands and Overland) and produced various noborder media such as and the Virtual People Smuggler.

Brett Neilson is senior lecturer in cultural and social analysis at the University of Western Sydney, where he is also a member of the Centre for Cultural Research. He is author of Free Trade in the Bermuda Triangle ... and Other Tales of Counterglobalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003).

Ned Rossiter is a lecturer in Communications and Media Studies at Monash University. He is also a co-facilitator of Fibreculture, a network of critical Internet researchers in Australasia. (

Steve Wright is a lecturer in Information Management and Systems at Monash University. He is the author of Storming Heaven: Class Composition and Struggle in Italian Autonomist Marxism (London: Pluto, 2002).


Thanks to Florian Schneider and Geert Lovink for access to the What's to be Done? series. For more information on the films and related media projects:

Kind support from Alessio Cavallaro & the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI),

This event is a Fibreculture initiative