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INVITATIONS
TOWARD
RE-WORLDING


What is your
theory of change
these days?


by eve tuck

In the same way that our conversations can drift to astrological signs, and we use these to think about our relations to one another. In the same way that our conversations begin with where we are from, or if they don’t begin there, they get there eventually. In the same way  we actually sometimes mean it when we ask one another “how are you?” and also sometimes answer it fully, even if we weren’t asked for it in full.

This is how I wish we talked with one another about our theories of change.

What is your theory of change these days?

It truly is my favorite question. It definitely isn’t small talk, not because it couldn’t be small talk, but because we are out of practice with having discussions about our theories of change. It could be what we talk about when we are on an outing with an old friend, when we are texting before a date, when we wake up startled in the night, tangled in the covers. It could be what we talk about as we brush our children’s hair. What we sing about in songs. What we whisper with our hands covering our hearts and bellies. What we breathe over one another, when it is safe to share breath again.

When we don’t talk about how we think change happens, we are left to assume that we are operating from the same, unexpressed, neoliberal and colonial theory of change. The default theory of change in settler colonial racial capitalism is that if we document the damage, get enough people to pay attention to it, then together our voices will convince so and so (who is in charge) to give up power and resources. This theory of change makes us over-invest in spectacle and empathy as an emotion that leads to change, in the innocence of the powerful, in the rationality of the powerful, and in their power to wield their power over us. It does nothing to contest the order of power, how they got that power, and their influence over our lives. They are the actors, and we are the acted upon. If we can prove our pain to them, they will be made aware, and this awareness will lead them to lessen our pain. We know this is a lie.

So, when I say that I want the discussion of our theories of change to be among the most mundane, regularly-occurring discussions across our many relations, it is so that we are not reliant on a broken theory of change. I don’t have a pre-determined theory of change that I want us all to have. I don’t want the conversations about theories of change to be prescriptive, but pedagogical. In wanting for these conversations to flourish, I don’t want our theories of change themselves to be more accurate in their estimation of causation. There can be many unknowns in our theories, many sites of wonder.

While you’re signing the rider, riding on the subway, writing on the subway, reading your writing aloud at the reading, writing to your readers, writing home, running away from home, making your home, making-meaning, being mean, being refusing, being care, being careful, being kin, being beyond kin, caring for older-than-human kin, being full with care, let us be curious enough about one another and the world and the future to ask, What is your theory of change these days?  Let this be the way we know and love one another. Let this be what we know about our nemeses. Let this be what we know about the movements and gardens and children we grow.

Talk soon,
Eve Tuck


Jen Delos Reyes is a 'farmer of sorts and an artist of sorts,' educator, writer, and radical community arts organizer. She is defiantly optimistic, a friend to all birds, and proponent that our institutions can become tender and vulnerable. Delos Reyes is currently in Chicago, IL where she is living at SIDE by SIDE, a future residency for BIPOC arts and culture leaders and artists to rest and rejuvenate, and cultivating Garbage Hill Farm, the onsite Community Supported Agriculture andArt program that supports the endeavor. She is the Associate Director of the School of Art & Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she works to promote arts education access at the city’s only public research university.




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