May 12, 2022
In this conversation we interview Steven Osuna to discuss his piece “Class Suicide: The Black Radical Tradition, Radical Scholarship, and the Neoliberal Turn” from the 2017 collection Futures of Black Radicalism.
Steven Osuna is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at California State University, Long Beach. He is a scholar of racism and political economy; globalization, transnationalism, and immigration; and policing and criminalization.
Steven was born and raised in Echo Park, Los Angeles and is a son of Mexican and Salvadoran working-class migrants. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Homies Unidos-Los Angeles and a member of the Philippines US Solidarity Organization (PUSO).
In this episode Josh interviews Osuna, to discuss the role of the academic who sees their work as in solidarity with movements for the working class, anti-imperialist movements, and struggles for socialism and communism.
Osuna talks about the concept of class suicide as put forth by Amilcar Cabral and additionally embodied in the theory and practice of figures like Frantz Fanon and Walter Rodney. Steven also talks about his own experiences as a student of Cedric Robinson. And Steven talks about Robinson’s notion of the Black Radical Tradition alongside his own background and interest coming out of the Marxist tradition through learning about the El Salvadoran communist movement and also bringing an interest in liberation theology.
Ultimately the conversation is concerned with how someone taking on a petty bourgeois position, and gaining access to the resources available in a place like a university can actually use that position and those resources in material solidarity with concrete working class struggles. Osuna does not mean this to be an abstraction, for him it means participating in working class, anti-imperialist movements and doing so by lending whatever labor those movements need rather than the position that might feel most comfortable to the petty bourgeois academic.
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