Award-winning program of ideas, in-depth analysis, and commentary on a variety of matters — political, economic, social, and cultural — important to progressive and radical thinking and activism. Against the Grain is co-produced and co-hosted by Sasha Lilley and C. S. Soong.
Victory at the Zad
A protracted but determined struggle to defeat an airport construction project produced an extraordinary victory. In the face of brutal police repression, Isabelle Fremeaux, Jay Jordan, and others created an autonomous zone and prevented the construction of a massive international airport on 4,000 acres of fields, forest, and wetlands in western France. Fremeaux and Jordan recount the now iconic struggle at the “zad” and describe how they understand the relationship between art, resistance, and commoning. (Encore presentation.)
Isabelle Fremeaux and Jay Jordan, We Are “Nature” Defending Itself: Entangling Art, Activism and Autonomous Zones  Pluto Press/Journal of Aesthetics & Protest, 2021
The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination 
The ReImagining Value Action Lab 
The Journal of Aesthetics & Protest 
(Image on main page by Bstroot56.)
The Politics of Camping
In the United States, few things seem as wholesome as camping, letting us temporarily escape the daily grind and commune with nature and each other. But Phoebe Young argues that camping has a complicated history, which tell us a lot about Americans’ notions of nature and the nation. She discusses the various forms that camping has taken in this country, from recreational camping to the encampments of those without shelter to Occupy Wall Street. (Encore presentation.)
Phoebe S.K. Young, Camping Grounds: Public Nature in American Life from the Civil War to the Occupy Movement  Oxford University Press, 2021
Our Medical Data, Everywhere
Most of us assume that our medical data is protected under U.S. law -- but, as sociologist Mary Ebeling illustrates, that’s wrong. Even when we don’t collect it ourselves with fitness trackers and health apps, our most sensitive health information is gathered from across the web, and package and sold as data commodities by brokers like the credit bureaus Equifax and Experian. Ebeling discusses the afterlives of our medical data, as well as the lack of medical data privacy in a post-Roe world.
Mary F.E. Ebeling, Afterlives of Data: Life and Debt under Capitalist Surveillance  UC Press, 2022
Graeber, Policing, and Abolitionism
David Graeber, the radical anthropologist and prominent activist, had a lot to say about police and policing, both historically and in contemporary society. Andrew Johnson  examines a number of Graeber’s assertions and also articulates his own views on the history of policing, the role of police today, and the value of breaking the spell of police authoritarianism.
Andrew Johnson, “Bureaucrats with guns: Or, how we can abolish the police if we just stop believing in them”  Anthropological Notebooks
(Image on main page by Bartosz Brzezinski.)
General Strike of the Enslaved
Did Lincoln free the slaves? Or did they just as much free themselves? And what were the ramifications of their seemingly impossible achievement — immediate and uncompensated emancipation — for other oppressed groups? Historian David Roediger discusses that revolutionary period in U.S. history — and the consequences of its failure today. (Encore presentation.)
David R. Roediger, Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All  Verso, 2015
The Unmitigated Power of Big Tech
They are among the biggest companies in the world: Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon have an outsized impact on the global economy and on our daily lives. Rob Larson examines the companies that have become synonymous with the glories and ills of contemporary capitalism. He makes the case for online socialism.
Rob Larson, Bit Tyrants: The Political Economy of Silicon Valley  Haymarket Books, 2020
Excellent research and hosts
Very thoughtful and informative! Sasha Lilley and CS Song are very adept at guiding the interviews forward. I almost always learn something that changes my knowledge of the world, even from the eps whose titles I am less interested in. My favorite was an interview with David Graeber.
KPFA, and public intellectualism, at its best
Simply one of the finest scholarly radio shows in America. I’d been listening to Against the Grain on FM for more than a decade, and I’m so grateful that it’s now offered via podcast so I can easily listen to it on the east coast. You’d be hard pressed to find a more fascinating podcast hearing from the most innovative leftist intellectuals today.
Are there any herbs for ‘orange-man-bad’ syndrome??
Extremely biased against Trump presidency. While there is some credible, unbiased, subjects discussed on this podcast, it fails to objectively evaluate the White House w/out selling the same old propaganda the left has been dishing for four years