Channeling Emma Goldman

Abigail Robin channels anarchist Emma Goldman in her performance.

Abigail Robin, a retired English and Women’s Studies professor at SUNY New Paltz, hosted an Emma Goldman performance titled “Channeling Emma.” This event was part of The Louis and Mildred Resnick Institute for the Study of Modern Jewish Life.

According to the Resnick Institute, their goal is “to provide opportunities for students, faculty and members of the greater New Paltz community to engage in stimulating learning experiences and discussion.” Robin said she wants to raise questions and promote activism through her program.

“Channeling Emma” consisted of Robin speaking in the voice of Goldman and applying her thoughts and speeches to the present. The speech was not in chronological order, but Robin said she hoped the audience used this information to draw analogies to the problems occurring now.

“In today’s world, it takes a long time to evolve and with evolution comes devolution,” Robin said. “She has a place in this world and I’m very glad about that and I’d like to encourage it because her ideas are really basic to humanity.”

Robin said she was always enthralled with notions of anarchism.

“Freedom is the most important notion that people needed to wrap their heads around,” Robin said. “Anarchism, which today gets conflated with terrorism, is a very organic notion of human development in the world.”

As a child, Robin said she began reading various works by anarchists. One of her primary focuses was Goldman, an interest which she said deepened as she got older.

“She’s just been in my life, but I’ve really been reading a tremendous amount, writing about her and I would like very much to publish something about her,” Robin said. “She was all about performance and theater was so significant to her and that is one of the reasons I want to promote her because I love promoting theater.”

Robin has spent more than 15 years researching Goldman and attempting to channel her thoughts. She said this is why she wants to educate others about the things Goldman fought for.

“She was a very independent woman and she questioned authority constantly,” Robin said. “She questioned ‘-isms’ conscription war everything that needed to be questioned so that liberty and freedom could really be acknowledged and understood.”

Last semester, Robin held a performance called “Emma Goldman Now” and hopes to continue educating the community about Goldman’s efforts. The Resnick Institute is holding their next event  “Children in the Holocaust and in their Later Years,” April 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Lecture Center 104.