Events | The Power of Protest: Nalleli Cobo & Friedemann Karig in Conversation

Los Angeles | February 15, 2024

Start: 7 p.m. (PT) | By Invitation Only

Join us for two presentations and a conversation with 2024 Thomas Mann Fellow & author Friedemann Karig and renowned environmental activist Nalleli Cobo! During his Fellowship at the Thomas Mann House, journalist, author, and moderator Friedemann Karig is exploring different protest cultures in the U.S. and Germany: Do they make today's democracies vulnerable – or more resilient?

Young activists at a climate strike in San Rafael, CADec. 6th, 2019. Photo: Creative Common

With the rise of rightwing populism in Western democracies, the question of efficient and sustainable forms of protest is more relevant than ever. What kind of instruments, methods and structures are useful for which specific struggle? In an attempt to bring protest theory and practice in conversation and to bring about to new ideas and synergies, our fellow Friedemann Karig and environmental activist Nalleli Cobo will talk about protest cultures not as a sudden emotional outburst, but as a cool-headed political strategy. What are differences between the U.S. and Germany when it comes to protest movements and how they influence political discourse via civil disobedience? What are the important protest groups in the years to come? What can we learn from successful protests in Germany and the U.S. over the past years and what makes a protest actually successful?

After two short presentations from a German and an U.S. perspective, Friedemann will engage in a conversation with Nalleli Cobo, followed by a Q&A with the audience.

During his fellowship, Friedemann Karig will examine protest cultures in the United States. Through the lens of Henry David Thoreau’s term “civil disobedience,” he will explore movements such as the Civil Rights Movement, Black Lives Matter, and others.

The event will take place at the Thomas Mann House on February 15.

Attendance information

By invitation only.


Nalleli Cobo led a grassroots campaign to permanently shut down a toxic oil well in her community. Cobo, 22, grew up in South Los Angeles and started engaging in activism at age 9. Over the years, she endured headaches, nosebleeds and heart palpitations caused by pollution from the well in her community. She gave her first public speech at age 10. Even as a child, her skills as an orator caught others’ attention and paved the way for her to eventually become the leading spokesperson for banning oil extraction in Los Angeles. She co-founded People Not Pozos, an organization that aims to secure a safe and healthy neighborhood, and the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition, which focuses on ending environmental racism in Los Angeles. In March 2020, her organizing culminated in the definitive closure of the AllenCo drilling site across the street from her childhood home. She was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 19. After three surgeries and medical treatment, she was declared cancer-free. Her story and leadership also inspired the enactment of SB 1137, which bans all new oil wells within 3200 feet of communities in California. She won the 2022 Goldman Environmental Prize and was named on the 2022 Time 100 Next list.

Friedemann Karig is a journalist, author, and moderator from Berlin. He studied media science, politics, and economics and has written for Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Zeit, Spiegel Online, and Deutschlandfunk, among others. His nonfiction book Wie wir lieben (How We Love) was published by Blumenbar in 2017, followed by his debut novel Dschungel (Ullstein, 2019) and the nonfiction bestseller Erzählende Affen: Mythen, Lügen, Utopien – Wie Geschichten unser Leben bestimmen (Narrating Apes: Myths, Lies and Utopias - How Stories Determine Our Lives) (Ullstein, 2021). His novel Die Lügnerin (The Lyer) was be published in September 2023 by Ullstein. During his fellowship, Friedemann Karig will examine protest cultures in the United States. Taking as his starting point Henry David Thoreau’s term "civil disobedience," he will look at the civil rights movement and Black Lives Matter, among other movements.

An event by the Thomas Mann House, Los Angeles.

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