The World Social Forum : A Critical Engagement
Activities So Far in the Programme*
Introduction and Summary
Since 2007, CACIM has undertaken a new programme of work, entitled ‘The World Social Forum : A Critical Engagement’. This programme is built on the insights drawn from its extensive previous research and action programmes almost since the inception of the World Social Forum process in 2001, around the concept of open space, the dynamics of movements, and cultures of politics – but attempts now to more systematically and comprehensively cover this ground. (For details of our earlier activities, in these and related areas, see Overview and Activities So Far. This new programme supplements and complements our other ongoing projects and past activities around the Forum, and is aimed at critically strengthening the Forum process – but without downplaying in any way the significant various other undercurrents and processes that take place within and outside it. It is guided, like our previous and other existing programmes, by a spirit of critical engagement – and hopefully also contributing to spaces for critical reflection, by those involved and/or participating in the Forum process : Of open sharing, dialogue, debate, association, networking, access, and participation. We see our work as attempting to create spaces for this engagement and reflection, and do this through organising meetings, publishing books and occasional papers, creating opportunities for study and reflection such as short-term Fellowships, supporting the making of films, and maintaining related websites and listserves - and by generating debates in, around, and through all these spaces.
This present document summarises activities in this programme during the past year, September 2007-August 2008. (See footnote * for a clarification in this regard.)
The programme focuses on three critical areas : Firstly, the impact and potentials of the ‘new politics’ that the World Social Forum offers; secondly, examination of Forum as a radical democratic pedagogical space engaged in creation of alternative and plurality of knowledge systems and challenging the dominance of scientific technological knowledge societies; and thirdly, exploring the organising principles of the Forum as a space based on its Charter of Principles.
Meetings of Minds
- September 19 2008 : Roundtable discussion at the European Social Forum, in collaboration with Fronesis in Sweden (Fronesis) on the theme How Relevant is the WSF to Struggles for Social Justice in the World Today ? . 10-1 pm, Babel/Jeriko café bar at Spångatan 38, Malmö, Sweden, with Alex Callinicos, America Vera-Zavala?, Dimitri Roussopoulos, Emma Dowling, Geoffrey Pleyers, Gina Vargas, Gustave Massiah, Moema Miranda, and Raffaella Bolini. See details
- September 18 2008 : Book Launch of the updated second edition of World Social Forum : Challenging Empires, published by Black Rose Books, Montréal (World Social Forum : Challenging Empires). 1-3 pm, Babel/Jeriko café bar, at Spångatan 38, Malmö, Sweden. Speakers : Bernard Cassen, Chico Whitaker, Emma Dowling, Jai Sen, Peter Waterman, and Teivo Teivainen; others also expected. See details
- August 29 2008 : Symposium on Struggles for Social Justice in India Today : How Relevant is the World Social Forum ? at the YWCA, Ashoka Road, New Delhi. Read theme note | Symposium Programme | Participants List
- January 11 2008 : WSF@CrossRoad : A public meeting to critically engage with the emerging dynamics of the WSF process in India and globally. Main speakers : Amit Sen Gupta (WSF India), Teivo Teivainen (NIGD), and Vijay Pratap (SADED and Lokayan). Indian Social Institute, Lodhi Road, New Delhi, India. See the CACIM website for details of a forthcoming film on the meeting, by Nishant
- Starting with the August 2008 Symposium, opening a process of collective reflection in this area during the period September-December? 2008, punctuated by a wide range of consultations, debate, and discussions – and perhaps also actions; including a proposed second major Symposium during November 2008 on the experience of the WSF in India that will critically look at the WSF as domestic and international strategy (see August 29 2008 Symposium, above);
- Complementing the New Delhi and Malmö meetings in August, September, and November 2008 (as above), inviting people across the world to critically look at the experience and substance of the WSF as domestic and international strategy, and organising a major event at the next world meeting of the WSF that is to take place in Belem, in Brazil, in January 2009, where all those who take part in this process will be invited to present their findings.
CACIM Forum Fellowships
In 2007, CACIM instituted a programme of CACIM Forum Fellowships, where through a process of open invitations and applications, we are attempting to provide opportunities for young activists, students, and researchers to critically look at different aspects of the Forum process in India and globally – and through their work, to enable all those interested to gain fresh insights. See details @ CACIM Forum Fellowship
Round One 2007-8
- Mamata Dash : WSF through the Eyes of Peoples’ Movement Groups in India
- Mayur Chetia : World Social Forum and the Reaction from the Indian Left
- Susana Barria : Main debates around the WSF 2004 in Mumbai
Advisers : Aditya Nigam (CSDS, Delhi), Andrej Grubacic (San Francisco), Giuseppe Caruso (London and New York), Janet Conway (Toronto and Brock University, Ontario), Naveen Chander (Delhi), Peter Waterman (The Hague), and Sonia Alvarez (University of Massachusetts - Amherst)
Round Two 2008-9
- Elizabeth Abraham : Locating Dalit Rights Concerns in Civil Society Initiatives in India
- Janaki Srinivasan : WSF and the Debate on Alternative Development in India
- Oishik Sircar : All are Different, All are Equal ? : The Politics and Poetics of Sexual Diversity at the Social Forums in India
- Uddhab Prasad Pyakurel : World Social Forum and Question of Grassroots Participation
Probable Advisers :
Ashok Chowdhury (NFFPFW, India), C R Bijoy (Forest Rights Activist, India), Giuseppe Caruso (London and New York), Janet Conway (Toronto and Brock University, Canada), Lata P M (Activist, India), Nishant (Film maker, Journalist, India), Shaleen Rakesh (Sexuality Rights Acitivist, India), Sonia Alvarez (University of Massachusetts – Amherst, USA), Subhash Gatade (Commentator, activist, India), and Uma Chakravarty (Academic-Activist, India)
Critical Interventions through WSFDiscuss, OpenSpaceForum?, and Other Means
WSFDiscuss is an open and unmoderated forum for the exchange of information and views on the experience, practise, and theory of the World Social Forum at any level (local, national, regional, and global) and on related social and political movements and issues. OpenSpaceForum is a webspace to comprehensively document the WSF itself and all activities that take place in, around, and outside it, and – along with postings on WSFDiscuss - make this openly available. The webspace is administered by a Coordination Body consisting of members of CACIM and the EIOS Collective, and is hosted and run by CACIM on behalf of the body and the EIOS Collective.
WSF Discuss, August 2008 - Intense debate on the WSF Discuss listserve run by CACIM, on the question of participation of heads of state at the World Social Forum events. Archives available at WSF Discuss, August 2008
CACIM, November 2007 – ‘Is the World Social Forum approaching a point of crisis ? What is the future of the Forum ?’. A note for discussion in the run-up to the Global Day of Action in January 2008. Available at Debate GDA January 2008
Jai Sen, November 2007 – ‘Some hard questions 2 : A source of considerable worry; some suggestions for the Forum’. A comment on the Guiding Principles for Holding WSF Events, draft 1, prepared and revised by Vinod Raina; based on comments received till 26 Oct 2007 on behalf of the Assessment Working Group. This draft was discussed at IC Belem meeting, October 29-November 1 2007, and was posted on WSFDiscuss on October 31. Jai Sen’s letter, dated November 1 2007, is available at Letter
CACIM’s Participation in WSF Official Processes
WSF India Working Committee Meeting at regular intervals in Bombay, Delhi, and Bhopal.
CACIM was a member of the preparatory team for an Evaluation of the WSF India process and the Global Day of Action in India, November–December? 2007.
CACIM is also a member of the WSF India Planning Team for the WSF India Strategy Seminar (now scheduled for November 2008).
Participation at European Social Forum, Malmö, Sweden, by CACIM members Jai Sen, Vasudev Rajamani, and Peter Waterman, and CACIM Associates Emma Dowling, Geoffrey Pleyers, and Giuseppe Caruso, September 16-21 2008. (For details, see section above on ‘Meetings of Minds’.)
Publications by CACIM members, associates, and fellows
Jai Sen and Peter Waterman, eds, September 2008 – World Social Forum : Challenging Empires, second edition. Montréal : Black Rose Books
Kolya Abramsky, August 2008 (April 2007) – ‘The Bamako Appeal and the Zapatista 6th Declaration - From Reorganizing the Existing World to Creating New Ones’. Critical Engagement, vol. 1. New Delhi : CACIM
Jai Sen, August 2008 (May 2007b) – ‘Opening open space : Notes on the grammar and vocabulary of the concept of open space’. Discussion draft 4 modified, May 17 2007. Critical Engagement 2. New Delhi : CACIM
Kolya Abramsky, August 2008 (September 2007) – ‘Towards the Intergalactica - Beyond Networking : Building New Autonomous Global Relations of Production, Reproduction and Exchange’. Critical Engagement 3. New Delhi : CACIM
Susana Barria, August 2008 – ‘Main debates around the WSF 2004 in Mumbai’. Paper prepared as CACIM Forum Fellow 2007-8. Critical Engagement 4. New Delhi : CACIM
Mayur Chetia, August 2008 – ‘World Social Forum and the Reaction from the Indian Left’. Paper prepared as CACIM Forum Fellow 2007-8. Critical Engagement 5. New Delhi : CACIM
Mamata Dash, August 2008 – ‘The World Social Forum through the Eyes of movement groups in India’. Paper prepared as CACIM Forum Fellow 2007-8. Critical Engagement 6. New Delhi : CACIM
Peter Waterman, April 2008 – Recovering Internationalism, Creating the New Global Solidarity : Labour, Social Movements and Emancipation in the 21st Century. First Edition on the Choike Website: Recovering Internationalism..
Tomás Mac Sheoin, March 2008 – ‘A bibliography on the policing and repression of anti-globalisation protests and movements drawing on a variety of sources - academic, media, movement and security forces’. First draft, dt March 21 2008 Download
CACIM, January 2008 - The WSF’s Global Call to Action : A Directory . January 22 2008
Jai Sen, November 2007 – ‘The Power of Civility’, in ‘Global Civil Society : More or Less Democracy’ Development Dialogue no 49
Jai Sen, ed, December 2008 – Interrogating Empires, Book Two of "Are Other Worlds Possible" ? series. New Delhi : Open Word
Jai Sen, ed, December 2008 – Samrajyon Se Guftgu (‘Interrogating Empires’, in Hindi), Delhi : Prakashan Sansthan and CACIM. (Hindi edition of Jai Sen, ed, forthcoming December 2008 – Interrogating Empires, Book Two of Are Other Worlds Possible ? series. New Delhi : Open Word)
Jai Sen, ed, December 2008 – Imagining Alternatives, Book Three of Are Other Worlds Possible ? series. New Delhi : Open Word
Jai Sen, ed, December 2008 – Vikalp Ki Khoj (‘Imagining Alternatives’, in Hindi), Delhi : Prakashan Sansthan and CACIM. (Hindi edition of Jai Sen, ed, forthcoming December 2008 – Imagining Alternatives, Book Three of Are Other Worlds Possible ? series. New Delhi : Open Word)’
Jai Sen and Peter Waterman, eds, forthcoming (2008) - Facing History : The World Social Forum and Beyond. New Delhi : OpenWord?
Jai Sen and Peter Waterman, eds, forthcoming (2009) - Changing Worlds : Emerging World Movement and the World Social Forum. New Delhi : OpenWord
WSF @ Cross Roads : A Critical Engagement. A Film by Nishant. Produced by CACIM, 2008
A film of critical engagement with the politics of open space, by Shannon Walsh, based on footage during the WSF 2007 in Nairobi, in and around the Forum
A film on explorations of open space, by Taran Khan, based on footage at the WSF 2005 in and around Porto Alegre