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The launch of the second edition of World Social Forum : Challenging Empires

Thursday, September 18 2008, from 1-3 pm; co-organised with Black Rose Books, Montréal.

CACIM’s first event at the ESF – and which was one of the first to take place in the European Social Forum as a whole, taking place at lunch on the first day – was to launch the second edition of a book that had come out in 2004, World Social Forum : Challenging Empires, and that Black Rose Books of Montréal had asked Peter Waterman and Jai Sen to prepare for them. We have audio recorded the session, and with luck will soon be uploading both the recording and some photographs on OpenSpaceForum? (www.openspaceforum.net), with a link also from www.cacim.net.

With the book coming out just in time for the ESF, BRB flew the books over to Malmö, accompanied by Dimitri Roussopoulos himself, the publisher; and where BRB also took a stall in the Folkets Park (‘People’s Park’) for the book sales.

Following a welcome by Dimitri where he underlined that he felt that this was an important book around an important political development, the World Social Forum, Peter and Jai, in turn, put the book in context and invited those contributors to the second edition who were present to say a few words. We had with us there Emma Dowling (scholar-activist from the UK), Gina Vargas (Articulación Feminista Marcosur, Peru), Samir Amin (Third World Forum and World Forum for Alternatives; Egypt, Senegal, and France), and Teivo Teivainen (NIGD, Finland and Peru), each one of whom spoke briefly; and where this was followed by a fairly long, intense, and spirited exchange between the speakers and with several of those present, including Dorothea Haerlin (ATTAC Berlin, Germany), Graeme Chesters (UK), and Gustave Massiah (CRID, France). In all, we had some forty people there. Another contributor to the book, Irene León from ALAI in Ecuador, was also to have joined us, but was finally unable to come to Sweden because of political developments in her country.

Among many other contentious points that were debated, Samir Amin’s emphasis on what he sees as being “fragmentation” in the (global justice) movement – and the need therefore for greater order - was strongly contested by Gina Vargas and Dorothea Haerlin, and others, who argued that seeing the diversity and plurality that they see as the hallmark and strength of the global justice movement as ‘fragmentation’ was a part of the problem; and part of how those who want more centralised, and centrally driven and led, movement see and characterise what is by nature a very diverse movement, in their attempt to being it under control and organise it. Samir, unfortunately, left early, to go to another meeting; but it was interesting to see Teivo Teivainen, who one normally associates with taking other positions, in this case expressing his cautious agreement with Samir’s point about fragmentation.

This, and many other points, led to a long and very engaged discussion about the Forum and its possible futures. Because this discussion took place on the very first day of the Forum, and as one of the first session on the first day, this was perhaps one of the very first such discussions to take place in this area at the ESF at Malmö. And one could argue that it therefore may have contributed to sharpening the focus of all those who were there – several of whom are key players in the WSF process - on the deliberations during the days ahead.

The session then moved to the bar part of Babels, where Black Rose Books treated all those who bought a copy of the book to a drink, and we at CACIM all the contributors to the book who had spoken, on behalf of the editors. The discussions then continued in small groups, deep into the afternoon….

Let us end this quick report by urging you all as people interested in the WSF as a social and political phenomenon to please buy this book and to promote it and push it as much as you can. While it has been a great privilege to be published by Black Rose Books, they have also invested heavily in doing so and in bringing the book over to Malmö from Canada, and they need your help to make the book pay its way. To order it, go through the publisher’s page on it, http://www.blackrosebooks.net/wsf.htm (external link); and other things being equal, for those in North America the book should be on the shelves of your local bookshop any day now, and in Europe soon after.

In addition, please do urge other people to buy it : Especially Forum and movement organisers, teachers giving courses in any and all related areas (political sciences, social sciences, government, etc), and libraries; please do try and get the book reviewed in journals and newspapers – including by doing so yourself; and : please try and get key people to prepare ‘testimonies’ that can help us promote the book (and send those to mavros@blackrosebooks.net and to jai.sen@cacim.net). Thanks for your solidarity !

For more information on the book and to place advance orders, see : http://www.blackrosebooks.net/wsf.htm (external link)

(See below for information on the speakers.)


Alex Callinicos
Alex Callinicos is Professor of European Studies at Kings College London and a member of the SWP (Socialist Workers Party) in the UK. alex.callinicos@kcl.ac.uk


America Vera-Zavala
A writer and an activist, America Vera-Zavala? has written commentaries for Znet since 2001. She has published three books in Sweden and her book Democracy Lives : A World Mosaic of Participatory Democratic Experiences was released in Turkey in 2006 and published in English in 2007. She lives in Sweden. She has been active in both the Left Party and in founding the Attac movement in Sweden. She is currently writing a play on sans papier, paperless workers. america@americavz.com


Chico Whitaker
A member of the Brazilian Organising Committee of the WSF, Chico Whitaker is one of the co-founders of the WSF, and received the Right Livelihood award in 2006 for this. Author of A New Way of Changing the World (Nairobi : World Council of Churches, 2007; published in Portuguese and Spanish in 2005). intercom@cidadania.org.br


Dimitri Roussopoulos
Dimitri Roussopoulos is a well-known activist in Canada for some four decades working from the local to the regional level and back again on issues dealing with radical democracy and urban ecology. He is also a writer and book publisher, having been educated as an political economist. dr@urbanecology.net, mavros@blackrosebooks.net


Emma Dowling
Emma Dowling is active within the social forum movement and in struggles for global justice. Based in Berlin, she is currently studying for a PhD at Birkbeck College, University of London, where she is researching the development of neoliberal global governance from the perspective of social conflict and resistance. Her research interests include social and political change; autonomous politics and global democracy; radical practices of political participation; immaterial and affective labour; and border regimes, detention, and deportation. She has published a number of articles on the social forum process and has been an active participant in the organisation of the ESF and WSF (both the official and autonomous spaces). esd@riseup.net


Geoffrey Pleyers
Geoffrey Pleyers obtained a PhD in sociology at the Ecoles des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris). He is currently FNRS Researcher at the University of Louvain (Belgium) and at the Centre d’Analyse et d’Intervention Sociologiques (Paris) and a Visiting Researcher at the Centre for the Study of Global Governance (London School of Economics). Geoffrey Pleyers is a member of the Open Space Forum discussion network and has attended the seven World Social Forums. He has conducted field research on the Global Social Justice Movement in Western European and Latin American countries including France, Belgium, Mexico, Argentina, and Nicaragua. His recent publications include Forums Sociaux Mondiaux et defis de l’altermondialisme (‘World Social Forums and the challenges of alter-globalisation’, in French), Brussels: Academia. Geoffrey.Pleyers@uclouvain.be


Gina Vargas
A veteran Peruvian feminist sociologist and founder of the Centro Flora Tristan in Peru, Gina Vargas is one of the 1,000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the year 2006. She is associated with the Articulación Feminista Marcosur in Latin America, and the Program of Democracy and Global Transformation in San Marcos University, Lima. She has taught at universities worldwide and currently teaches the Master of Sexuality and Public Policies course at San Marcos University in Lima, Peru. She is a member of the WSF International Council. ginavargas@telefonica.net.pe


Gustave Massiah
Gustave Massiah is President of CRID – Centre de Recherche et d'Information pour le Développment, France. guma@globenet.org


Samir Amin
Samir Amin is Director, Third World Forum, located in Dakar, Senegal, and Chair, World Forum for Alternatives, Cairo, Egypt, and Louvain, Belgium. An economist and intellectual, he is regarded as one of the foremost thinkers on the changing dynamics of capitalism. Since 2001, he has been actively associated with the World Social Forum as well as the regional fora. Amin has authored my articles and books, including Accumulation on a world scale (1970), Transforming the revolution : social movements and the world system (1990), Beyond US Hegemony : Assessing the Prospects for a Multipolar World (2006), and Memoirs of An Independent Marxist (2006), and with François Houtart in 2002, he edited - Mondialisation de resistances : L’etat des lutes 2002 (‘The Globalisation of Resistance : The State of the Struggles 2002’, in French) (Paris : L’Harmattan? / Forum Mondial des Alternatives). Samir.Amin@wanadoo.fr


Teivo Teivainen
Chair of World Politics, and Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science at the University of Helsinki, Teivo Teivainen is a past President of NIGD (Network Institute for Global Democratisation), a member of the International Council of the World Social Forum, and co-founder of the Program of Democracy and Global Transformation in San Marcos University, Lima, Peru. teivo.teivainen@helsinki.fi


CACIM @ WSF 2011

CACIM