|PUBLICATIONS OF CRITICAL ENGAGEMENT SERIES|
|These publications are part of the CACIM Forum Fellowship programme, which is in continuation with the efforts of CACIM at promoting a critical engagement with socio-political movements in general and with the WSF process in particular.|
|The 2008-09 Process|
Sexing Spaces of Emancipation :
The Politics and Poetics of Sexuality within the World Social Forum Process
About this monograph
The World Social Forum (WSF), which began in 2001 in Porto Alegre in Brazil, is an initiative committed to resisting injustice not just by using the political language of rights but also through the aesthetic idioms of art, indigenous knowledge, and oral histories and cultures. The WSF process creates a global space for solidarity building and reflection not hitherto available to movements across the world. This renders imperative the need to engage with the process and to continue to refine it. This is not because the WSF will completely transform the world but because it makes us realise that the foundations required for effecting transformation can be built through solidarity.
However, lest we end up romanticising the WSF as an artefact, it is necessary that we rigorously critique it and the ideas that it stands for. This critique is not to discredit the WSF, but to be able to work through its drawbacks and overcome its in-built biases. There can be several indices for measuring the solidarity-quotient of the WSF and one such register is what can be called the ‘lens of marginality’. This lens can be used to gauge how well the most marginalised find visibility and recognition within the WSF space. The ‘lens of marginality’ then recognises the cruel reality of in-built hierarchies within spaces of promised emancipation. One way of identifying this hierarchy – how and how much it exists within the WSF space – can be through the story of sexuality’s articulation within this space, by understanding the context in which sexuality appeared on the WSF stage, especially because it finds no mention in its Charter of Principles (2001 and 2004), or in later documents like the Manifesto of Porto Alegre (2005) and the Bamako Appeal (2006).
The story of sexuality within all spaces of solidarity building is fraught with opposition, laden with premonition, and yet empowered through its ability for subversion. The idea behind this monograph is to offer a critical reading of how sexuality inhabits ‘spaces of emancipation’ like the WSF. Although the WSF (and its Indian avatars) will be the sites of inquiry, the essay attempts to establish commonality in the trajectory that the articulation of sexuality tends to take within other emancipatory sites like UN conferences internationally and women’s conferences in India. It offers a mapping of sexuality and sexual rights articulation across these diverse locations through space and time, to tease out the machinations of solidarity-politics in an era of liberal populism.