The Movements of Movements: Struggles for Other Worlds, Part I




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published: 12 / 2014

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The Movements of Movements: Struggles for Other Worlds, Part I

By Sen Jai (ed.)

10.00 E 5.00 E



Someone once suggested that movement cannot be thought, it has to be lived. In other words, social movements - the coming together in processes that build the power to bring about change - stem not from any kind of blue-print that can set out an ideal for the world we ought to live in; nor can there be a simple step-by-step guide on how to get there. At the same time, there can’t be movement without a collective effort to understand the shared and embodied experiences that constitute it, along with the problems, concerns and trajectories that arise in struggle. It’s this kind of critical reflection that the authors assembled in this volume undertake, providing intelligent and engaged analyses that avoid any stifling dichotomies - whether between theory and practice, activism and academia, or indeed between thinking and feeling. Possible futures right now in the making become legible in how ‘The Movement of Movements’ doesn’t shy away from the complex and unsettling issues that shape our time while thinking through struggles for social and ecological justice in the wider contexts of their past and present.

Emma Dowling is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Middlesex University, London, UK. Her current work is concerned with the politics of the global financial crisis.

This collection offers a thought-provoking opportunity to parse multiplicities and recent directions in global justice organizing. Sen’s framing in this book sets us up to take stock of two decades of social and political movement in terms of dynamic motion : Not only as strategy and organization, but as kinaesthetic experience, embodied transformation through space and time. This agile cluster of contributors leads us through the cumulative dialectic of zapatismo, altermondialisme, and their various permutations and relations in resistance to global capitalism, guiding the steps of the social dance repeatedly back to earth from the ethereal spaces of hypermobile globality to place feet on the ground in the most deeply rooted sites of embedded struggle. But the ground has kept shifting too, calling up new motifs in the music of alternative worlds : The nuanced, critical emphases on indigeneity, spirituality, gender and ecology, rich with specificity and insight, locate us unmistakably in our present moment with its lessons gleaned of recent history and praxis, even while bringing us full circle to the themes introduced an unbelievable twenty years ago. We shall not be moved. We shall move. We shall keep moving.

Maia Ramnath is a teacher, writer, activist, and dancer/aerialist. She is the author of Decolonizing Anarchism : An Anti-Authoritarian History of India’s Liberation Struggle (2012) and The Haj to Utopia : How the Ghadar Movement Charted Global Radicalism

Edited by Jai Sen, who has long occupied a central position in an international network of intellectuals and activists in movement, this is an important contribution to a developing internationalism that doesn’t assume that the North Atlantic left has all the answers for the rest of the world and which recognizes that emancipatory ideas and practices are often forged from below. The dazzling diversity of ideas and experiences recorded in this extraordinary book really captures something of the fluidity and diversity within the actually existing movements of movements struggling for a more just world. This book, refreshingly free of tired dogmas, non-sectarian, taking internationalism seriously, and reaching back to 1968, provides a bracing window into some of the central ideas to have emerged from within movements in the sequence of struggle that unfolded from 2006 to 2010.

The essays here range across the globe, look at the politics of caste, class, gender, religion and indigeneity, and move from the local to the global. This book will be useful for activists and intellectuals in movement - be they in universities, parties, trade unions, social movements or religious organisations - around the world.

Richard Pithouse teaches politics at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. He is a widely published and translated intellectual whose work is rooted in day-to-day participation in popular struggles.

keywords: Movement

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