World Social Forum: Critical Explorations

   Social Science
   Political Science
   Civil society



    epub 3.7 MB

published: 2012

pages: 801

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(till 15 May 2013):
15.00 euros

Normal Price: 18.00 euros

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Jai Sen >

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World Social Forum: Critical Explorations

By Jai Sen & Peter Waterman (eds.)

18.00 E 10.00 E



This is an extraordinary book about an extraordinary phenomenon. From the outset of the 21st century, the World Social Forum has been the premier venue of world social movements. It has been the home of globalized challenges to corporate globalization and neoliberalism from the global opposition to the Iraq war to the transnational challenge to caste and racism to the anti-austerity politics of the Great Recession. It has led to renewed hope that "another world is possible".

As the Indignados, Occupy Wall Street, climate protection, and other large new movements have spread around the globe in the past two years, the ways in which the World Social Forum and these new movements choose to relate to each other will be critical. For those who wish to understand the WSF and its limits and potentials for the period ahead, there is no better guide than the new book World Social Forum : Critical Explorations. Its 36 essays by diverse contributors from around the world engage deep issues about the WSF, and more broadly about the process of social movement globalization, with conceptual clarity and straightforward language and style. Whether the WSF wheel is modified for new conditions or reinvented, the lessons of its experience will be essential for global social change. This book is an indispensable guide to what the WSF has been and what that means for the future of global social movements. For those in the new movements trying to decide whether and how they should relate to the WSF, this is the book I would tell them to read.

Jeremy Brecher / Historian and author/editor of Global Village or Global Pillage : Economic Reconstruction from the Bottom Up (1994), Globalization from Below : The Power of Solidarity (2000), and, most recently,Save the Humans ? Common Preservation in Ac

This book is a passionate, reasoned, and critical collection of essays that demonstrate the lasting legacy of the World Social Forum and the horizontal politics that the ’movement of movements’ helped inspire. At a moment in history when millions of people worldwide are participating in social movements organized through horizontal political structures, this book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the international history of these practices as well as the problems faced and lessons learned. World Social Forum : Critical Explorations provides an acute political analysis of past social struggles across and between an extraordinary collection of places, spaces, positionalities, and histories and offers a critical but hopeful diversity of ideas for how we can collectively build a better global political/economic system in the future.

Marianne Maeckelbergh / Author of The Will of the Many : How the Alterglobalisation Movement is Changing the Face of Democracy (Pluto, 2009) and Assistant Professor in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at Leiden University, Netherlands

The constructively encompassing scope, diversity, and dynamically transformative shapings/re-shapings of the World Social Forum phenomenon require an equivalent breadth and fluidity of reflection, critique, and affirmation as we seek to understand positive politics and potentials for the 21st century. This book,World Social Forum : Critical Explorations, offers an original and vitally needed departure point for such an understanding, with its heterogeneity of voices flowing around the global social justice center of gravity.

Importantly, this provocative and energizing compilation, from a wide variety of writer-activists, provides sharply critical discussions of limitations and impediments to the development of the World Social Forum, such as the key issue of male dominance in certain settings, and the vexing question of who financially can and cannot attend such events. This necessary and refreshing openness to doing sharply etched reflections on and from the various World Social Forum gatherings, tells us that the dry-rot of dogmatism - that scourge of leftist history - is being transcended. The openness of Critical Explorations to wide ranging difficulties, possibilities, and organizing necessities is perhaps not so much about ‘a movement’, but rather describes people and organizations around the world that are in movement. With its constantly constructive respectfully dialogues and critiques and its depiction of the fluidity, dissolution, and resolution of diverse global perspectives, this book is an invaluable reader, both explicating and exhorting the best of the human spirit.


John Brown / Childs Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, USA, and author of Transcommunality : From the Politics of Conversion to the Ethics of Respect

This is an extraordinary book about the most extraordinary fact of our time : The coming together of social movements across the planet, organised around many issues, drawing on very different social groups and speaking in many tongues - but sharing a common refusal of neo-liberalism and daring to work together, as equals, without the blessing of the powerful. Critical Explorationsbrings to life this multiplicity of voices and many of the crosscutting strands of debate and conflict that animate this reality. It is both a reflection of this process - an image of it - and also carries this further by reflecting on the experience, questioning while walking, shaping new possibilities. As knowledge from below, starting from the South and movement-centred, the book is radically different to conventionally static top-down accounts. Reading this book we can see our own movements in the light of wider possibilities, broader alliances, and at times perhaps even glimpse what it might be like to be part of a future, free humanity.

Laurence Cox / Long-time activist, editor of the open-access social movements journal Interface, and director of the MA course in Community Education, Equality, and Social Activism at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth

So enlightening!

Set in the context of the revolutionary times in which we live, from the Arab Spring to occupy to mass protests in India, the book explores the challenges and hopes of the social movements of our times through the story of the social forum - an actor with great power as a bridge between these movements.

Confronting the unprecedented pain of the world - the growing inequality, the devastation of the earth - is often too overwhelming to bear, but instead in this book, it feels like a reality we can overcome as authors explore the equally unprecedented coming together of movements and the amazing momentum building for creating "another possible world". Yet it is grounded in critical reflection, with questions to deepen our understandings and to guide our actions. As someone who is quite young, I found it helpful to in understanding the work of those before me : What’s been done, what can be improved.

Looking at the unique stories of many World Social Forums, this book also comes at a great time to help us with emergent plans for a social forum in Canada to guide what this forum can look like to best serve movements.

As someone who started by doing international solidarity work, but who has in some ways turned inwards to focus on work at home given the destruction of the Canadian Tar Sands, I found the book illuminating and expansive to be reminded of the larger global movement in which we are all united.

Brigette Depape / Best known as the young woman who held up the Stop Harper sign in the Parliament of Canada, is now organising with young people to take down the Harper government as the lead organizer She is also active is the envi

keywords: Alternatives, Chaos, Globalization, Internationalism, Movement, Resistance, Solidarity, Transformation, World Social Forum

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