[OPE-L] Workshop on the WSF, Durban, 22-23 July

From: Patrick Bond (pbond@MAIL.NGO.ZA)
Date: Fri Jun 16 2006 - 03:31:40 EDT

(Please circulate to appropriate listserves, organisations, individuals 
- and apologies for cross-postings.)

The Centre for Civil Society (University of KwaZulu-Natal) and Focus on 
the Global South are cohosting:


Join us for:

WHAT: A Workshop on the World Social Forum

WHY: scholars and activists are ready to debate how this annual 
gathering of progressives best generates collective, global-scale, 
national and local social change

WHEN: the weekend of 22-23 July 2006

WHERE: Durban, South Africa, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Faculty 
Club (Howard College Campus, King George Ave, Glenwood)

* the International Sociological Association quadrennial congress (23-29 
July in Durban), and
* the Nairobi hosting of the WSF in January 2007.

* five years of WSF gatherings in Porto Alegre, Mumbai, Bamako, Caracas 
and Karachi;
* five years of community mobilisation in Durban, one of the Third 
World's most fractious cities, as well as popular uprisings across the 
* dozens of intellectual reviews, books and academic articles about the 
WSF; and
* an overdose of neoliberalism, racism, sexism, eco-destruction and 


The Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and 
dozens of local social and environmental activists will welcome our 
cohosts Walden Bello, Nicola Bullard and Meena Menon of Focus on the 
Global South plus movement intellectuals Immanuel Wallerstein (Yale), 
Ebrima Sall (Codesria), Fred Hendricks (Rhodes Univ), Geoffrey Players 
(Univ of Liege), Graem Chesters (coeditor of the book *we are 
everywhere*), Giuseppe Caruso (SOAS), Mohau Pheko (Integrity 
Consultants), Franco Barchiesi (Ohio State) and many others. Durban's 
own leading social movement intellectuals will join us and relate global 
processes to local conditions; they will also arrange site tours in 
subsequent days for visitors with specific socio-economic interests, 
solidarity and networks to share.

On the evening of July 22, we will celebrate the fifth birthday of the 
UKZN Centre for Civil Society and the tenth birthday of the African 
Sociological Review, a flagship journal of the Dakar-based Council for 
the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (Codesria).

African intellectual and activist inputs into our Workshop on the WSF 
are especially important, given that critical voices from this continent 
are too often silenced by elites and other progressives. By virtue of 
suffering the most heinous of social systems - slavery, colonialism, 
apartheid, neocolonialism, neoliberalism - Africans have a passion for 
fighting global injustice from which this Workshop will draw sustenance 
and strategy.

Although space is limited, we invite notices of interest from 
international, African and local participants. Registration costs, to be 
announced, depend upon the success of fund-raising, but will be 
moderate. Overnight accommodation in the immediate vicinity of the 
Faculty Club is available on 22 July. An estimated 120 people will be 
gathering, and the Workshop will close on Sunday with sufficient time to 
attend the opening of the ISA. Transport will be available.

The Centre for Civil Society - http://www.ukzn.ac.za/ccs - includes 
staff and students who have promoted the World Social Forum, but not 
without critical intellectual concern. We are working with one of the 
world's leading think-tanks of social change - Focus on the Global South 
based in Bangkok, Manila and Mumbai - and Codesria to celebrate African 
contributions to sociology and social change, and to ask and answer 
tough questions about the WSF.

Baruti Amisi, Patrick Bond, Dennis Brutus, Ashwin Desai, Ntokozo 
Mthembu, Prishani Naidoo, Molefi Ndlovu, Raj Patel, Helen Poonen, Trevor 
Ngwane, Virginia Setshedi, Ahmed Veriava

For more information and to register your intention to attend, please 
contact Patrick Bond (pbond@mail.ngo.za).

(Also, join CCS and the International Sociological Association's 
Research Committee 47 on Friday, 28 July, 3:45-7pm for a double-session 
'Grassroots Sociologists' forum plus the Harold Wolpe Memorial Lecture. 
Other related events from 24-29 July will be announced. Accommodation at 
UKZN can be arranged for those staying on until 29 July.)



Since the first World Social Forum gathering, held in opposition to the 
Davos World Economic Forum in early 2001, the WSF has taken on a life of 
its own: often with multiple and contested identities and purposes; 
taking on the meaning that is given to it by the participant or 
observer; experienced and interpreted uniquely by each person who is 
part of the process. In 2002, continental social forum were set up in 
Africa, Europe, Latin America and Asia in addition to many national, 
thematic or local social forums.

The WSF has special characteristics: it is a symbol, it is a space, it 
is a project, it is owned by anyone who wishes to join, it is organic 
and experimental, it is a work in progress. But for all the achievements 
- both symbolic and actual - of the WSF, there are also criticisms: it 
is opaque, it is not effective, it is chaotic. The decision making 
structure is unclear.

Fundamentally, there are wide divergences in how the Forum is perceived: 
if itีs a space, what sort of space is it? Who has power and who is 
represented? Does anyone 'own' the space? Can it be better used? Are 
African voices and interests adequately represented? Do we need a 
unifying project? What are the differences between the different Forums, 
and are there 'recipes' for making a 'good' forum? Do we need better 
processes? What do we get in return for all the work we put in? Do the 
Forums succeed on being a place for cross-sectorial projects (between 
NGO, unions, etc.)? How can the WSF be more grounded? What role do the 
Forum's sectoral subcomponents - in healthcare, education, environment, 
economics, indigenous movements, labour, women, youth, anti-racists, 
faith-based movements and many others -play? Can a programme for global 
social change emerge from the WSF?

The Workshop on the WSF will bring together activists and academics: not 
to make decisions or proposals but rather to gather, share and debate 
research, writing, projects and reflections on the WSF and the context 
in which it exists, and to create a dialogue where this richness can be 
shared and reflected upon. We will be asking: What has the WSF achieved? 
Where is the WSF going? How is it shaping, and being shaped by, the new 
forms of activism and social movements? Can the WSF provide a space for 
transforming social relations? What research needs to be done? Who is 
the research useful for? How can we share and democratise information.

In Durban over the 22-23 July weekend, we will pose these questions, and 
in October in Bangkok we will take them up again at the offices of Focus 
on the Global South. A Latin American venue is being sought, along with 
European and North American settings, for future Workshops on the WSF in 
2007 and onwards.

Join us! Another Workshop is possible!

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