towards a new universality: the world social forum’s cosmopolitan vision

a version of this paper will appear in “asking, we walk: the south as new political imaginary.” vol. iv

the world social forum (wsf) is presently the world’s largest and most diverse transnational activist network. its global events in brazil, india, kenya, mali, pakistan, venezuela and senegal and its regional, national and local avatars have attracted hundreds of thousands of participants and thousands of organisations and social movements. the wsf is a complex structure of loosely articulated networks and organisations aiming at individually and collectively pursuing transformative actions towards a more just and equal world. it aims at inspiring joint actions capable of advancing global transformation. to fulfil this goal wsf’s participants seek to create spaces of dialogue in which actors with different backgrounds and outlooks on society and the future can share their visions and design collaborative practices. wsf’s methodology privileges mediation but does not eschew compromise, it privileges transformation but does not avoid contingent strategic thought, it is both utopian and strategic. arguably, the wsf’s most innovative contribution to global transformations is the articulation of emancipatory discourses and practices (both prefigurative and strategic) recursively engaging issues of identity, vision and methodology. such cultural politics of transformation is illustrated in this essay through wsf’s cosmopolitan project based on emancipatory identities, relational knowledges and practices of liberation.

towards a new universality the world social forum’s cosmopolitan vision

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