transformative ethnography of transnational activist networks

this is the draft of a chapter included in the forthcoming collection “insurgent encounters” edited by j. juris and a. khasnabish


in this chapter i discuss the concept and practice of transformative ethnography as developed through and applied to engagement within a networked space of transnational encounter: the world social forum (wsf). transformative ethnography seeks to contribute to the debate on engaged ethnography as a practice of change (cf. low and merry 2010; Lassiter 2005, 2008, hale 2006, 2008, juris 2007, 2008; scheper-hughes 1995) through the theoretical and practical insights of transformative mediation (bush and folger 2005). it also resonates with the values of the wsf as enshrined in its charter of principles and as i experienced them.

transformative etnography draft

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toward an emancipatory cosmopolitan project: the world social forum and the transformation of conflicts

a version of this article appeared on globalisation 9-2 pp. 211-224

toward an emancipatory cosmopolitan project


can the world social forum (wsf) contribute to build the conditions for convivial existence on our planet? can it inspire global emancipation? to answer these questions, i discuss a case of conflict negotiation between some organisers of the wsf in mumbai (2004) and a member of the indian muslim community. the case illustrates how managerial approaches to conflict and hegemonic politics at odds with the vision of the wsf have considerably limited the possibility for the wsf organisers to engage with indian muslims. i suggest that in order to inspire a truly emancipatory cosmopolitan project, transnational activist networks like the world social forum might consider practices of conflict and difference transformation centred on recognition and empowerment aimed generating emancipatory dynamics among, and at developing and extolling the autonomy of, all parties involved (individual and collective). such practices could contribute to develop a cosmopolitan vision beyond a priori universal values, often colonial and ethnocentric.


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open office and free software: the politics of the wsf 2004 as working place

this is a paper published on ephemera in 2005. freely accessible on the journal’s website

or you can read it here: Caruso 2005 Open Office and Free Software

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Occupy With Art. The Dzieci Theatre in Liberty Square, 1st march 2012

COOLS kicked off yesterday first of March. The Cultural Occupation Of Liberty Square started with a bang, with the Dzieci Theatre group. The idea of COOLS’ facilitating group is to “inspire the movement, build community and keep the call for power and income equity sounding by occupying using teach-ins, workshops, music, art, sign-making and the like” as stated on the virtual hub of this month-long initiative by one of the Occupy Wall Street working groups. Continue reading

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Occupy Town Square – Occupy Tompkins Square (26th February 2012, New York)

I came last week to New York from Finland to attend an academic conference, as soon as I was done with that I joined the activities of the Occupy movement. This is a brief (not so brief in all honesty) piece on my first afternoon with the Occupy Wall Street movement. These are part of my field notes complemented by some research and few links to online resources. The highlights were the good atmosphere, the encouraging turnout (if perhaps lower than some hoped) and the wealth of activities, not to mention the charming setting, the bright sun and the blue sky. Continue reading

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Networking Futures

A version of this review will appear soon enough on Social Movement Studies:

The movement against corporate globalization came of age in Seattle at the end of 1999 during the mass demonstration that contributed to disrupt a meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In the following years it developed into an articulate global(ising) movement. From the initial demonstrations against WTO, World Bank, G8 and International Monetary Fund (IMF) it consolidated into the social forum movement. Spearheaded by the first World Social Forum held in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre in 2001, it developed into a vast network of global, regional, national and local events gathering from few hundreds to over a hundred thousand NGO and social movement activists. Its global events have taken place in Brazil, India, Kenya, Senegal and soon in the Maghreb in solidarity with the revolutionary youth of the Arab Spring. What the alterglobalization movement and the revolutions in the Arab world have in common is their fluid nature structured around an intense use of social media, like Facebook and Twitter. The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for movement organising has been central from the very inception of the alterglobalist movement. ICTs were crucial, for instance, to coordinate activist convergences in Seattle and global solidarity with the Zapatista uprising in Mexico against the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. These technologies are not only instruments of communication, states Juris, but they have contributed from the very inception of the alterglobalist movement to defining it both organisationally and with respect to political values and practices. Continue reading

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The “miracles” of the Arab Revolution: Notes from the World Social Forum International Council meeting, Paris May 2011.

Among the incredible feats achieved by the revolutions that have been sweeping the Maghreb-Mashreq region in the past months, there is one that perhaps won’t make the news but is not less remarkable.  At the International Council meeting of the World Social Forum, held in Paris between the 25th and the 27th of May, presenting the work of the Expansion Commission, tasked with deciding the next venue of the WSF global event, its spokesperson told his colleagues the following. Never before, in the history of the WSF (whose first edition was held in Brazil in 2001), the decision regarding the venue of the next event had been so quickly taken with absolute consensus. The decision followed days of intense reflections and deep analysis of the regional events of the past months. Continue reading

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