Mumbai, 3 to 7 December 2007
VENUE: TATA INSTITUTE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, MUMBAI, INDIA
Conference Theme: “Imperialism and resultant disorder: imperatives for social justice”
The primary and overarching theme of the conference will be about imperialism and social justice and their social (political-economic-cultural) and environmental (socio-ecological, physical) aspects. Representatives of political organisations, unions, and social movements will also be invited to address these inter-related issues.
Some thematic sessions are already in the process of being organised. More information will be made available through the conference web site as more sessions are organised. Please contact the organiser directly if you would like to be included.
Valorising regions: modernisation and land usurpation
Economic activities in the global core and periphery, in recent times, have undergone considerable change with a process of vertical uncoupling, subdivision and /or subcontracting of production. A large number of low skilled, standardised operations in manufacturing, assembling or even mining are being created with a simultaneous growth of specialised as well as deskilled, gender oriented jobs in various economic sectors. Through deskilling labour and the physical and functional disaggregation of various tasks in operation, the process has created specific ‘roles' for several regions in developing countries like India for serving the global economy, arranged in a hierarchical manner, transcending their old role, beyond low-cost, union-free labour environments.
In India , with less inputs and capital allotted for agricultural and similar operations, returns from the same have gone down. Instead of re-activating the economic propensity of such lands, including the rich and fertile, various state governments are projecting them as key locations for diversified global economic operations, largely dissociated from the resource base. Even forest lands are not spared. The located labour, extremely heterogeneous in age, skill, gender and disciplinary levels, get stuck in the region as a part of the place-specific devaluation process and offer wide ranging selection options to global economic and ancillary activities, leading to underpayment and devaluation of wage labour. In order to achieve the most by the above process, a number of special economic zones are being created in several states where international capital invests heavily with assurances from state governments on not only inexpensive labour, but cheap land, electricity, water and other infrastructure, facilities in finance like grants, tax breaks, tariff or duty reductions, flexible pollution control rules, less rigorous health and safety standards for workers. All these bring to the fore issues of landlessness, loss of livelihood, informalisation of jobs, displacement, homelessness and destitution, environmental destruction and last but not the least, crisis in governance that get closely linked with the policies of a neo-liberal regime.
The session will discuss the above issues in relation to the implementation and functioning of SEZs and similar areas in India and the resistance efforts of the people.
Contact: Swapna Banerjee-Guha, TISS, Mumbai ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Environmental justice and imperialism
Major issues covered will include social justice in regions exploited for mineral and other resource, the impact of warfare, policing, and militarism on people's health (including the imprisonment of people), the contribution of resource extraction regimes in different parts of the world to the uneven making of national states and capitalism. Historical examples are strongly encouraged that analyse strategies leading to prevention or successes against environmental injustices.
Contact : Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro, email@example.com
Land and other resource struggles in globalising cities and countrysides
The land question; Global take-over of water supplies by the few; Struggles for control of the oceans and the question of over-fishing.
Contact : Blanca Ramirez, firstname.lastname@example.org
Critical Geographies of Migration and Borders
Critical Geographies of Migration and Borders. This session examines how a reordering of sovereignty demands new models for conceptualizing migration and regulation, including networked spaces of control that extend beyond the nation-state. Several papers examine how a politics of fear stoke migration wars at multiple scales: the United Nations and within the national contexts of Lithuania and South Africa.
Contact : Geraldine Pratt, email@example.com
International pathways of critical geography
Social Movements, Resource Control and the Politics of Social Justice
Neoliberalism entails "accumulation by dispossession" - the usurpation of means of production, subsistence and reproduction that are not mediated by the market and their insertion into the orbits of the expanded reproduction of capital. Across the global North and South social movements vigorously oppose these modern-day enclosures of the commons and in the process develop forms of resource control and new conceptions of social justice. This session invites empirically grounded explorations of popular challenges to accumulation by dispossession, the ways in which subaltern communities reclaim and reinvent resource control, and how movements of the dispossessed link their contention over resource control to the politics of social justice across the global South and North.
Contact: Alf Gunvald Nilsen, firstname.lastname@example.org
New forms of political solidarity and consciousness have begun to emerge in the 21 st century, as social movements, trade unions, NGOs and other organisations increase their spatial reach: constructing networks of support and solidarity for their particular struggles and participating with other movements in a range of actions to resist neoliberal globalisation. Transnational solidarities between such political actors seem to operate through overlapping, interacting, competing, and differentially placed and resourced networks.
This workshop strives to bring together activist-academics and activists from a range of Indian social movements (involved in struggles for land, water and forest resources; against GM agriculture; and against neoliberal globalization) to discuss the day-to-day processes that underpin potential transnational collaborative practices and the potentials, problems and practices of transnational organizing. The workshop will be an opportunity for: (i) a direct exchange of experiences between the participants; (ii) activist-academics to learn from social movement activist experiences; (iii) a practical discussion about how to effect sustainable transnational organising and how to nurture collaborative practices between activists and activist-academics.
Liquid city: urban infrastructure in question
The complex interactions between disease, water and urban infrastructure reveal that whilst the rationalized metropolis or “bacteriological city” may represent an abstract ideal for the organizational structure of the modern city it has never fully corresponded with urban realities because of the political and economic tensions that underlie the process of capitalist urbanization. These anomalies that pervade the technological structure of the modern city become most strikingly represented in the marginal spaces of the city and in those cities that are themselves marginal within the global economy. By exploring the history of water infrastructure beyond the metropolitan core of Europe and North America we can uncover fresh insights into the limitations of the bacteriological city as a universal model and also disentangle some of the political tensions underlying the introduction of technological networks in the capitalist city. The modernization of urban infrastructure required an institutional context that could facilitate the flow of capital into the built environment yet this historic dynamic has been neglected in many studies of urban governance in the global South.
'Political Economy of Restructuring and Gentrification in South and South-east Asian cities'
'Opening up of vast land areas and development of mega projects through corporate / private initiatives in several large cities in South and South-east Asia in recent times is symbolic to the process of global urban restructuring. Essentially aiming at accommodating increasing international activities and associated infrastructure, the restructuring has promoted these cities as real estate settings in favour of large developers and elite groups, aggravated class fractions and marginalised the poor by legitimising repressive planning and zoning regulations. The recent JNURM ( Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission) is an example in India. The session aims to bring together concerned academicians and activists to discuss the politics of the above process and the resistance efforts experienced in such cities in South and South-east Asia.'
Contact address: email@example.com
Contemporary debates in economic geography: Politics of Scale, 15 years later
Analysing regional and local economies and looking for the causal relations determining its performance implicate addressing questions of uneven power relations. Identifying actors and its interests and the geographical scale at which they operate are the critical issues in here.
ACME Debate: Critical Geographies in Undergraduate Teaching
Cosmopolitanism, situations in which people of different cultures meet and exchange ideas, has traditionally been associated with elite groups and with euro-centric political geographies. Recent oppositional political movements, especially those associated with resistances to neo-liberal globalisation, have shown, however, that cosmopolitan forms of political identities also shape culturally and politically subversive alliances and flows of information. This has energised a set of theoretical and political concerns with the formation of subaltern or insurgent cosmopolitanisms such as the forms of association developed at the World Social Forum. In this session we seek to engage with the significance of subaltern cosmopolitanism for international solidarities and for their impact on elite politics and on more mainstream political movements; the connections and networks through which subaltern cosmopolitan identities are produced and generated; and the importance of these approaches for existing explanations of place-based politics. In addition to rethinking the historical and contemporary impact of politicised forms of subaltern cosmopolitanism, we seek to evaluate the significance of these forms of political identity and practice for contemporary forms of opposition to neo-liberal globalisation.
Organisers: Dave Featherstone, Department of Geography, University of Liverpool Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Challenging the hegemonies in education: Creating spaces for multiple modes of expression within science and technology education
Education, a potentially rich experience in meaning making and expression within communities, has increasingly become restrictive, reduced, diluted, rigid, commoditized, centralized and autocratically controlled. Humans have a variety of modes of expression of thoughts and feelings; and diverse communication practices, artistic and aesthetic visions, musical emotions, technical and architectural designs. This diversity in productions is multiplied by the differences of gender, cultures, languages, technologies, arts, music, etc. T here is an additional issue of cognitive pluralism in the field of education. Cognitive content as well as cognitive processes depend on artefacts and tools of the culture including language and technology. Technological design, tool making and tool use are all best understood as a dynamic interplay between individuals, their society and their environment, at various levels of interaction within different space and time situations. In a sense technology can be seen as a metaphor for human evolution through processes that links our environment and body, our doing and being.
The proposed session argues for a pluralistic approach to science and technology education and makes a case for a less mechanistic and more humanistic science education. It advocates a perception of technology that values cooperative and collaborative work, multiple expressions and multiplicity of creative and locally valued productions, that is less a handmaiden of science or its inevitable applications. The session will also address the difficulties of implementing educational practices aiming at the formation and support of multi-expressive subjects – students and teachers – in the face of challenges of the hegemonic global networks.
Contact address: Chitra Natarajan, email@example.com
Marginalized on the street: experiences, performances and strategies of street workers in the global north and south
As gaps between the rich and poor grow, the number of those who find themselves working on the streets continues to rise. This workshop will explore issues surrounding those who work in the urban informal sector (i.e., street vendors, beggars, waste pickers, street performers, sex workers, street children), drawing from examples in both the Global North and South. It will be an opportunity to unravel myths, share experiences and uncover strategies pertinent to the lives and struggles of informal sector street workers. Among others, themes could include: ethnographic enquiries into everyday life; the role of the state at various scales; resistance, activist, and entrepreneurial strategies; and gendered, racialized asnd sexualized politics of the streets.
Contact: Kate Swanson, firstname.lastname@example.org or Lorena Muñoz, email@example.com
Transformative politics for migrant workers?
The aim of this panel is to bring together migrant workers and movements with practitioners, campaigners, labour organisers, policy influencers and academics to discuss and reflect on the experiences of those who migrate for work; both within and between southern and northern countries. Migrant labour is predominantly focused in the least prestigious, remunerated, protected, enriching and secure parts of the labour-scape. Migrant work tends to be low-paid, sub-contracted, flexible, casual, seasonal/temporary and informal sector based. Such workers often experience gross exploitation and what have been called forms of modern slavery. While such treatment is not new for working classes, many argue that the vulnerability modern migrant labourers are feeling in the 21 st century is qualitatively different because it involves a combination of intensifying trajectories of neoliberalism, globalisation, neo-colonialism, patriarchy, racism and racialised border controls. This panel will consider the labouring experiences of migrant workers, and also crucially discuss strategies and agencies of migrants' resistance to hegemonic power in order to increase the power they have over their own lives. As such we hope to immerse ourselves in a discussion of transformative and emancipatory politics for social justice amongst migrant workers.
Contact: Louise Waite, firstname.lastname@example.org
NEOLIBERALISM: INDIA’s NEW ECONOMIC POLICY
Neoliberalism is a policy regime furthering the interests of global finance capital. Neoliberal policies create a global space in which finance capital can range freely in search of ever-increasing profit. In a supposedly democratic age, financial interests must adopt the stance that investment is vital to a development that benefits everyone ... eventually. But this is merely the latest ideological disguise for a capitalist system that has always hidden utterly selfish intent behind a veil of philanthropic concern. The role of the national/local state, in the context of neoliberalism, is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices. It must also set up military, defense, police and juridical functions required to secure private property rights and to support freely functioning markets. The privatization and corporatization of public assets has been a main feature of the neoliberal project. The New Economic Policy introduced in India in 1991 included standard structural adjustment measures, as advocated by the IMF and World Bank, under a basically neoliberal approach to economic policy. Conventional interpretations see this program of economic liberalization as transforming the Indian economy and leading to a substantial increase in the rate of India’s economic growth. But in a country like India, growth is not enough. The question is who benefits from the new growth regime , and can it significantly improve the conditions of livelihood for India’s 800 million people with incomes below $2.00 a day? This session looks at international policy regimes and their national adoption under strategic conditions of economic crisis and coercion, and within longer term structural changes in the power calculus of global capitalism. It looks at long term growth tendencies, poverty and employment rates at the national level, regional level and local levels in India; the main growth centers – their economic and social structures, employment types and levels, changes in poverty rates, benefits and costs of rapid growth; the areas and people left out – their economic and social structures, employment types and levels, changes in poverty rates, and costs incurred from rapid growth elsewhere; the advantages and deficiencies of the existing policy regime, and similar topics. The session also makes comparisons with policy regimes elsewhere in the Third World, especially South Asia. And it suggests policy alternatives that re-direct growth towards development that specifically benefits poor people.
Contact: Richard Peet, Clark University (US), Saraswati Raju, Jawaharlal Nehru University (India), Waquar Ahmed, Clark University (US), Jody Emel (Clark University (US).
In the last thirty years, since the creation of internet, the role and significance of Information and Communication Technology have grown significantly, reconfiguring the spatial logic of modern society. However, it has not remained an equally accessed base and gone under the control of a few global corporations that are investing billions of dollars for its modernisation, impacting the process of knowledge construction and dissemination for a small section of the society and thereby transforming other fields of human creativity. As a response to the above hegemonistic framework, a parallel cultural and political movement is under way that is growing at an unprecedented pace and influencing the way how science, software and other kinds of symbolic forms are created, published and distributed. Popularly known as the Copyleft culture, it is essentially a Free Software Movement that took off by an innovative use of the existing copyright and by publishing software under a copyleft license. This license is meant to give four fundamental rights to the user of the software published under the copyleft license: to use it for any purpose, to understand how it works, to make modifications, and to distribute the modifications.
One of the major outcomes of this revolution is the GNU/Linux operating system (popularly known by its misnomer, Linux). The copyleft movement is currently transforming other fields of human creativity as well---science, poetry, music, cinema and other symbolic forms. Of these, the most popular success story is Wikipedia.org, the largest multilingual encyclopedia of the world. There are other, not yet fully fructified, movements such as public library of science, open access, creative commons, open music, etc.
The proposed session aims at generating awareness about the Copyleft movement in general, and discussing its relation to science and education in particular. While challenging the patent and other similar systems, it also intends to deliberate on a new model of development of ICT, centered around collaboration and sharing among different communities.
Contact address : Nagarjuna G, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education Mumbai, India, email@example.com
Geography and Revolution
This session considers the question of geography and revolution. As an academic discipline, geography has not generally paid much attention to political and social revolutions. The European anarchist tradition did intrude into geography, via figures such as Kropotkin and Recleus, but not until the 1960s and 1970s was the question taken up with any seriousness. Then, there was a significant discussion of revolutionary theory and some connection to revolutionary movements, but in many places by the early 1980s, in the face of declining political movements and the neoliberal restructuring of global capitalism, revolutionary politics were increasingly sidelined by what can be called a post-1960s “politics of being” and a shift to social movements that generally although not entirely eschewed revolutionary politics.
The point of this session is to begin to think about the question of revolution again and specifically to explore the connections between geography and revolution. We are well atuned to the connections between history and revolution – revolution brings historical change in social, political and cultural relations – but how are we to think about geography and revolution? While there is some discussion too of geography and intellectual “revolution,” the focus here will be squarely on political revolution. Papers may be historical, looking at specific revolutions, for example the American (1776) or French (1789), the Russian (1917) or Cuban (1917) or else more contemporary, such as the Iranian or Nicaraguan revolutions of 1979, and of course many others. Was the anti-colonial revolt of 1857 in India a revolutionary upsurge – why, or why not? What are the boundaries of the term, “revolution”? Why do so many see revolution today as unrealistic when history teaches the “ineluctability” (Foucault) of revolution? – and the unrealistic nature of contemporary social relations of production and reproduction? How do we evaluate Fanon's simultaneous support for revolution yet warning about the possible pitfalls of specifically national liberation revolts? In specific casaes, how do questions of class and race, nationality and gender work with or against a revolutionary politics? Is the new concern for global warming amenable to a revolutionary politics? And if not why not?
Contact: Neil Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role of American Imperialism in West Asia with special reference to Palestine and Iraq
West Asia is currently becoming the global flashpoint, with US-Zionist imperialism seeking to remould the region to its liking. Israel , its closest ally in the region, is also seeking to destroy the Palestinian nation, as well as stamp out all resistance to its own apartheid policies inside Israel as well the Palestinian Territories it has occupied. The catchall slogan of "War against Terror," post 9/11, is providing a cover for the aggressive designs of the US-Israeli axis. Military strikes against Iran now loom on the horizon and the UN Security Council itself is being manipulated for that purpose.
It is the resistance of the people in Iraq , of the Palestinian people, as well as the heroic resistance by the Lebanese national forces against Israeli invasion that today stand in the way of US and Israeli designs in the region. The proposed session will discuss the history of the West Asian crisis and its contemporary nature, role of American Imperialism in its aggravation with special reference to Palestine and Iraq , relevance of West Asian crisis to global peace, resistance efforts and alternatives
This effort of organising a session on West Asia in the Critical Geography Conference is part of an ongoing process in India and outside to build a global movement on West Asia in general and Palestine in particular. We intend to propose a follow-up in the form of an international conference on Palestine in 2008 and also try and set up solidarity groups in India to send multiple high level delegations to Palestine to put pressure on Israel and USA .
How to solve geopolitical problems without being imperialist
Contact: Fabrizio Eva, university of Venice, email@example.com
“Resisting Infrastructure Reforms
and the Resultant Comprehensive Disempowerment”
Economic disempowerment and increased pauperization
Abdication of its responsibilities by the state
Continued erosion and threatening of basic human rights at a faster pace
Focus on narrow economic efficiency / rationality at the cost of equity, sustainability and broader socio-political rationality
The objective of the session is to expose the different aspects of the above multi-dimensional and comprehensive disempowerment and analyze the efficacy of the various efforts to deal with and resist the reforms and the resultant disempowerment. In other words, the session will cover the critiques/criticisms as well as ways to resist /deal with the pernicious/diabolic impact of the infrastructure reforms.
Contact address : Subodh Wagle, firstname.lastname@example.org
Unbuilding the Empire?
This session examines the mechanics of contemporary imperialism. The very notion of imperial suggests that power stems from a central authority and expresses coherent political economic goals. Left unexamined, this notion leads to formulations of empire’s spaces that reduce complex spatialities of power and practice into singular and coherent spaces of domination. We seek to unpack or unbuild this taken-for-granted notion of imperial power in the spaces of political economy, geopolitics, and academia. Our goal is not to do away with the concepts of empire and imperialism. Rather, we build on them in order to better understand how processes of economic, social, and political power operate across the globe. The papers each do so by broadening the temporal and spatial gambit of the imperial. We hope to contribute to scholars’ understandings of what constitutes present political economic and legal spatialities of imperial power in order to think through their violences.
Contact: Patricia Ehrkamp, email@example.com
Imperialism and Resistance in the Context of Agrarian India's Socio-Spatial Property Relations
From the late 1960s to the 1980s, there was a running debate in India
as to the 'mode of production' that
prevailed in the countryside. Though certain participating authors
professed to be more interested in a
'red revolution' than a 'green revolution' the discussion remained
highly economistic, and frequently
centred around methodological issues of abstraction, and the
re-clarification of Marxist concepts. It
was a debate quite removed from the white heat of many agrarian
struggles occuring during the same
period. Today, the Indian mode of production debate, for many on the
left, is taken as closed - an
object of purely historical curiosity. This session begs to differ,
though our intention is not to
pendantically document the important exchanges made. Rather, it seeks
to initiate the following. If the
academic spirit of enquiry that characterised the original 'mode of
production' debate were to be recreated
in the context of (1) the contemporary understandings of the limits of
the first debate and (2)
the contemporary political-economic situations existing in the
subcontinent, what then might usefully
contribute to a broader understanding of the positions adopted by
various South Asian left parties and
organisations? The fundamental emphasis of the session being, in other
words, not so much whether
India is/is not capitalist (or 'becoming' capitalist), but rather how
does capital, as a social relation, (1)
articulate with various other methods of social production in India,
and (2) how should this bear upon a
class/caste/gender/national emancipatory practice?
Whilst the paper presentations are not going to cover every position
stated in this abstract, all
presentations will implicitly address the limits to the original 'mode
of production' debate. These are
considered, in very short form, to be the following. First, oppressive
caste relations are under
acknowledged. In particular, it is not made clear whether caste
represents (under capitalism) a precapitalist
Contact: Simon Chilvers, firstname.lastname@example.org
Criminalisation of critical social research and activism
Around the world critical social researchers are persecuted because of their research and for taking serious their responsibilities as intellectuals. Blatant cases of persecution have recently taken place in Europe and South Asia . In Bangladesh , M. Anwar Hossain and Harun-ur-Rashid, both professors at Dhaka University , were arrested in raids on their homes and taken away by the Military Intelligence on August 24. The professors were charged with "giving provocative statements and instigating the recent violent protests on Dhaka University campus". In Germany , Andrej Holm was arrested on July 31and placed into custody because of his research on gentrification and housing rights, participation in demonstrations, and presumed "membership of a terrorist organization". Three of Holm's colleagues are charged but have not been arrested. Last year, Professor Ghazi-Walid Falah was arrested and detained by authorities in Israel on suspicion of espionage. During travel in Israel he took photographs of everyday settings for use in research and teaching. Without filing charges, the Israeli police released Falah after more than three weeks of detention, during which they interrogated him about other researchers.
These and other similar cases raise questions about the relation of critical social research and activism to society and the abuse of state power in disciplining social theory and political thought and action.
Contact: By Anders Lund Hansen, Anders.Lund_Hansen@keg.lu.se & Lasse Koefod
Can Indigenous and Tribal Communities thrive in the Era of Economic Globalisation?
Contact: Smitu Kothari, email@example.com
Preservation as Resistance to Neoliberalism
The neoliberal mode of accumulation entails the destruction of previous means of alienation and erasure of partial success won by the dominated in resistance to the prior mode. From the public space between Queen's Pier and the Hong Kong City Hall to the string of village wats that made Luang Prabang a space of tenuous survival, the subaltern created imperfect spaces in which it was possible to find a way of being partially outside the imperial. The recent case of the movement to preserve the Lesheng Leprosy Sanitarium in Taiwan , shows that even the most stringent places of imprisonment can be turned against neoliberalism to be the ground of resistance. This session will examine social movements in Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as the absence of a movement in Laos to examine how social movements work to “preserve” certain dominant spaces and orient them towards a future against the neoliberal juggernaut.
Contact: Marshall Johnson, MJohnson@uwsuper.edu
Struggles against Capitalist Development
Swapna Banerjee-Guha, TISS, Mumbai ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro, email@example.com
Urban Social Change and Associated Strife
Swapna Banerjee-Guha, TISS, Mumbai ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro, email@example.com
Poverty, Vulnerability and Marginalisation
Swapna Banerjee-Guha, TISS, Mumbai ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro, email@example.com