CACIM was set up in 2001 as an experimental informal association named “Critical Action” (CA) between scholar-activists in different parts of the world, who were pursuing research into and were directly involved in the history and dynamics of social and political movements.
Based on this preliminary collaboration, CACIM was formally established in 2005, with the ambition to be a hub within existing and emerging networks among individuals and organisations. Since then, CACIM has done a substantial amount of work in support of movements, encouraged critical debates in and around them and conducted important theorising work (on cultures and spaces of politics for example) and expanded into other domains.
CACIM, being a “living organism”, has evolved in this period, by incorporating new members, nurturing new initiatives and also by responding to the emerging needs of movements, who have faced important challenges over the years.
Striking issues have progressively been added to our work, mainly on “Rights, Resources and Accountability” & “Marginalities, Democracy and Power” while we have maintained the core principles of the work. The two initial focus areas “Information / Culture / Technology” and “Building Bridges” have now found expression in other developing programmes around the world of “Global Finance / Capital and Multilateral Institutions” and more continues to emerge.
CACIM (the India Institute for Critical Action – Centre in Movement) is an initiative towards cultivating and nurturing a culture of critical reflexivity and action in individual and public work. In principle we expect to work in many fields, but our focus at the moment is on activism, research, and publication in relation to social and political movement. We primarily work by building and maintaining real and virtual spaces for fundamental research and critical reflection, exploration, action, and creation in the field of movement : Books, seminars, workshops, websites, listserves, and newsbulletins and action alerts. Initiated in India in 2005, CACIM is transnational, intercultural, and interdisciplinary in vision and culture.
Organisationally, CACIM is a networked association between individuals and organisations located in different parts of India and the world. (See end of this Note for two lists – of the CACIM Council, and of CACIM’s Partners.) CACIM has grown out of Critical Action (CA), an experiment during 2001-2005 in informal, voluntary association between individuals based in different parts of India and other countries in different continents who were engaged or concerned with social and political movement in different ways. This experiment focussed on the critical study of, reflection and exchange on, and engagement in emerging social and political movement, and in particular through critical involvement and engagement with the World Social Forum.
In a longer frame, CACIM has also grown out of an earlier experiment and initiative named Unnayan, a civil organisation based in Kolkata, India. Formed in the mid-late 70s, and working through the 80s and 90s, Unnayan’s work in research, documentation, social organisation, and advocacy was in providing critical support to communities and associations of the urban labouring poor in their struggles to gain control over their lives, and in advocacy campaigning at the state, all-India, and international levels. Unnayan is a Bengali word meaning ‘development’ in the sense of unfolding and self-realisation (and not just ‘progress’). Several members of CACIM and CA have been and remain associated with Unnayan.
CACIM was registered as a non-profit company in India in July 2005. In early 2007, it has taken the first steps in establishing a new initiative in publishing critical thought, OpenWord.
As per the programme landscape CACIM defined for itself in 2005, in terms of content we have three broad streams of activity :
Our current focus is primarily in the first area, and more specifically on exploring cultures of politics in movement, the exploration of open space as a political-cultural concept, and the exploration of cyberspace as open space. Through various projects and activities, including the books that we publish and the Colloquia that we organise twice a year, we are working to encourage exchange and learning across disciplines and across cultures and to support and encourage all those involved in different ways with movement – activists, researchers and teachers, professionals, artists performers and composers, and critics commentators and thinkers, both the more mature and young, both as individuals and as organisations, and in networks.
Presently active programmes, projects, and activities :
Open Space Process OpenSpaceForum, CEOS Listserve, the Are Other Worlds Possible ? Phase 2 project, EIOS3 Conference, Open Space Reader, Open Space Films, Hindi Heartland Project, and A Political-Cultural? Glossary
OpenWord – A CACIM Imprint
CACIM @ Internet Radio; and :
CACIM Organisational Activities CACIM Colloquia, Working Groups, CACIM Pedagogy.
For details, see ‘CACIM’s Ongoing Projects and Programmes : An Overview’.
Finally, CACIM intends to expand its network through critical solidarity with movements in all parts of the world. It intends to institute Fellowships for activists, researchers, and those who intend to critically reflect on their actions and contribute towards the ideas of criticality, movement, and open space.
Another longer term programme in mind is building an Ashram or Retreat for Critical / Recreative Reflection, possibly in the hill town of Shimla in India, in the state of Himachel Pradesh, 10-12 hours from Delhi, as a ‘real’ space for those who feel the need to take a step back from their daily activities to read, write, compose, create, reflect, or whatever, in a different physical space.
CACIM sees itself not as an independent organisation but interlinked and interdependent, plugged into and learning from the world around us. With this vision, it sees itself as evolving into a hub within networks among individuals and organisations located in different parts of India and the world with these objectives :
In organisational terms, CACIM has a Board of Directors and some Advisors, and is gradually giving shape to a CACIM Council of Associates and Fellows that will over time become its main platform for exchange and policy development. Its day-to-day functioning and policy work presently takes place through consultations within a Core Group. Some of its working principles are :
CACIM’s primary resources are its associates and their work and the experience of the activities it has undertaken over the past many years. In addition, it has a library and a small office in New Delhi, and the two webspaces that it maintains (www.cacim.net and www.openspaceforum.net). It works on the basis of revenues from publication sales, fellowships, grants, consultancies, voluntary time, and solidarity donations. It is seeking further resources and collaboration for carrying out its work.
We have built our work so far through the very substantial input of the members first of CA and more recently of a CACIM working group; with the financial support of Inter Pares, NFI (National Foundation for India), HIVOS, Oxfam-Novib, and UNESCO, X-Y Netherlands and at an earlier stage, through support to a member who contributed through his fellowship work to the formation of CA and then CACIM, the Ford Foundation and the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund; and in collaboration with many civil organisations and individuals from all parts of the world.
1. Jai Sen, Architect, researcher, CACIM, New Delhi, India [CACIM Director]
2. Sanjib Baruah, Political Science Teacher, IIT Guwahati & Bard College, USA [CACIM Director]
3. Ashok Vajpeyi, Poet, critic, New Delhi, India
4. David Szanton, Anthropologist, social science policy analyst, Ethnic Arts Foundation, Berkeley, USA, and Durban, South Africa [CACIM Advisor designate]
5. Mrinal Miri, Academic, philosopher, New Delhi, India
6. Peter Waterman, Labour and communications internationalist, The Hague, The Netherlands [CACIM Advisor designate]
7. Romila Thapar, Historian, New Delhi, India.
8. Arvind Nair, Chartered Accountant, New Delhi, India
9. Julia Sánchez, Development practitioner, CECI, Kathmandu, Nepal, and Montréal, Canada
10. Kishan Kaljayee, Editor, writer, Bhartiya Gyanpeeth, New Delhi, India
11. Leo Saldanha, Environmentalist, Environment Support Group, Bangalore, India
12. Madhuresh Kumar, Researcher and Programme Coordinator, CACIM, New Delhi, India
13. Manju Menon, Environmentalist, Kalpavriksh, New Delhi, India
14. Nishant, Freelance Editor, New Delhi, India
15. Rekha Natarajan, Editor, Sage, New Delhi, India
16. Subramanya Sastry, Software activist, Environment Support Group, Bangalore, India
17. Sundar Chaterji, Actor, communications specialist, Chennai, India
18. T B Dinesh, Software specialist, Servelots, Bangalore, India
In India :
Across the world :