CACIM’s present focus of work is on cultures of politics in movement and the exploration of open space as a political-cultural concept, its theory and its practice.
CACIM is also working on developing information management and documentation systems appropriate to and appropriable by smaller, more informal organisations and initiatives, and on studying and documenting the history and dynamics of particular movements and building bridges across them.
Our main constituency are younger women and men – students, activists, professionals, and in time also workers – but also the more mature, in activism, policy and administration, and the professional worlds.
The principles that underlie CACIM’s work are criticality – referring both to critical reflection and critical thinking -, transnationalism and transcommunality, and engagement – and at all times and in many ways, a focus on movement.
The World Social Forum is emerging as a major world institution, arguably one of the most significant civil institutions in world politics in history. CACIM and its members have been engaged with the practice, idea, and dynamics of the WSF since 2002, through a number of activities (books, seminars, public debate, list serves, webspaces) towards critically strengthening this process. Collectively, what can be termed the WSF Process project is aimed at a sustained critical engagement with the idea and dynamics of the WSF, the practice of open space within and by the WSF, and its cultures of politics, through a range of research, action, discussion, and publication programmes.
Publications : Till date CACIM members have published extensively on the World Social Forum in Hindi and English on their own and have also seen their work translated by others into Finnish, German, Japanese, Spanish, Swedish, and Urdu, among other languages. In particular :
Challenging Empires Series : A series of books launched after the successful publication of the book World Social Forum : Challenging Empires in 2004; forthcoming issues to be published by OpenWord? – an imprint of CACIM. Volume 2 now under preparation.
Are other Worlds Possible ? Series
Talking New Politics (Zubaan, New Delhi) 2005
Interrogating Empires (OpenWord, forthcoming)
Imagining Alternatives (OpenWord, forthcoming)
Samrajyon Se Sangharsh [Challenging Empires] Series in Hindi, in collaboration with Prakashan Sansthan, New Delhi
Along with Chloé Keraghel, CACIM member Jai Sen has also advised the International Social Science Journal on the preparation of a special issue titled ‘Explorations in Open Space : The World Social Forum and Cultures of Politics‘.
Webspace and List serves : CACIM runs two webspaces, its own, www.cacim.net, focussing on its programmes and on movement more generally, and OpenSpaceForum.net, a widely referred-to webspace for information on the WSF and the Global Justice and Solidarity Movement. Complementing this, the listserve WSF Discuss is an open and unmoderated forum for the exchange of information and views on the experience, practise, and theory of the World Social Forum at any level (local, national, regional, and global) and on related social and political movements and issues.
CACIM @ the Forum : CACIM has participated at all the world events of the WSF and various other regional social forums since year 2001, and has organised seminars and discussions around the dynamics of the Forum and open space, the possibilities of building bridges between Brazil and India, and other related issues. See details.
WSF Bibliography: CACIM is engaged in documenting the WSF process through various means and disseminating it through the webspace OSF and various publications. In collaboration also with Peter Waterman, of The Hague, CACIM has also been processing the data collected on the WSF and making it available to the larger public in the form of Bibliographies around the theme. Download here.
Our work on WSF has been earlier supported by HiVOS India, National Foundation for India, and Inter Pares, Canada. Our current work is supported by Oxfam Novib, Netherlands and X-Y, Netherlands.
The concept, culture, and practice of open space as social-political practice has recently acquired considerable significance, especially through its adoption by the WSF. It can be argued that this is a manifestation of a generalised new politics that has been emerging in different ways around the world since the 1960s-70s[i]. The Open Space Process is intended as a platform that individuals and organisations in open spaces such as the World Social Forum, global actions, or other such initiatives to share their experiences in exploring and strategically using open spaces in different social, political, and cultural realms. See details here. The objective of the process is to critically explore and interrogate the concept and dynamics of open space even as we use such spaces and to explore and advance thinking and action involving new and more democratic ways of conducting and understanding politics and organisation within movements, institutions, and related political processes. CACIM is now beginning to serve as a secretariat to a wider CEOS (Critical Engagement with Open Space) Working Group, with members located in many parts of the world.
Some of CACIM’s ongoing and proposed activities in this area are :
OpenSpaceForum : A web portal dedicated to disseminate information on the WSF, Global Justice and Solidarity Movements and the concept of open space and to encourage discussion around these ideas and to encourage reflection on the nature, role, and place of open spaces (or perhaps the process of opening spaces).
CEOS Listserve : An unmoderated list serve for list serve for exchange and coordination on open space theory and practice and to facilitate a critical discussion of the idea of ‘open space’. To be aided by a List serve Collective that will share the work of generating discussion.
Are Other Worlds Possible ? Phase 2 : Aimed at producing six books in Hindi and English collectively titled the Are Other Worlds Possible ? series, coming out of the Open Space Seminar series at the Delhi University in 2003–4 prior to the World Social Forum in Mumbai in January 2004. The objective is to reach out widely to student communities and young professionals and to introduce them to the various empires that confront us, the concept of cultures of politics, and the idea and concept of open space.
EIOS3 Conference : A proposed world conference in India addressing the objectives of the Open Space Process and to bring together a wider range of practitioners and researchers. To be organised by CACIM in collaboration with and on behalf of the EIOS (Explorations in/of Open Space) Collective, an informal collective of scholar-activists across the world.
Open Space Reader : Publication of a Reader collating the texts, projects, ideas, and theories available in various media attempting to contribute to a critical understanding of the political-cultural concept of ‘open space’
Open Space Films : Preparation of films around the idea of Open Space. Please see the film made by Taran Khan titled Opening Spaces (2005), and the forthcoming film by Shannon Walsh preliminarily titled Borders, Fissures and Revisions: Diving into Open Space.
Hindi Heartland Project : To explore the question of ‘new politics’ in the Hindi Heartland of India and to contribute towards greater debate and discussion in India around new politics through the ideas of the World Social Forum, largely through publication of books, articles, and essays in Hindi, and the organisation of debates around them through meetings, seminars, and conferences.
Political-Cultural Glossary : Preparation of an extensive political-cultural Glossary of the ideas, concepts, events, actors, and places associated with the Global Justice and Solidarity Movement, and to facilitate a more critical understanding of and engagement with politics and movement.
A section of the CEOS programme related to WSF is supported by Oxfam Novib, Netherlands. We are looking for supported to other parts of the programme.
CACIM is critically engaged in the field of social and political movement through fundamental research, critical reflection, exploration, education, and action. Its members have already been variously involved in research, documentation, publication, and education in this field, over the past 2-3 decades. Initially focussing on social and political movement, CACIM proposes to advance this agenda over time, to look at motion, movement, and energy / power as a fundamental aspect of all life process – and which is therefore richly manifested and explored in so many fields of human endeavour – and through doing so, to attempt to draw lessons from across fields, cultures, and traditions. A central concern of this process is understanding emerging cultures of politics in movement and to explore and advance thinking and action involving new and more democratic ways of conducting and understanding politics and organisation within movements, institutions, and related political processes.
Our work of supporting and participating in the movement has been supported by the Inter Pares, Canada.
Movement Documentation : Members of CACIM are engaged in the critical documentation of the history and dynamics of various social movements in India and world. Some of these are the major movements that have been taking place in the North-east of India; around the Narmada dams Project; the National Campaign for Housing Rights; the struggles of the rickshaw pullers of Kolkata; the struggles around the rights of the kudikidappukaran (bonded agricultural labourers) in Kerala; campaigns around the Polonoroeste project in Brazil; and the World Social Forum. (On the latter, see www.openspaceforum.net.) During 2006, it produced 46 issues of the CACIM Delhi Demos Bulletin, on the simultaneous actions in Delhi by three major movements in India.
Movement Action : CACIM has been actively involved in providing critical support to the various movements in India and mainly in Delhi by associating with alliances such as the Delhi Solidarity Group, the Stop Evictions Campaign, Action 2007, and others.
Salvaging Unnayan : CACIM members have been involved in rescuing and salvaging the extensive collection of movement-related books, articles, news clippings, and programme files developed since the 1970s by Unnayan, a once significant civil organisation in Kolkata, and that came to be severely damaged a few years ago, as an exercise in civil responsibility and engagement as much as a technical project..
Critical Courses : is a space for sharing information, experience, theory, and reflections in relation to (critical) learning, teaching, and literacy. In the autumn of 2006, CACIM member Jai Sen taught two courses, ‘Challenging Empires : Dissent in Movement’ and ‘Other Worlds, Other Globalisations’ at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. The detail course outlines and content are posted on CACIM’s webspace as Critical Courses. CACIM is planning to start similar courses in India in time to come.
Critical Courses Symposium : CACIM member Jai Sen, Professor Charmain Levy (Université du Québec en Outaouais), and Professor Laura Macdonald (Carleton University) are jointly organising a Symposium in Ottawa in June 2007 around the work of the participants of the two courses mentioned above. The objectives of the Symposium are to encourage intellectual exploration, critically discuss the Research Papers prepared by the course participants, deepen understanding of the respective subjects addressed in the two courses, draw out theoretical concepts from the work, individually and collectively, and critically review the pedagogy and content attempted in the two courses around the theory and practice of open space.
The Symposium was supported by the IDRC (International Development Research Centre), Ottawa.
CACIM maintains a select collection of documents, books, research papers, audios, photographs, and newspaper clippings on social and political movement theory and practice, as well as a major collection of documents available at the websites run by CACIM (www.openspaceforum.net and www.cacim.net).
Over the years, CACIM and its members prior to its formation have also devoted considerable time to developing the basics of a somewhat alternative, culturally sensitive, user-friendly documentation programme that can be used on a peer-to-peer basis preliminarily named DIMS – Data and Information Management System. We now plan to develop and concretise this system, in collaboration with two of our associates, Subramanya Sastry of Bangalore (presently in the US) and Professor Sha Xin Wei of Concordia University in Montréal. At present we are in the process of finalising a project titled ‘Building Cultures and Institutions of Social History Documentation’ with the IISH (International Institute of Social History), Amsterdam.
OpenWord? is a proposed global, networked publishing initiative of CACIM in the field of critical thought and action with focus on certain important areas of study that will look beyond the boundaries of culture, political dogmas, and economic fundamentalisms, and across various disciplines and knowledge systems. Aside from the preparation of books for publication, our work at OpenWord? includes a critical exploration of the concepts and practice of copyleft, open publishing, and other such issues related to its vision and mission. This has so far included two consultations with a range of actors in Delhi, and most recently the establishment of a purely voluntary Working Group to look at the practical aspects of open knowledge sharing.
Forthcoming Titles :
Forum Radio, a collaboration between Panos South Asia, One World South Asia, and the Youth Forum of the India Social Forum was an initial initiative providing detailed coverage of the Forum held at New Delhi in November 2006. The audio is hosted at the One World South Asia server and is accessible @ www.forumradio.cacim.net.
Seeing itself as an emerging process, a basic part of CACIM’s work is in organisation building, both in its core and together with its associates and through its networks. Learning from other initiatives in this area, we are attempting to progressively forge a vocabulary of activities – some experimental, some pedagogical – that can help CACIM authentically and critically develop as an organisation according to its vision of being a hub within networks. Some of our organisational activities are :
CACIM Colloquia : Held roughly every six months, the CACIM Colloquia are opportunities to bring together a gradually expanding community of people from different fields to meet in real time and space on an extended basis (typically, two-three days), to exchange notes and experiences and to critically discuss each other’s work. We are now looking at devising methods and tools whereby this can begin to take place online among CACIM’s wider community, scattered across much of the world.
Working Groups : As far as possible, CACIM tries to set up and work through and with working groups, in all the processes with which it is involved; such as for the CEOS Process, the EIOS (Explorations in Open Space) Process that preceded that, the EIOS3 Conference, and the Critical Courses process.
CACIM Pedagogy : We are presently discussing the possibilities of designing and setting up an online pedagogical process open to all members of a growing CACIM community, for the purposes of sharing ideas and developing principles and praxis together on a sustained basis.
[i] Jai Sen, May 2007 – ‘Opening open space : Notes on the grammar and vocabulary of the concept of open space’. Discussion draft 4 modified, May 17 2007.