[URBANTH-L] CFP: CACIM OpenSpaceForum (CACIM -- India Institute for Critical Action)

Angela Jancius acjancius at ysu.edu
Tue Oct 4 22:21:00 EDT 2005

** Announcing CACIM, OpenSpaceForum, and the Chennai Open Space Action **

Dear friends !

Welcome to an experiment in creating open spaces for discussion and debate,
first about the World Social Forum and its culture of politics and then
towards discussing institutions and processes more generally !

Many people, in all kinds of institutions and processes - students and
researchers, movement activists and members of NGOs, workers and trade
unionists, political activists, academics, professionals, and others -
those who are concerned about democracy and wider participation, would
like spaces that are 'open'.  In this respect, the Internet carries with
it a promise of such openness: open source, open access, wikipedia,
creative commons, countless wikis, blogs, discussion forums, peer-to-peer
networking, ongoing conflicts over file sharing, etc.  bear testimony to
that.  The culture of such practices, in many a case, spills over from the
world of bits to the world of flesh and blood.  It only seems appropriate
then (at least to those of us talking of openness, participation, democracy)
that we all participate in the process of creating and fostering more such

This mail tells you about a new initiative, CACIM (India Institute for
Critical Action : Centre in Movement), about some of its activities over
the next while, and specifically about something that is happening right
now, over these next 2-3 weeks, the Chennai Open Space Action.  This
action, like most of CACIM's activities, is about promoting and defending
open space, and towards pushing the boundaries of existing spaces and maybe
even opening new spaces.

We hope, by this mail, to also be able to reach out to and to perhaps also
engage even wider sections of people -- people who may not be involved with
the WSF or movements as such but who are nevertheless concerned about the
state of the world and want to contribute or take part in debates about
what is happening and how things take shape.  From CACIM, our approach will
at all times be one of critical engagement, and we invite you to join us in

Please feel free to send this mail out to others and / or to post it on
listserves!  And of course, get back to us (cacim AT cacim DOT net) with
any comments you have.

                   1. The Chennai Open Space Action

In defence of open space!
Arguably, one of the major contributions of the phenomenon called the
'World Social Forum' (WSF) is the idea of the Forum as an 'open space' --
and by this, signalling a 'new form of politics'.  The central idea in
this formulation is that a 'space', rather than a party or movement or
other organisation, allows for more and different forms of relations among
political actors, while remaining open-ended with respect to outcomes.
It is 'open' in that encounters among multiple subjects with diverse
objectives can have transformative political effects that traditional
forms of movements, parties, coalitions, and campaigns, with more uniform
themes and goals, exclude -- almost by definition.  'Open space' is not
an alternative to these other modes of organisation -- but it is, for
achieving democratic and emancipatory change, essential as a complement.

While the jury is still out both as to just how open the World Social Forum
is, and also as to how effective this concept and approach is in terms
of creating more democratic and emancipatory ways of conducting and
understanding politics and organisation, there seems little doubt that
especially in today's world of rising fundamentalism and growing
imperialism, at many levels and in many contexts, the essential idea of an
'open space' is appealing.  It is a valuable concept, one that is worth
defending and promoting.  In many senses, it can be compared to the
concepts of civil liberty and democratic right.

We at CACIM therefore believe it is necessary, in today's juncture in
world politics, to at all times practise, promote, and defend the concept
of open space, to engage in a process of constantly opening spaces, and
also to critically examine and interrogate the concept.

The Chennai Action:
A major WSF India meeting is to be held in Chennai, India, between
October 6-8 2005.  At one level, the meeting's organisers have billed this
as stocktaking after organising the WSF world meeting in Mumbai in
January 2004, and at another, as preparation for the Karachi edition of
the polycentric World Social Forum that is scheduled to place in late
January 2006.

It is worth noting that one of the sessions of the Chennai meeting is titled
'WSF as an Open Space -- Confronting globalization or dissipating dissent'.
Clearly, the concept of 'open space' is directly on the WSF official agenda,
perhaps as a consequence of the WSF being widely criticised for saying it is
open but not, perhaps being as open as it claims, in reality.  But the time
allotted for this crucial issue is just one hour -- which includes two
presentations and only 20 minutes discussion time.  And this is within a
whole day of sessions, most of which is occupied by pre-selected speakers.
There is clearly not enough time in general for debate and discussion, let
alone on this vital issue, and it is therefore even more pertinent that
this theme gets widely and intensively discussed prior to, during, and after
the Chennai meet.

Towards this end, we would like to invite you to:
1) Subscribe to a mailing list chennai-wsfindia-2005 at openspaceforum.net,
  come in with YOUR views and reports, and exchange thoughts with others.
  You can do this at:
  This listserve has been created for discussions before the Chennai
  meeting, live reports and reflections from the Chennai meeting, and
  beyond this, critical engagement with the WSF and with WSF processes

2) Visit the webspace http://www.openspaceforum.net and use that space to
  engage with the concept and idea of 'open space', particularly in the
  context of the WSF.  This webspace offers several tools to facilitate
  this engagement.

CACIM now invites all those who are going to the Chennai meeting, or who
cannot go but are interested in it, and indeed all those who are interested
in what is happening with and in the Forum, in India and globally, to
participate in creating a space -- multiple spaces - for debate and
discussion on the meeting and on the WSF -- and anything else that YOU
think is related.

Options for participating
Over the last several months, we have come to understand that in the
domain of internet-based technologies, most people are most comfortable
and attuned with email.  This has led us to privilege the
"chennai-wsfindia-2005 at openspaceforum.net" listserve.  However, for
those who would like to be venture beyond email, on the
http://www.openspaceforum.net webspace, we also provide:

1. BLOG SPACE: OpenSpaceForum provides blog space for people to "report"
  from the Chennai event, and also provides individuals the option of
  creating your own blog rather than writing onto the "common" blog.  Of
  course, you need not restrict your blogging to the Chennai event, but
  are welcome to engage with other related issues.

2. UPLOADING YOUR OWN CONTENT: OpenSpaceForum also provides individuals
  the option to upload your own content such as photos, documents, etc
  onto the site -- which will then be available worldwide.

3. ARTICLE SUBMISSION: While you could submit documents (Word, PDF, etc),
  we also encourage you to use the article-submission feature to make some
  of these documents accessible as plain text.  Please also feel free to
  comment on existing articles.

4. CREATING WIKI PAGES: You are also welcome to create new wiki pages,
  which are then open to being edited by others.  You are also welcome to
  edit existing wiki pages, where it is possible to do so.

5. HELP FOR THOSE LESS FAMILIAR: The webspace also gives Help to those
  less familiar with blogging and editing wiki pages, and in case you
  would like to use this opportunity to do this.

Come and join us!  Please only note that we are attempting this experiment
at somewhat short notice, and there are bound to be rough edges.  We are
working to make all the above tools available and usable without too much
effort.  So please try and overlook the smaller problems you may find with
all this.  We welcome your feedback at "cacim AT cacim DOT net".

Our idea is also to do a collective and participative post-facto evaluation
of this project, with a view to perhaps repeating this experiment, with
greater preparation, for and at the polycentric Karachi Forum in January
2006.  So you will be hearing more from us, in due course.

Join us in any or all of this !

                       2. About Open Space Forum

Open Space Forum was set up in 2004, in part, in connection with the work
of the EIOS Collective, a new worldwide network of scholar-activists
involved in or concerned with movement.  The goal of this initiative is 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.

For more information, visit http://www.openspaceforum.net

This webspace is being reorganized, with relevant content being uploaded
over the next couple of months.  The proposed structure is listed below.
We welcome you to contribute to this process.  This is very much still
an experiment-in-progress.

Proposed Content on OpenSpaceForum: http://www.openspaceforum.net
* Main Content
  + Books
    . Articles from the special issue of ISSJ (International Social Science
      Journal) 182 focussing on 'Explorations in Open Space : The World
      Social Forum and Cultures of Politics'
    . Link to content of World Social Forum : Challenging Empires, edited
      by Jai Sen, Anita Anand, Arturo Escobar, and Peter Waterman (2004)
    . Essays from Are Other Worlds Possible ? Talking New Politics, edited
      by Jai Sen and Mayuri Saini (2005)
    . Other related material
  + Articles
    . Articles by EIOS Collective members
    . Articles by other activists and researchers
  + Seminar Series
    . Transcripts from the Open Space Seminar Series held at the
      University of Delhi, 2003
    . Other related material
  + Films, photographs, audio recordings
  + Other content
    . Stories/Experiences
    . Bibliographies
    . Chronologies

* The WSF in India
  + India at WSF 2006
    . WSF seminar, Chennai, October 2005
  + India at WSF 2005
  + WSF 2004
  + ASF (Asia Social Forum) 2003
  + Other regional forums in India
    . Bangalore Social Forum
    . Delhi Social Forum
    . Gujarat Social Forum
    . Karnataka Social Forum
    . Kerala Social Forum
    . Tamil Nadu Social Forum
    . Any other else ...
  + Report about SF-related meetings
  + WSF India (the organisation)
  + Links to critical and/or oppositional sites (for instance,
    Mumbai Resistance, in January 2004)
  + Debates about the politics of the respective fora.

* WSF globally
  + WSF Events
    . WSF 2005
    . WSF 2004
    . WSF 2003
    . WSF 2002
    . WSF 2001
  + Regional Forums
  + Others

  + About EIOS and the EIOS Collective
  + EIOS Events:
    . EIOS 1: Workshop at Integria, Brazil
       Proposal, reports, articles, etc.
    . EIOS 2: Workshops at WSF 2005, Brazil
    . EIOS 3: Proposed conference & related meetings in India, 2006
  + Other forthcoming EIOS activities
    . Activities planned for Karachi Forum
    . Proposed book on cultures of politics
  + Related people, organisations, projects
    . Other Worlds Project
    . Are Other Worlds Possible Project
    . Ephemera
    . Radical Theory Forum

  + Editing wiki pages
  + Site navigation
  + Using blogs
  + Using discussion forums
  + ...

* Other
  + Links to related sites (groups, individuals, publications, sites .. )
  + Anything else

                           3. About CACIM

[ CACIM is just in the process of forming.  The following is therefore taken
 from a draft document, and should be seen as being only work-in-progress.]

CACIM -- the India Institute for Critical Action : Centre in Movement --
proposes to be a hub within transnational networks among people and
organisations located in different parts of the world.  Its goal is to
support and encourage activists, students, researchers, professionals,
artistes, and thinkers, young and more mature, and both those belonging
to the so-called 'civil' and also those excluded from this, belonging to
the popular and 'incivil' worlds, who are involved in different ways with
'movement', in their individual work and also to network and work together.

CACIM has grown out of Critical Action (CA), an experiment since about 2001
in informal, voluntary association between individuals based in different
parts of India and other countries focusing on the critical study of,
reflection and exchange on, and engagement in emerging social and political

[ CACIM webspace - http://www.cacim.net - under construction ]

CACIM is registered in India as a non-profit company.  But, although based
in one country, it will be transnationalist, 'global', and open in spirit
and concern.  At another level, our goal will be to develop and to conduct
CACIM as a loose, flexible, responsive, and lightweight organisation,
reflecting and manifesting its principles.

The principles that underlie CACIM's work are criticality, transnationalism
and transcommunality, and engagement -- and at all times, and in many ways,
a focus on movement.

We hope to articulate criticality through a focus on critical reflection
and thought, and a spirit of self-reflexivity; critical action; and
critical pedagogy.  CACIM's work will also be based on and informed by
the interrelated principles of voluntarism, mutual aid, and solidarity.

One aim and aspect of the application of CACIM's principles will be
with respect to the question of the social and political dimensions of
resource mobilisation for public work.  We propose to open public debate
in this critical area, and hope to be able to progressively define
principles that can inform our own work and public work more generally.
We plan here to take full advantage of the rich tradition in India of
debate and controversy in this area.

Over the next period, CACIM expects to have three main areas of activity:
Strategies and Cultures of 'Movement', Information Culture Technology,
and Building Bridges.

Forthcoming activities:

December 2005 - January 2006:
Publication and launch of the first two volumes of the Hindi translation
of 'World Social Forum : Challenging Empires', with the plan to use this
as the basis of a major pedagogical experiment and intervention in
cultures of politics in north / Hindi-speaking India.

Publication and launch of the Hindi edition of the first volume of the
'Are Other Worlds Possible?' series, English title Talking New Politics

Publication and launch of the second and third volumes of the 'Are Other
Worlds Possible?' series, tentatively titled 'Interrogating Empires' and
Imagining Alternatives'.

Mid 2006:
EIOS3 -- the third EIOS meeting, a ten-day encounter of the
'Explorations in/of Open Space' project (EIOS) focusing on open space
and civil movement; to be organised by CACIM near New Delhi.  The four
interrelated meetings and the preparatory process proposed will
significantly take forward the EIOS process, a major exercise in critical
scholar-activism and global networking that has taken shape over the past
year around the concept of 'open space'.

If you are interested in knowing more about CACIM, write to us at
"info AT cacim DOT net"

We hope you now have enough information on us, and look forward to
your joining us -- right now on http://www.openspaceforum.net and
chennai-wsfindia-2005 at openspaceforum.net now, and soon also on

With warm greetings, in peace and in solidarity -

Members of CACIM.

CACIM -- India Institute for Critical Action : Centre in Movement
A-3 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110 024, India
Ph : +91-11/5155 1521, 2433 2451
Eml: info AT cacim DOT net
Web: http://www.cacim.net

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