Jones, R. (2005) Transversal Resistance and Power: An Interpretation of the World Social Forum

Title: Transversal Resistance and Power: An Interpretation of the World Social Forum

Author: Rochelle Jones

Year: 2005


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The global development agenda, encompassing neo-liberal policy convergence and global capitalism, has gained momentum since the end of the Cold War and has been perpetuated and upheld by the multilateral institutions of the World Bank, World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund. The global development agenda is not limited to these institutions, however, and is rather transversal and biopolitical, which is revealed through an analysis of how the global development agenda is regulated and maintained by historically constituted institutions, norms, categories and identities that are perpetuated by countries in the North, particularly the United States. In response to the global development agenda, new social movements are resisting the homogenizing thrust of global capitalism and neo-liberal policy, and developing and articulating new logics of meaning that are challenging the terms and categories of the global development agenda. This resistance is transversal, because it transgresses national boundaries and questions the very logic through which these boundaries frame international politics.

The research question of this paper is: How does transversal resistance challenge the global development agenda? Using qualitative methodology and post-structuralist interpretations of power and dissent, this paper explores the transformative capacity of transversal resistance in regards to dominant narratives. Using the World Social Forum (WSF) as a site of transversal resistance, the paper focuses on three sites of potential transformation: The realm of 'dailiness'; spaces; and identity. The research reveals that values and norms play an important role in perpetuating dominant power, and that the WSF is a unique form of politics that challenges the terms and categories of the global development agenda and demonstrates the capacity to destabilize these dominant terms and categories. It does this via the creation of new logics of meaning and practice, by providing a platform for new forms of communication and collaboration, and by contributing to a process of reconstituting and transforming identities.


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