What is the World Social Forum anyway?
Under the banner of â€˜Another World is Possible,’ tens of thousands of community organizers, trade unionists, students/youth, NGO representatives, elected officials and social movements gather for a weeklong conference filled with dialogues, workshops, debates, marches, rallies, and cultural events. The WSF was created to provide an open platform to discuss alternatives to the economic plans created by multi-national corporations and the governments at the World Economic Forum. These plans often result in strategies that suppress workers and human rights, and undermine national and Indigenous sovereignty. The Forum has since become an annual event, hosting up to 100,000 people each year.
The U.S. Social Forum describes its focus on six “key movement building moments to learn the lessons.”
These six struggles – Gulf Coast Reconstruction in the Post-Katrina Era; War, Militarism and the Prison Industrial Complex; Indigenous Voices: From the Heart of Mother Earth; Immigrant and Migrant Rights in a Global Society; Liberating Gender and Sexuality: Integrating Gender and Sexual Justice Across Our Movements; and Workers’ Rights in the Global Economy – are not the only important issues facing the movement today. They are deeply interconnected and related to all the crises in our communities within today’s reality of globalization and repressive neoliberal policies – growing poverty; multiple oppressions rooted in class, race, nationality, gender, sexuality, ability, and age; environmental destruction; and increasing militarism. Through workshops, presentations, performances, and debates during the U.S. Social Forum we will explore all these critical issues and their interrelationships.
The USSF has “third-wave feminism” written all over it. In fact, the Third Wave Foundation has a special fund for scholarships (info here) for the conference. But it seems like very few people have heard of the United States Social Forum, and it hasn’t gotten much attention from scholars or the press.
-Bridget Crawford and Amanda Kissel