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Research Forum with Dr. Smyth

Posted on: Sep 29, 2015

The World Social Forum: A Pilgrimage for Global Justice

Wednesday, September 30 – 12 to 1 p.m. – HA208
Presented by Dr. Elizabeth Smyth

This World Social Forum is a gathering of global justice activists which began in 2001 occurring annually and then later biennially. It meets in a different city in the Global South under the theme “Another World is Possible.”  This presentation will draw on my experiences in attending numerous forums and studying them as part of the transnational movement for global justice.  In this case however I will examine the WSF from the perspective of a pilgrimage.  While we often see a pilgrimage as a religious journey to a sacred or holy place.  The word is also used to describe a journey to a place of some significance to the one journeying, that is, the pilgrim.  Thus a pilgrimage can be “about leaving the familiar to seek out and be open to the Other, to be an eye-witness to something that has called you, to see for yourself.  We go, we are changed, we come back to tell the story.” (Van Hoose as quoted in Lyman, Strachan, and Lazaridou, 2012).   In my case I will focus on the purpose of these gatherings, the nature of the pilgrims and the impact the journey has on both the pilgrims (including myself) and those receiving them.  I will draw in particular on trips to Tunisia, Senegal, Kenya and Brazil.