SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Transformative Politics and the Solidarity Economy

Professor Michelle Williams and Dr Vishwas Satgar (School of Social Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa)

Date: 2 February 2016Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 2 February 2016Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G3

Type of Event: Seminar

The rise of neoliberalism and the collapse of centralized socialist systems have raised many challenges for Left and progressive forces. But it has also been a time of opportunity to rethink old and discover new forms of emancipatory alternatives. We’ve seen over the last two decades a proliferation of voices espousing alternatives that range from the World Social Forum, to popular movements for land, housing, and social rights, to calls for the democratization of political and economic power in local communities, to the expansion of cooperative forms of production, to the explosion of ethical and fair trade markets, and to the rise of ecologically informed production. Out of this wide range of alternatives have arisen many different analytics to understand these trends. We argue that one of the most important developments has been the solidarity economy and its links to transformative politics. Transformative politics is also a new way to understand power, political strategy and logics of change. Married to the solidarity economy this is both a challenge to and an attempt to transcend the limits of capitalism. The talk draws on a book manuscript that Satgar and Williams are currently working on based on six years of fieldwork with visits to 13 countries to study worker cooperatives, worker cooperative-led economic networks and a new theoretical approach to transformative politics.


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Transformative Politics and the Solidarity Economy, Williams & Satgar

Professor Michelle Williams' work relates to debates around social movements and alternative economic and political systems. Most notably, her analysis of the development of participatory democratic practice in South Africa and Kerala, India in her book The Roots of Participatory Democracy, provides a provocative comparison of the role of solidarity economies, labour and social movements connecting India and South Africa. She was a member of the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa between 2007 and 2011, and is now the chairperson for the Global Labour University Programme (GLU) at the University of Witwaterstand, South Africa, where she is also a senior lecturer. Vishwas Satgar is currently the executive director of the Cooperative and Policy Alternative Centre (COPAC) and a senior lecturer at the University of Witwaterstand. His work as a grassroots activist in South Africa for the past three decades has ranged across issues including the improvement of township communities, food sovereignty campaigns, and campaigns around climate jobs and defending popular democracy in South Africa. Williams and Satgar are currently working on a book project on the solidarity economy through an analysis of the linkages between producer cooperatives and consumer markets.

Organiser: Professor Alfredo Saad Filho or Dr Feyzi Ismail

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Contact Tel: 020 7898 4504 or 020 7898 4723