Alternative ways of organizing to #ShiftThePower: What can we learn from networked experiences in Latin America?
08 Oct 2023
Invitation to join a mapping and series of dialogues on the road to the #ShiftThePower Global Summit in Bogotá!
Recent crises have brought to the forefront great challenges for us, Latin Americans. On one hand, there is political uncertainty and instability in many countries that are facing a conservative wave. On the other hand, this scenario is marked by burning social-environmental issues such as natural disasters, a health crisis, and human rights violations against migrants, women, indigenous people and other traditional populations. Inequalities have also increased. The percentage of the population living in extreme poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean region has greatly increased from 2014 to 2021, going from 7.8% to 12.9% during the period.1
Eduardo Galeano in his book “Las Venas Abiertas de America Latina” proposes to us with questions about our own fate: “Is Latin America a region of the world condemned to humiliation and poverty? Condemned by who? Isn’t misfortune a product of history, made by men and which, therefore, can be undone by men?”2
In fact, decolonizing development is a central discussion in Latin America due to our history of colonization, which reflects our deep social inequalities. In this sense, there is much agreement with Galeano and other relevant authors3 who discuss this topic4 , that a lot has to be done and undone for us to achieve a “good, fair society” built around core values of equality, democracy, and sustainability. In our field, The Comuá Network has recently given light to this debate in Brazil: “The decolonization process seeks to detach itself from the colonial characteristics of the past. This implies a radical transformation, based on new alliances between territories and actors, which leaves no room for a return to the previous state of conformity with the dominant and symbolic colonial power.”5
Democracy implies a society without clearly defined outlines, which is impossible to describe from the perspective of an universal point of view, that covers the multiplicity and diversity of voices that coexist in contemporary plural societies. Through politics, perceived as a collective effort that aims to establish an order and organize human coexistence6, the possibility of our future being constantly recreated and renegotiated opens up.7
It is precisely in this sense of politics that social inequalities resistance in Latin America translates into multiple social practices. The protagonism of civil society stands out for its versatility, innovation and resilience, encompassing a range of alternative and plural paths.8 Networks as an articulation of different people and organizations are capable of developing contra-hegemonic practices that promote alternative ways of organizing our social, economic, environmental and power relations.
These reflections connect with one of the #Shift The Power Global Summit’s key ideas “possibility in the face of crisis”: “in the face of mounting, multiple and inter-connected global crises” (…) we recognize “that new ways of deciding and doing are emerging around the world. This in the form of new practices, new institutional arrangements, new organizing models and new kinds of networked power, all which centre equity, dignity, trust and the inherent power of communities.”
In this edition of the Summit, which will be held in Latin America, Bogotá, Colombia, Mariane Maier and Aghata Gonsalves, from Carduma Social, will lead, together with the GFCF and other actors, a collective mapping and a series of dialogues to reflect about networked experiences in Latin America. These activities are part of a series of the “Road to Bogotá” events leading up to the Summit.
We invite everyone to participate in the collective mapping, to get together, learn from each other and to build a collective narrative about how we articulate and create alternative ways of organizing in Latin America.
What is coming up?
- Mapping networked experiences from Latin America and the Caribbean
- Dialogues with mapped collective actions
- A collective webinar for peer-to-peer learning
- Sharing results and deepening reflections at the Summit
Putting experiences on our collective map
To get started, do you know a networked experience in Latin America that has a story of articulation among different people, groups and/or organizations around common demands, efforts, values or objectives? We invite you to put experiences on our collective map by filling up this form or contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*For the purposes of this work, we understand networks as the result of an articulation process among different people, groups and/or organizations around common demands, values or objectives. This also takes into account informal collective articulations organized to respond to crises and/or common challenges, not limited to pre-established and/or formalized networks.
**Much knowledge has been built collaboratively by relevant actors from our field and by the #ShiftThePower movement, which also considers networks as the foundation for systemic social change.9 Our idea is to create spaces for connection and reflection before and during the Summit and to build upon this collective knowledge.
About the facilitators of this activity
Mariane Maier Nunes and Aghata Gonsalves are both practitioners from Brazil in the field of civil society and community philanthropy. Being part of the #ShiftThePower movement, they are driven by the belief that collective arrangements and networks are the foundation for system social change.
While working in a community philanthropy organization in Brazil, they have been centrally involved with different initiatives for network building and responded to complex challenges. Their experiences have contributed to their understanding that local collective actions are organized based on the challenges they face in their territories and that they seek to change power relations. Beyond the grassroots work, they have academic backgrounds that inspired them to align practice with theory and to research alternative ways of organizing. Currently, they are involved with consultancy work around the design of initiatives for community strengthening and networks of civil society organizations.
1 CEPAL’s LAC Regional Socio-Demographic Profile (2023). Available in: https://statistics.cepal.org/portal/cepalstat/regional-profile.html?theme=1&lang=en
2 Galeano, Eduardo (2015). Las venas abiertas de América Latina. Buenos Aires.
3 Segato, R. L. (2014). Aníbal Quijano y la perspectiva de la colonialidad del poder. Des/colonialidad y bien vivir: un nuevo debate en America Latina, 35-71.
4 Quijano, A. (2005). Colonialidade do poder, eurocentrismo e América Latina. A Colonialidade do Saber: etnocentrismo e ciências sociais–Perspectivas Latinoamericanas. Buenos Aires: Clacso, 107-126.
5 Andrade, Allyne & Hopstein, Graciela (2022). Is decolonising philanthropy making headway? Alliance Magazine. Available in: https://www.alliancemagazine.org/feature/is-decolonising-philanthropy-making-headway/
6 Mouffe, C. (2011). On the political. Routledge.
7 Laclau, Ernesto & Mouffe, Chantal. (2014). Hegemony and socialist strategy: Towards a radical democratic politics (Vol. 8). Verso Books.
8 Santos, Boaventura de Sousa. (2002). Para uma sociologia das ausências e uma sociologia das emergências. Revista crítica de ciências sociais, (63), 237-280.
9 Knight, Barry. (2019). Systems to #ShiftThePower, GFCF.