Mar 5, 2010


Solidarity has been defined by some as activism for the benefit of differently situated others (such as the quite dry Giugni and Passy book, details below). I prefer to think of it using the phrase from sub Marcos, 'detras de nosotros, estamos ustedes' - which is very hard to capture in English, but means something like, 'behind us, we are you'. But sometimes solidarity does fall in to this trap of doing things for others, instead of for, with, ourselves defined more broadly.

One concept that can be useful for rethinking solidarity is collectivism, which the Autonomous Geographies Collective

(details of the article below) define as "the acceptance of human interdependence and the belief

that society will be bettered through the achievement of collective goals rather than individual

aspirations, and the importance of the commons" They go on to say (in regards to being scholar

activists, but I think this applies to doing solidarity more generally) "there is a need to approach

our working practices with more desire for horizontality in organisation, an emphasis upon

sharing and co-operation, more consensual decision-making, an awareness of inherent unequal

power relations, and finally a fundamental acceptance of freedom as individuals within a


It's a great article - if you're interested in academic activism I recommend it. The citation details

are below but it's all online here.

the Autonomous Geographies Collective, 2010. Beyond Scholar Activism: Making Strategic Interventions Inside and Outside the Neoliberal University. Acme, 9(2), 245-275.

Giugni, M. & Passy, F. eds., 2001. Political Altruism? Solidarity Movements in International Perspective, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. (but sadly I don't recommend this book)

1 comment:

Manuela Valle-Castro said...

Thanks for the reference Sara.

I have been thinking a lot about solidarity lately and particularly in relation to Haiti and Chile, on how to articulate instances of transnational solidarity from here, as opposed to a vertical charity that result in a powerful agent that "hands out" to a victimized "other" removed of their agency.

I am also interested in the ways that solidarity is invoked, in Chile this time it has been around a nationalist discourse of Chilean pride and through the domestic images of Chile as a large family.

Finally, I wonder what are the conditions to promote a culture of everyday solidarity that is not bound to disasters (though I do know what have been the historical conditions to deteriorate solidarity as a cultural value in Chile).