<CPOV> Lokavidya Jan Andolan (People's Knowledge Movement) First International Conference, 12-14 Nov. 2011, Vanarasi, India

Amit Basole abasole at gmail.com
Thu Jun 23 18:48:34 CEST 2011

Hello Folks
People on CPOV may be interested in this conference (see call for
participation below) being organized by Vidya Ashram (www.vidyaashram.org)
in Varanasi, India this coming November. The call is also available in
Spanish, Italian, German and French (all the versions are available on
http://lokavidyajanandolan.blogspot.com/). This is a political rather than
academic conference, so several representatives from people's movements are
expected to attend. But we are also hoping for some attendance from
interested and sympathetic international academics and scholars. Those
interested in learning more can contact me at abasole at gmail.com.






Vidya Ashram (www.vidyaashram.org) invites you to participate in the First
International Conference of the *Lokavidya Jan Andolan* to be held on 12-14
November, 2011, in Vidya Ashram, Sarnath, Varanasi, India. We will also be
holding an online preparatory dialog from 1st July to 31st August. We invite
you to participate in this dialog as well. Please visit
http://lokavidyajanandolan.blogspot.com or write to vidyaashram at gmail.com for
latest information.


* *

In India displacement of people from their land, their houses and their work
has emerged as the single largest concern of the social movements. Movements
of peasants against forced acquisition of land and for remunerative prices ,
movements of  *adivasis* (indigenous people) and local communities for local
control of natural resources and against ecological and environmental
destruction, movements of slum dwellers for civic and social facilities, and
the movements of hawkers and artisans against systematic demolition of the
local markets and inroads  by the corporations and the global market, have
all converged to become a single movement against displacement and eviction,
though managed and organized separately. Those trying to organize these
people are struggling to find pathways to confront the ruling dispensation.

All these people, the displaced, the communities they belong to, have never
gone to college and live by the knowledge they posses, called *lokavidya*,
which they have acquired from elders, from peers, in the community, at the
site of work, through experiments and by their own genius. Displacement
alters the conditions of their life in such a way that *lokavidya *is no
more able to serve their life needs and thus turns them into sources of
cheap labour.  It is this severance of *lokavidya* from their lives, which
needs to be fought at all costs. In fact *lokavidya*, that is people’s
knowledge, skills, ways of thinking, values, methods of organization,
aesthetic and ethical sensibilities, in short, their *world of knowledge as
a part of their own world*, is the main source of their strength.* Lokavidya
* is also what is common to this multitude, which is at the receiving end.
It is important to understand that the emancipatory pathways today traverse
through the world of knowledge. The *Lokavidya* standpoint is the people’s
standpoint in the Age of Information.



Peasants and indigenous people the world over are in a new mood of
assertion. Expressing, articulating and representing in ways that are their
own, these people are staking a claim to their inalienable right to live by
their own knowledge, values and belief systems and acquire knowledge that
they deem fit for them. Asia, Africa, South America, everywhere a new kind
of turmoil is in the making, promising to produce a new unity of the
oppressed and the dispossessed, this time based on what is common in their
understanding of the world around them, in their relationship with nature,
namely based on *lokavidya*.

This means that peasants and *adivasis*, artisans and women, pavement
retailers and workers need to stake a claim for *lokavidya*. *This is not a
claim for survival, this is a claim to build a new world.* They need to
claim that a radical challenge to capital and commercialization of knowledge
can be posed only by *lokavidya*. They need to also claim that only *
lokavidya* provides the knowledge bases for a society based on truth, on
social and economic equality. We need to understand that until these claims
are staked we shall remain prisoners of our preconceived notions of radical
social change, without effect. Such a *lokavidya*-knowledge claim can give
birth to a new imagination, new thought in the realms of economics, society,
politics and culture. The process of giving shape to such claims is the
process of *Lokavidya Jan Andolan.*


The global economic and ecological crises have exposed the thought and
institutions that have enriched a few by making the majority starve and by
bringing nature to the brink of destruction. Lokavidya Jan Andolan is a
knowledge movement of this majority, that is of those people, who have been
dubbed as the ignorant masses by the science establishments, the
universities and  the modern state. The idea that there is a sea of
knowledge outside the university is not alien to most people in the world.
Knowledge is widely spread in society and the idea that knowledge is widely
spread, has a very wide spread too. That is, people know and they know that
they know. And yet neither these people nor the knowledge they possess have
dignity in society. Their knowledge has no economic returns, so people are
poor. It has no respect in the public domain, so people are culturally
marginal. It has no clear relation with peoples’ organizations, therefore
people are politically irrelevant. There is a need for a political movement,
a space where people can mobilize on the basis of their knowledge. This
movement is the *Lokavidya Jan Andolan.*
The conference is an attempt to bring together the organizers of the
movements of peasants and artisans, indigenous peoples and small
trades-people, women and youth on a knowledge platform, which is a platform
of their knowledge, lokavidya. It is from this platform that the claim can
be staked that it is in lokavidya that the solution lies.


* *

The world is witnessing a new kind of movement, a people’s knowledge
movement with entirely new political imaginations. The ideas of lokavidya in
India, Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia, Rights of Nature in Ecuador, Food
Sovereignty by the International Peasants Movement Via Campesina, and
Cognitive Capitalism and the idea of Knowledge Liberation in Europe and
America are indications of a churning hitherto unknown to political debates.
There is an insistence in all these that people are knowledgeable and that
their knowledge and beliefs are not inferior in any way to knowledge doled
out in the name of science. There is an understanding that the damage done
to people and nature over the past centuries, which is multiplied manifold
in this digital era of the New Empire, is correctable only by those who have
not been fully subsumed into the systems of modern knowledge.
Lokavidya Jan Andolan argues that these and all such struggles worldwide
constitute a new fraternity of struggles, building a worldwide knowledge
movement of the people, a movement of people’s knowledge, a movement of
ANDOLAN VENUE: Vidya Ashram, Sarnath, Varanasi, India DATES: November 12-14,
2011 SESSIONS: The first two days of the conference will have three thematic
sessions, namely ·      The idea of  *lokavidya *and people’s knowledge
movement, ·       The struggles that underline and make space for such an
idea and ·       The strategy and organization of the Lokavidya Jan Andolan The
third day will be devoted to the role and place of language, art, media and
philosophy in the *Lokavidya Jan Andolan. *Those not working with the idea
of *lokavidya* will also get ample time to articulate their views on the
idea and practice of a people’s knowledge movement. Participants are
expected to make their own arrangements for travel to Varanasi. Vidya Ashram
will take care of local lodging and boarding. You can also contact the
following people for more information. Sunil Sahasrabudhey
Varanasi            *budhey at gmail.com* <budhey at gmail.com>
+91-9839275124 B. Krishnarajulu            Hyderabad
kkbandi at gmail.com            +91-9866139091 Amit Basole
Boston                        abasole at gmail.com            +1-6176867437 We
look forward to seeing you in Varanasi. Vidya Ashram Sarnath, Varanasi,
India www.vidyaashram.org

Amit Basole
Department of Economics
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
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