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Reading Nairobi: Place, space, and difference at the 2007 World Social Forum

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Chapter Summary

The 2007 World Social Forum (WSF) took place in Nairobi, 20-25 January. Most of the controversies had to do with the character of the space that was produced there and what it signalled about a more global political drift in the WSF. This chapter addresses the challenge of 'reading Nairobi' but, more generally, it seeks to elaborate an approach by which to more adequately analyze the WSF, both as a somewhat coherent global political process while also recognizing the exploding plurality of the WSF as a multi-faceted phenomenon. The critics of ?open space' argue variously that the concept itself is wrong-headed and depoliticizing in its embrace of liberal pluralism; Difference as an analytical vector in reading any specific WSF event or process has to do with the character and scope of diversity in the ?open space' of the forum, its ethos of respect for difference, and its production of "transcommunality".

Keywords: Nairobi event; open space; World Social Forum (WSF)



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