Arseh Sevom–In part two of Arturo Desimone’s interview with the civil society activist “O” in Azerbaijan, we read about the struggles to create capacity for critically analyzing the actions taken by the government. Education, O, argues is something that cannot be left to the government. “I think we have to start now with realism,” O states, “actually depicting the sufferings as they are, in their immense intensity and contrast, in all their extreme dimensions.”
This interview with activists Jun and Mitchy Saturay deserves focus for about 17 minutes. What they have to say about their experiences with activist theater in the Philippines is moving and fascinating. We look forward to following up with them further about the details of theater and activism. Jun and …
Arseh Sevom spoke with South African activist Jasmin Nordien about her experiences working in civil society organizations. In this post, we focus on her experiences throughout the 1980s, when she worked with the Network of Independent Monitors reporting on state violence and supporting individuals and grassroots organizations. Jasmin shares some of the lessons she learned about the importance of creating networked organizations, the differences between leadership and management, and the need for clarity of purpose. Jasmin tells us, “The one thing I learned after working at NIM was that I no longer wanted to monitor. I wanted to build the kind of society that my children and grandchildren would group up in.”
What is Civil Society
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Before trying to delve deep into a practical definition of a “civil society activist” let us see what is exactly meant by a “civil society”.
According to Jeffrey C. Alexander – one of the thinkers who has helped us understand this rather abstract idea – civil society was conceived in the 18th century in a positive way. It was in the words of the philosopher Immanuel Kant, “a burgher, city dweller’s society.” Later, more complex ideas were annexed to the endless definitions and as per a recent version, civil society is “a basic configuration in which society stands apart from the state, develops autonomously and becomes increasingly conscious of such autonomy at both the individual and the collective levels.” All that would translate into an active society wherein citizens take matters related to their community, neighborhood, rights and etc. into their own hands – “civilly”. These activities might include forming associations, clubs, organizations, developing networks and raising awareness on their issues of concern.
They are pervasive and loud, many with half-shaven heads, rowdy barking mixed-breed dogs, and mud-encrusted dreadlocks. Yet their network may as well be invisible to the authorities who have spent the better part of thirty years failing to stamp it out. How does this raggle-taggle band of Britain’s prevalent environmental activists (also known as eco-warriors or protesters) evade countless attempts of infiltration and eradication?
Human rights activist Mana Mostatabi takes a look at the ways in which new media is transforming activism. She asks hard questions about just how effective “clicktivism can be when trying to take action for positive changes. What happens to those tweets and retweets? Just how big of a ripple …