© 2010

Learning from the Ground Up

Global Perspectives on Social Movements and Knowledge Production

  • Editors
  • Aziz Choudry
  • Dip Kapoor

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Learning from the Ground Up: Global Perspectives on Social Movements and Knowledge Production

  3. Making Knowledge and Learning from the Politics of Knowledge Production and Representation: “Civil Society,” Academe, and Social Activism—Tensions, Challenges, and Dilemmas

  4. Making Knowledge and Learning from Unions, Worker Alliances, and Left Party-Political Activism

  5. Making Knowledge and Learning from Peasant and Indigenous Peoples’ Struggles

  6. Back Matter
    Pages 243-256

About this book


The dynamics, politics, and richness of knowledge production in social movements and social activist contexts are often overlooked. This book contends that some of the most radical critiques and understandings about dominant ideologies and power structures, and visions of social change, have emerged from those spaces.


education globalization learning migrants politics research

About the authors

DAVID AUSTIN writer DAVID BLEAKNEY National representative for education, Canadian Union of Postal Workers ASHWIN DESAI Centre for Sociological Research, University of Johannesburg, South Africa EMMA DOWLING Lecturer in Sociology, Middlesex University, London, UK WALI HAIDER Activist, MES York University, Toronto, Canada ADAM HANIEH Lecturer in Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, UK HSIAO-CHUAN HSIA Professor, Graduate Institute for Social Transformation Studies, Shih Hsin University, Taipei, Taiwan KEES HUDIG Freelance campaigner and media activist BIJU MATHEW Cofounder, New York Taxi Workers Alliance, USA MICHAEL MORILL Executive director, Keystone Progress, Pennsylvania, USA MARIO NOVELLI Senior Lecturer in international education and development, University of Sussex, UK SHERRY PICTOU Community program coordinator and former chief of the Bear River First Nation KUMAR PRASANT Organizer, educator, activist, and author ROBYN MAGALIT RODRIGUEZ Associate Professor of Asian American Studies, University of California, Davis, USA AZRA TALAT SAYEED Executive director, Roots for Equity MARTHA STIEGMAN Postdoctoral researcher, Atlantic Aboriginal Health Research Program, School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University, Canada SHANNON WALSH South Africa Research Chair in Social Change, Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg, South Africa RAFEEF ZIADAH Teaching Fellow, Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, UK

Bibliographic information


"An extremely important book. Neo-liberalism always had a dual nature: market fundamentalism and (far more insidious) institutionalism. Campaigning groups siphoned into a game of negotiations with transnational corporations, international institutions, and states are either neutralized or become agents in capitalism's structural manoeuvrings. Choudry and Kapoor's have sounded the battle-cry for a counter-attack against this manipulative agenda, and to re-affirm the role of agency. They have brought together some very interesting cases of precisely this kind of knowledge production by the movements themselves. They point the way forward to a new form of scholarship where scholars who are themselves committed activists engage critically with the mass movements, enabling the latter to understand better the historical trends which their agency is creating, and thus to gain confidence and sense of direction in the experimentation process from which major societal restructuring will emerge." - Robert Biel, Senior Lecturer in Political Ecology and Director of the Research Degree Program at University College London, UK, and author of The New Imperialism and The Entropy of Capitalism

"This is an exciting international contribution to developing knowledge production and learning from within - and for - social movement organizing. It demonstrates that our social movements are actively producing knowledge and providing crucial resources in our struggles for social justice and liberation." - Gary Kinsman, Professor of Sociology, Laurentian University, Canada; long-time queer liberation and anti-capitalist activist

"This volume makes an invaluable contribution toward connecting scholarly production with social movement activism. Going beyond simplistic calls to engage in 'scholar-activism,' which often positions academics lower in relationship to social justice activists, this book re-centers intellectual production within social movements themselves. Rather than simply theorize social movements, it positions social justice organizers as producers of the theory. It does not presume a romanticized notion of social movement organizing, rather, it brings a critical lens to the forces of co-optation and normalization within both the academy and activist arenas. A must-read for all those wishing to advance intellectually rigorous social movements." - Andrea Smith, Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, University of California, Riverside, USA