By Anna-Theresa Bachmann
Almost eight years ago, a wave of protest hit many countries in North Africa and West Asia, disrupting decades of authoritarian rule, opposing neoliberal market logics and demanding social, political and economic justice. But not only in Tunis, Sanaa or Damascus did people take to the streets to hold policy makers accountable for their actions, as the Occupy movements in North America and Europe have shown. Fast-forwarding to today however, the restoration of authoritarian regimes and the rise of right-wing populism put tremendous pressure on emancipatory activism, intellectuals, and broader civil society in many parts of the world.
Connecting resistances and building alliances across borders is thus needed now more than ever to confront today’s global challenges and local contestations. Accordingly, the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung and Alsharq co-hosted a conference titled “Connecting Resistances – Emancipatory Activism in West Asia, North Africa and Germany” in late September 2018, from which these contributions are taken.
While some impressions of the three-day conference were presented at a public event in Berlin on 1 October, the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung and Alsharq would like to share more outcomes of “Connecting Resistances”. As organizers, the Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation and Alsharq attempt to build on and develop these discussions by making them accessible to a wider audience. The following dossier is such an attempt, and can only highlight some aspects of an ongoing debate across North Africa, West Asia and Germany.
Emancipatory Activism in West Asia, North Africa and Germany
The three-day conference titled “Connecting Resistances – Emancipatory Activism in West Asia, North Africa and Germany” in late September 2018 was organized by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung and Alsharq e.V. It brought together 50 activists, journalists and scholars from different countries and fields to create awareness for each other’s struggles as well as re-think strategies of support. They thereby created a safe space where they reflected on the interconnections between the pressing issues they currently face in their respective contexts. As such, topics ranging from feminist and youth movements to migration and militarization policies as well as possibilities of activism in exile where put on the table. Within the framework of the conference, the participants also discussed notions of transnational solidarity while being aware of power ambivalences between regions and actors.
The Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung is one of six major political foundations in Germany, and is linked to the Left Party (Die Linke). It pursues political education work, promotes international understanding and cooperation, and supports talented and committed young people through scholarships. The Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung promotes a critical analysis of society and fosters networks of emancipatory political, social and cultural initiatives around Germany. Internationally, it participates in cooperative projects and advocates for a dialogue between the Global North and South conducted on equal footing.
Alsharq e.V. is the leading independent German platform for alternative information about the region of West Asia and North Africa (WANA) and was founded in 2005. It works to promote dialogue and political education about the WANA region in Germany. In addition to journalistic work on alsharq.de, Alsharq organizes events such as lectures, film screenings, and seminars.
Anna-Theresa Bachmann has worked on North Africa and West Asia extensively as a journalist since her studies in Marburg, Cairo and Lund. Her articles on socio-political and historical topics have appeared in taz.der tageszeitung, the magazine zenith and in Alsharq. She is currently completing a training course at the Zeitenspiegel Repotageschule Günter Dahl in Reutlingen, Germany.