Main Themes      /      Specific Themes      /      Events

The year 2014 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Zapatista uprising. On January 1, 1994, on the effective date of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Zapatista National Liberation Army, composed of poor indigenous peasants in the southern state of Chiapas, Mexico, took arms criticizing the neoliberal global order. Observers at the time were surprised at the Zapatistas’ information maneuvers—i.e. sending out their messages from the Chiapas jungle to all over the world via internet—and called the uprising as “the first postmodern revolutionary movement” or “the first twenty-first century social movement.” The Zapatistas captured the worldwide attention when they advocated the respect for indigenous people’s rights and culture and democracy as values alternative to neoliberalism.

Today, twenty years after the uprising, the processes of globalization—rapid and massive movement of people, goods, money, information, and services across national borders—have been broadened and deepened, as shown by the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. At the same time, much like the Zapatistas twenty years ago, a variety of social groups from different regions of the world have raised voices against neoliberal globalization and instead tried to construct a society based on different values and visions. One typical example is the World Social Forum, which came into being in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2001 with its slogan, “Another world is possible.” The Arab Spring (a series of large-scale anti-government demonstrations and protests in the countries in the Middle East and Arab regions starting from Tunisia in December, 2010) and the Occupy Movement (a series of occupations of public spaces beginning at the Wall Street, New York City, in September, 2011) are also the challenges to the existing global order and are still fresh in our minds.

In our conference and workshops, we will explore whether or not such “another world is possible.” Building upon the leading-edge research on social movements and civil society organizations that have emerged around the world during the past twenty years, we will tackle the following research questions: What kind of society based on what alternative values do these social movements and organizations attempt to establish? What are the potentials and limitations of these movements and organizations? Is it possible to bring about “another world” as an alternative to neoliberal global order? 

Each social movement has its own vision of the “another world” depending on its specific political, economic, and social circumstances. In order to grasp such variations in the visions of a better world, it is desirable to bring together specialists of a variety of world regions. A unique characteristics of our conference and workshops is to invite academics in a variety of research fields, such as globalization, democracy, regime change and democratization, civil society, social movements, revolution, labor studies, and development, in order to compare social movements emerging from different parts of the globalized world, to understand the variations in the visions of the future and democracy, and to explore the possible future of the post-neoliberal twentieth-first century.