Cultural expression during the World Social Forum

February 2004 -

Press releases regarding the fourth World Social Forum (WSF) devoted only marginal attention to culture. Nevertheless, the organization had created much room for artistic expressions.

The World Social Forum - organized this year from 16 to 21 January in the Indian city of Mumbai - brings together civil movements from all over the world in order to develop alternatives to globalization. The event was established to counter the World Economic Forum in Davos, where governments, multi-national corporations, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization make their decisions. Participants in the World Social Forum, sometimes also referred to as alternative globalists, believe in more social solutions. They oppose the hegemony of the United States.

In one way or another, all of the cultural events during the Forum were characterized by this theme. The more than eighty thousand participants could visit a festival of films dealing with important WSF themes, such as globalization, sexism, fundamentalism and racism. The festival's program consisted of 83 entries and it has been touring India in recent months.

The Forum also offered room for the creative material that ensued from the protest demonstrations against the American invasion of Iraq. This exposition included posters, machinery, banners and photographs. Theatrical and music ensembles from every corner of the world voiced their views on various stages. One performance was presented by a group of Japanese dancers and musicians who expressed their anger about their government's decision to participate in the military attack on Iraq. There was also a literary event with abundant attention for literature by oppressed authors, domestic authors, women and city youths. An enormous quilt in the style of the traditional costumes of the Sufi (Muslim's of a certain type) was created by sewing together pieces of cloth with messages that the participants had brought from home, a symbol for unity in diversity.