Global Working Group Beyond Development

About the Global Working Group

The Global Working Group Beyond Development is hosted by the Brussels Office of the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung since 2016. It includes around thirty engaged researchers, activists and popular educators from all five continents which bring together knowledge and experience around the different relations of domination which we confront in actual times – class, race, gender, caste, coloniality and depredatory relations with Nature – and also from processes of alternative transformations towards greater equity, sustainability and justice around the world.


Online series

“A critical global dialogue on democracy” (2020)

One of the biggest challenges the Corona-crisis highlights is around democracy. Democracy not understood as a set of institutions or procedures, but as the means we create for ourselves to make collective decisions about our lives and the lives of those generations who follow. The pandemic has boosted and legitimized top-down solutions, highlighting the role of national governments and international institutions as the World Health Organizations, but at the same time, it has shown the advantages that organized communities at the grassroots have if they practice self-rule (variously called autonomy, self-determination, etc.) and food/water/energy/health sovereignty.

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“Cities of Dignity” (2020)

Written by movement-based authors, this book brings together a selection of texts portraying urban transformations around the world. Lately, the crisis of civilization, exacerbated by COVID-19, has shown how cities, usually understood as the sites where people move to in order to live ‘successful’ lives, where they can realize consumption and have easier access to many public services than in the countryside, have become deadly traps of contagion. Throughout the world, people who had the opportunity to do so even moved back to their places of origin in the countryside. It is thus crucial to discuss how cities can be transformed from being sites of extraction and dispossession of rural areas to become sites where, for example, food and energy sovereignty are put forward.

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“Alternatives in a World of Crisis: 2nd edition” (2019)

This book brings together a selection of texts portraying transformative processes around the world that are emblematic in that they been able to change their situated social realities in multiple ways, addressing different axes of domination simultaneously, and anticipating forms of social organization that configure alternatives to the commodifying, patriarchal, colonial, and destructive logics of modern capitalism.

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“Stopping the Machines of socio-ecological destruction and building alternative worlds” (2019)

The perspective of the Global Working Group Beyond Development is the idea of multidimensional social transformation. Its point of departure is that a multidimensional crisis calls for multidimensional responses. Social transformation today should address simultaneously the complex relations between class, race, coloniality, gender, and Nature, as it is precisely their historical entanglements and interdependencies that configure the civilizational bases of the system we face. Although the debates presented here have much in common with a socio-ecological perspective, we believe that it is necessary to highlight gender, race, and coloniality as necessary dimensions of social transformation that are no less significant than relations between classes or society and Nature. Although the term “socio-ecological” does not necessarily exclude these dimensions, it does not explicitly include them either.

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“Alternatives in a World of Crisis: Seeking alternatives beyond development” (2018)

Our world is facing a multidimensional crisis arising from the very civilizational foundations that capitalist modernity is built on: economic growth, instrumental and destructive societal relations with Nature, a blind belief in science and technology and a rational, profit-maximizing, and individualistic understanding of humanity. These bases have not only produced a specific set of problems, including an unprecedented level of ecological destruction. They also shape the possible solutions that are envisioned and often only aggravate the status quo. Since World War II, the narrative of development has been a very effective instrument in expanding capitalist social and economic relations into the postcolonial world. In the name of development and modernization, a broad variety of other modes of being in the world and understanding it have been labeled as poor, backward, and obsolete. Seeking alternatives beyond development therefore means seeking alternatives beyond this civilization that has led us into this crisis.

This book, which is the result of a group effort, intends to contribute to the urgently needed collective inquiries taking into view new theoretical and political paradigms of social transformation. In six case studies from all over the world and one concluding chapter, it seeks to address simultaneously the complex relations between class, race, coloniality, gender, and Nature, as it is precisely their historical entanglements and interdependencies that configure the civilizational bases of the system we face.

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Global Working Group Beyond Development: From stopping the machines of socio-ecological destruction, to the building of alternative worlds: Rethinking our strategies for social change” (2017)

From 12th until 19th of May the Global Working Group Beyond Development, hosted by the Brussels office of the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, held its second meeting in Ecuador, Latin America, in order to collectively analyze the opportunities and challenges, as well as the practical strategies, for the construction of multidimensional alternatives which would respond to the current civilizational crisis to which capitalism and its economic, social and cultural dynamics have led.

The second meeting of this group of thirty engaged researchers, activists and popular educators included a public conference at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar in Quito, a three day workshop and a field visit to the municipality of Nabón in the southern Azuay province of Ecuador, aimed at learning from the experience of building Buen Vivir or living well from the bottom up, as it has been practiced by the communities and associations of Nabón with the support of the alternative local government led by two female mayors of the indigenous Pachakutik political movement, during four successive periods of government.

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“Beyond Development. Overcoming an imperative and fostering alternatives” (2016)

Under the header “Beyond the development imperative”, political activists and critical scholars met in January 2016 for three days (with Ashish Kothari, Kalpavriksh, India, and Ulrich Brand, Vienna University, Austria, as initiators) in order to start a dialogue among possibilities to overcome the so powerful and in many respects exclusive capitalist development imperative – an imperative that is at the same time productive and destructive that creates material well-being for many people but at enormous socio-economic, political and ecological costs and by excluding many others and destroying their livelihoods. “Development” and “economic growth” go still hand in hand and their common denominator is that capitalist dynamics are assumed to solve most problems like a “magic bullet”, and in light of the ecological crisis as supposedly “green” development and growth.

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