Movement building involves the development of narratives and the construction of empowering identities. How can these both connect us to the past and help us to vision the future? How can we construct identities of solidarity that also articulate our differences and the diversity of our struggles?
Through our social and political action we change the world around us and we change ourselves. As we discover agency and build power with others. We also build new selves and construct new collective identities. These processes articulate who we are and who we will become. While these identities grow out of our past, they continue to evolve as we generate and envision new social relations. As Stuart Hall has said, instead of thinking about “people‘s roots, we ought to think about what are their routes, the different points by which they have come to be now; they are, in a sense, the sum of those differences.” And these routes continue to emerge before us as we make the path by walking. Who we are is not only shaped by our past and history. We are also shaped by the future that we participate in constructing. What does this mean for movements that draw on specific cultural legacies, are rooted in unique historical struggles, and yet seek to build new movements of solidarity with those shaped by different routes?. We’ll discuss these issues in relation to the politics of British Black identity, relationship to heritage and tradition in indigenous organising, and current challenges within decolonial and antiracist movement building today.
We will ask:
How can we make sure our political identities empower us and don’t imprison us?
How can we build movements that enable powerful alliances across the differences they need to contain, - honouring diversity without stumbling falling into divisiveness?
Can we honour specific histories, traditions and cultures and yet create a politically transformative vision that carries universal power?