Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Research Exchange

This blog has been created to support the conference exchange funded by the British Academy and organised by Dr Peter North at Liverpool University, Professor Marcelo Lopes de Souza, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and Professor Molly Scott Cato of Roehampton University.

A key issue for the future prosperity of both Global North and South is the
challenge of reconciling a right to human development with the need to avoid
dangerous climate change and the unsustainable depletion of resources. Key to
this is the development of resilient and sustainable livelihoods and economic
opportunities in economies in which communities and ecosystems can thrive.
These seminars will facilitate a North/South discussion about how to develop
sustainable livelihood options through a consideration of the experiences of
conceptions of the ‘Big Society’ and of low carbon community action in the Global
North, and conceptions of the ‘solidarity economy’ and of low carbon development
in Latin America. Actors in the global North and South have conceptualised
alternatives to economic growth at the cost of human wellbeing and the resilience
of ecosystems, and both propose optimistic and creative livelihood options. Both
can learn from each other.

The first conference was held in Liverpool between 12th and 14th March 2012. Leading Latin American academics visited the UK to share their knowledge of solidarity economy developments. We will be making their presentations and other resources available here soon.

Share Inspiration from Latin America

On the first day of the conference, Wednesday 14th March, we learned about the exciting developments in the solidarity economy in Latin America. Jose Luis Coraggio from the Buenos Aires University School of Economic Sciences set the scene, framing developments in terms of an emancipatory approach to economic life. Heloisa Primavera, a Brazilian local currency activist now living in Argentina shared the perspective from Latin American NGOs, and then Dario Azzellini explored the relationship between the state and workers' organisations in Venezuela.

In the afternoon UK social and economic activists reflected on solidarity economy developments here. John Barry, from Queen's University Belfast gave a theoretical grounding to political economy in an age of vulnerability, including a critical attack on neoclassical economics in the academuy. This session we also enjoyed the insights from practice, shared by Paul Chatteron of Leeds University who explored what it means to be a Zapatista in Leeds. Andy Cumbers from Glasgow University shared his research into mutually owned windfarms in Denmarket, and finally, Adrian Smith gave the practitioner view by sharing his experiences in developing renewable energy co-operatives.