Reading the fourth book of the series ‘Asking, we walk: the south as new political imaginary’ is like roaming the streets of a busy hamlet atop a hill and halting at different homes, listening to the stories of those who dwell there. The diversity of voices you hear will range from founders of social movements, representatives of aboriginal tribes, chroniclers of an uncared for planet, and survivors who battled different kinds of violence. The collection, edited by Corrine Kumar, a part of the Centre of Informal Development Studies (CIEDS), a collective based in Bangalore, does not focus on a single issue. Biodiversity, human rights, history and future of social movements, commons, and justice are just a few of the themes the book meanders through. What connects these stories is not what they focus on but what they seek – a vocabulary to describe a different world.
If you accept that a different world, an alternative to the one we live in, marked by inequality, militarism, and patriarchy, is needed, a trip to this hamlet is easier. Once you accept this need, the question then is, how do you describe this different world? The approach the book takes is summed up in the title, ‘Asking, we walk’, coined from the slogan of the Mexican revolutionaries, the Zapatistas. ‘This attitude toward knowledge undergirds all new social movements,’ an essay on emancipatory politics explains. It is an attitude that recognises ‘the limits of one’s own knowledge’ as well as the ‘necessity and possibility of acting while remaining open to what one does not know.’