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Global Civil Society : Speaking in Northern Tongues ?

Puce noire Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 38, 2011 , Afef Benessaieh

Benessaieh, Afef, « Global Civil Society : Speaking in Northern Tongues ? », Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 38, no. 6, Juillet 2011, pp. 69-90.

The goal of this article is to examine ideas regarding a ’global’ civil society held
by actors with non-Western/non-Northern perspectives, in order to articulate a more
complete understanding of the ’global’, one which transcends the limited conception which
arises from viewing the subject only from one location. This examination is based on
extensive socio-ethnographic fieldwork among NGOs, international donor agencies and
Church-related organizations in Chiapas, Mexico (in 2002-2004). This research primarily
suggests that ‘global civil society’— as an imagined terrain of transnational social action---
can be viewed both as a site of expanded resources for social action as well as a source of
new significant constraints, a terrain where not all ideas and values are heard, promoted or
given legitimacy. Secondly, it is argued that there exists a ’transnationally resonant’
language into which Southern activists need to translate their issues and concerns if they
wish to be heard.

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