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NGOs, social movements and anti-APEC activism : a study in power, knowledge and struggle

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NGOs, social movements and anti-APEC activism : a study in power, knowledge and struggle

Choudry, A. A (2008) NGOs, social movements and anti-APEC activism : a study in power, knowledge and struggle. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This thesis analyzes political struggles over power and knowledge within networks of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and social movements contesting neoliberal globalization. Existing studies tend to obscure tensions, contradictions and differences among organizations and movements engaged in resistance and contest of neoliberalism. Situating 'globalization' as a contemporary manifestation of older processes of colonialism and imperialism, this work draws upon and extends institutional ethnography/political activist ethnography methodologies to explicate how 'anti-globalization' practice is socially organized. Starting from a standpoint in an everyday world of activist practice, this work examines NGO, activist and official documents, and insights from the author's 'insider' status as an activist/researcher in NGO conferences and campaigns. It explicates tensions and asymmetries of power within networks throughout the Asia-Pacific that mobilized to contest the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in the 1990s. Combining a dual interdisciplinary academic and activist theoretical framework, it innovatively weaves knowledge and theory produced within social movements and activist milieus with academic scholarship. This work draws upon Marxist political economy and critical adult education traditions, critiques of dominant social movement theory, non-Western approaches to epistemologies of knowledge, organizational analysis, social history and other critical historiographies. It identifies and questions hegemonic NGO practices, arguing that hierarchies of power and knowledge within 'alternative' milieus often reproduce, rather than challenge dominant practices and power relations, and serve elite interests rather than those of constituencies which these organizations claim to represent. This thesis troubles the NGOization of political struggles, NGO claims of representation, and the privileging of professionalized NGO and academic knowledge at the expense of voices and histories from below. In so doing, it offers new conceptual resources for future scholarship on social movements and 'civil society', as well as tools to inform activism.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Choudry, A. A
Pagination:x, 321 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:School of Graduate Studies
Date:2008
Thesis Supervisor(s):Shragge, Eric
ID Code:975894
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:16
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:41
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