How is your liberation bound up with mine: brochure

Nieuws, gepost door: nn op 20/02/2014 02:11:28

Wanneer: 20/02/2014 - 23:03

New brochure about mixed Organising-Processes, the Power of Definition and Critical Whiteness [german/english/french]

On the occasion of the no border lasts forever-conference in Frankfurt ( the initiative transact has put together with the title „How is your liberation bound up with mine“ a 40-pages brochure about mixed Organizing-Processes, the Power of Definition and Critical Whiteness. The brochure is availabe in german, english and french and can be ordered for the cost of postage; or it can be downloaded from our website:

The background: For at least 25 years there have been [in Germany] controversial debates about the handling of sexualized violence in left movements under the heading 'Power of Definition'. In addition, in the meantime it has been demanded that the concept of Power of Definition should be extended and for example also be applied in cases of racist discrimination. We appreciate the respective debates, because we find the questions, which are linked to them important – for example about dominances, paternalism or different starting conditions and therefore also (non-)privileges. Nevertheless the debates have often proceeded in a way, which was everything but constructive; for example in the two Nobordercamps in Cologne und Stockholm in the summer of 2012. Because quite often the debates evolved around the thesis that something like an equitable cooperation of refugees and non-refugees respective People of Colour and 'European-white' activists would not be possible under the given racist conditions. This has not only lead to frustrations, discords and massive uncertainty. It has also resulted in a discrediting of concepts like Power of Definition or Critical Whiteness, simply because individual fractions have acted in an extremely authoritarian, identitarian and polarizing way. This is the reason why the brochure at hand deals with the mentioned and many other questions; however with reference to our experiences in transidentitarian respective transnational networks like NoLager (2002-2007), Welcome to Europe und Afrique-Europe-Interact (both since 2009). Because how difficult the challenges are, we believe that it is possible to work together in mixed networks or groups in an equitable and respectful way - in spite of everything !

Content of the brochure:

I. Introduction
- Editorial
- How did this leaflet come about?

II. Power of Definition
- “Let’s not wait till things escalate”
- Interview concerning varying experiences with the Power of Definition since the early nineties.
- For another understanding of the Power of Definition
- Keywords concerning the collective handling of sexualized, racist and other violence in social movements
- Trusting relationships to other people are essential
- Trauma, Traumatisation and Trauma Skills

III. Mixed Organising
- If there is the wish to move on together
- Anti-racism and difference in mixed organising-processes
- Critical Whiteness as a catalyst
- Experiences with transidentitarian and transnational organization

IV. Interviews
- "The supporter-stigma as a tool for escapism"
An interview with Rex Osa (The Voice Refugee Forum)
- If something annoys me, I say so.
An interview with Newroz Duman (Youth without borders – JOG)
- "To meet without there being this gulf"
An Interview with Riadh Ben Ammar (Afrique-Europe-Interact)
- „Our Aim is to Form a Block“
An Interview with Alassane Dicko from the Malian Association of Deportes (AME) in Bamako


The Power of Defining One's Definitions

First things first: It is only recently that I first heard of this phrase "power of definition" being used, in the context of this ongoing discussion regarding events at Utrecht's ACU: .

A web search on the English phrase, alone or combined with likely keywords such as "sexual" (as in presumably assault) or "rape" or even "feminism" or so seems to yield very few results in this context. What we find e.g. at Wikipedia, but corroborated by common dictionaries and indeed by those web hits one does find, is that this "power of definition," or, in Dutch: "definitiemacht," refers roughly to the way our very definitions of reality, and thus of societal structures etc., are by nature colored by those in power positions, or who otherwise stand in some ways to benefit from the status quo: in other words, those who indeed have the "power of definition."*

It would thus seem to be a negative description, leaving the unsuspecting reader in bewilderment as to how this would be any form of radical-leftist concept, apparently to be actively employed. It is only where a commentator in that discussion mentioned the German "Definitionsmacht" that we get to where we want to be: Not as a main but a subsidiary article at the German Wikipedia ( vs. ) do we find a meaning as meant in the context at hand, and as indeed corroborated (in German) elsewhere on the web.

My presumption at this stage would then be that German feminists have sought to turn the phrase against itself, one assumes seeking to empower given perceived individuals or groups of people by lending _them_ this "Definitionsmacht." And indeed, this entire discussion does fit in with some news regarding certain developments in the German "scene" (or movement, whatever one wishes to call it) one hears here and there.

That is all fine. But I figured let us seek to know what we're talking about, before we even begin. I guess history will show whether the term will catch on from here in English, or in Dutch ;) (Or then maybe it has been common usage all along, and it's just me who has been missing it out. It's certainly very possible.)

* See also . I could have sworn I saw an English W'pedia article on the same in some previous searches on the matter, but can't find it back right now. The phrase in any event, in this common context and meaning, does show up widely on the web.

>Deze aanvulling voldeed niet aan de spelregels en is verplaatst naar het forum.

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