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Social Movement Learning & Knowledge Production in the Struggle for Peace with Social Justice

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This paper will present initial reflections from a two-year ESRC funded research project that began in January 2018, seeking to understand how social movements, in some of the most complex and conflict affected contexts in the world, build knowledge, develop strategy, and educate in the pursuance of peace with social justice. The research will contribute to a redefining of education’s role in supporting international development through emphasising how education can play a role in strengthening the capacity of marginalised communities to advocate and struggle for their rights and gain concessions from often recalcitrant elites seeking to reproduce their own power and wealth. Four participatory case-studies of four very different types of social movement, in Colombia, Nepal, Turkey and South Africa will be explored through a process of participatory, collaborative research that is carried out in close collaboration with the respective social movements. The case studies will then be synthesized to draw out comparative insights on the learning and knowledge production strategies of social movements in contexts of conflict. The social movements, who are core partners in the research, are NOMADESC , a grassroots NGO based in Colombia; The Housing Assembly, a grassroots movement from South Africa; The HDK (Peoples’ Democratic Congress), a coalition of social movements in Turkey; and the Madhesh Foundation, Nepal, an organisation that works with and for the excluded Madhesh community. Each movement, in different ways, advocates with and for marginalized communities seeking to defend and extend their basic rights to education, health, housing, life, dignity and equal treatment before the law. Each movement, to different degrees, has also been victim to state repression, violence against it members and activists, and sustained surveillance and persecution. The paper will also outline our understanding of social movement learning and knowledge production and the strategies, methodologies and theories that underpin our approach.

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