World Social Forum Activism in Belem and Beyond


  • Elizabeth Smythe Corcordia University College of Alberta, Canada
  • Scott C. Byrd University of California, Irvine



A young man dressed as a clown shelters under our umbrella in the center of Belém in the downpour before the opening march begins while a group of people with painted bodies and feathered headdresses chant and charge up the middle as thousands of marchers push apart to let them pass to the front. The words ?save the Amazon? are spelled out with human bodies. Union members are present in force, all donning shirts with their syndicate?s name and logo. All these scenes are just a small part of the kaleidoscope of images that are the World Social Forum in 2009. But what do they mean; and what does this most recent manifestation of the World Social Forum process tell us about this nine-year struggle to define an alternative vision to global neo-liberal capitalism? This article provides a brief reflection of nine years of Social Forum activism against the backdrop of the most recent World Social Forum held in the city of Belém, in the northeastern state of Para, Brazil from January 27-February 1, 2009.




How to Cite

Smythe, E., & Byrd, S. C. (2010). World Social Forum Activism in Belem and Beyond. Journal of World-Systems Research, 16(1), 94–105.



From the Global to the Local: Social Forums, Movements, and Place