Social Movements in the Global South

Part of the series Rethinking International Development Series pp 178-199

Notes Towards Prefigurative Epistemologies

  • Sara C. Motta


In a rundown community centre in La Independencia neighbourhood of La Vega shanty town, Caracas, in August 2006, members of Comités de Tierra Urbana (Urban Land Committees, CTUs) came together to develop an analysis of their experiences of participating in the CTU and the successes and barriers they had encountered in their strategy to ‘democratize the city’1. The meeting lasted for two consecutive weekends during which the 20 or so participants began by discussing their history of involvement in the CTUs. These histories were written up and displayed around the room. Facilitators then began discussions orientated towards identifying the major themes that united participants’ experiences in order to develop a strategic orientation and understanding of the CTU project in La Vega. This would also form the basis of a document to be taken by elected participants to a regional level meeting to be held a number of months afterward. The key themes that came out of that meeting were the relationship of the CTUs of La Vega with the Oficina Técnica Nacional para la Regularización de la Tenencia de Tierra Urbana (National Technical Office for the Legalization of Urban Land Ownership, OTN) – the state institution to which the CTUs are attached, especially around the question of the granting of funds to the Campamiento Pionero project of La Vega, the tensions that arise in light of the different demands and logics of CTU members working in the community and those working in the state, the problems in moving from the gaining of individual land title towards democratic control over land and services, and the problems of maintaining community participation in CTU projects