What is Lokayoto?
Lokayoto is a group of people committed to building decolonial, anticapitalist, anti-patriarchal philosophies-discourses-theories that are relevant in and for the lives of the people of both ‘global’ and local interconnected socio-cultural ecologies, within which Bangladesh functions as a nation state.
We understand that we are situated in a historical-political-geographical entity called Bangladesh, because of which we have to constantly navigate and ‘negotiate’ with ‘global’/colonial/capitalist knowledges and the institutions that produce them, including global academia. We seek to understand-acknowledge both modern and non-modern systems and politics of knowledge, and the interactions of these streams, in order to try to
reclaim/theorise/view/identify/produce knowledges centering on a decolonial critique of the colonialist modern that has erased, obscured, appropriated, extracted from, minimized or treated as “not knowledge” the other forms of experiencing and knowing in our societies.
Many of us were a part of CBS (Center for Bangladesh Studies), which was a non-profit crowdfunded, multidisciplinary think-tank that worked as a hub of a community of organizers, intellectuals, activists, artists, and researchers involved in many forms of activities. We evolved from the semi-formal structure of CBS to Lokayoto which does not function as a static and statist, legal-bureaucratic institution; rather it works in an ever-transforming structure based on relevant social internetwork approaches and frameworks. This allows us to work more fluidly and have varying forms of experiences of learning, de/re-learning and community building, by engaging and immersing ourselves in various contexts as allies to share and co-produce.
How do we define our work?
We understand work as life’s work — which to us means changing the meaning of what it is to live; to reclaim the concepts of justice and liberation. Thus, everything from — collecting/arranging life sustenance, to processing and articulating thought-action collectively, to caring for each other by understanding personal issues as grounded in a system of oppressions — includes what we do.
This term work is a problematic translation of the term kaaj. It is also not ‘work’ in the same sense as labor as conceived in modern capitalist thought. This is a life practice which strives to go beyond the measurements of colonialist-capitalist, patriarchal productivity, materiality and competitiveness. For this, in our works, we try to critically draw from the idea of shadhana, which includes diverse traditions of persistent life practices around the world. In this sense, our ‘work’ includes activities ranging from addas and bahas, innovating new forms of interventions, hosting public dialogues, going on transformative learning tour/teertha/safar together, etc., to mentoring/supervising research works.
Lokayoto is therefore an approach to build a community in a rhizomic network of sorts — connecting with places ranging from home(s), center(s), formal and informal organizations, to akhras, dorbars and other cultural/social gatherings. In this manner, we challenge the modern binary of praxis and intellectual work.
How do we function?
We operate as a group of volunteers. Our finances are collected from members and well-wishers. We decide and divide our work within areas/topics according to our interest, necessity and urgency, as in, not exclusive to a sense of an immediacy of economism but in a relevant, decolonial sense of ‘essential’. Currently, our content is predominantly in Bangla. We intend to gradually expand to other local languages, with English translations for our international allies. Before publishing any content, it is peer reviewed.
Would you like to get involved or to collaborate?
If you want to volunteer or get to know more about us, or work with us in any capacity, you may connect with us on various platforms, both online and in person. Some works are always ongoing and seeking volunteers, for example, for web developer, graphic designer, translator, copyeditor, cartoonist, event organizer, researcher, etc. When an initiative is being prioritized, we call for volunteers to take up the open roles.
Apart from direct volunteering, how else can you support our work?
Share, circulate our content, and give us love. Your feedback on our content in our website or facebook page is necessary. We also need and appreciate donations. But since we do not have a formal structure for funding, we will be dealing with such donations on a case-by-case basis. Other forms of collaboration/support/solidarity that you can extend:You can hire our members (for e.g., as paid consultants) if you require people in research and pedagogy/education projects.
- Our backgrounds and areas of expertise include: sociology, economics, music, philosophy, anthropology, organizing, activism, research coordination, translation, counselling, feminism, ecology, critical theory, intersectionality, history of Bengal, baul-fakir-shahajiya (and other bhakti traditions of this region) literature, memes, etc.
- We are open to working with other organizations as long as their goals, philosophies and scope of work align with our priorities.
- We would like to be in solidarity with all anti-oppression movements and struggles.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lokayotobidyaloy
রচনাকালঃ আষাঢ় ১৪২৭, জুলাই ২০২০