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24 March

Two Open Spaces

[World Social Forum] 

Greetings from Leipzig, Germany! I am visiting its book fair, which has been held in one form or another since the end of the Fifteenth century.

To be more precise, it is my companion Leena Krohn who goes to the fair to present and represeent Datura, one of her novels, which has appeared in German translation by Elina Kritzokat. The German title of the book is Stechapfel.

The Leipzig Book Fair makes me think of the World Social Forum of Porto Alegre. There are indeed many parallells to be drawn between these two events. The book fair, too, is really quite international. The publishing houses with their stands and personnel at the fair correspond to the organisations and networks at the forum. Both of these mammoth events like to be called open spaces. The thousands of authors who read froom their books and answer questions from interviewers and visitors at thousands of events at the book fair, are like the speakers and debaters who appear at the uncountable conferences and workshops of the social forum. But the similarities are less interesting than the differences. Why is the Book Fair not announcing that another world is possible, and why are the authors not participating with their voices in the World Social Forum, not to speak of the librarians! There are exceptions, of course, but they are of the sort that make the rule. The book fair, on the other hand, misses the voices from the global South. In order to have them, it would have to be arranged in Nairobi or Mumbai. The book fair is less international, less universal, more Eurocentric than the social Forum. But the social forum lacks the public extensions of the book fair. Where do the two meet? Where does the library meet the internet?

Med Leena i Halle| Paradsidan | Revelations
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