Global South Exchange

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Global South Exchange is an idea which emerged in a meet-up between Brazilian Wikimedians and Wikimedia India at Wikimania 2013 HK, and later discussed with other wikimedians at the same event.


Chapters Exchange is an initiative exposed at Wikimania 2013 by Markus Glasser (WMDE/WCA). Pointing out that the chapters and other organizations from Wikimedia movement face similar chalenges and similar problems, argues that chapters should exchange more experience and learn more between each other solutions to these common problems, plus cooperate more in common projects.

Despite agreeing and inspiring in this central pretension, it should be asserted that Global South challenges and problems are sharply distinct than "Global North" challenges and problems, and acknolewdging this fact brings deep strategical rethinking in the way the movement Wikimedia works with Global South.


While Global North deals with problems like projects management and its metrics, chapter management, funding, etc., Global South chapters, chapters-to-be and communities deals with much more primary problems, since the very basic like raising volunteers for the organizations, founding the chapters and building the very first projects. Different challenges require different exchange.

Once we understand this dissonance, movement wikimedia in general should bring up appropriate handling with Global South pathway to the fully development. To bet in Global South is a choice for the sake of the future of the whole Wikimedia movement, but recognizing the Global South in general faces different, more primary problems and challeges than the ones faced by "Global North" is the first big step to initiate the efforts - always exchanging and collaborating - to develop the Global South.

To face different challenges, it is needed different efforts with a different handling. Relying in this differentiation, we can start to solve the differentiation between South and North.

Truly believing in the potential of Global South, the Global South together - with the right exchange from the Wikimedia Foundation and the Wikimedia movement in general - can turn into what the movement expects and needs in the next few years.


Tying the Global South concept to the economical and social situation (the development) of the nations[1] was always origin of much controversy in the Wikimedia movement, mainly by the ones who were nonconsent insertd in the genre.[note 1] Although transfering/reusing the traditional concept of third world to the Wikimedia movement seemed the most intuitive idea, this shift demonstrated inconsistencies on the Wikimedia context.

Even if the most developed chapters are present in the developed chapters, this relation show flaws in the same context of Wikimedia movement:

  • Highly developed countries with proper Wikipedias in its nation languages, like Japan and Luxembourg, still not started the process for founding a chapter or any other officialy recognized organization;[2]
  • Another highly developed countries like Belgium and Ireland which still are in discussion; [2]
  • A big part of Eastern Europe, either with no initiatives or in discussion; [2]
  • Wikimedia Argentina and Wikimedia Indonesia, both considered Global South, came before than Wikimedia UK, Wikimedia Dannmark and Wikimedia NYC, for example;[3];
  • Wikimedia Philippines and Wikimedia India, both considered Global South, started them activities before than Wikimedia D.C. and Wikimedia España, for example;[3]
  • And so on...[note 2]

Further than just show the inconsistency of tying the Global South idea to the context of the Wikimedia movement, the central point could be exposed and exemplified in one question:

Why Japan and Turkey could not, both, be considered Global South?
Or both Iceland and Libya?
Or both Belgium and Brazil?
Or both Armenia and South Africa?

F.Y.I., The questions/examples above were not given at random. At the right side, we just have countries currenty considered within the concept of Global South. At the left side, we just have countries considered out of the concept of Global South, so called "Global North". And we have, top-to-down and progressively, countries which haven't started the process for any officialy recognized organization (Japan, Iceland and Turkey, Libya)[2], countries which have processes in discussion (Belgium and Brazil)[2], and countries with freshly founded chapters (Armenia and South Africa).[3]

In a perfect symmetry.

Countries, communities which are in the same phasis of development, ergo, facing similar challenges and problems, and with big potential to exchange experience, to exchange solutions, ..., but separated by a phantasma concept based in the level of development of the countries, which is a highly unsuitabe groundwork for this concept created in behalf of Wikimedia Movement.

If Wikimedia Foundation and the Wikimedia movement in general want a really useful concept; we have to stop thinking in level of development of countries and start thinking in level of development of organizations. The level of development of the chapters, user groups, thematic organizations, volunteers group, etc. This will give the necessary foundation for a concept that aims to be useful, but until today is inconsistent, incoherent, exclusive, and just reached to be controverse.

If Wikimedia Foundation[4] and the Wikimedia Movement in general want really to embrace the "Global South" concept, as it seems so;[1] we have to redefine the concept, from this "Global South" which bases itself in the level of development of countries, full of controversies[1][note 3] and inconsistencies, as we saw above, to a new "Global South" concept based in the level of development of the Wikimedia movement organizations, regardless if we are talking about Japan or Turkey, Iceland or Libya, Belgium or Brazil, Armenia or South Africa.

Once we have a broader concept that now will deal with organization development (an objective and really useful foundation for the movement) with a group of organizations and organizations-to-be in similar stages of development, with similar challenges and similar problems, then we will "exchange more experience and learn more between each other solutions to these common problems, plus cooperate more in common projects."[note 4]

Idea adherents[edit]

  1. MetalBrasil (talk) 21:42, 16 August 2013 (UTC) Author.Reply[reply]
  2. ...

Notes and Refs[edit]

note 1 per Global South meta page and recurrent discussions in mailing lists, wiki events, personal talks, etc.

note 2 Some considered Global South Chapters making way more than some "Global North" ones... But let's not cite names, because 1) this could be considered a matter of opinion, and; 2) movement ethics.

note 3 It is often said that the current concept of Global South is all a matter of countries development, even if countries like Chile and Argentina are considered in the current conception "Global South" and they have a very high HDI [5] - and this raises another question: what is this development that the current conception of Global South bases itself? but this is just a lot of details, right? -. In all the concept incoherence with the premise that it bases itself, suddenly we can find coherence in a critical section of the Global South meta page, A flawed analysis: “Even a cursory analysis of the distinction would reveal, possibly crypto-racist tendencies marking the under-current of its usage. The list of countries in the "Global North" isn't absolute and differs from source to source, but nearly all of them include, the North America, Europe and an entire continent located in the Geographical South, Australia along with New Zealand, in the supposed "Global North". Global south on the other hand, always includes much of the African Continent, South America, and the poorest parts of Asia and Middle-east. An argument can be made, that the terminology taps into a racial divide between Anglo-saxon ancestry and the rest of the non-white world but to not seem overt in this characterization, most of these classifications usually make minor exceptions for smaller nations located in Asia Pacific and Middle-east, for example including Japan, or Israel in that same classification as parts of Global North. Even as a buzzword, Global South makes a strong contrast to the affluent north, and the geographic South between much of Africa and South America. This becomes evident by the pervasive usage by Non-global-southerners as opposed to the southerners themselves.”[6]

note 4 We just made a perfect cycle to very first paragraph of the very first section (: