Bristol Latin America Forum is an annual event held in Bristol on Latin American politics, society and culture. The Forum comprises of workshops, film, a panel discussion, dance, music, food and in 2008 for the first time closed with a World Cafe process.

It is organised by local grassroots Latin American solidarity groups, some of whom form part of larger national and international organisations and networks. It is not for profit, horizontally organised and we welcome your participation.

This blog began as a means of publicising and web-streaming the Forum in 2008 and is now a space for Bristol - Latin America related information all year round. See previous posts for details of last the 2008 Forum and video clips of the event. If you want to publicise an event please email the blog moderator.


2008 Forum a Success!

The day kicked off with people milling around stalls, picking up and studying programmes as musicians and workshop organisers prepared and set up their equipment. In the main lecture theatre, brief introductions were given by Matthew Brown and Ben Pearson from Bristol University. A group of contemporary Bolivian musicians (Tradición Andina) then led off with traditional Andean instruments, guitars and an electronic drum. Half way through this performance, the musicians were joined by costumed dancers in a colourful and energetic indigenous dance that expressed the life and history of the Andean peoples (see movies).

The plenaries were kept to a minimum this year, with Amancay Colque from the Bolivia Solidarity Campaign speaking on the current struggle in her country, Andy Higginbottom from the 'Frontline Latin America' newspaper giving a political and economic overview of the continent, and Venezuelan Consular to the UK Alvaro Sanchez talking about recent events and ongoing projects in Venezuela, followed by a short question and answer session (see movie).

Then followed three rounds of workshops, with 6-7 to choose from in each session, punctuated by a bargain Latin American style lunch provided by the Kebele Social Centre. The workshops ranged far and wide in topic and approach, (for example) discussing the impact of climate chaos on Latin America, on through an up to date account of the indigenous Mapuche people's struggle for self-determination, through a history/ practical demonstration of Capoeira dance and its key place in Afro-Brazilian culture, to the role of photography in public memory of the dictatorships in Chile and Argentina. And while all this was going on, Cinema Klandestino was running a continual stream of Latin American films in a separate room.

Finally the day's events came to a close with a World Café, a relaxing but dynamic experiment in collective discussion, facilitated by Claire Hall of Espacio and Hilary Cole of Cuba Solidarity, before a much needed break and the evening's after-party at the Kuumba (see the follow on sections 'World Café' and 'After Party' below for more).

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