Solidarity is our weapon”. In a social world indifferent and hostile to life itself, the creation of alternate realities in the here and now – which contest the segregations affected by fault lines of power, and assert the interdependence, the mutual accountability, and the shared stakes we have in each other’s survival – is an act of resistance.

Solidarity is a bridge formed across distances that we have to learn to broach if we are, collectively, to survive. As one of the primary forms that political organising takes especially under conditions of acute oppression and crisis, we thought a tool exploring the concept of solidarity was urgent and necessary.

The toolkit deals with the oppressive power relations that target people at the intersections of the structural racism of white supremacy, austere and authoritarian capitalism, and heteropatriarchy; we thought it was important to highlight the potential and materiality of resistance in the face of these oppressive power relations embodied in the other concepts defined herein.

The colonial cuts that constitute our worldview depend upon segregated (and assimilated – just the other side of the same coin) populations, continents, genders, races, classes, castes; but to this logic a decolonial feminist praxis juxtaposes our interconnection.

As Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui asks, “How can the exclusive, ethnocentric “we” be articulated with the inclusive “we”—a homeland for everyone—that envisions decolonization?” (2012: 97). Solidarity – with all its pitfalls, queer failures, limitations, and problems – remains a prefigurative practice of interconnection and common struggle.

Solidarity is the “other side of the crisis” that captures an “apparent paradox”: that in uncaring times (due to neoliberal austerity or bordered nationalisms) it is “at once bolstered by precarity and raised against it” (147). It is an emic concept, emerging from and not exogenous to people’s social mobilisation and everyday life in contexts of crisis (142). Solidarity is “a concept that bridges–that is, captures loosely and yet in tension” various, “diverse modes of practice, forms of sociality,” and ways of “envisioning future prospects for people’s lives.” (142)

Source: Theodoros Rakopoulos, “Solidarity: The Egalitarian Tensions of a Bridge Concept.” Social Anthropology 24(2): 2016, 142-151.

Solidarity is understood by activists to be characterised by “common struggle against oppression, direct and democratic participation and mutual recognition across difference” (13).

However, “the conversion” of solidarity activists [particularly those of the ‘lost generation,’ young people who came of age post-2008] into NGO workers in the Greek refugee regime–which was a function, first, of their own extreme precarity (in a context of 60% youth unemployment), and second, of “the state’s discipline (and criminalisation) of forms of solidarity that exist outside the refugee regime”–may have “undermined solidarity”(2-3).

Source: Katherine Pendakis, “Migrant advocacy under austerity: transforming solidarity in the Greek-refugee regime.” Journal of Refugee Studies, 18 January 2020.

“The idea of community is essential to the moral vocabulary of solidarity … But what is, or should be, the basis of the community to which solidarity is owed? Is this community based on identity? On shared experience? Shared interests?” And to what ends or with what goals is solidarity enacted? These can be deliberately vague or open-ended.

Source: Shefali Chandra & Saadia Toor, “Introduction.” Special Issue on Solidarity. WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly 42(3-4): 2014, 14-24.

The solidarity economy, narrowly understood, refers to a network of third-sector activities that seek to replace capitalist market relations of exchange with relations of reciprocity within a general call for political mobilisation (165).

Source: Theodoros Rakopoulos, “Solidarity Economy in Contemporary Greece: ‘Movementality,’ Economic Democracy, and Social Reproduction during Crisis.” In Keith Hart, ed. Economy for and against Democracy. (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2015), 161-181.

At the same time that states call for solidarity when it is directed toward them, they criminalise solidarity when it is directed toward groups of people they systematically oppress. We contend that only people, not states, can stand in relations of solidarity, and solidarity is not a crime!


2177 kb
Reading Time
10 min

What’s included in the pack

  • White humanitarianism: A critique (30 mins)
  • What is the difference between solidarity and charity? (45 mins)
  • Mapping solidarity (5h, including personal research)
  • Histories of solidarity (10h, including personal and group research)
Short exercise to understand the role of different representations of migrants’ needs, subjectivities, and agency when they are spoken for, as opposed to when they speak for themselves. (30 minutes)
A short exercise to understand the difference between solidarity and charity or philanthropy and the relations of power that subtend each. (45 minutes)
A mapping activity to understand local struggles and your own political involvement in them. (5 hours)
Research activity to build knowledge about past and ongoing struggles and how they have put the concept of solidarity into practice in different geographical and historical contexts. (10 hours)


N° of activities
Activity Times
30 min - 10 h