Activity 2: The market at Freedom Square

2 hours 15 minutes


To help us to us to reconnect with the different conceptions of freedom, what they offer us as we engage in struggles to win freedoms and how we can locate our ideas of freedom in relation to these conceptions.


In our world today, contestations over what freedom means and who is deserving of freedom are ongoing. These contestations emerge out of real and concrete struggles. Some of these conceptions gained widespread acceptance and became very seductive in the aftermath of the demise of what was known as “actually existing socialism” marked by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Even though the case for freedom that rests on notions of the free market and the centrality of the individual gained prominence at the end of the 20th century, with some declaring this as “the end of history”, contestations over the meaning of freedom continue in our struggles today. As AK Thakur remarks “The history of freedom is really a history of contests over its constructions and exclusions.”

Task 1

The facilitator will provide a brief plenary overview to introduce the activity and underscore its importance. This overview will provide a recap of the different conceptions of freedom discussed in Module 2 (Feminism and Freedom) that will require some deeper reflection in the next task.

We have 20 minutes for this task

Task 2

You will be divided into 5 shopping teams of 6 participants each. As a team, discuss the question: ‘what does freedom mean?’ and write down a list of not more than 5 items on your freedom shopping list.

You have 10 minutes for this task

Task 3

As a shopping team, you will tour the marketplace located at Freedom Square. The market has 5 stalls, with each stall offering a conception of freedom (freedom as liberalism, socialism, feminism, emancipation or independence). At each stall, you will meet a resource person who will take you through your shopping experience. Together as a team, you will spend 10 minutes at each stall, consider what is on offer and reflect on your impressions using your freedom shopping list. Reflect on each stall before proceeding to the next one.

At the end of your shopping experience, after visiting all the stalls, use the 5 tokens to buy the conception(s) of freedom that best matches your shopping list and expectations. You are welcome to buy from various stalls, but you are not allowed to spend more than 5 tokens.

Make your choice carefully and keep the record of your shopping list. You are shopping for a journey into the future.

You have 60 minutes to complete this task.

In a plenary session, the facilitator will synthesise your inputs and reflections on what freedom means as well as introduce a discussion on how, in the post 1989 era, a certain conception of freedom emerged as powerful and seductive. The presentation will make use of snippets of a video by Margaret Thatcher talking about a free society and Francis Fukuyama explaining what he meant by “the end of history”.

Video links

Margaret Thatcher on a free society (1 minute)

Fukuyama – end of history (2 minutes)

This discussion will be 45 minutes long


Last updated December 15, 2019 6:58 pm