The Stern REF review: What will happen to the feminist geographers?

The REF is a flawed problematic technology that emerges in the context of the neoliberalization of higher education and is widely criticized by academics across blogs and journal pages. In my experience, most research and teaching active academics tolerate the REF, but not many of us embrace it. It detracts from our teaching and scholarship, it encourages disciplinary forms of performance management, it discourages long-term and ambitious monograph projects, and makes it difficult to embody alternative (non-REFable) academic subjectivities. As a result of the high social and financial cost of the REF, the government commissioned an independent review carried out by Nicholas Stern that has now been published. I was surprised to read in the review that “many respondents to our consultation stated that research and the HE sector would be poorer without it and that largely the benefits far outweigh the costs”. The review does not say who the respondents to the consultation were nor how extensive it was. So the review starts with an assumption that REF is mostly good and is here to stay but that it needs a little improvement here and there. The review identifies some of the  flaws with the system and poses some recommendations in order to mitigate these. Since the review was published last week, a number of scholars have produced a range of critiques and endorsements that I have read with interest (see for example Campaign for the Public University 2016; Morrish 2016; Bhandar 2016; Wilsdon 2016). While a minority welcome the recommendations, the majority are more critical and have emphasized how the recommendations will be harmful to early career and BAME scholars. I think they are also potentially harmful to women and to scholars whose work is seen as marginal within their school or college.

The review identifies some of the well-known problems with the REF and there are three on which I wish to comment: the question of portability; the question of equality and diversity; and the question of interdisciplinarity. The recommendations seek to prevent the so-called “gaming” of the system, in particular where institutions hire high performing scholars just before the census date in order to enhance their REF return, by putting an end to the portability of outputs. They also seek to enhance equality and diversity at tertiary institutions. The review notes with concern how white men get submitted at a much higher rate than both women and people of colour. Finally, the review also wants to make it easier for interdisciplinary research to get included.

Portability

The section on portability is so flawed, it beggars belief. A number of commentaries have flagged its problem for early career scholars on short term contracts, pointing out how the university that has failed to give them a permanent contract should not be able to benefit from their publications and undermine their future career prospects. But the lack of portability is not just a problem for ECRs but for anyone. Indeed, it appears to be based on an assumption that good scholars only move jobs because they have been poached for REF purposes. They do not. They move to be closer to a partner (the nature of the academic job market and the absence of formal spousal hire policies means that lots of academic couples are living apart and commuting and seek as soon as they can to change that state of affairs) or elderly parent, to be able to see more of their adult kids or babysit their grandkids, because they want a job in a more affordable city where they can buy a house, because their head of school or dean is making their life a misery, and because they want to be closer to a fieldsite, co-author or collaborator. People who need or want to move should not be deprived of their intellectual property. The idea of date of acceptance is of course also profoundly arbitrary. Books can take many years to write and journal articles can be based on many years of fieldwork. Publications get started in one institution and finished in another. Heavy teaching and administrative workloads means that publications also get written in the evenings, at weekends and during annual leave. Imagine being told that the articles you wrote in your own time no longer belonged to you. Stern’s recommendations might terminate one kind of gaming but will lead to another. As a journal editor in the US, Neil Smith (2010) recalled receiving a phone call from a British scholar that urged rapid acceptance of a submitted paper “because our RAE submissions are due in two weeks” (RAE was the precursor to REF). In the future, scholars will be asking editors and publishers to post-date letters of acceptance so they can take forthcoming publications with them to a new position. And if you wrote the article in your own time, because 35 hours a week is simply not enough time to write and do other work, can an institution tell you that you can’t take it with you?

Equality, diversity and interdisciplinarity

The review seeks to enhance equality and diversity by insisting that all academics are returned. It also seeks to secure improved recognition for interdisciplinary research. But it instantly undermines these aims in two ways. First, it allows for a differential number of submissions per academic to be submitted. While an average of two per academic is the aim, some people could submit fewer (even potentially none which I am sure is no different than not being included) and some more, up to a maximum of six. Second, it calls for some measure of metrics to be added to the (secret[i]) peer review. I can see instantly how both of these measures could be highly negative, as a result of both gender and institutional location. I am a human geographer in a School of Geosciences, a school that must accommodate humanities scholars and geophysicists, critical social scientists and positivist ones. We have a College of Humanities and Social Sciences but we are not in it as the School of Geosciences is located in the College of Science and Engineering. The enormous differences in our epistemological and methodological approaches, not to mention in modes of writing, publishing, supervising, securing funding and co-authoring make REF particularly challenging. In the last REF, in order to maximize the financial return, the School submitted all academics to ‘Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences’ (Unit of Assessment B7) rather than to ‘Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology’ (Unit of assessment C17). Outputs authored by geographers were cross-referred to C17, but essentially we made a single submission to B7. But we all submitted four outputs so it was equalizing in that respect, even if as geographers we would have preferred to only have submitted to C17. If in the next REF, the School decides to submit once again to B7 and a differential number of outputs are allowed, we might find it is not only women and people of colour who are de-selected but scholars whose work is least like “earth systems”. It would certainly make the construction of a coherent narrative more straightforward if the work conducted by feminist scholars or queer theorists did not have to be included in the narrative. In other words, the serious risk exists that human geographers will be submitted at a lower rate than earth scientists or geoscientists. These inequalities as well as those of gender are likely to be exacerbated by the proposed addition of metrics to the existing system of peer review. A recent study (Writing for Research 2014) has shown that the citation rate in the natural sciences is six times greater than in the humanities. Other studies have revealed that men get cited far more than women. This is because men tend to cite mostly men, and women tend to cite both men and women (see Ahmed 2013; Ingraham 2016). Even in human geography, men get cited at five times the rate of women (of the 100 most cited human geographers on Google Scholar, only 21 are female). So if you were trying to maximize REF returns in B7, in a system where metrics matter, the article by a female humanities scholar with ten citations is going to look far less appealing that the article by a male geoscientist with 100 citations. The Stern review sheds no light on how these inequalities might be avoided. Maybe the new focus on interdisciplinarity will help scholars like me but I have no idea what Stern means by interdisciplinarity as no definition is provided. Is interdisciplinary work when a physical geographer works with a geologist (drawing on principles in geomorphology) or when a human geographer works with an anthropologist (drawing on feminist poststructuralist theory) or is interdisciplinary work when a positivist geophysicist works with a decolonial queer theorist? The first two examples are straightforward and commonplace theoretically and epistemologically, the final one is hard to imagine. Equality and diversity could be enhanced and the problem of interdisciplinarity minimized by allowing researchers to submit to the panel of their choice, as occurs in the New Zealand PBRF[ii], and then scores are aggregated at school or departmental level.

So Lord Stern, I feel totally underwhelmed by your intervention.

References

Ahmed S (2013) Making feminist points. feministkilljoys [blog] 11 September https://feministkilljoys.com/2013/09/11/making-feminist-points/

Bhandar B (2016) The Stern Review. London Review of Books 2 August http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2016/08/02/brenna-bhandar/the-stern-review/

Campaign for the Public University (2016) Let a hundred flowers fade … The Stern Review [blog] 29 July http://publicuniversity.org.uk/2016/07/29/let-a-hundred-flowers-fade-the-stern-review/

Cupples J and Pawson E (2012) Giving an account of oneself: The PBRF and the neoliberal university. New Zealand Geographer 68(1): 14-23

Ingraham C (2016) New study finds that men are often their own favorite experts on any given subject. The Washington Post 1 August https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/08/01/new-study-finds-that-men-are-often-their-own-favorite-experts-on-any-given-subject/?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_wb-experts-1020am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

Writing for Research (2014) Poor citation practices are a form of academic self-harm in the humanities and social sciences. Medium 27 October https://medium.com/advice-and-help-in-authoring-a-phd-or-non-fiction/poor-citation-practices-are-a-form-of-academic-self-harm-in-the-humanities-and-social-sciences-2cddf250b3c2#.zgh1cha9t

Morrish L (2016) A Stern talking to? Academic irregularities [blog], 28 July https://academicirregularities.wordpress.com/2016/07/28/a-stern-talking-to/

Smith N (2010) Academic free fall. Social Text 21 August http://socialtextjournal.org/periscope_article/academic_free_fall/

Wilsdon J (2016) The road to REF 2021: why I welcome Lord Stern’s blueprint for research assessment. The Guardian 29 July https://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2016/jul/29/why-i-welcome-lord-sterns-blueprint-for-research-assessment-ref-2021-stern-review

Notes

[i] I say secret because you don’t get to find out how your outputs were graded and what score you were awarded. Academics who tried to get their own scores through FOI requests were told to go away.

[ii] Before returning to the UK in 2013, I experienced three rounds of research audit in New Zealand under the PBRF (Performance Based Research Fund). The PBRF in many ways is an abhorrent, governmentalizing technology that like the REF subjects academics to disciplinary performance management regimes and heavy handed surveillance. It is however also a technology within which, as Eric Pawson and I argued, one can carve out subversive spaces of self-esteem and affirmation (Cupples and Pawson 2012). Since being exposed to the REF, I have to say I miss the PRBF (I can’t believe I am saying this), which is a fairer, more inclusive and more transparent system that overcomes some of the problems I have identified above and addresses many more. If we are to have research audit (and I wish we didn’t), it is a pity that Stern did not explore alternative audit systems elsewhere in the world. The PBRF is a better system than the REF for at least three reasons. First, rather than a system in which a unit of assessment/school narrative is authored in secret by a small group of academics, in New Zealand individual academics get to craft their own portfolios and write their own narratives. This means you can submit to the panel that most suits your work and don’t end up in a situation where human geographers are submitted to earth sciences panels as part of a school submission. You can be as interdisciplinary as you like and say so and cross refer yourself to a second panel. Second, you get to find out your own individual score. I know this is problematic in some ways, but in the REF you are asked to produce world class research without knowing whether your research in the last round was already world class. It is much more transparent than REF. Third, everyone is submitted, nobody is excluded on the basis of citation rates, gender or for any other reason, and you submit everything you published but nominate four outputs as being especially significant. It is OK not to have four if you are an early career scholar.

 

 

Urban Marginality: Researcher Links Workshop

I am on my way to Mexico City where in collaboration with my Edinburgh colleague Tom Slater, and Toño Gallardo and Mariana Gallardo of Universidad La Salle, I am organizing a workshop on Urban Marginality that will run from 11-15 July. We are generously funded by the British Council and CONACYT’s Newton Fund. We will be joined by more than 30 early career scholars from the UK and Mexico who are all working on themes of urban justice and urban marginality. To find out more about us and our workshop aims, please visit our workshop website, like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. During the workshop, Kevin Glynn and I will present a paper that brings our Marsden funded research on geographies of media convergence into dialogue with questions of stigmatization, decoloniality, and urban justice in Mexico City through an analysis of the Santa Muerte phenomenon.

 

 

May 2016 New Zealand talks

I am in Dunedin and Wellington over the next two weeks, speaking at the University of Otago and Victoria University of Wellington on my Marsden funded research in both Nicaragua and Aotearoa New Zealand.

I am attending the Space, Race, Bodies II: Sovereignty and Migration in a Carceral Age conference at the University of Otago where together with Kevin Glynn I am presenting a paper (on 7 May) that explores the intersections and interactions between indigenous people, the criminal justice system and the media through a focus on innovative reality series Songs from the Inside broadcast on Māori Television and on Tame Iti’s mediated activism. I am also going to pick up on these themes at Victoria University of Wellington in the Social Theory Spatial Praxis workshop . I am also running a master class on decolonial theory with a group of geography postgraduate students at the University of Otago on 5 May.

I am speaking about our Nicaraguan research in the Department of Geography at Otago University (Monday 9 May at 1pm) and School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington (Thursday 12 May at 4pm) and giving the following paper (co-authored with Kevin Glynn).

Shifting Nicaraguan mediascapes: Authoritarianism and the struggle for social justice

Abstract

There are two main threats to the authoritarian rule of the Nicaraguan government led by Daniel Ortega: the first is the Managua-based NGO and civil society sector led largely by educated dissident Sandinistas, and the second is the escalating struggle for autonomy and land rights being fought by Nicaragua’s indigenous and Afro-descended inhabitants on the country’s Caribbean coast. In order to confront these threats and, it seems, secure indefinite political tenure, the government engages in a set of centralizing and anti-democratic political strategies characterized by secrecy, institutional power grabs, highly suspect electoral practices, clientelistic anti-poverty programmes, and the control through purchase or co-optation of much of the nation’s media. The social movements that threaten Ortega’s rule are however operating through dispersed and topological modalities of power and the creative use of emergent spaces for the circulation of counterdiscourses and counternarratives within a rapidly transforming media environment. The primary response to these mediated tactics is a politics of silence and a refusal to acknowledge or respond to the political claims made by social movements. In the current conjuncture, we can therefore identify a struggle for hegemony whose strategies and tactics include the citizenship-stripping activities of the state and the citizenship-claiming activities of black, indigenous and dissident actors and activists. This struggle plays out in part through the mediated circulation and countercirculation of discourses and the infrastructural dynamics of media convergence.

Thanks to everyone for the speaking invitations, especially Marcela Palomino, Christina Ergler, Tony Binns and Holly Randall-Moon and to the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand for the funding that has made this research possible.

Reconciliation and Mandatory Indigenous Content Courses: What are the University’s Responsibilities?

Decolonization

by Rauna Kuokkanen

I fully agree with everyone who argues that Canadian university students do not know enough about Indigenous peoples and their societies, histories, political orders and worldviews or systems of knowledge. Yet, I’m wary of the growing chorus of calls for mandatory courses on Indigenous issues in Canadian universities. I fear we as Indigenous scholars and educators are selling ourselves short. Especially for universities that have not shown serious and long-standing commitment to Indigenous studies and scholarship, mandatory courses are an easy way out.

A lot has been written on both the pros and cons of mandatory courses on Indigenous peoples and the logistics of designing, implementing and teaching such courses: who is going to teach the courses, under which unit with what kind of financial and human resources available (see, GaudryJustice; and McDonald). I share these and other concerns about how to ensure the…

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Producing and contesting urban marginality: Speculation, public space and social movements in the neoliberal city

Call for participation: British Council-Newton Fund workshop in Mexico City

Producing and contesting urban marginality: Speculation, public space and social movements in the neoliberal city

Universidad La Salle, Mexico City

From Tuesday 12 to Friday 15 July 2016 (inclusive)

The workshop is coordinated by Julie Cupples (University of Edinburgh) and Mario López González Garza (Universidad La Salle) with contributions from mentors Tom Slater (University of Edinburgh) and Antonio Gallardo (Universidad La Salle)

We are now inviting Early Career Researchers from the UK and Mexico to apply to attend this workshop. Travel (up to a maximum of £1000 for UK-based and £150 for Mexican-based researchers) and accommodation expenses (up to a maximum of £320) will be covered by the Newton Researcher Links programme. The application form, available here, must be submitted to julie.cupples@ed.ac.uk before the deadline of 11 April 2016.

Workshop details

In Mexico City, as in many other large cities worldwide, contemporary modes of urban governance have overwhelmingly benefited affluent populations and widened social inequalities. Disinvestment from social housing and rent-seeking developments by real estate companies and land speculators have resulted in the displacement of low-income populations to the urban periphery. Public social spaces have been eliminated to make way for luxury apartments and business interests. Low-income neighbourhoods are often stigmatized by dominant social forces to justify their demolition. The urban poor have however negotiated and resisted these developments in a range of ways. Our workshop seeks to explore these urban dynamics in Mexico City and beyond, looking at the material and symbolic mechanisms through which urban marginality is produced and contested. It seeks to understand how things might be otherwise, how the city might be geared towards more inclusive forms of belonging and citizenship.

We seek to chart the ways in which processes of urban transformation are enacted both materially and symbolically and the impacts these processes have on the urban poor. We will also explore the urban struggles that result from these impacts. We are especially interested in discussions that are focused on linking the macrodeterminants of urban political economy to the life options and strategies of the poor at ground level. This would provide propitious terrain for reformulating from ‘below’, in empirical terms, the labels, discourses and categories imposed from ‘above’ that have been shown in scholarship to have corrosive consequences. Drawing on these insights, we hope to produce a series of recommendations for stakeholders with a view to producing a more inclusive city where the social, economic and cultural needs of marginalised people become a central principle according to which the restructuring of urban space occurs.

The workshops will provide a unique opportunity for sharing research expertise and networking. During the workshops early career researchers will have the opportunity to present their research in the form of a short oral presentation and discuss this with established researchers from the UK and Mexico. The workshop will also include a field trip to a number of marginal and irregular settlements in Mexico City to interact with artists and community leaders. There will be a focus on building up links for future collaborations and participants selected on the basis of their research potential and ability to build longer term links. We will for example partner UK and Mexican researchers to co-author a book chapter for a published anthology after the workshop is completed.

We are seeking researchers who are working on questions of urban marginality in cities in Mexico or elsewhere in the world. We are particularly interested in scholars who have built close relationships with urban social movements or with communities in irregular settlements or those facing eviction or displacement.

Eligibility Criteria:

Researchers must be conducting research on urban marginality in Mexico or other cities in the world and are interested in sharing insights from diverse geographical locations. Applications must be submitted before the above deadline.

Participants must be early career researchers: Early Career Researchers are defined as holding a PhD (or having equivalent research experience) and having up to 10 years post-PhD (or equivalent) research experience.

Participants must have a research or academic position (either a permanent post, research contract, or teaching/research fellowship etc) at a recognised research institution either in the UK or in Mexico.

Applicants must be willing to contribute a co-authored book chapter to the anthology that will result from the workshop. Support will be provided by the workshop coordinators and mentors. The language of the workshop will be in English, so all participants must be able to work in English, but allowances will be made for non-native English speakers. UK participants with some Spanish fluency will be particularly welcome.

Quality Assessment

Experience and relevance of the applicant’s research area to the workshop

Motivation and contribution to the aims of the workshop

Description of the long term impact expected through the participation in the workshop

Ability to disseminate workshop’s outcomes

Notification of results:

Applicants will be notified by email no more than two months prior to the workshop and hopefully no later than 25 April.

 

 

 

Decolonizing the Academy I final programme

 

gda logo

26 February 2016

Decolonizing the Academy I

University of Edinburgh, sponsored by the Global Development Academy and the Centre for Contemporary Latin American Studies

St. Leonards Hall, 18 Holyrood Park Rd, Edinburgh EH16 5A

Conference Programme

Here is the final programme for this event. Please note that you must have registered and been offered a place to attend this conference.

9:00-10:40 Session 1a

St Trinneans

Representations of blackness and whiteness

 

Session 2a

Pollock

Geopolitics and knowledge production

10:40-11:10 Coffee  
11:10-12:50 Session 1b

St Trinneans

Education, institutions and curricula

 

Session 2b

Pollock

Visual culture and cultural production

12:50-1:40 Lunch  
1:40-3:00 Session 1c

St Trinneans

Gender and sexuality

Session 2c

Pollock

Law and legal recognition

 

3:10-4:30 Session 1d

St Trinneans

(De)coloniality, citizenship and belonging

 

Session 2d

Pollock

Epistemic justice, decolonizing knowledge and globalizing Black studies

4:45-5:45 Keynote lecture:

St Trinneans

Ramón Grosfoguel

The Epistemic Implications of a Decolonial View of Racism

 
6:00-7:00 Wine reception

Foyer

 

Session 1a

9:00-10:40

Representations of Blackness and Whiteness

Chair: Raquel Ribeiro

9:00-9:20 Katucha Bento, University of Leeds

Negotiating Black Brazilian Blackness with a Decolonial gaze

9:20-9:40 Lisa Amanda Palmer, Birmingham City University

‘Rock the rhythm’ – Lovers Rock and the cultural politics of decoloniality

9:40-10:00 Desiree Poets, Aberystwyth University

The limits and possibilities of cultural alterity: São Paulo’s Indigenous Pankararu Association and Rio de Janeiro’s Quilombo Sacopã

10:00-10:20 Lilia Abadia, University of Nottingham

Blackness on display: the coloniality of power and the materiality of the epistemic violence in museums exhibitions

10:20-10:40 Lily Owens, Brunel University

Speaking justice to power in occupational therapy: critical reflections on the politics and ethics of systematic whiteness within the profession

Session 2a

9:00-10:40

Geopolitics and Knowledge Production

Chair: Jasmine Gani

9:00-9:20 Ueli Staeger, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Decentering methodology: Pragmatism, Eurocentrism and EU interregionalism studies

9:20-9:40 Maysa Shqerat, University of Sussex

Knowledge and Settler Colonialism: Case of Palestine

9:40-10:00 Johanna Bergström, Mid Sweden University

Reproduction of logics of coloniality: A critical reading of the EU – Central American Association Agreement

10:00-10:20 Maria Larissa Silva Santos

Regionalization for decolonization: the case of Meridionalismo

10:20-10:40 Cristóbal Bonelli, Amsterdam University, and Daniela Vicherat-Mattar, Leiden University

Rivers, socio-material transformations and flows of contradictions in the South of Chile

Session 1b

11:10-12:50

Education, Institutions and Curricula

Chair: Marcin Stanek

11:10-11:30 Trycia Bazinet, University of Ottawa

Settler-Colonial Logic in Curriculums as an Obstacle to Decolonization: Unsettling International Development Education

11:30-11:50 Zakeera Suffee, Kings College London

Look what the Black dragged in: Decolonising Geography

11:40-12:10 Simone Vegliò

Urban configurations and postcolonial spaces: How to decolonise urban studies

12:10-12:30 Lilian Schwoerer, University of Cambridge

Coloniality and Resistance in the Neoliberal University

12:30-12:50 Ibtihal Ramadan, University of Edinburgh

UK academia: A Sanctuary for Eurocentric Hegemony of Knowledge? Muslim Academics’ Views.

Session 2b

11:10-12:50

Visual culture and cultural production

Chair: Alex Young

 11.10 Maricely Corzo Morales, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia

Lounes Matoub and Jaime Garzón: Production of knowledge from the margins in Algeria and Colombia

11.30 Huimin Wang, University of Leeds

Decolonising Knowledge: A Postcolonial Deconstruction of Western Media Representation of the 2014 “Occupy Central” event in Hong Kong

11:50 Dominique van de Klundert, University of New South Wales

In Stereo: visualising ‘world heritage’ at Potosi

12:10 Charlotte Gleghorn, University of Edinburgh

‘A Pair of Watching Eyes’: Film, First Contact and the Globalisation of an ‘Isolated’ Indigeneity

 Session 1c

1:40-3:00

Gender and sexuality

Chair: Anna Stewart-Zyw

 1:40-2:00 Joseli Maria Silva, State University of Ponta Grosa

Decolonial thought on gender and sexualities: the contribution of Brazilian travestis

2:00-2:20 Kathy-Ann Tan, University of Tübingen

Experiencing Decolonial Aesthetics: Performance, Affect, Perception

2:20-2:40 Roberto Kulpa, independent scholar

Geographies of Queer Knowledge

2:40-3:00 Yoav Galai, University of St. Andrews

The Ghost of Dr. Frankenstein: Israeli Sociology as Israeli statecraft

 Session 2c

1:40-3:00

Law and legal recognition

Chair: Samuel Taylor-Alexander

1:40-2:00 Aitor Jiménez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Decolonizing Legal Theories

2:00-2:20 Carolyn Laude, Carlton University

A Tale of Two Reconciliations in Environmental Planning: The Right to Say No to Development and the Enticement of a “Politics of Recognition”

2:20-2:40 Julie Crutchley, City University London

A decolonial analysis of peace in international law, the role of the “master morality” in liberal peace theory

2:40-3:00 Louisa Parks, University of Lincoln

Decolonising natural resource management through fair and equitable benefit-sharing? Evidence from local case studies

 Session 1d

3:10-4:30

(De)coloniality, citizenship and belonging

Chair: Elisa Morgera

3:10-3:30 Eve Hayes de Kalaf, University of Aberdeen

Making Foreign: Birthright Citizenship, Denationalisation and the Contours of Belonging in the Contemporary Dominican Republic

3:30-3:50 Sandra Milena Camelo Pinilla, Goldsmiths College London

Poetics of belonging, relationality and community filiations of being in Indigenous Language Practices

3:50-4:10 Denisse Sepúlveda Sánchez, University of Manchester

Experiences of social mobility of indigenous people in Chile

4:10-4:30 Federica Cirami, University of Palermo

Visualizing the ‘Otherness’: sex and power discourse in decolonial feminist perspective

 Session 2d

3:10-4:30

Epistemic justice, decolonizing knowledge and globalizing Black studies

Chair: Aitor Jiménez

 3:10-3:30 Denise Noble, Ohio State University

Decolonizing knowledge: Globalizing Black studies

3:30-3:50 Olivette Otele, Bath Spa University

“Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”, deconstructing the myth: Western Canons Re-colonizing French Curriculum

3:50-4:10 Michael McEachrane, University of Bremen

Bringing Black and Postcolonial Studies to Sweden: Challenging Nordic Exceptionalism

4:45-5:45 Keynote lecture

Ramón Grosfoguel, University of California-Berkeley

The Epistemic Implications of a Decolonial View of Racism

 

Decolonizing the Academy I conference

gda logo 

Decolonizing the Academy I

St. Leonards Hall, University of Edinburgh

26 February 2016

Conference Programme

 

9:00-10:40 Session 1a

Representations of blackness and whiteness

 

Session 2a

Geopolitics and knowledge production

10:40-11:10 Coffee  
11:10-12:50 Session 1b

Education, institutions and curricula

 

Session 2b

Visual culture and cultural production

12:50-1:40 Lunch  
1:40-3:00 Session 1c

Gender and sexuality

Session 2c

Law and legal recognition

 

3:10-4:30 Session 1d

(De)coloniality, citizenship and belonging

 

Session 2d

Epistemic justice, decolonizing knowledge and globalizing Black studies

4:45-5:45 Keynote lecture:

Ramón Grosfoguel

The Epistemic Implications of a Decolonial View of Racism

 
6:00-7:00 Wine reception  

 

Session 1a

9:00-10:40

Representations of Blackness and Whiteness

9:00-9:20 Katucha Bento, University of Leeds

Negotiating Black Brazilian Blackness with a Decolonial gaze

9:20-9:40 Lisa Amanda Palmer, Birmingham City University

‘Rock the rhythm’ – Lovers Rock and the cultural politics of decoloniality

9:40-10:00 Desiree Poets, Aberystwyth University

The limits and possibilities of cultural alterity: São Paulo’s Indigenous Pankararu Association and Rio de Janeiro’s Quilombo Sacopã

10:00-10:20 Lilia Abadia, University of Nottingham

Blackness on display: the coloniality of power and the materiality of the epistemic violence in museums exhibitions

10:20-10:40 Lily Owens, Brunel University

Speaking justice to power in occupational therapy: critical reflections on the politics and ethics of systematic whiteness within the profession

Session 2a

9:00-10:40

Geopolitics and Knowledge Production

9:00-9:20 Ueli Staeger, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Decentering methodology: Pragmatism, Eurocentrism and EU interregionalism studies

9:20-9:40 Maysa Shqerat, University of Sussex

Knowledge and Settler Colonialism: Case of Palestine

9:40-10:00 Johanna Bergström, Mid Sweden University

Reproduction of logics of coloniality: A critical reading of the EU – Central American Association Agreement

10:00-10:20 Maria Larissa Silva Santos

Regionalization for decolonization: the case of Meridionalismo

10:20-10:40 Cristóbal Bonelli, Amsterdam University, and Daniela Vicherat-Mattar, Leiden University

Rivers, socio-material transformations and flows of contradictions in the South of Chile

 

Session 1b

11:10-12:50

Education, Institutions and Curricula

11:10-11:30 Trycia Bazinet, University of Ottawa

Settler-Colonial Logic in Curriculums as an Obstacle to Decolonization: Unsettling International Development Education

11:30-11:50 Zakeera Suffee, Kings College London

Look what the Black dragged in: Decolonising Geography

11:40-12:10 Simone Vegliò

Urban configurations and postcolonial spaces: How to decolonise urban studies

12:10-12:30 Lilian Schwoerer, University of Cambridge

Coloniality and Resistance in the Neoliberal University

12:30-12:50 Ibtihal Ramadan, University of Edinburgh

UK academia: A Sanctuary for Eurocentric Hegemony of Knowledge? Muslim Academics’ Views.

 

Session 2b

11:10-12:50

Visual Culture and cultural production

11.10 Maricely Corzo Morales, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia

Lounes Matoub and Jaime Garzón: Production of knowledge from the margins in Algeria and Colombia

11.30 Huimin Wang, University of Leeds

Decolonising Knowledge: A Postcolonial Deconstruction of Western Media Representation of the 2014 “Occupy Central” event in Hong Kong

11:50 Dominique van de Klundert, University of New South Wales

In Stereo: visualising ‘world heritage’ at Potosi

12:10 Charlotte Gleghorn, University of Edinburgh

‘A Pair of Watching Eyes’: Film, First Contact and the Globalisation of an ‘Isolated’ Indigeneity

Session 1c

1:40-3:00

Gender and sexuality

1:40-2:00 Joseli Maria Silva, State University of Ponta Grosa

Decolonial thought on gender and sexualities: the contribution of Brazilian travestis

2:00-2:20 Kathy-Ann Tan, University of Tübingen

Experiencing Decolonial Aesthetics: Performance, Affect, Perception

2:20-2:40 Roberto Kulpa, independent scholar

Geographies of Queer Knowledge

2:40-3:00 Yoav Galai, University of St. Andrews

The Ghost of Dr. Frankenstein: Israeli Sociology as Israeli statecraft

Session 2c

1:40-3:00

Law and legal recognition

1:40-2:00 Aitor Jiménez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Decolonizing Legal Theories

2:00-2:20 Carolyn Laude, Carlton University

A Tale of Two Reconciliations in Environmental Planning: The Right to Say No to Development and the Enticement of a “Politics of Recognition”

2:20-2:40 Julie Crutchley, City University London

A decolonial analysis of peace in international law, the role of the “master morality” in liberal peace theory

2:40-3:00 Louisa Parks, University of Lincoln

Decolonising natural resource management through fair and equitable benefit-sharing? Evidence from local case studies

Session 1d

3:10-4:30

(De)coloniality, citizenship and belonging

3:10-3:30 Eve Hayes de Kalaf, University of Aberdeen

Making Foreign: Birthright Citizenship, Denationalisation and the Contours of Belonging in the Contemporary Dominican Republic

3:30-3:50 Sandra Milena Camelo Pinilla, Goldsmiths College London

Poetics of belonging, relationality and community filiations of being in Indigenous Language Practices

3:50-4:10 Denisse Sepúlveda Sánchez, University of Manchester

Experiences of social mobility of indigenous people in Chile

4:10-4:30 Federica Cirami, University of Palermo

Visualizing the ‘Otherness’: sex and power discourse in decolonial feminist perspective

Session 2d

3:10-4:30

Epistemic justice, decolonizing knowledge and globalizing Black studies

 3:10-3:30 Denise Noble, Ohio State University

Decolonizing knowledge: Globalizing Black studies

3:30-3:50 Olivette Otele, Bath Spa University

“Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”, deconstructing the myth: Western Canons Re-colonizing French Curriculum

3:50-4:10 Michael McEachrane, University of Bremen

Bringing Black and Postcolonial Studies to Sweden: Challenging Nordic Exceptionalism

 

Abstracts

Session 1a

9:00-10:40

Representations of blackness and whiteness

Katucha Bento, University of Leeds

sskrb@leeds.ac.uk

Negotiating Black Brazilian Blackness with a Decolonial gaze

In order to raise critical debate about the representation of the female black Brazilian body in the social imaginary, I will review and engage with the existing literature related to the problematic context of female black bodies in Western societies. I will revisit the venues from which processes of hegemonic male-white-European-heterosexual-Christian power arises in order to challenge mainstream representation of blackness. This debate is contextualised with the effects of colonisation as discourses and practices that put black women into the category of the subjugated, sexualised, fragile, and objectified body. I focus on how such female black Brazilian figures represent a contrast in the construction of British national identity, placing the black female body as the “Other”. My aim is to deconstruct colonised gaze at female black Brazilian bodies by presenting reflections on decolonisation that point to the multiple possibilities of being black woman.

Lisa Amanda Palmer, Birmingham City University

lisa.palmer@bcu.ac.uk

‘Rock the rhythm’ – Lovers Rock and the cultural politics of decoloniality

This paper will establish the theoretical orientation and delineate the decolonial impulses of lovers rock reggae music in Britain. It will theorise these impulses by linking lovers rock to debates and discourses within black feminism that address loving blackness, the power of the erotic and decoloniality to explain how these theoretical positions help to explicate the political significance of this erotic form of reggae. The paper will outline why this study on popular reggae love songs are essential to debates concerning the everyday cultural practice and lived experiences of decoloniality. Here, I am arguing that the cultural politics of decoloniality in Britain can be contextualised at the postcolonial/neoliberal conjuncture as discussed by Stuart Hall (Hall 2007). This juncture is a crucial point for future knowledge production and epistemologies of Blackness in Britain. Here, the creative ingenuity of second generation Black people in Britain began to ask critical questions about the pluralistic meanings of being Black in Britain through lovers rock music. The paper will develop and expand upon these questions and their significance in relation to the nuanced and distinctive development of lovers rock as a black transnational diasporic space. The paper will begin to establish what is at stake in terms of delineating the gendered and feminist dimensions of black decolonial cultural politics in Britain.

Desiree Poets, Aberystwyth University

dep9@aber.ac.uk

The limits and possibilities of cultural alterity: São Paulo’s Indigenous Pankararu Association and Rio de Janeiro’s Quilombo Sacopã

This paper aims to understand the conceptualisations of race and ethnicity that are at play in the political mobilisations of two urban ethnic groups in Brazil, the Pankararu’s indigenous association in São Paulo and the Afro-descendant quilombo community Sacopã in Rio de Janeiro. Based on ethnographic research that took place between December 2013 and July 2015, it explores through their struggles the political horizons shaped in Brazil by the multicultural turn of the 1980s and the transformative power of ethnic rights. The Pankararu emerged in Brazil’s Northeast through a process of ethnogenesis in the first half of the 20th century, and have migrated to São Paulo since the 1950s in search for better living conditions. Sacopã is a quilombo community in Rio’s upper-class neighbourhood Lagoa. Once perceived as belonging to a favela, they have been resisting eviction since the mass favela removals of the 1970s, and for this purpose initiated the quilombo land titling process in 2004. Their fight for rights in the city has been inseparable from their recognition as legitimately ethnic and culturally distinct communities. Their struggles illustrate how race and ethnicity, blackness and indigeneity are intertwined and historically mutually constitutive. Furthermore, they raise pertinent questions on the matter of authenticity, ‘mixture’ and citizenship. Within this context, the paper asks: Who counts as ethnic? Are ethnic rights distracting us from broader patterns of inequality? And, finally, what is transformed, what is resisted in Brazil within the possibilities of multiculturalism, and what is further entrenched within the accepted social norms? In what kinds of resistances are these groups able to engage, and what do they tell us about the meaning and possibility of decolonisation in Brazil?

Lilia Abadia, University of Nottingham

ajxlr@nottingham.ac.uk

Blackness on display: the coloniality of power and the materiality of the epistemic violence in museums exhibitions

This paper analyses the representations and discourses of blackness in long-term exhibitions in two ‘society museums’: one historical and one ethnological. In this analysis I aim at developing an understanding of how the racial (re)construction of blackness is connected to notions of modernity, coloniality and nation-building discourses. My case studies consist of two national museums, which are located in geographical spaces within different positions in colonial history: The National Museum of Ethnology, in Lisbon, Portugal; and The National Historic Museum, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. These two different contexts offer important ways of thinking about representation of Africa and African people, as well as, Afro-Portuguese and Afro-Brazilian people. They are examples of how the national and the scientific discourses (respectively connected to their main disciplines: Anthropology and History) negotiate hegemonic and counter-hegemonic ideas about ‘race’ and racial-relationships in a ‘post-colonial’ world. My enquiry will focus on understanding museum exhibitions as a source of knowledge. Accordingly, I will examine the materiality they produce, as well as the discourses that are produced about and by them. Specifically, I aim at understanding how materiality and spatiality create specific forms of knowledge about the past and present racial relationships, and how epistemic violence operates in them. Additionally, drawing on textual analysis, interviews and questionnaires, I intend to analyse the discursive understanding of the exhibitions. In this way I aim at producing a critique of the coloniality of power conveyed in these exhibitions.

Lily Owens, Brunel University

lily.owens@brunel.ac.uk

Speaking justice to power in occupational therapy: critical reflections on the politics and ethics of systematic whiteness within the profession

The implications of ‘seeing white’ in occupational therapy theory, academia and practice are potentially devastating in regards to its relevance to the ‘other’ and may thus arguably impact on the very survival of our profession in an increasingly globalised world. Furthermore, systematic under-representation of the ‘other’ within all remits of occupational therapy concerns not only issues of relevance and irrelevance, but of access to social and occupational justice, equality and ultimately of power and control. The current status quo of our profession sends out a powerful political message to key ‘other’ stakeholders, inclusive of clients, students, practitioners, communities, organisations and society, whether such has been consciously intended or not. Arguably, claiming ignorance of such inadvertent political messages should no longer be a permissible option if occupational therapy and its professionals are to fulfil their role as change agents at the forefront of social justice and human rights agendas. Freire (2007) suggests that we must re-examine ourselves constantly if we are to be authentically committed to the people. Such a re-examination may remind us of Adorno (1979), who believed that the highest form of morality is not to feel at home in one’s own home or Heywood (1994), who saw “knowledge” itself as a social construct which served to legitimise social structures. True change from the status quo in occupational therapy, then, necessitates not romanticised subscriptions to cultural ‘competence’ ideals which can contribute to a lulling into complacency and self-adulation, but a radical shift of consciousness: let’s begin at decolonising occupational therapy’s “knowledge”, – the curriculum and thereby the mind.

 

Session 2a

9:00-10:40

Geopolitics and knowledge production

Ueli Staeger, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

ueli.staeger@graduateinstitute.ch

Decentering methodology: Pragmatism, Eurocentrism and EU interregionalism studies

Decolonial thought often discusses subjectivities, epistemologies, ontologies and philosophies, but seldom questions Eurocentric methodology. Yet the concrete tools of knowledge production and their theorisation merit critique too. The work of WEB DuBois, a student of the pragmatist W. James, is pivotal for a decolonial analysis of the dominant, Eurocentric reading of the pragmatist method. Empirically, this paper looks at the uses and abuses of pragmatism in the knowledge production about EU interregionalism. It explores the cases of the African Union (AU) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). The EU studies response to the establishment of the AU and EAEU has vindicated pragmatism’s contemporary reading of ‘abduction’ (Friedrichs & Kratochwil 2009): in light of new phenomena that are perceived to be of systematic yet untheorised nature, existing knowledge from EU foreign policy is applied. Arguably, the abduction from EU regionalism studies generated Eurocentric, unhelpful scholarship: the observation of “institutional isomorphism” (DiMaggio & Powell 1983) between the EU and its counterparts inspired explanatory hypotheses far from reality. Revisiting classic pragmatist thought critically, the paper shows the merit of the ‘practice turn’ for European regionalism studies, but also cautions against universalizing this methodology: an oft-forgotten, ‘reflective’ component of pragmatism suggests that knowledge production is situational, not universal. DuBois’ pragmatist engagement with ‘race’ illustrates such an approach. Accordingly, the paper argues that current European pragmatic praxis is insufficient for theorizing EU interregionalism with post-Soviet and pan-African regionalisms: discursive, cultural and historical differences matter significantly. A pragmatist turn in studying EU interregionalism is perhaps innovative, but not decolonial. It subscribes to a deeply state-centric tradition of European regionalism studies, and to a broader Eurocentrism of scientific, cultural, political practices expressed through epistemic orders. DuBois’ arguably Afrocentrist pragmatism cautions that our methodology in researching global politics must incorporate an awareness of postcoloniality.

Maysa Shqerat, University of Sussex

maysas@ids.ac.uk

Knowledge and Settler Colonialism: Case of Palestine

On 14th June 1800, Sulayman Al-Halabi, an Arab Syrian theology student, assassinated Jean Baptiste Kléber, a General in the French Army. The French military court sentenced him to have his right hand (the one used to kill Kléber) burned and then to be impaled to death. Halabi’s remains were later taken to France for an anthropological exhibition in the Musee de l’Homme (Museum of Man), where his skull was displayed with the label, ‘Criminal’. What Halabi intended as an act of resistance to colonization was used instead by the colonial power as a foundation for anthropological ‘knowledge’ of the colonized. This paper considers this incident in combination with primary data from my field work experience in Palestine to consider the entanglement of knowledge production and colonization. Based on my own primary ethnographic data, I critique some aspect of settler colonialism paradigm, namely; “logic of elimination”, “settlers come to stay” and the indigenous-isation of Palestinians. Through discussing examples from my field work, I argue that the settler colonial paradigm as presented in Patrick Wolfe’s works is relevant for studying colonisation in Palestine, yet it escapes resistance question and undermines Palestinian’s agency.

Johanna Bergström, Mid Sweden University

johanna.bergstrom@miun.se

Reproduction of logics of coloniality: A critical reading of the EU – Central American Association Agreement

In June 2012 the European Union signed trade agreements based on a neoliberal   policies with the Central American countries as well as with Colombia and Peru. Bolivia and Ecuador dropped out of the negotiations due to these states’ critical views on the neoliberal economic model and their attempts to construct political and economic alternatives at national level. Except for a comprehensive free trade pillar, the Association Agreements (AAs) also include political dialogue and international cooperation pillars. This paper examines the AA between the EU and the Central American states from a critical feminist perspective and argues that states through these international agreements reproduce colonial logics and continue to dismiss indigenous knowledge as well as encourage the violations of indigenous territories. The Western linear development discourse found in the AAs devalues and disrespect indigenous cosmovisions. Moreover, the focus on comparative advantage and competition within the free trade agreement reproduces colonial hierarchies through a race to the bottom in which already marginalised social groups are disadvantaged. Most critiques against the AAs still take place within a modernity framework. This paper however considers how we may account for ‘the local’ and engages critically with Western mainstream development discourses by applying the concept of buen vivir.

Maria Larissa Silva Santos, University of São Paulo

mlarissasantos@gmail.com

Regionalization for decolonization: the case of Meridionalism

Empires, in order to constitute as such, have undoubtly a quintessentially geographical project. That’s why regionalizations, supported by a specific cartography and by a certain spatial conception, have played a core role in the struggles for world power. But after all, is there a geographical decolonization project that supports an effective articulation of the opressed and colonized peoples? The Brazilian geopolitical André Roberto Martin purposed a hemispherical world regionalization, which highlights the historical subalternity of the South countries in the international order, always ruled by just a few northern players. This article firstly aims to discuss the importance of a geopolitical project based on a strong articulation of space, power and colonial difference towards a politics of decolonization. Secondly, I will analyse how Meridionalism, a regionalization basically founded on a geopolitical approach, challenges binary distinctions as colonizer-colonized and West-rest, and acts as a potential critical tool of analysis.

Cristóbal Bonelli, Amsterdam University

C.R.Bonelli@uva.nl

Daniela Vicherat-Mattar, Leiden University

d.a.vicherat.mattar@luc.leidenuniv.nl

Rivers, socio-material transformations and flows of contradictions in the South of Chile

This paper offers a critical analysis of the transformation of the Pewenche territories in the Andean South of Chile. Specifically, we discuss the transformations that have affected the country’s largest river, the Bío-Bío, an ecosystem strongly affected by the construction of hydroelectric dams during recent decades. Historically, the Bío-Bío has played a crucial role in the history of the Mapuche-Pewenche people: for over two centuries the river performed as active border dividing the colonial territory under Spanish jurisdiction from the Mapuche un-colonized lands south of the river. The contemporary transformations affecting the river since the second half of the 20th century therefore illustrate the river’s shift from an intercultural frontier until the formation of the Chilean State in the earlier 18th century, to its (neo)liberal character as productive resource to be exploited for the growth and wealth of the republican state. In this paper we examine this transformation through the critical analysis of three key socio-material contradictions affecting the current hydro-social territory of Alto Bío-Bío: (i) a productive contradiction driven by the logic of wage labour affecting the Pewenche population with regard to the extractive economies of the region; (ii) an epistemic contradiction, as the Pewenche territory has become object of study of numerous external experts coming from outside this territory; and (iii) an ontological contradiction, in so far as the socio-material transformations of this territory have implied an asymmetrical relationship between different worlds and cosmologies in permanent tension and friction. Thus, this paper aims to give an account of the territory internal contradictions caused by larger processes of “accumulation and dispossession” present in the region since the formation of the Chilean State. We argue it is fundamental to address the interplay of these three contradictions when examining the implications of current neoliberal policies in democratic contexts in order to attain a decolonial approach to the territory, its people and existing alternative forms of resistance and transformation.

 Session 1b

11:10-12:50

Education, institutions and curricula

 Trycia Bazinet, University of Ottawa

tbazi026@uottawa.ca

Settler-Colonial Logic in Curriculums as an Obstacle to Decolonization: Unsettling International Development Education

The field of International development is a prime physical and epistemological location for the replication of the settler colonial status-quo in Canada. For this reason, I will apply the theoretical framework of settler colonialism, critical curriculum and geography studies to see how the educational themes in the field of International Development are simultaneously constituted and shaped by settler-colonial logic and affect. I will present the results of my content and discourse analysis stemming from my systematic research of the themes found in curriculums. This inquiry will highlight how various settler actors are institutionally and emotionally involved in preserving their access to Indigenous lands. In other words, I seek to explain how prevalent but normalized settler meanings, imaginations and attachments, such as the myth of the “canadian peacemaker” (Regan, 2010) serve as obstacles to any processes of decolonization and/or reconciliation. As such, well-intentioned settler attempts to decolonization that result in securing innocence, such as the use of colonial politics of inclusion and recognition (Coulthard, 2013), or the collapsing of Indigenous as a domestic or racial matters (Byrd, 2011) and how these find their way in curriculums, will be addressed.

A great amount of work, often termed in the language of development, is done “on” Indigenous communities today. The continued obsession with “the colonized” in research and policy work are occurrences that are reminiscent of the legacies of violent colonial research on Indigenous peoples (Tuhiwai-Smith, 2012). On the flip-side, I am interested in settler discourses and affective discursive practices that are widely available and constructed by settler institutions, collectives and individuals. These settler-colonial logics serve to reinscribe and adapt innocence, ultimately limiting present responsibility and the recognition of complicity within the maintaining and continuation of the settler-colonialism.

Zakeera Suffee, King’s College London

zakeera.suffee@kcl.ac.uk

Look what the Black dragged in: Decolonising Geography

This paper will explore the connections between the racialisation of migration and the consequences upon people of colour through a decolonial perspective and a critique of the academy. The homogeneity of whiteness is framing the migration debate in the UK. From this is the emergence of the ‘illegal migrant’ as an ideological concept transcending legal definitions – rooted in a racialised version of ‘the other’.

This ‘other’ manifests through a variety of forms:

– the caricatures of people of colour in film and advertising;

– through a heightened security rhetoric in the name of terror based on a racialised threat;

– and through the distinction between the good (assimilated), the bad (those with strong cultural ties) and the ugly (Muslims).

These manifestations, and in particular the security and terror perspective has revealed the fragility of the so-called equality legislation, namely the Race Relations Act, which is in its 50th year. If we are to agree with Stokey Carmichael in his questioning of the beneficiaries of the civil rights act, we are forced to address the fragility of the UK government’s commitment to ‘equality’ and understand that it is not only racialising ‘the other’ which is linked to its subordinated attitudes of people of colour, but that people of colour have always been seen as subordinate, without further racialising ‘the other’. Evident with the British academy, in particular to the on-going research projects of white researchers in ethnic spaces, researchers of colour bear witness to these dynamics. How then can the role of the researcher of colour, who is not only ‘othered’ but re-others others, address this fragility, and should they?

 

Simone Vegliò, King’s College London

simone.veglio’@kcl.ac.uk

Urban configurations and postcolonial spaces: How to decolonise urban studies

The aim of this paper is to pose a reflection about the possibilities of decolonising urban studies. The main concept underlying this study is to understand urbanisation as a fundamental ‘place’ where it is possible to look at the social/material relations characterising the postcolonial time (Chakrabarty 2000). Over the last few decades urban studies have been at the core of a strong critique which have tried to ‘denaturalise’ the production of urban landscapes by conceptualising urbanisation as a central expression of capitalism’s social and material relations (Castells 1977; Merrifield 2002; Brenner 2009). This spatial perspective offers the chance to think about the geographical dimensions of capital as well as reflect on the power relations straying behind its production and reproduction (Harvey 1973; Lefebvre 1991).

More specifically, many scholars tried to think of architecture’s particular relationships with capitalism (Tafuri 1979; Jameson 1998); this move represented an attempt of theorising as well as imagining a space finally freed from the specific hierarchical compositions characterising capitalist mode of production. In addition, urban environment has been investigated under the lens of ‘postcolonialism’ by looking at the new reconfiguration of colonial relations within urban environment, both in the former centres and peripheries (King 1990; Jacobs 1996; Chatterjee 2012).

Linking these critical understandings with the ‘decolonial’ scholarship, I aim to open up a reflection which investigates the ‘coloniality of power’ (Quijano 1997, 2007) underlying the processes of production and reproduction of urban environment, conceiving the state of ‘planetary urbanisation’ (Lefebvre 2003) as a global – though shaped by profound ‘colonial differences’ (Mignolo 2000, 2002) – postcolonial space. In other words, this paper attempts to consider the epistemological possibilities of decolonising urban studies: how is it possible to conceive an urban environment freed from the hierarchical/capitalist/Western power relations? How is it consequently possible to decolonise urban planning and architecture?

Lilian Schwoerer, University of Cambridge

lns23@cam.ac.uk

Coloniality and Resistance in the Neoliberal University

In recent years, several scholars have advanced critiques of the ways in which neoliberal governmentality shapes subjectivities in the university (e.g. Canaan and Shumar, 2008; Davies, 2005). Simultaneously, thinkers writing in the decolonial/coloniality tradition explore how universities have historically been, and continue to be, implicated in the production of eurocentric, colonial discourses (Grosfoguel: 2013). Student-led social movements such as #RhodesMustFall in South Africa and the “Why is my Curriculum White” initiative in the United Kingdom increasingly highlight the connections between the neoliberal marketisation and commodification of education and the colonial political economy of knowledge production. However, systematic academic explorations of local manifestations of colonial structures within the neoliberal university are rare. My paper concerns itself with the ways in which colonial discourses are reproduced through undergraduate teaching in the social sciences at the University of Cambridge. It hereby draws on decolonial theory, as well as poststructuralist thought. Additionally, it will present some ethnographic findings that explore forms of resistance to such discourses. My findings (part of my postgraduate research) here are based on a series of semi-structured interviews with undergraduate students and teaching staff at Cambridge University. Combining feminist and queer theories of resistance, with post and anticolonial ones (e.g. Ahmed, 2010; Halberstam, 2011; Jefferess, 2008; Lorde, 1988), this fieldwork concerns itself with questions of affect, legibility and recognition. It both examines the shape that resistance can take in the current neoliberal colonial moment and explores what it means for a social researcher to study this when being committed to decolonization, but simultaneously deeply implicated in neoliberal logics of academic knowledge production.

Works cited:

Ahmed, S. (2010). The promise of happiness. Durham [NC]: Duke University Press.

Canaan, J. and Shumar, W. (2008). Structure and agency in the neoliberal university. New York: Routledge.

Davies, B. (2005). The (im)possibility of intellectual work in neoliberal regimes. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 26(1), pp.1-14.

Grosfoguel, Ramón (2013). The Structure of Knowledge in Westernized Universities: Epistemic Racism/Sexism and the Four Genocides/Epistemicides of the Long 16th Century. Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge: 11(1), pp. 73-89.

Halberstam, J. (2011). The queer art of failure. Durham: Duke University Press.

Jefferess, D. (2008). Postcolonial resistance. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Lorde, A. (1988). A burst of light. Ithaca, N.Y.: Firebrand Books.

Ibtihal Ramadan, University of Edinburgh

s1259700@sms.ed.ac.uk

UK academia: A Sanctuary for Eurocentric Hegemony of Knowledge? Muslim Academics’ Views.

The Western seizure of knowledge has been widely critiqued by scholars a cross different disciplines. Although Muslims have attracted negative local attention in Britain and globally over the last few decades and have become a most conspicuous research topic in western academia, particularly post-9/11, there is little known about the influence of the contribution of academia to debates on the ‘Muslim question’. This paper discusses some of the views of Muslim academics participants in my PhD research on the role of British academia in advancing (or hindering) constructive debates about Muslims in the West. Drawing on the work of Grosfoguel (2012), this paper presents the views of Muslim participants in this regard through the lens of ‘epistemic racism’. The paper argues that utilizing ‘epistemic racism’ helps us better understand the challenges those academics expressed in their attempts to recalibrate discussions on the ‘Muslim question’. This is hoped to ultimately enrich the larger debate aiming at challenging the domination of ‘White curriculum’ through opening spaces for other scholarships (e.g. Andrews & Palmer, 2013). In pursuing my argument, I divide this paper into three parts, followed by a conclusion. The first part introduces briefly the academic literature regarding Western hegemony of knowledge and particularly in relation to Muslims. The second part presents some findings from my research. And the third part attempts to analyse the findings resting on ‘epistemic racism’ notion. Conceptualising participants’ views under ‘epistemic racism’ allows us to reframe notions of racism in British academia beyond the narrow notions confined to daily interactions and routine practices; it rather helps us to place the ‘epistemic racism’ vis-a-vis Muslims within wider global climate of Islamophobia.

Session 2b

11:10-12:50

Visual culture and cultural production

Maricely Corzo Morales, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia

mcorzo@gmail.com

Lounes Matoub and Jaime Garzón: Production of knowledge from the margins in Algeria and Colombia

Both the Algerian singer Lounes Matoub, as Colombian journalist and humorist Jaime Garzón, from their respective fields of cultural production have a strong influence on the social imaginary of their cultural contexts. Matoub, on Kabyle community in Algeria as well as on the Diaspora, and Garzón on Colombian society. Matoub Lounes was a Berber Kabyle singer, poet and thinker whose music and lyrics defended the Amazigh culture and language, providing a critical eye to military power and religious imposition in Algeria. Jaime Garzon through characters of humor and news parodies on radio and television built a way to make political criticism through mass media. They were both murdered (Matoub in 1998 and Garzón in 1999) and the assassination circumstances remain unsolved. The songs, characters and programs, but also their interviews and chats can be considered as a form of oral and visual production of knowledge, that might be included in academic research and this paper’s aim is to start an interdisciplinary work connecting algerian and colombian researchers. Instead of being the end of an investigation it is rather a first approach to a proposal for dialogic review of the life and legacy of both persons as symbols of resistance in their respective cultures, focusing particularly in the visual, performative, permanent and ephemeral public space interventions which pay tribute to their memory. We seek to make a brief comparison of the two countries contexts, Algeria and Colombia in the nineties and relate how Matoub and Garzón affected the social imaginary even after their death. The text presents a brief biographical overview and introduction to these figures and then a series of images of the way memory is present in public spaces in Bogotá, in the Kabyle region in Algeria, and in France.

Huimin Wang, University of Leeds

enhw@leeds.ac.uk

Decolonising Knowledge: A Postcolonial Deconstruction of Western Media Representation of the 2014 “Occupy Central” event in Hong Kong

This paper critically examines the western media construction of “the Occupy Central” event, which occurred in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in late 2014. Western media representation and academic discourses have discursively constructed the event as a “democratic movement”. While this construct has been turned into unquestioned “facts” and accepted “truth” hailed as an “umbrella revolution” in the west, the voices of the majority “subaltern” Chinese have thus far been unrepresented and completely ignored. This paper aims to interrogate the dominant discourse and provide alternative, subaltern interpretation and narratives of the event through deconstructing the media discourse, historicising and contextualising it in relation to the specificities of the Hong Kong SAR’s colonial past and postcolonial present, its relationships with the British Empire, the Chinese mainland and its changing position in wider Asia. Adopting critical discourse analysis (CDA) and a postcolonial theoretical perspective, especially the concepts of coloniality and decolonisation, the paper problematizes the media representation of the “Occupy Central”, deconstructs such “facts” and “truth” and unveils their nature as myths. The paper argues that, to the contrary, it is the continuity of many colonial institutions, ideologies and hierarchies of race, nationality and language that have contributed to the continuity of highly racialised socio-cultural structures, persistently permeating the social fabric, producing and reproducing imperialist fantasies and consciousness, filtered identities, and ultimately, the colonial nostalgic and its associated identity anxieties and crises in the postcolonial Hong Kong SAR. This paper, combining postcolonial theory, cultural studies and CDA, represents the first attempt to deconstruct the dominant media and academic discourses surrounding the “Occupy Central” event, thereby contributing to the critical and emancipating movement of epistemological decolonisation and decoloniality of the academy.

Charlotte Gleghorn, University of Edinburgh

charlotte.gleghorn@ed.ac.uk

‘A Pair of Watching Eyes’: Film, First Contact and the Globalisation of an ‘Isolated’ Indigeneity

Reports of so-called ‘uncontacted tribes’ in the Amazon circulate widely on the television, in the press, and through the Internet, with editors regularly publishing aerial photographs and film footage of Indigenous groups who purportedly refuse interaction with the national and international worlds that circumscribe their territories. The terminology employed to denote these peoples is in itself problematic; ‘lost tribes’, ‘uncontacted’ or ‘isolated Indians’, all conjure myths of the imperial imagination and an investment in the trope of the noble-savage, or unknowable ‘Other’. Film has often been the chosen tool to record (and imagine) first contact in the region, and has served both to bolster exoticist and primitivist ideologies, and to protect Indigenous territories against the encroachment of timber companies, cattle ranchers and other exploitative industries. Significantly, a number of recent productions that circulate under the banner of Indigenous film and video have reappropriated the audiovisual vestiges of the contact zone, destabilising dominant versions of ‘discovery’ and pacification. With reference to reports taken from the media, the transnational investment in discourses of isolation mobilised by NGOs, and the Brazilian films The Tribe That Hides From Man (Adrian Cowell, 1970), Serras da Desordem (Andrea Tonacci, 2006), Meu Primeiro Contacto (Mari Corrêa & Kumaré Ikpeng, 2007), De Volta à Terra Boa (Vincent Carelli & Mari Corrêa, 2008), Sangradouro (Divino Tserewahú, 2009), Birdwatchers (Marco Becchis 2008), and Corumbiara (Vincent Carelli, 2009), this paper explores visual narratives and aesthetics of contact and isolation in relation to a globalised discourse of pristine indigeneity. Exposing these enduring colonial constructs of Indigeneity and environment demands a decolonial gaze.

Dominique van de Klundert, University of New South Wales

dominique.vandeklundert@student.unsw.edu.au

In Stereo: visualising ‘world heritage’ at Potosi

The City of Potosi in Bolivia was inscribed in 2014 on UNESCO’s list of ‘world heritage in danger’. Potosi’s heritage designation is very much dependent on certain aspects of its colonial history, from its distinctive ‘Andean baroque’ architecture and its role as a singular example of a major silver mining town of the modern era, to the city’s facilitation of the global economic shifts that occurred in the 16th century, resulting in the dominant economic system of the present day. These categorisations are problematic in the way they historicise the site, disregarding the ongoing production at the Cerro Rico by ancestors of the indigenous forced labourers who generated the city’s legendary wealth at great personal cost, and the miners’ own interpretations of the site as a place of historical suffering and the source of their present livelihood. However, the instability and degradation of the mountain’s topography due to centuries of mining means that the site’s ‘authenticity’ is considered by UNESCO to be under threat. UNESCO also takes issue with inconsistencies in the built heritage of the town, and potential repurposing of the system of reservoirs that supported the historical mining. The debate over the nature of Potosi’s heritage therefore extends from the past, into the present and future. Further, it is tied to the cultural-political situation within Bolivia, with patrimony a central component within contemporary decolonial political strategies. This paper will examine the ways in which material and relational challenges to the ‘authenticity’ of Potosi’s official heritage – via resource use, infrastructure design, graffiti, and cultural engagements with space – serve as forms of epistemic resistance, reconfiguring the dynamics among heritages: colonial and subaltern, global and local, and old and new. Two areas of creative practice complicit in the coloniality of heritage will be briefly addressed: 3D visualisation and the curatorial/museological, and future directions will be outlined for the representation of the tensions apparent in Potosi via the appropriation of stereographic conventions in curatorial practice located within a context of global decolonial solidarity.

Session 1c

1:40-3:00

Gender and sexuality

Joseli Maria Silva, State University of Ponta Grosa

joseli.genero@gmail.com

Decolonial thought on gender and sexualities: the contribution of Brazilian travestis

This proposal of paper discusses the expansion of the concept of transfeminism in Brazil and the relationship of that concept to the political practices of the social movements of travestis and transsexuals. This concept is still in the initial phase of acceptance within the academic sphere in Brazil and it does not, as yet, form part of the struggle for the rights of travestis1 and transsexuals, who are still very stigmatized and excluded by society in general. This discussion argues that the future of transfeminism in Brazil depends on the development of a decolonial approach, which represents the opportunity to develop a strategy with which to overcome the notion of the primacy of scientific knowledge over those who suffer the effects of epistemic violence. This approach incorporates concepts produced through the daily struggles of those who suffer the stigma of inferiority and dehumanization.

1.In Brazilian society the word ‘travesti’ does not have the same meaning as ‘transvestite’. Transvestis are people who are designated male at birth, but live according to the female gender. They perform a series of bodily changes, but generally reject sex reassignment surgery.

Kathy-Ann Tan

University of Tübingen

kathy-ann.tan@uni-tuebingen.de

Experiencing Decolonial Aesthetics: Performance, Affect, Perception

This paper extracts Bertrand Russell’s model of the interplay between perception, feeling and sensations/images in The Analysis of Mind (1921) from its original context in Continental philosophy and resituates it within the critical framework of decolonial aesthetics (Palermo 2009, Mignolo 2011) and black art/performance. Russell’s theories on sensations/perception will provide a starting point for my critical analysis of how a decolonial aesthetics functions in practice, in the moment of experiential encounter when visual/performance art and viewer/ audience come into contact. How does the transmission of affect take place from performance/performer to audience/viewer and vice versa? How do explorations of moments of discomfort, unease, irritation or disconnect during the performance that mark the limits of empathy and identication demand a ‘queering’, a reading against the grain, and an “unlearning” (Halberstam 2012, 10) of intuitive interpretations and assumptions shaped by colonial and heteropatriarchal metanarratives? How is our encounter with the art object/performance always already determined by certain preconceptions, overriding representations and images surrounding notions of race/ethnicity, gender/sexuality and nationality, and how can these be re-configured? This paper thus examines how decolonial aesthetics disrupt, suspend and re-configure the structures and forces that constitute the colonial lifeworld (“Lebenswelt”, Edmund Husserl) via alternative artistic interventions that embrace Afrofuturism, black femininity, and a poetics of diaspora/“poetics of relation” (Edouard Glissant, 2006). Artworks and performances discussed in this paper will include Wengechi Mutu’s Afrofuturist paintings/collages, Wura-Natasha Ogunji’s performance and artworks, Brendan Fernandes’ installations and performances, and Akosua Adoma Owusu’s visual narratives/films.

Roberto Kulpa

Independent Scholar

r.a.kulpa@outlook.com

Geographies of Queer Knowledge

In 2013 Hamid Dabashi asked on the pages of Al Jazeera: ‘Can the non-Europeans think?’ He pointed that ‘Philosophy’ is taught as the European, while the intellectual production form the other geo-cultural and linguistic traditions are deemed subjects of ‘ethno-philosophy’. This somehow is rendered as a relation of (respectively) of ‘The Universal’ to ‘a particular’. Similar observations were made regarding other academic disciplines. Sadly, no matter how many voices try to raise the awareness of hegemonic inequalities in knowledge production between the ‘West’ and the ‘Rest’ – the persisting reality of inequality never seems to abandon us.

Unfortunately, also when considering the academic places and scientific practices within queer studies, certain reductionist logic persists: the heterosexist dichotomy of the active/passive, as the defining modalities of space in the production of knowledge. At best, ‘periphery’ located beyond the ‘West’ serves as empirical data-mines (‘passive informants’), subjugated to the ‘Western’ (esp. Anglophone) scholarly penetration and creation (‘active theory production’). By engaging with the Decolonial and Critical University Studies work, I hope to open up daring epistemic space in queer/geographical knowledge production that will tear up the monolithic epistemology of a field, marked by the Anglophone referentiality.

In summary, the purpose of this presentation is to question and re-evaluate the ontological and epistemological underpinnings of queer studies in their (as I argue) predominantly ‘Western’-centric, ‘Western’-referential, Anglophone formation. Through the prism of the ‘local’ practices of knowledge, as related to non-normative sexualities in ‘beyond West’, I attain to the geographical ontology and the epistemological foundations of gender & sexuality studies discipline, responding to the need of multiplication and dispersion of the ‘points of reference’ within queer studies across linguistic, economic, and national borders. I will use the particular examples of: the academic publishing industry and peer reviewing practices, English language as the ‘academic lingua franca’, economic in/ex-clusiveness of the academic practices/events (e.g. conferences).

Yoav Galai , University of St Andrews

yg20@st-andrews.ac.uk

The Ghost of Dr. Frankenstein: Israeli Sociology as Israeli statecraft

Dr Karl Frankenstein was a renowned Israeli sociologist who was especially concerned with the massive incoming Jewish immigration (Aliyah) from Arab countries in the early years of the state and the ‘primitive’ status of the immigrants as opposed to ‘modern’ immigrants from European countries. His flagrantly racist writings preceded the clean scientism of the ‘Jerusalem School of sociology’, which promoted the theory of structural-functionalism and became the paradigmatic approach in Israeli sociology until the 1970s. It provided legitimacy to the Israeli ‘melting pot’ policy that rejected Mizrahi (Arab-Jewish) identity and promoted a new Israeli identity, which was a manifestation of a clearly favoured Ashkenazi (European-Jewish) identity. In this paper I will consider Israeli sociography alongside Israeli historiography as twin forms of statecraft in the nascent Israeli state. Israeli historiography suppressed indigenous claims, established a primordial lineage to the state and naturalised Judaism as a form of nationalism. Relatedly, the Israeli ‘Jerusalem school’ of sociology that was concerned to a large degree with immigration, provided a scientific justification to an ethnic division of labour and regime of settlement. Taken together, the academic fields of history and sociology served as instruments of statecraft. Historiography established the Israeli nation while sociology served the interests of labour party hegemony. Dr. Frankenstein’s paternalistic and racist approach was soon expunged from Israeli sociology, but Frankenstein’s ideas help us understand state practice that persisted long after.

Session 2c

1:40-3:00

Law and legal recognition

Aitor Jiménez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

aitorjg@comunidad.unam.mx

Decolonizing Legal Theories

The hegemonic Western law as a product and producer of capitalist modernity has helped to establish the categorization known as race, for us functional markers for capitalism. We intend to initiate a dialogue that challenges the symbolic creational moments of the so called Western Legal Rationality, the ideological core of the legal race construction. The emergence of the Modern State, the Enlightenment and the ideology of Development are the historical moments that we will analyse under Legal Decolonial Lens in order to understand the colonial logic that flows under them.

Carolyn Laude, Carlton University

CarolynLaude@cmail.carleton.ca

A Tale of Two Reconciliations in Environmental Planning: The Right to Say No to Development and the Enticement of a “Politics of Recognition”

How do we reconcile the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia on Aboriginal title with environmental planning?  In Tsilhqot’in Nation the Court ruled that even where title exists, ‘justifiable infringements’ in the national interest can occur despite an evolving process of reconciliation that recognizes Aboriginal access and benefit to land and resources, and the need to achieve consent prior to encroachment on title land (Tsilhqot’in v. British Columbia, 2014). The ruling conflicts with environmental planning, which privileges economic development over Indigenous rights, entitlements and ‘ways of living’ on the land (Lane 2001; Sandercock 1998; Hibbard et al 2008; Gough 2014). A tension therefore exists between legal recognition of Aboriginal title and dominant ideas of land as a rationalized space for economic development. Addressing this tension through a political economy approach attentive to the insights of de-coloniality and legal geography, the paper examines the legal and spatial constructions of Aboriginal title and the environmental planning review around the Pacific Northwest Liquid Natural Gas Export Terminal project. I argue that ‘justifiable infringements’ of Aboriginal title undermines any meaningful attempt at legal reconciliation and decolonization in the Canadian context of settler-colonial capitalism.

Julie Crutchley, City University London

Julie.Crutchley.1@city.ac.uk

A decolonial analysis of peace in international law, the role of the “master morality” in liberal peace theory

This paper will utilise the role of the “master morality”, set out by Torres in his work “Against War”, to examine the traditional understanding of peace which arises through international law. It will challenge the liberal idea of the state of peace as the basis for interstate relations, instead explaining how peace has been utilised as a tool of oppression and to justify violence and conquest. In achieving peaceful states, international law works to remove difference rather than understanding the key role ‘the other’ can play in bringing forth a sustainable peace. The centrality of war, as explained by Torres, in international law explains why achieving a lasting peace appears to be such an elusive goal. In the complex relationship between war and peace, especially through modernity, the basis for the development of society is through war. The challenge arising from the focus of modernity concerned with ‘the self’ and individual rights, which aim to achieve peace through all individuals exerting their rights or all nations evolving into a democratic, republican society. The epistemology of the liberal approach highlights the role of ‘the self’ and works to suppress difference. This paper will develop an alternative approach to peace, based on Dussel’s transmodernity, seeking to overcome the limitations of liberal peace. These will include prioritising the need to utilise ‘difference’ as a positive rather than negative approach, and developing a peace which is an actual alternative to war and violence.

Louisa Parks, University of Lincoln

lparks@lincoln.ac.uk

Decolonising natural resource management through fair and equitable benefit-sharing? Evidence from local case studies

The concept of fair and equitable benefit sharing appears in different areas of international environmental law, and is becoming an increasingly important tool in attempts to recognize, reward and empower local and indigenous communities for their stewardship and management of ecosystems. As a relatively new concept, it can be read as an explicit attempt to decolonise relations between state and non-state actors who wish to access and use natural resources, and the local and indigenous communities that traditionally manage them, by empowering the latter to play an active part in deciding how resources should be accessed, and how benefits should be distributed. With this in mind, it seems that efforts towards fair and equitable benefit sharing should pay attention to participatory processes that allow for the negotiation not only of benefit-sharing modalities, but also the definition of benefits themselves in order to ensure that the positions of local and indigenous communities are sufficiently heard. Given the huge range of situations where the concept of benefit-sharing may be applied as a result of its spread in international environmental law, evidence of issues that arise in negotiating benefit-sharing at the local level with regards to participatory processes, the definition of benefits and sharing modalities, are necessary to understand how the concept may be used as a tool for decolonising the stewardship of natural resources. The paper will present a preliminary comparison of original case-study research carried out in Bushbuckridge, South Africa, with traditional healers seeking access to plants within national parks; in Jujuy, Argentina, with communities opposed to lithium mining on traditionally managed salt plains; in Bwabwata national park, Namibia with communities involved in wildlife and forest management within the park; and in Bario, Malaysia, on a tri-partite, public-private agricultural management project for rice cultivation. The cases represent areas where benefit-sharing is under discussion, consideration, or indeed is rejected by local communities. The paper will reflect on how benefits are defined by different stakeholders in each case, the power relationships involved, and the roles of local, national and international policy frameworks. Impressions of common issues encountered within the negotiation of fair and equitable benefit sharing will be explored along with divergences, with a view to drawing preliminary conclusions on factors that are useful to consider when relying on benefit-sharing to achieve fairness and equity in the natural resource sector.

 

Session 1d

3:10-4:30

(De)coloniality, citizenship and belonging

Eve Hayes de Kalaf, University of Aberdeen

hayes.eve@gmail.com

Making Foreign: Birthright Citizenship, Denationalisation and the Contours of Belonging in the Contemporary Dominican Republic

Over the past three decades, international governments and NGOs have placed increasing pressure on states to register the births of persons born on sovereign territory. During what has been a period of intense political-economic reconfiguration, international rights-based and legal discourse has underlined the need to register and categorise these populations who in the past had largely remained informal and undocumented. With increasingly globalised labour markets, heightened securitisation concerns and the elaboration of an international legal framework to universalise migration norms and manage populations, however, states are now in a better position than ever to not only restrict entry and police their borders but also to ultimately design their own citizenship acquisition criteria. Through these processes, undocumented migrant populations once perceived as “informal” have gradually been termed “illegal” (De Genova 2002: 419). In the Americas, where jus soli citizenship is prevalent, migrant workers and their descendants have obtained citizenship for their children. An increased focus on the legitimacy of citizenship acquisition and who constitutes as a citizen, particularly when given to individuals registered by undocumented or “illegal” parents, has led to debates on who has the right to citizenship privileges, how citizens should be defined by law and whether “illegality” can be passed down from parents to children. US-based politicians for example have incorporated the term “anchor baby” to argue that some migrants have strategically taken advantage of current federal law to ensure the automatic acquisition of citizenship for their children. My research is concerned with an actual case of birthright citizenship negation, namely actions taken by the Dominican Republic to gradually restrict access to Dominican nationality from native-born citizens of Haitian parentage resident in the country, tens of thousands of whom already possessed state-issued documentation such as a Dominican birth certificate, identity card or passport. A 2013 Constitutional Tribunal decision then retroactively stripped this group of their only nationality, thus rendering them stateless. The measures overwhelmingly affected black Dominicans born in the country since 1929 and ultimately converted people once classified as nationals by law into foreigners in their country of birth. Recent events in the Dominican Republic indicate that our understanding of normative constructs regarding citizens and foreigners can be problematic. What happens for example when a state incorporates policies designed to “render insiders foreign” (Parker 2015)? Do such policies change how former citizens now classified as foreigners self-define or how they are viewed by the broader political community? Principally, this ethnographic study seeks to identify the contestations that emerge when former citizens are now treated as foreigners by the authorities and challenge constructs within current scholarship with regards to how citizens and aliens are conceptualised.

Sandra Milena Camelo Pinilla, Goldsmiths College

scame001@gold.ac.uk

Poetics of belonging, relationality and community filiations of being in Indigenous Language Practices

This paper presents my current research regarding indigenous languages in Colombia and the epistemic tensions involved in the current programmes of revitalisation. I propose a critique to colonial epistemic violence, the Cartesian model of knowledge production while suggesting an ecological-decolonial approach to indigenous languages and knowledge(s). Firstly, I attempt to challenge some of the understandings of language developed and maintained by both colonialism and coloniality while highlighting the violences and silences that continue to exist today. I map the power-knowledge relations, clashes and asymmetries regarding the validation of linguistic “expert knowledge” and indigenous practical and cosmological knowledge(s). Secondly, I discuss the role of grammars and alphabets in the definition of indigenous languages, arguing that alphabetisation and grammaticalisation operated as normalising colonial technologies according to the model of Latin grammar and alphabet in the sixteenth century. This model consolidated the idea of illiteracy that served to invalidate indigenous languages and knowledge(s), justifying the violent intervention of colonisers, missionaries, bible translators, and academic experts foreign to the indigenous communities. As an alternative to the alphabetical-grammatical model, I prefer relational definitions of indigenous languages, writing and orality as embedded and embodied daily-life-practices intertwined with cosmologies, local knowledge(s), practices of ethics, poetics of belonging and community filiations that challenge the isolated Cartesian individual subject of knowledge. While exploring indigenous intertwined practices of language, knowledge and belonging I trace what would be the production of communities of affect that maintain indigenous languages and indigenous communities today, producing new indigeneities inside and outside their communities, in the context of displacement produced by the internal war and the dynamics of extractive capitalism in Colombia. Finally, I discuss the way in which indigenous ethics and principles of ecological relationality have been commodified by cultural industries and emerging biopolitical capitalist “life styles of well-being”.

Denisse Sepúlveda Sánchez, University of Manchester

denissesep@u.uchile.cl

Experiences of social mobility of indigenous people in Chile

My research is centred on how social mobility transitions impact on the racial and class cultures of indigenous people in Chile with higher education, and how these affect their identities. My methodological goal is to examine the role of social mobility discourses of the Mapuche (the biggest group of indigenous people in Chile), producing narratives of inequalities legitimisation and ethnic discrimination. For that reason, I am doing life history as a method, focusing on their university experiences. In general terms, the goal of this research is focused on a small group of the Mapuche population, who live in Santiago and Temuco cities and have educational mobility. Mapuche population is characterized as a disadvantaged group, because since the period of the Spanish conquest, indigenous groups in Chile have faced economic, social, territorial, cultural inequalities, positioning unequal to the rest of the population. Moreover, the proportion of indigenous people who complete their higher education is less than a third of the proportion of non-indigenous people in the same situation (INE, 2002). However, an emergent group of Mapuche population have experienced social mobility, thanks to integration policies for indigenous population from the 1990s until now. Nevertheless, preliminary data suggest that they deal with class tensions, ethnic boundaries and racism.

In addition, preliminary data indicate that the phenomenon of social mobility in Mapuche people is relate first with colonization processes at three levels: society, market and State (Santos, 2007) which can be interpreted as a consequence of capitalism. On the other hand, it is relate with decolonization, since there is a redefinition of indigenous identities, questioning the result of capitalism as a mode of resistance (Canales, 2013). These two phenomena operate simultaneously and contradictory complexity it the consequences of the impact of social mobility in Mapuche people.

Federica Cirami, University of Palermo

Federica.cirami@unipa.it

Visualizing the ‘Otherness’: sex and power discourse in decolonial feminist perspective

Decolonial epistemological proposal aims to develop theories about social, political and economical practices outside the Eurocentric gaze. Particularly, decolonial feminist critics claim the concepts of ‘autonomy’ and ‘radicalism’ articulated into the axes of sex, race, class and ethnicity in order to disclose the ‘modern colonial system of gender’ (Lugano, 2008). In this paper, it is firstly argued that decolonial perspective of theories from Latin American feminist contribute to the deconstruction of subject’s understanding in relation to the paradigm knowledge/power under the perspective of ‘colonial power’ (Quijano, 2000). Particularly, the aim is to analyze, in Mexican context, the feminist discursive auto-representation concerning questions about recognition system of female subjectivity from imaginary to representation practices, regulation of body and norms of sexuality. In fact, Westerns’ hegemony imposition of its paradigm of knowledge/power in the centre of modernity as civilization mission provokes the exclusion of the others (as mestizo, borders, indigenes, homosexual, subaltern) outside the system of recognition. In this ‘game of exclusion’ representation of women in public discourse results regulated from the legitimacy of exploitation at the symbolic, social and structural level. In this regard, images from Mexican press reporting stories about violence against women, have been analyzed to demonstrate how visualizing practices concern the reproduction of vision of social/sexual difference. Finally, it is argued that decolonial epistemology constitutes a strategic way to deconstruct the imperialistic gaze and to visualize ‘otherness’ in non-hierarchical way denying the validity of patriarchal and capitalist way to see.

Session 2d

3:10-4:30

Epistemic justice, decolonizing knowledge and globalizing Black studies

Denise Noble, Ohio State University

noble.194@osu.edu

Decolonizing knowledge: Globalizing Black studies

There is a growing global movement of faculty and students calling for more Black professors and for university campuses and curricula to be decolonized. At the same time the neoliberalization of higher education and the War on Terror threaten to silence criticism and intensify new forms of racism and coloniality. This paper argues that we are in a critical moment, one that affords great threats, as well as opportunities, if we can grasp its global rather than merely national, and its decolonial rather than merely postcolonial significance. Although arguably many postcolonial nations in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia have been able to define their own national curriculum and research agendas leading to the establishment of Caribbean, African and Asian Studies programs, the global coloniality of knowledge remains largely unchanged. Consequently, despite efforts to ‘indigenize’, ‘nationalize’, or ‘diversify’ the curriculum, many former colonized nations continue to reproduce the western canon, with only minor alterations. Even in the USA, where the civil rights and Black Power movements secured the establishment of Black Studies programs, institutional incorporation has not succeeded in decolonizing the academy. On the campuses of European and post-imperial western ‘multicultural’ nations the situation is even worse. Drawing on the concept of epistemological injustice, this paper explores the possibility of a Global Black Studies as well as the strategies within and beyond Black Studies that might be required to decolonize and transform the academy.

 

Olivette Otele, Bath Spa University

o.otele@bathspa.ac.uk

“Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”, deconstructing the myth: Western Canons Re-colonizing French Curriculum

Philosophy is an important part of the French education system. At the end of primary school, pupils are expected to be familiar with key texts that deal with French history and philosophers. They learn about Voltaire, Rousseau and Montesquieu. By the end of the secondary school and specifically the year of the Baccalaureate, Philosophy is compulsory for all students. The Republic is also known for its outlook on Marxist History, Social History and contemporary anthropologists, philosophers and historians such as Levi-Strauss, Bourdieu, Derrida, Foucault, etc. Nonetheless, despite postmodernists’ stances on the limitations of Enlightenment thinkers and the pervasiveness of discursive field of power, very little progress has been made about decolonizing the curriculum. At university level, students are expected to know and use the canons previously mentioned as references. Cesaire, Senghor, Fanon, Glissant (all male) and many others are studied as long as they stay within the confines of minority literature. Over the last 10 years, the particular reading of history supported by French intellectual legacy that dates back to those enlightenment thinkers has place French universities at the heart of violent disputes between academics and politicians. The bone of contention was and remains the ways in which the colonial era should be taught. In order to understand how French education is still based on colonial stances in spite of a thriving community of intellectuals from the Africa diaspora and how far right ideology influences French society, politics and policies, this talk will be articulated around three case studies: the 2005 Dispute about the “positive role of colonization”, Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s Dakar Discourse of 2007 and finally, the removal and quick reinstatement of the history of Africa in secondary schools in October 2015.

 

Michael McEachrane, University of Bremen and University College London

mceachrane@gmail.com

Bringing Black and Postcolonial Studies to Sweden: Challenging Nordic Exceptionalism

Sweden, and the Nordic region more generally, is often seen and also sees itself as standing outside the history and legacies of European colonialism. This “Nordic exceptionalism” is both false and misguided as is evident, for example, by the fact that Sweden, Denmark and Norway are among those European states from which the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is demanding reparatory justice for colonialism and enslavement. For the past two decades the insights of Black and Postcolonial Studies have gained increasing traction in Sweden. The paper traces this trajectory, some of its challenges and advances, how it compares to the UK and the US, and its current state. It also argues for the relationship between reparations and epistemic justice.