Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

 

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

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

Raising the Bar: The Metric Tide That Sinks All Boats

Academic Irregularities

Liz Morrish writes: A longer post than usual, but very relevant if your working life in academia is governed by the insanity of metrics – grant income, PhD students, impact, REf 4* ‘outputs’. You know it is insanity, so read on…..

James Wilsdon may as well not have inveighed against the ‘metric tide’, and Jo Johnson could have saved printers’ ink asking vice-chancellors not to waste academics’ time, and students’ fee money by operating multiple ‘mock’ REFs (BIS Green Paper November 2015 Chapter 2, para 7).

It is time for a critical conversation to take place about the use and abuse of metrics. In July 2015, Hefce published The Metric Tide, the report of a review body chaired by James Wilsdon, professor of science and democracy at the University of Sussex.

Despite the report’s chilling preface, announcing a “new barbarity” in our universities, we continue to witness…

View original post 2,920 more words

Decolonizing the academy

Two day graduate and faculty seminar led by Ramón Grosfoguel (UC-Berkeley) and one day conference

24-26 February 2016

The University of Edinburgh’s Global Development Academy in collaboration with the Centre for Contemporary Latin American Studies is developing a series of activities and initiatives that engage with questions of decolonization and decoloniality. We have two main aims in this regard. The first is to support through our teaching, research and networking activities individuals, communities and social movements engaged in decolonial struggles, that are seeking to address the legacies of colonialism and ongoing modes of coloniality. Indigenous, Afro-descended and other decolonial movements are calling the development project into question in a myriad of ways that have implications for our work and our global development focus. The second is to contribute to efforts to decolonize the westernized academy. While traditional universities can be sites of radical thought, they have generally struggled to embrace and accommodate non-western thought and worldviews, functioning instead on a basis of epistemic ignorance. It is essential therefore that our curricula and research programmes create spaces for theoretical and methodological approaches that are relevant for indigenous, Afro-descended and colonized populations. We also need to seek ways to disrupt the modernist divisions between arts and sciences reflected in our institutional structures and take up the intellectual agendas being advanced by decolonial scholars. Scholarship identified with the Modernity/Coloniality/Decoloniality (MCD) paradigm locates the start of modernity not with the Enlightenment but with the conquest of America in the 15th century, and recognizes the inseparability of the capitalist world system from the dynamics of colonialism. Modernity and coloniality are therefore mutually constituted. Coloniality did however create the conditions for border thinking and interculturality and for the decentring of Eurocentric thought. Despite the modes of epistemic violence wrought by colonial practices, decolonial thought persists and provides important resources for dealing with the legacies of the past and the challenges of the present.

In February 2016, we will be joined by prominent decolonial scholar Ramón Grosfoguel of UC-Berkeley, who will run a two day postgraduate and faculty course. He will also participate as the keynote speaker at a one-day conference focused on questions of decolonization and decoloniality. Both events are free of charge, but registration and acceptance of a place are required.

24 and 25 February 2016

Decolonizing Post-Colonial Studies and the Paradigms of Political Economy

Led by Ramón Grosfoguel, UC-Berkeley

This two-day course will discuss the cartography of power and the structures of knowledge of the world-system we have inhabited since the 16th century. It will decolonize the paradigms of political-economy and post-colonial studies. Finally, it will discuss transmodernity as an alternative that moves beyond the world-system of today. It will be of interest to scholars and students already working with questions of decoloniality/decolonization, or for those who wish to gain an introduction to this field of knowledge. It will be of particular use to lecturers and researchers seeking to decolonize their classrooms, curricula, teaching practice, research and writing. Participants accepted into the course will be sent a readings package in advance.

The course will cover five key modules:

FIRST: The Four Genocides/Epistemicides of the 16th Century, the Westernized University and Modern/Colonial Epistemology

SECOND: Epistemic Racism/Sexism: Decolonizing the Western Concept of Universalism

THIRD: What is racism?: The Fanonian Zone of Being and Zone of Non-Being

FOURTH: Decolonizing Paradigms of Political-Economy

FIFTH: Transmodernity and Decolonization of the world-system

Places are free but limited, so registration is required. The names of people who seek to register after all available places are taken will be added to a waitlist. If you would to apply for a place, please fill in the application form and send to: julie.cupples@ed.ac.uk by 9 December 2015.

The application form can be found here:

http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/global-development/news-events/events-section/decolonizing-the-academy-i

Friday 26 February 2016

One-day conference: Decolonizing the academy, University of Edinburgh

Keynote speaker: Ramón Grosfoguel, UC- Berkeley

Call for papers

We welcome panel and abstract submissions for papers engaging with questions of decolonization/decoloniality. We welcome scholars working in and on any geographical region, but we are particularly interested in work on the Americas and Africa and dialogues between them. Possible themes include:

Decolonial social movements and political projects

Decolonial, non-capitalist and revolutionary subjectivities, epistemologies, ontologies, philosophies and theologies

Past and present forms of slavery and demands for slavery reparations

Epistemic violence

Dimensions of the colonial matrix of power, including gender and sexuality, institutions, knowledge and authority

Theoretical engagements with decolonial thinkers

Border thinking and non-linear forms of knowledge

Transmodernity

The politics of buen vivir

Power beyond the state

Meanings, discourses and representations of blackness/indigeneity

The Africa diaspora, the Black Atlantic, the Black Pacific

Racism/anti-racism

Decentring Eurocentrism

Interactions between MCD and postcolonial studies

Questions of cultural and political citizenship

Alternative and non-modern spatialities, temporalities, cartographies and chronologies

Please send paper and panel proposals to Julie Cupples (julie.cupples@ed.ac.uk) using the application form.

The application form can be found here:
http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/global-development/news-events/events-section/decolonizing-the-academy-i

Deadline for submission: 9 December 2015

For further information about these events, please contact Julie Cupples (julie.cupples@ed.ac.uk)

A feminist leaves NeoLiberal U

Academic Irregularities

Liz Morrish replies to a feminist colleague’s letter of resignation. 

I was very sorry to read your letter of resignation. I was, though, delighted that you decided to circulate it among colleagues at NeoLiberal U, along with an article, rapidly becoming a classic, if my Twitter feed is any predictor, by Mountz et al in the Great Lakes Feminist Geography Collective, offering a manifesto for a slower pace of academic life. This is what you have not found at NLU, and you weren’t prepared to go on sacrificing the possibility of intellectual creativity, family life and personal space forever. Sometimes principles have to be lived by, because that’s the right thing to do. NLU doesn’t seem to have any other principle than to ‘maximize the staffing resource and leverage the maximum from the academic contract’ (I paraphrase).

It has been a long time since we sat down and discussed all…

View original post 969 more words

Post-disaster urban geographies

In July this year, I returned to Christchurch, New Zealand, the city that had been my home between 1997 and 2012, and a city that over the course of 2010 and 2011 had suffered a series of destructive earthquakes, the most harmful of which was in February 2011. It was the first time I’d been back in more than two years and the first time I had visited what was the central business district since December 2012. The CBD had been cordoned off, ‘red-zoned’, after the February 2011 quake, but then in 2012 they started running ‘red zone tours’, a kind of voyeuristic disaster tourism. I couldn’t help thinking of the scene in the first season of HBO’s Treme, when a tourist bus travels through the devastation that had come to the Ninth Ward, and I thought they were a terrible and insensitive idea. But I still went, in part because we had family visiting from the US who had never been to Christchurch and were understandably curious about what we’d been through, and also because, hell, I wasn’t a tourist and I was about to relocate to Edinburgh a couple of weeks later and I wanted to see the centre of the city that I had lived in and in which I had raised my kids before I left. It was an emotional excursion to say the least. I was leaving Christchurch as a direct result of the post-quake restructuring that had afflicted the University of Canterbury, leaving my husband and co-author and our NZ research funding behind at Massey University in Wellington. Disasters, as Naomi Klein (2007) and Jamie Peck (2006, 2009) have amply illustrated in their work on Hurricane Katrina, are frequently seen as opportunities for accumulation by those that endorse, promote and benefit from neoliberal policies. They are often seen as a chance to displace low-income residents and gentrify the city. In the case of UC, the disaster was an opportunity to dramatically downsize the humanities and social sciences, displace academics in these fields, and align the university with the NZ government’s neoliberal STEM agenda, a philosophy euphemistically described as “disinvesting to reinvest” (cited in Dean 2015: loc 28). As Johnston, Sears and Wilcox (2012: 17) note, one of the administrators kept citing US economist Paul Romer, saying that ‘a crisis is a terrible thing to waste’. I had been demoralized and unhappy there for some time, the cautious optimism that I had expressed in Transactions shortly after the quake (Cupples 2012) had vanished, and it was time to move to a new institution where the humanities are still valued, where I could advance my research project on media convergence and also live without aftershocks and the threat of ongoing seismic activity (by now we had experienced some 11,000 aftershocks). Rapidly neoliberalizing universities are bad enough, but when you throw disaster into that mix and everyone keeps celebrating how resilient we all are in the face of adversity, they can rapidly become intolerable.

The red zone tour back in December 2012 was both distressing and disorienting. So much of the central city had been destroyed, it was hard sometimes to figure out where we were. Then I would recognize a building that remained, and it would bring back memories. I started reliving the past fifteen years, and all of the times I had walked through Cathedral Square, the things I did with my kids when they were little, the restaurants in which we were regulars. It was hard not only because I was leaving, but because I realized that the city was so transformed that coming back would always be a little traumatic.

Major disasters become global media events for a temporary period. Like the large earthquakes in Haiti or Chile just prior to ours, we were splashed over global media for a while. The usual dominant media framings emphasising resilience and individual acts of heroism were reported and there were lots of pieces to camera in front of piles of rubble (see Cupples and Glynn 2014). Friends all around the world got in touch to make sure we were all right, messages came in from people I hadn’t heard from in a very long time. Conventional media coverage tends to be quite short-lived, however, and after a few days or weeks, the international news crews leave and rarely report on the aftermath and reconstruction process, often giving people outside the disaster area the impression that the disaster is now over. When I tell people in the UK that I moved to Edinburgh because of the earthquakes, it is apparent that many struggle to remember that media coverage. Those that do remember it kind of imagine that the disaster is now over and the city has gone back to normal. Most don’t realize that for many living in Christchurch at the time, when the international news coverage ceased, the disaster had barely begun. For many people, life got much more difficult in the coming months and years as people lost their jobs or were displaced from their homes and communities, or were forced to stay in damaged homes, live in garages or caravans, or have to battle incessantly with insurance companies and the Earthquake Commission (EQC).

I have kept in touch with post-disaster Christchurch through the media, through friends that are still there. I knew that the rebuild was going terribly slowly and many people’s lives have been severely harmed. Insurance companies were slow to pay out, and businesses that had been in the CBD were relocating to the suburbs or to other New Zealand cities. But despite this, my recent visit to the CBD was both profoundly shocking and intensely fascinating. Christchurch’s post-disaster urban geographies almost five years after the first large quake of 2010 and more than four years since the deadly one of 2011 are like nothing I could have imagined when we were living through the immediate aftermath.

Figure 1 Cafe Roma, Oxford Terrace

Figure 1 Cafe Roma, Oxford Terrace

Fig 2 car park

Figure 2 Oxford Terrace car park

Fig 3 Scorpio Books

Figure 3 Scorpio Books, Hereford Street

Fig 5 FBB

Figure 4 Flying Burrito Brothers, New Regent Street

Figure 5 Bengali restaurant, Nobanno, Armagh Street

Figure 5 Bengali restaurant, Nobanno, Armagh Street

It was now possible to explore some of the CBD on foot and it is even more disorienting now than it was at the end of 2012. Central Christchurch today is a bizarre assemblage of so many different elements.   Many of these elements reveal the multiple failures and contradictions of the capitalist model and blatant neoliberal neglect. There are buildings such as Café Roma (see Figure 1) or the multi-storey carpark (Fig. 2) both on Oxford Terrace or Scorpio Books on Hereford Street (Fig. 3) that are still awaiting demolition or remediation (see also Figs. 4 and 5). They are slowly being reclaimed by nature as well as graffiti. There is a fascinating eeriness to these building remains. They are buildings in which I ate, parked, shopped, organized a geography conference (Fig. 6), but that now belong to a previous unrecoverable temporality. The Price Waterhouse Cooper building on Armagh St has been demolished but its foundations remain and have filled with water (Fig. 7). A plastic duck could be seen floating in the water.

Figure 6 Rydges Hotel, where we held the 2010 New Zealand Geographical Society conference

Figure 6 Rydges Hotel, where we held the 2010 New Zealand Geographical Society conference

Figure 7 Price Waterhouse Cooper building, Armagh Street

Figure 7 Price Waterhouse Cooper building, Armagh Street

Although the principal red zone cordon has gone, the CBD is full of no-go areas, that are fenced off, plastered with keep out signs, inaccessible to ordinary people (see Figs. 8 and 9) and are part of the multiple distortions to democracy that the disaster engendered. There are shipping containers everywhere, some creatively used as temporary shops and banks, but many there to stop damaged buildings collapsing on passers-by (Fig. 10).

Figure 8 One of the many ‘keep out ‘ signs

Figure 8 One of the many ‘keep out ‘ signs

Fig 9 stop

Figure 9 STOP

Figure 10 Shipping containers on Oxford Terrace

Figure 10 Shipping containers on Oxford Terrace

The iconic and once majestic Anglican Cathedral in Cathedral Square (Figs. 11 and 12) remains in a liminal condition, subject to ongoing contestation. There is disagreement on whether it should be rebuilt, demolished or left as a ruin, as a site to remember and commemorate the disaster. Through longwinded legal, political and religious wranglings, the third option is asserting itself, while the Cathedral too is being reclaimed by nature and is cordoned off.

Figure 11 Peering into the ruins of the cathedral

Figure 11 Peering into the ruins of the cathedral

Fig 12 cathedral ruins1

Figure 12 The ruins of Christchurch’s Anglican cathedral

Then there are many empty spaces, where buildings have been demolished, but nothing has come to stand in its place. The gaps are accompanied by ubiquitous ‘for sale’, ‘for lease’ and ‘development opportunity’ signs (Figs. 13, 14 and 15), revealing the extent to which rebuilding New Zealand’s third largest city is seen by the government as a speculative development activity rather than one that demands urgent public investment. Yet there is minimal evidence that capitalist investors are interested, as the future is so uncertain. As my friend remarked to me, “it is not even apparent that we need a CBD any more”. With most of the English Gothic architecture now demolished and the statues of some of the city’s colonial masculinist heroes toppled (Fig. 16), Christchurch’s dominant place meanings (see Cupples and Glynn 2009) are struggling to survive. In their place are glossy images of the future utopian cityscape, the city to come (Figs. 17 and 18), urban regeneration deferred for now.   It is not clear what Christchurch means any more.

Figure 13 Development opportunity

Figure 13 Development opportunity

Fig 14 for lease

Figure 14 For lease

Fig 15 for sale

Figure 15 For sale

Fig 16 Scott

Figure 16 The plinth on which a statue of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott once stood.

Fig 17 future

Figure 17 The future cityscape

Fig 18 future

Figure 18 The future cityscape

Amidst the gaps, the rubble, the investment signs, there are however a few positive signs of repair and restoration. One notable one is the Theatre Royal on Gloucester Street (Fig. 19). There is also a museum on Cashel Mall, in which you can learn about the quakes for $20 (Fig. 20). I had absolutely no desire to see my disaster story selectively repackaged and I certainly no desire to pay for it the privilege. Maybe it is very good, I don’t know. Maybe it should be free for survivors. There are also places where you can walk away from rubble, demolitions and building sites, and catch little glimpses of Christchurch looking like Christchurch used to (Fig. 21).

Fig 19 theatre royal

Figure 19 Isaac Theatre Royal, Gloucester Street

Fig 20 Quake city

Figure 20 Quake City

Fig 21 Avon

Figure 21 The River Avon, looking towards Victoria Square

Fig 22 art

Figure 22 Art

Fig 23 art

Figure 23 Art on Armagh St

Fig 24

Figure 24 Melting penguins on corner of Oxford Terrace

And then finally there is the art. Where private investors and the New Zealand government have utterly failed, Christchurch’s artists have succeeded. Some of the damaged and abandoned buildings are covered with stunning artwork and murals, that stand as testament to serious corporeal risk-taking along with artistic talent, an attempt to remake a traumatized city. The capitalists aren’t prepared to take risks for uncertain financial returns, but the artists do so for no financial returns. One shows penguins melting as our planet warms (Figs. 22, 23 and 24). The creativity with which artists have painted the city redeems Christchurch, and leaves you with a sense of hope for the future of the city, a sense of what is possible.

References

Cupples J (2012) Boundary crossings and new striations: When disaster hits a neoliberalising campus. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 37(3):337–341

Cupples J and Glynn K (2009) Editorial: Counter-cartographies: New (Zealand) Cultural Studies/Geographies and the City. New Zealand Geographer 65(1) 1-5

Cupples J and Glynn K (2014) The mediation and remediation of disaster: Hurricanes Katrina and Felix in/and the new media environment. Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography 46(2): 359-381

Dean A (2015) Ruth, Roger and Me: Debts and Legacies. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books

Johnston J, Sears C and Wilcox L (2012) Neoliberalism unshaken: A report from the disaster zone. Excursions 3(1):1–26

Klein N (2007) The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt

Peck J (2006) Liberating the city: Between New York and New Orleans. Urban Geography 27(8): 681–713

Peck J (2007) Neoliberal hurricane: Who framed New Orleans. Socialist Register 43: 102-129

Papers from “Where’s the Value? Emerging Digital Economies of Geolocation” session

Open Geography

The written texts from the AAG panel session I co-organized with Agnieszka Lesczczynski entitled “Where’s the Value? Emerging Digital Economies of Geolocation” are now available. The panelists were Elvin Wyly (UBC), Rob Kitchin (National University of Ireland at Maynooth), Agnieszka Leszczynksi (University of Birmingham) and Julie Cupples (University of Edinburgh).

Two were posted to blogs (linked below) and two are reproduced below. Although I posted links to a couple of these previously, this blog entry collects them all. (Two panelists, Sam Kinsley and David Murakami Wood, were regrettably unable to attend.)

Thanks again to all!

~ ~ ~

Elvin Wyly: “Capitalizing the Records of Life” (see below)

Rob Kitchin “Towards geographies of and produced by data brokers

Agnieszka Leszczynski “What makes location valuable? Geolocation as evidence, meaning, & identity” (see below)

Julie Cupples “Coloniality, masculinity and big data economies

And here again is the audio from the…

View original post 2,491 more words

Coloniality, masculinity and big data economies

This is the text of the paper I presented at the recent AAG conference in Chicago on spatialized information economies in a panel entitled ‘Where’s the Value? Emerging Digital Economies of Geolocation’ convened by Jeremy Crampton and Agnieszka Leszczynski and also including Elvin Wyly and Rob Kitchin. Jeremy has placed a link to the audio of the entire panel on his blog and you can find it here. The text of Rob’s talk can be found here.

So I’d like to make a few points about cultural studies, media convergence and some of the masculinizing and colonizing fantasies that I think accompany the digital economy. For the last few years, I’ve been working on a collaborative research project on the geographies of media convergence and in particular the expanding interactivity between media technologies, sites, users and production processes. The project aims to understand how changes in the media environment are facilitating new relationships between politics and popular culture, in the context of persistent but increasingly contested neoliberalism, intensified forms of securitization and heightened political effectivity of various decolonial and indigenous movements. So questions of spatialized information economies are pertinent to this project, although initially I thought of them as marginal. It’s apparent that we can’t explore the democratizing and decolonizing dimensions of the new media environment, without also exploring the potential dark side of media convergence, the convergences between online tracking and targeting, RFIDs, predictive analytics, geodemographics, VGI capture, video surveillance, the Internet of Things and urban sensor networks. Cultural studies has tended to resist a ‘what media do to people’ model to focus instead on what people do with media, an approach that has often revealed interesting forms of popular pleasure or oppositional cultural politics. New modes of algorithmic sorting, surveillance and tracking complicate to some extent that approach. Furthermore, I’ve also become increasingly interested in these questions in the context of the neoliberal university where a hierarchy has been created between so-called big data and other kinds of research data.

Westernized universities, academic funding agencies, neoliberal governments and for-profit corporations seem to be uncritically embracing concepts such as big data/smart cities in ways that potentially undermine the groundwork put in place by feminist scholarship. As a number of feminist GIS scholars have noted, it tends to be largely men who are the main contributors and legitimizers of geospatial information, but spatial media technologies are also embraced by and for women and progressive social movements in empowering ways (see for example Stephens 2013; Leszczynski and Elwood 2014). Research became less about extraction and more about working with and allowing participants to shift the focus of the research agenda. It’s quite likely that many big data scholars never engaged with those perspectives in the first place, but we do appear to be experiencing a masculinist revival of post-political positivism (see Merrifield 2014: 3). Not only do contemporary big data discourses replicate and indeed celebrate the presumed universality, “view from nowhere”, neutrality, stable ontology and no need for social theory position of much conventional GIS, they also mobilize a teleological sense of progress and inevitability and are accompanied in the words of Boyd and Crawford (2012:666) by a “sweeping dismissal of all other theories and disciplines” which as they note “reveals an arrogant undercurrent”. There is also something quite masculinist in the privileging as Nafus and Sherman (2014) write, of size over substance. The ‘big’ in big data doesn’t just refer to the size of the datasets used, big sometimes means big funding, big promotions, and big space in ways that rework the gendered hierarchies and old boy networks of the contemporary academy and that deny the same privileges to those working with theory or with ethnographic or qualitative data and furthermore often produce work that stigmatizes and simplifies far more than it explains. We could say that the mobilization of big data by scholars, corporations and governments is often underpinned by what Boaventura de Sousa Santos (2007) refers to abyssal thinking. For de Sousa Santos an abyssal line divides metropolitan societies from colonial territories, the human from the subhuman, and it is only in metropolitan societies where the regulation/emancipation dichotomy has any purchase, while the other side of the line is characterized by appropriation and violence. There is evidence that the data doubles of certain social groups are located on the wrong side of the abyssal line. The streets of Bilwi and Bluefields in Nicaragua, where I do much of my research, are filled with small businesses, places to eat, market stalls and shops that have no digital footprint. Yet young Afro-descended people from these cities deprived of adequate economic opportunities are often forced to migrate to the capital to work in call centres – to participate in the digital economy even as that participation is fuelled by poverty and racial exclusion. Geographic digital exclusions and inclusions often work together in simultaneously negative ways. For low-income and racialized populations around the world, surveillance is nothing new, but it now takes on insidious new dimensions as it becomes harder to prove that you are a victim of discrimination because an ad for predatory pay day loan has appeared on your social media site or that you were stopped and searched not because the police had reasonable evidence that you had committed a crime but as a result of a convergence between your geographical location and Facebook likes. Such outcomes produce a tension between our growing collective resistance to being secretly surveilled and counted, even among populations whose relative affluence has been able to buy them privacy, and the contrasting demand as articulated by Eric Swyngedouw (2015) “to be counted, named, and recognized, theatrically and publicly staged by those ‘that do not count’”.

What hope is there for challenging the colonizing, racializing and universalizing processes that accompany the digital economy? In the past, elites saw popular television as a threat to democracy, while cultural scholars documented how ordinary people consumed mass media in oppositional ways. As John Hartley (2003) noted, indeed the masses seen from the outside as amorphous were actually increasingly sovereign. They could act in politically consequential ways. To what extent do new data mining technologies undermine this state of affairs? To what extent does it matter that we/they don’t know how the algorithms that track and target us work? The economy used to criminalize and to sell us stuff is also used to foment revolution and to refuse capitalist exploitation, smart city technologies fail as often as they succeed and they are increasingly vulnerable to being hacked from below, datasets are fragmented by tactical and unruly resistant practices and by highly selective modes of online self-presentation. We are also constantly confronted with the failures of surveillance. Some of these failures are quite mundane, such as when Facebook describes my ex-husband to me “as someone you may know” or when Sainsbury’s keeps texting me in Costa Rica with concerns that I’m forgetting to swipe my loyalty card, while others are quite serious and sinister, from whole airplanes that disappear without trace to London schoolgirls who communicate with known jihadis on social media and then travel to Syria on false passports without detection or interception. Big data economies also produce the resurrection of guerrilla technologies, molecular activities, reverse surveillance, the rehabilitation of secrecy, WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden, Anonymous. So I don’t really have any conclusions except to say that I am both seriously worried and tentatively hopeful.

References

boyd d and Crawford K (2012) Critical questions for big data. Information, Communication and Society. 15:5, 662-679

de Souza Santos B (2007) Beyond abyssal thinking: From global lines to ecologies of knowledges. Review 30(1): 45-89

Hartley J (2003) A Short History of Cultural Studies. London: Sage

Leszczynski A and Elwood S (2014) Feminist geographies of new spatial media. The Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe Canadien 59(1): 12-28

Merrifield A (2014) The New Urban Question. London: Pluto Press

Nafus D and Sherman J (2014) This one does not go up to eleven: The Quantified Self Movement as an alternative big data practice. International Journal of Communication 8: 1784–1794

Stephens M (2013) Gender and the GeoWeb: divisions in the production of user-generated cartographic information. Geojournal 78:981–996

Swyngedouw E (2015) Insurgent urbanity and the political city. In M Moshen (ed) Ethics of the Urban: The City and the Spaces of the Political. Zurich: Lars Müller (in press)