Invitation for Virtual Participation: “How do we know the world?”

Our call for contributions on the workshop on “Critical academic perspectives on scholarship in the social sciences – How do we “know” the world?” has reveived such big number of response. It is great to see that these questions seem to be of concern to so many.

However, we are well aware that attendence (or non-attendence) at academic events and workshops is a highly exclusionary process (funds, visa, caring responsibilities, etc.) and we have thought hard how to counter that.

The workshop on 17 January 2019 consists of several elements. A series of written blog style reflections, working group sessions and plenary discussions. For those wanting to attend from afar we have thought of three ways of engagement:

1) Blog style reflections (800-1000 words) on one or more questions raised in the call can be submitted to us until 3 January. These are subject to a peer review and we will share selected ones in a secure virtual space that is only accessible to registered particpants. These pieces will feed into the discussions during the day. Selected pieces will also be posted in the rai section of this page (not compulsory).

2) Live stream of the plenary discussions We will live stream the plenary discussion (17 January 2019, 2-4pm tbc).

3) Join the discussions in the online forum In the lead up, we will start the debate in the Convivial Thinking forum.

If you would like to attend virtually please register here.

For any questions please get in touch with Julia (julia@convivialthinking.org) or Lata (l.narayanaswamy@leeds.ac.uk)

The Decolonial ‘Wrong Turn’ in Indian Academia

by Sayan Dey

With the arrival of the postcolonial era in India, the nation faced the gargantuan task of wiping out the toxic remnants of colonization that the British dumped on the indigenous natives before leaving India. The colonially structured education system was one of them. In the year 1835, Thomas Babington Macaulay’s ‘sincere’ efforts to revive literature in India and promote the knowledge of sciences among the inhabitants have borne innumerable fruits in the post-independent era through hierarchizing and diminishing several socio-cultural components of indigenous epistemologies – languages, dialects, cosmic beliefs, religious practices, mythologies, education systems, etc.

How has the academic system in postcolonial India made efforts to dismantle the colonial frameworks of knowledge production?  And how have they failed in the process?

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Torpor and Awakening

by Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti

I am from a family with Indigenous Latin American and German ancestry. I have been to many different countries and lived in different places. I believe this is partly because the Indigenous tradition my family comes from is nomadic. They see the earth as a living entity, and if they stay in one place they believe the land gets sick. They travel to where their ancestors send them, and this and other important messages are conveyed through their dreams. I married into a Cree and Blackfoot family where ceremonies are performed with the Blackfoot in Alberta. My son also married into a Maori whanau (family) in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

This inter-weaving of bloodlines gives me a perspective of many different Indigenous communities. I am no expert in any of them, and I do not speak for any of them. I also find it difficult to pinpoint only one place where I “come from.” In part, this is because I believe that the earth is alive and upset about fences and divisions. It is also because the tradition of being always on the road, crossing many different types of borders means one has to feel the pathway itself as a place too: one that enables you to see different patterns, different connections, as well as many similarities, and that offers a different kind of contribution to the whole. From this place, I would like to offer a story that speaks to the crossroads and the in-betweens.

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“Alternatives to development” as a universal project?

by Julia Schöneberg

Thinking, reading and writing about “development” can be a daunting undertaking – and it gets worse the deeper you dig. Starting off as a student with the naïve desire to learn about development in order to acquire the tools and skills for making the world a better place, my occupation with the topic has turned into an intellectual struggle, disillusionment, much frustration and anger with those who for so long have shaped the concept and practice of “development.” Continue reading ““Alternatives to development” as a universal project?”

Call for Abstracts: Re-Thinking, Re-defining, Re-positioning: “Development” and the Question of “Alternatives”

Development Days Conference, Helsinki, 27.02.-01.03.2019

Critiques of development of the last three decades have clearly pinpointed the many flaws in the way development is theorised and practiced (Escobar 1985, 1992; Esteva and Prakash 1997, 1998; Ferguson 1990; Kothari 2005; Kiely 1995; Munck 1999; Rahnema and Bawtree 1997; Sachs 1992; Schuurmann, 1993; Ziai 2012, 2016). We are well aware that established and conventional ways are leading to a dead end.

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How to make the “decolonial turn” more than just a fashion

by Paola Minoia

Numerous calls for papers and conferences around Europe and globally give us the impression that we are now going towards a “decolonial turn” in many disciplines: development studies, IR, geography etc. On the other hand, many criticize this pick of initiatives, doubting their effective and truly challenging nature vis-à-vis the current systems of cultural and scientific production. I agree that some calls for papers, especially for large conferences, may sound insincere and produced by academic scholars “surfing” on this new trend, instead of stepping down from their powerful positionalities.

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Why post-/decolonial perspectives matter

by Aftab Nasir

How ought we to live? The question is multi-faceted and janus-faced. The disciplinary boundaries disappear when one wants to address this question. Is it a philosophical debate, a political discussion, a psychological model, or a historical perspective that is under investigation in this question? The answer is all and none. Yes, these disciplines try to grasp the concept of life in their own institutionalized mandates yet they end up dividing the whole in to parts that do not add up once they are combined back. There is something specific to the inner workings of these disciplines that make these parts look alien to each other once they are filtered through the methodological lenses of disciplines.

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Funding Social Change or: How to most successfully derail a social movement?

by Julia Schöneberg

Development has failed. Given the many shortcomings and failures we witness after decades of development intervention and myriads of development projects this claim seems to hold true. Development projects are prone to pitfalls of paternalism and cooptation, perpetuating dependency and are often ill-fitted to local needs and imaginaries. On the other hand, Escobar (1995) argues that social movement actors have the greatest potential to shape development alternatives in response these failings.

Continue reading “Funding Social Change or: How to most successfully derail a social movement?”

Call for Participation: Critical academic perspectives on scholarship in the social sciences – How do we “know” the world?

In the last few years we have witnessed a ‘postcolonial turn’ in relation to questions about the historical bases for how we approach issues of knowledge (co-)production, expertise and representation and which have gained significant momentum in academic discussions. Whilst debates about ‘whose knowledge counts’ have and continue to rage in areas such as Development or Gender Studies (which in themselves are diverse academic fields rather than homogenous disciplines), questions about prevailing power and knowledge divides, represented by their respective ‘canons’, have only recently come to the fore in the wider social sciences. Disciplines such as International Relations, Cultural and Regional Studies and Politics are being challenged by movements such as ‘Why is my curriculum white?’ to confront rather than overlook colonial genealogies of contemporary politics, society and economy and thus acknowledge the way hegemonic discourses create only particular types of knowledge.

Continue reading “Call for Participation: Critical academic perspectives on scholarship in the social sciences – How do we “know” the world?”