On Creating Spaces of Unlearning

by Adriana Cancar

Recently I was part of a quite special Summer School and when I look back at it, I especially remember the feeling of trust – trusting each other to listen, to understand as far as possible, to comprehend, to speak, to respond, to feel with each other, to sit in silence together.

Broadly framed by concepts, theories and debates of and around ‘decolonization’ and ‘development critique’ the Summer School was attempting to confront and question hegemonic narratives and naming the most problematic aspects of growth and development imperatives and promises.

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Unpaid labour in the academy: the limits of neoliberal inclusion

published anonymously

After discussing the contents of this post, we agreed with the author that they would remain anonymous. Whilst we feel the issues being raised are of importance to elucidating the nature of the challenges with ‘decolonisation’ agendas, well-meaning as they may be, there is a danger that airing views so frankly puts the author in conflict with their colleagues and employers. We agreed that it was important to share these concerns, but that it was also in the interests of the author to remain anonymous.

Higher Education the world over runs on fumes and the goodwill of people committed to expanding horizons, whether their own or those of their students and contemporaries. The number of superstar academics who are cherry-picked by the Harvards or the Oxfords on salaries to match are vanishingly small. Instead we get too-high percentages of precariously employed colleagues working across teaching, research and professional services, many of whom work to prop up a customer-oriented, neoliberal higher education system that may not offer security, but still feels like the best chance to do work that may, in one way or another, be part of helping the world to save it from itself. Continue reading “Unpaid labour in the academy: the limits of neoliberal inclusion”

POLYLOGUES AT THE INTERSECTION(S) SERIES: (Re)imagining a ‘Good Life’ as a Settler Scholar: How Can We Decolonize and Indigenize European Studies through Indigenous Storywork?

by Markus Hallensleben

Being aware that colonization is still ongoing, with my very own presence as a white, privileged settler on the Indigenous lands of the Coast Salish people[1] perpetuating the problem, I have begun to reframe my own teaching and research in literary and cultural studies by decentering discourses of Eurocentric identity and diversity politics. What might be more fruitful instead of taking decolonialization just as a metaphor (Tuck/Yang 2012) within a solely academic social justice approach (Pluckrose/Lindsay 2020), could be an interactive and relational method of knowledge sharing (Baldy 2015; Christensen et al. 2018; Ladner 2018; Smith/Thorson 2019; Watchman et al. 2019) that aims to create an allyship built on reciprocal, responsible, relevant and respectful relationships with Indigenous peoples, their stories and their lands (Kirkness/Barnhardt 1991). Rather than reiterating Eurocentric notions of artwork, authorship, culture, education, text, literature, media, theatre, society and politics, I am looking at Indigenous “Storywork” (Archibald 2008; Archibald et al. 2019) as a collaborative narrative approach to decolonizing knowledge transfer within European Studies.

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Whose ideas count? Participatory Methodologies and the Professionalisation of Development Knowledge

by Lata Narayanaswamy

This is the transcript of Lata’s spoken word contribution. You can listen to it, or read on.


Tackling the question of whose ideas count is central to efforts to decolonise knowledge. Participatory methodologies then are, at least in theory, one way to address concerns that some ideas and the people with whom they are associated, might matter more than others. So widening participation to include more diverse people and views makes intuitive sense. The hope is that this will lead, at least partially, to counting the knowledge and ideas of more people. Surely, this is a good thing. In my short piece here, I’d like to unpack a participatory research process to consider not just which ideas count, but who gets to express them and how they need to express those ideas in order for them to be counted.

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On feminist entanglements and white politics of knowledge

by Lisa-Marlen Gronemeier

This contribution is situated within the beginning of my un-learning the single feminist story and its underlying violence, which constitute whiteness in German universities’ gender studies departments. I argue that the dominant knowledge politics enforces and normalizes white feminists’ epistemic privilege as well as practices that are “considered ‘unmarked’ – yet unmarked only if viewed from the perspective of normative whiteness”. As white feminists, ‘our’ epistemic privilege is reproduced through specific knowledge politics that has as a referent white, middle-class, cis-female herstory and experience. Insisting on ‘gender’ as isolated meta-category, this politics upholds patriarchy as a universal and transhistorical phenomenon, whilst trivializing the enmeshment of power relations resulting from (neo)colonialism and racial capitalism. Disconnected from ‘other’ (her)stories of struggle, ‘our’ story is not only produced as normative; white feminists are also authorized as ‘natural’ inhabitant of gender studies departments, with the prerogative of speaking for, on behalf, and instead of ‘others’. Thereby, knowledge politics re-produces violence against knowledge holders and knowledges beyond white feminisms’ genealogy. As Audre Lorde diagnosed long ago, white feminists’ self-centeredness and ignorance signify that “only the most narrow parameters of change are possible and allowable”.

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ONLINE TALK: When Science is jumping off the stage: On the intersections of activism, theatre and scholarship

by Joschka Köck

A question that I have often asked myself as a researcher and theatre maker is: Can social science jump off the page and into reality? Can theatre jump off the stage and become/have impact on reality? In this webinar I will try to argue that this is not a yes/no question but rather we should ask: How can and do we have impact on reality as activist researchers/theatre makers?

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