POLYLOGUES AT THE INTERSECTION(S) SERIES: In Pursuit of Decolonization in Belgium

Encounters of Creolizing Conviviality in a Context of Critical Diversity Awareness

by Sarah Van Ruyskensvelde and Mieke Berghmans*

From periphery to center: Belgium’s decolonization debate

Over the last decades, the Belgian public has, on many occasions, been confronted with the problematic nature of its colonial past. A secretive activist organization for instance cut of the hand of a King Leopold II monument in Ostend. Media regularly covered the works of a commission of inquiry that investigated the murder on Patrice Lumumba. The debates on Saint Nicholas and Black Pete – a holiday tradition in which Saint Nicholas’ helper is depicted as a blackface stereotype- flew over from the Netherlands to the Belgian public every year, and so on. These events appeared on and disappeared from the media scene and contributed to some public debate about (the effects of) the Belgian colonial period. These discussions however remained at the periphery of the public debate. They touched upon matters that were controversial and contested, but only concerned a specific historical event, a specific institution, or a specific cultural phenomenon and as such did not require a general moral response.

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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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How to be an ally? An ongoing (un-)learning journey

by Maren Seehawer

“Indigenous and non-indigenous alliances cut across localities, nations, and continents” and the struggle for decolonisation and “recovering indigenous peoples’ identities … knows no borders”, writes Norwegian professor Anders Breidlid in his (2013) book Education, Indigenous Knowledges, and Development in in the global South.

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Why Positionalities Matter and What They Have to do with Knowledge Production

by Julia Schöneberg, Arda Bilgen and Aftab Nasir

Coming from three different educational, geographical, and class backgrounds, the three of us met for the first time in a research institute in Germany. Together with a group of international colleagues, we were eager to be trained in Development Studies and pursue a PhD degree. In reminiscing about this journey many years later, we shared the struggles and challenges we experienced during our so-called ‘fieldwork’ stays in very different geographies and realised that there was a blatant gap not only in the way we approached our research, but also in the way we were trained: a lack of confrontation with the centrality of power and positionality in ‘development’ research (or any kind of research for that matter) – and a disregard of the colonial legacy in the way knowledge is created and considered legitimate.

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A Zine on ‘Situated Knowledges’

In ‘Situated Knowledges’, Donna Haraway is revolting with many other feminist scholars against the objectivity claim of Scientific knowledge; that is, the researchers’ detachment from their objects of study. Instead, she offers an alternative approach to practicing Science which relies on the concept of vision: What we see is consistent of what we know; what we know is what we perceive as our own reality, which is dependable on what we have learned, our situated contexts, and non/privilege. All our knowledges can only be situated; all conceptualizations of our world can thus only be partial, never complete. Situated Knowledges offers a perspective in which we can discuss how we, as researchers, can and should become more responsible and accountable for “what we learn how to see.” (Haraway 1988, p. 583).

(Johanna Tunn)

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The ‘Naked’ Researcher

by Jeevika Vivekananthan

Vankkam. Wominjeka.

I am a Tamil diaspora woman living on the land of Wurundjeri people. I acknowledge the elders past, present and emerging for their wisdom and the resistance against all forms of oppression. Even though I come from a war-and-conflict-affected Tamil community in the North of Sri Lanka, I acknowledge my positionality as someone exposed to both the Global South and the Global North, using North and South labels in a metaphorical distinction to denote an entire history of colonialism, neo-imperialism and geopolitics. I am not an academic nor an expert. As a toddler researcher, I recently presented a reflection piece at a conference hosted by the Development Studies Association of Australia in Melbourne, reflecting on my journey from a student researcher to a researcher. This is the written script of my presentation, slightly modified for the purpose of publication at Convivial Thinking, encouraging the readers to contest and reflect on the concept/ practice- the ‘naked’ researcher.

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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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[How do we “know” the World Series] Does the Co-Production of Knowledge Work? Experiences from a Cross-Site Teaching Project between the Universities of Pretoria and Düsseldorf

by Witold Mucha and Christina Pesch

Knowledge (re-)production, especially in the field of the social sciences, is a social process of discourse and debate, of speech and response. However, 500 years of (Western) colonial expansion have made a lasting impact. Today’s debate is both epistemically and ontologically shaped by Anglo-American and European perspectives (Ndlovu-Gatshenis 2018; Spivak 2004; Ziai 2015). Though, concepts of epistemic violence and injustice relate existing (power) asymmetries in knowledge (re-)production not solely to prevailing (Western) perspectives, concepts, and terminologies but to blind spots where existing knowledge is ignored, neglected, or even destroyed (Brunner 2018; Mignolo 2009). This applies not only to what is categorised, constructed, and perceived as knowledge (thinking) but also to the distinct ways how knowledge is disseminated (talking).

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[How do We “Know” the World Series] Encounters with Theory: (Un)Learning Ways of Knowing

by Zeynep Gülşah Çapan

The manner in which knowledge systems are organized and disciplinary formations are delimited work to delineate who can ‘speak’, who can ‘think’ and who is worthy of being ‘read’ and ‘listened’. It is not that ‘other ways’ of thinking are not present, there is a wide archive of knowledge available if one sheds the self-imposed limitations of what counts as ‘legitimate’ knowledge. The courses I have been teaching at the University of Erfurt have been an exploration into how to ‘unlearn’ ways of knowing and how to discuss issues (whether it is race, colonialism, notion of history) through other vocabularies that are already present but ignored. Over the last two years I have been trying to write syllabuses and design courses that reflect these concerns. As part of this effort, I have taught various courses such as ‘Race and Racism’, ‘Fantasizing International Relations’ and ‘Anticolonial Connectivities’.

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