by Sophie Bergmann
In the last few months a spectre appears to haunt Europe and its cultural institutions, namely museums and their artefacts – it is the spectre of postcolonialism.
The cultural and intellectual structures, that epistemically prepared and justified the occupation of the African continent and the exploitation of its economic and cultural wealth in the past, are now the same that ‘contextualise’ the looting of art during the 18th and 19th century in an attempt to legitimize and perpetuate the composition of Europe’s museums.
The impact of postcolonial thought and theory on power asymmetries will hopefully go beyond the contentual and epistemic orientation of exhibitions in Africa’s and Europe’s museums, and alter the systems of knowledge that have caused colonization, racialisation and discrimination.
Continue reading “[How Do We Know the World Series] The Power of Agency: Bringing Back Subjects’ Agency in Academia and Activism”
by Siti Maimunah and Enid Still
“How do we know the world?” It is a difficult and multi-layered question. Yet it enticed us, two colleagues, women from the global north and south respectively, to collaborate and reflect upon our journeys as researchers, activists and now as fellow PhD students. Reflection upon our experiences, Enid as a researcher in India and Mai as an activist in Indonesia, brought together very particular understandings of the intimate power relations between the participant and researcher – how power manifests, how it is inscribed upon our bodies, and how people resist or attempt to counteract power in different ways. Continue reading “[How Do We Know The World Series] Knowing The World? Navigating Asymmetries of Power through a Politics and Praxis of Care”
by Sebastian M. Garbe
As a result of political and intellectual efforts, post- and decolonial critiques have become more and more prominent during the last decades, but to counter Eurocentrism within the Social Sciences is still a big challenge. In this contribution, I would like to share some attempts of how I have been dealing with this challenge in my own research and teaching. Both experiences share the idea to decentralize and decolonize the own local context (the city of Giessen on the one, and the European solidarity movement, on the other hand) by confronting it with the history and present of (post)colonial entanglement as well as “epistemologies of the South” (Sousa Santos 2009).
Continue reading “[How Do We Know The World Series] Thinking with and not about the Global South – Challenging Eurocentrism in Social Science Research and Teaching”
by Grace Ese-osa Idahosa
This short piece addresses the issue of the limiting role of identity and positionality on the extent of individuals’ contribution to the decolonisation process in institutions. Focusing on universities in South Africa (SA), it interrogates the role of identity and social positions in the decolonisation and knowledge production process. It asks to what extent factors like race, class, gender and sexuality affect an individual’s commitment and contributions to the decolonisation process?
Continue reading “[How Do We Know the World Series] What are the limits of identity and positionality in the decolonisation debate?”
by Vanessa Bradbury
Aotearoa, the long white cloud. A vast country secluded by ocean; a depth of ecological beauty with rolling hills of green, empowering mountains that cut through soft white clouds; rivers, lakes and oceans that flow with the crisp, clean air; sunsets that radiate the surroundings with a peachy gentleness; long roads and vast land; a silence that fills the void with reflection.
Continue reading “[How Do We “Know” the World Series] Looking Back to Walk Forward: Decolonisation as Self-Determination”
by Lata Narayanaswamy and Julia Schöneberg
In our one-day workshop we aimed to overcome academic “silos” and connect scholars from diverse fields in the social and natural sciences. Surprisingly, or probably not so, we quickly realized that struggles, discomforts and contestations were very similar among us regardless of whether our discipline is Peace Studies, Agro-Forestry, History, International Relations, Development or Political Studies or Educational Sciences. The true challenge for our workshop was to reflect not only on how we “know” the world, but also why this question matters and what are the implications for us as teachers, researchers and practitioners, committed to challenging entrenched power imbalances or fighting for social justice.
Continue reading “[How Do We “Know” the World Series] Why does the question matter? – Reflections from the Workshop”
by Lata Narayanaswamy
This post is the start of a series of reflections on critical scholarship contributed by participants of the workshop “How do we know the world” . The workshop is co-organised by Lata Narayanaswamy and Julia Schöneberg.
How do we ‘know’ the world? It is so vast a question that it feels, perhaps ironically, almost unknowable. Yet this question is not a call to take an inventory of specific facts or perspectives, but is asked in order to help frame a more critical and reflexive approach to the assumptions that underpin academic perceptions of WHAT counts as knowledge, HOW we capture and communicate that knowledge and WHO gets to both shape and present ideas as academic (read: expert) knowledge. Taken together, these reflections can, we believe, be very revealing. Whilst this should be a question we ask ourselves across all disciplines, our focus here is specifically on how this set of questions has begun to creep into the mainstream of the broader social sciences.
Continue reading “[How Do We “Know” the World Series] Part I: How can we “know” the world – and reflect on it academically?”
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Lata (email@example.com)
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?”