Spaces of Confused In-Betweenness: The Paradoxes of Life and Decoloniality

by Aftab Nasir

Any traditional wisdom, be it Vedic, Aztec, Buddhist, Sufi, etc., while withstanding their key differences, seem to converge in a message, i.e., all of us are different from each other and from mother nature; yet one with each other and with her in the same instance. By definition, a paradox is a a statement or proposition which, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems logically unacceptable or self-contradictory. The paradox is at full play around us. In our own little worlds, we want to support climate change while enjoying the “luxuries” of a comfortable life that comes at the expense of injustice done to the environment. We detest war but trade with those waging them even when we know that territorial claims of the past century produced nothing but unprecedented scale of violence, and we witness yet another unfolding of war on the horizons. Though the current injustice received justified media coverage, we see many such wars happening in many parts of the world that go unnoticed as they don’t produce the click bits of a scale of the current crisis happening in Ukraine.

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Decolonisation on a T-shirt : On cooptation and academic careers

by Julia Schöneberg

Before I share some observations on how I feel ‘decolonising’ is coopted in academia, I want to start by situating the position from which I am arguing. I am a white, well-educated, middle-class, able-bodied woman living in Germany and working in a Western university. Inevitably, my approach to decolonisation is shaped by this positionality. Also, when I talk of ‘we’, I think of people holding similar privileges like myself, living and working in similar spaces, especially in institutions of Higher Education (HE) in the global North.

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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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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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Why a firm postcolonial stance is fundamental for the future of ‘development’ NGO work

by Julia Schöneberg

Recently, I participated in a NGO workshop, where a large group of German NGO project officers and representatives met to discuss trends and challenges of the sector. One of these was ‘Postcolonialism’ (as a noun). The ‘new trend’ was assigned the guiding question of ‘How the ideal Postcolonialism-sensitive development cooperation would look like?’.

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Feminist Letters Crossing Borders – Cartas feministas atravessando fronteiras

by Gabriela Monteiro and Ruth Steuerwald

Brasília, February 9th, 2020

Hi, my dearest German girl!

How I miss you. Here in Brazil, carnival is approaching and people are getting more agitated every day. Last week, I was in Salvador and the Blackest city outside Africa is still pulsating. The Iemanjá celebration[1] was happening on 02/02, a celebration that always touches me a lot. It’s also a festival which is full of problems and contradictions, with the presence of white tourists and photographers consuming what is sacred for Black people. Everything is very difficult, but as capoeira teaches us, we need to gingar[2] – and we can’t forget who is the real owner of the party. Never forget who we are.

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News from the Convivial Thinking Writing Collective: Engagements with the (de)coloniality of development research and teaching

The latest issue of Acta Academica contains the Special Focus: How do we know the world? Collective engagements with the (de)coloniality of development research and teaching.

The Special Focus was guest edited by the Convivial Thinking Writing Collective. Our collaborative engagements with the topic have evolved from a workshop in early 2019 and a consecutive blog series. Convivial Thinking is a collective platform seeking to surpass boundaries of origin, ethnicity, professional affiliation and academic disciplines in order to give space to inclusive, interdisciplinary and alternative approaches to mainstream methods of knowledge production, especially in the context of “development”. The articles in the Special Focus reflect these concerns.

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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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