[How Do We Know The World Series] Part VII: Knowing The World? Navigating Asymmetries of Power through a Politics and Praxis of Care

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] Part VII: Knowing The World? Navigating Asymmetries of Power through a Politics and Praxis of Care”

[How Do We Know The World Series] Part VI: Thinking with and not about the Global South – Challenging Eurocentrism in Social Science Research and Teaching

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).

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Decolonization: not just a buzzword…

by Budd L Hall

This is the name of a ‘headphone verbatim show’ capturing campus conversations at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.  It will be the third interaction with discourses of decolonisation and epistemic justice that I will have within two weeks. The first interaction was with Florence Piron, a scholar of epistemic justice at Laval University.  I spent three days with her and her colleagues in Quebec City, Quebec. She shared with me the special issue of the journal Sociologie et Societes on epistemic injustice edited by Baptise Godrie and Marie Dos Santos of the University of Montreal. In that journal she shares an article, Haitian Meditation where she recounts a visit to Haiti to teach about epistemic justice (2017). She reminds us of the words of Frantz Fanon written in 1992, speaking about the dominance of European thought in the colonial world, “my friends, the European game is definitely over…if we want to see humanity advance, for Africa and for the world, we need to invent and discover a new way of thinking”.

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[How Do We Know The World Series] Part V: To Reform or not to – The crescendo of decoloniality within Higher Learning Institutions in Africa

by Gift Mwonzora

There has emerged a growing chorus for a need to decolonize the African higher education system. This chorus for reform has been widely pronounced within the Global South, especially in African countries. Countries that have witnessed the crescendo of such demands include South Africa, but others are also beginning to reconsider such within this growing wave of decoloniality. Notwithstanding the fact that there have been many strides in the higher education literature and in African studies scholarship to tackle issues of decoloniality, through calls for reforms for the curricula and syllabus, it remains poorly understood why academe should be decolonized. Hence, intense debates and polarity on the discourse of decoloniality have emerged, revealing silences that underpin how we ‘know’ the world.
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[How Do We Know the World Series] Part IV: What are the limits of identity and positionality in the decolonisation debate?

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?

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[How Do We “Know” the World Series] Part III: Looking Back to Walk Forward: Decolonisation as Self-Determination

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.

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[How Do We “Know” the World Series] Part II: Why does the question matter? – Reflections from the Workshop

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.

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[How Do We “Know” the World Series] Part I: How can we “know” the world – and reflect on it academically?

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.

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