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On Coloniality/Decoloniality in Knowledge Production and Societies

by Henning Melber

Social organisations tend to be based on asymmetric power relations – almost always, almost everywhere. Inequality characterises interaction both inside and in between societies. Class-based hierarchies, peppered by gender imbalances, sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia and many other forms of discrimination are the order of the day, both nationally as well as internationally. Colonial power structures and mindsets – understood as a hierarchical system imposing normative values which exclude and discriminate – remain almost always an integral part of any form of social reproduction, even when we believe that colonialism as a system in which foreign powers occupy and execute rule over other territories and people, is a matter of the past. Following such broad understanding, social reproduction tends to inherently maintain colonial structures, and individuals remain colonised subjects.

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Towards a decolonial EU response to global deforestation

by Elke Verhaeghe

This contribution is part of a blog series seeking to explore how postdevelopment approaches can inform, infuse and potentially transform the study of EU (development) policies and relationships with the Global South.

Under the impetus of the Green New Deal for Europe and intensive NGO advocacy, the EU is currently developing several new policies to counter ‘EU-driven deforestation’ resulting from the production and consumption of products like cocoa, soy or beef. In doing so, the EU is recognising its position as one of the of the world’s largest consumers of natural resources and land-consuming agricultural products. In this blog I argue that these policies have to consider colonial dynamics of resource extraction and land use and offer venues for addressing environmental harm. To do so, they should not just consider the impact of Europe’s consumption on forest cover, but also the background of domination against which production, consumption and land conversion take place.

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Living between two worlds

by Megha Kashyap

It took me a while to pen down these thoughts. Thoughts that otherwise would have just found some space in the corners of my journal. It took me great courage to write these thoughts out openly and and place them in front of my readers. I feel the need to do this because most often we are invisible minds behind the academic work that we produce. Our lived realities greatly influence our work but very rarely do we put out our reflections to the world. There are myriad reasons for this.

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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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Looking at the UNDP with different eyes

by Juan Telleria

I really like these moments when you find a new idea that catches your attention and changes the way you used to understand something. You are reading a text or listening to something and suddenly you think ‘Oh… I never thought about this issue in this way!’ For a few seconds, your mind wanders and tries to understand the novel perspective opened up by the new idea. Then, you realise that your understanding of the world has changed (at least a little) and now you look at it with different eyes. I like these moments so much that I’ve become addicted to them. Probably, that is why many years ago I decided to start my PhD in Philosophy, and nowadays I publish my findings aiming to share these moments with other open-minded people.

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How do we learn? Engaging with communities of knowledge and culture beyond academic spaces

As you know we, as Convivial Thinkers, are continously exploring new formats of learning and engagaging with knowledges and especially with communities of knowledge. For that reason, we are extremely happy to host and feature Parinita Shetty and her work by way of text (- this transcript ) and audio (-the podcast conversation between Parinita Shetty, Sayan Dey and Lata Narayanaswamy). When she is not guest podcasting for us, Parinita is exploring how fan podcasts act as sites of public pedagogy by providing a social learning context in informal digital spaces. With her project Marginally Fannish she takes an intersectional lens at online fandom.

In their conversation, Parinita, Sayan and Lata exchange about how collaboratively engaging with knowledge and activism with a wide range of people both within and outside institutionalised academic spaces is crucial. The world we inhabit offers us several different learning opportunities. However, academic structures frequently end up valuing a limited kind of expertise.

Whose cultures, languages, and experiences are considered the default? What kind of knowledge matters? How do you seek alternative communities of knowledge beyond the restrictions of the structure you work in?

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Zine: Climate Justice and Flooding (in England)

by Juliet de Little

Exacerbated by urbanisation and climate change, flooding in England is predicted to increase in both frequency and volume. Furthemore, existing research demonstrates that the distribution of who is at risk of flooding in England is weighted towards areas of deprivation. In order to engage with and explore flood injustices in England, I draw on climate justice as a lens through which to examine Flood Risk Management in England. Continue reading “Zine: Climate Justice and Flooding (in England)”