All posts by mzantsi

Editorial Statement | Decolonising Design

A new network has emerged out of the discipline of design research to further the goal of southern thinking in how we create and manage our worlds.

We welcome all of those who work silently and surely on the edges and outskirts of the discipline to join and contribute to conversations that question and critique the politics of design practice today, where we can discuss strategies and tactics through which to engage with more mainstream discourse, and where we can collectively postulate alternatives and reformulations of contemporary practice.

Source: Editorial Statement | Decolonising Design

The Political Enlightenment: A View from the South

Professor Akeel Bilgrami will be presenting a seminar on Monday May 30th at 2 pm in Building 10, level 14, room 201

In this lecture Akeel Bilgrami will consider the ideals of the political Enlightenment from a more distant perspective than their framework allows, first by diagnosing some of their vexed limitations and then reconfiguring them with resources not obviously available in that framework

Professor Bilgrami is the Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University and Faculty member of the Committee on Global Thought. His books include Belief and Meaning (Blackwell, 1992), Self Knowledge and Resentment (Harvard University Press, 2006), Secularism, Identity, and Enchantment (Harvard University Press, 2014).  He is currently working on two books to be published in the very near future, one called What is a Muslim? (Princeton University Press) and another on Gandhi’s philosophy, situating Gandhi’s thought in seventeenth century dissent in England and Europe and more broadly within the Radical Enlightenment and the radical strand in the Romantic tradition (Columbia University Press).

Celebrating Latin American Studies at La Trobe University, Events, La Trobe University

The Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) at LaTrobe University in Melbourne is announcing the first call for papers/convocatoria for a major conference to be held in Melbourne, December 2-3, 2016.

2017 is the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) at La Trobe University in Melbourne and to celebrate this event we are organizing an international conference that will be open to all scholars (postgraduates are most welcome, too!) who are working on Latin America and the Caribbean in the Humanities and Social Sciences. We particularly welcome papers and panels that engage with the many areas and topics in which La Trobe academics have made important contributions over the years.

We will have a number of internationally renowned keynote speakers and the first confirmed ponente magistral is Alan Knight (Oxford University), perhaps the most influential anglophone historian working on Mexican history over the last 45 years.

[email protected] – Past, Present & Future: Celebrating Latin American Studies at La Trobe University

Source: Celebrating Latin American Studies at La Trobe University, Events, La Trobe University

Henry Lawson, Mary Gilmore, William Lane and “the little Utopias” – by Esteban Bedoya

In the last two months we have been to  two outstanding performances  dealing with the story of the Australian colonists  who settled in Paraguay at the end of the nineteenth century. In  November 2015  we attended the premiere of an opera composed and directed by Michael Sollis and staged by the Griffyn Ensemble. In February of this year we saw All My Love, a play by  Anne Brooksbank  dramatising the  close friendship between two icons of Australian literature, Mary Gilmore and Henry Lawson. This relationship was never to be consummated  because Gilmore set her mind and heart on pursuing her own personal Utopia by joining the  band of Australians, led by William Lane, who two years earlier, in 1893,  had travelled to Paraguay to establish two socialist  colonies and begin a new life.

Lane and his followers arrived  in a far-away country that had  recently endured  the bloodiest  conflict on South American soil: The War of the Triple Alliance, pitting Paraguay against Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay (1864-70). Paraguay had been considered  the country with the most promising future in the region, boasting  a passenger railway, ship building for international trade, the first iron foundry in the Southern Cone and an extensive telegraph network.  To support this infrastructure, hundreds of European engineers, architects and technicians had been recruited, which contributed to the development of an education  system and a program of urban modernization. Consequently, Paraguay was in the process of becoming the most modern and self-reliant country in South America.

Tragically, Paraguay became the victim of a bloodbath of epic proportions. Why? Historical documentation suggests that the principal reasons were its legitimate claims to independence and its pretensions to develop its own model of social and economic development. Statements by top political and military leaders involved in the war against Paraguay confirm their genocidal intent:

How much time, how many men, how many lives and how many resources are needed to end the war, to turn the Paraguayan population into smoke and dust, to kill even the fetuses in the wombs of the women?

The war in Paraguay concluded for the simple reason that we killed all Paraguayans over the age of ten.

It is a sad memory, but it provides the historical context for the arrival of the hardy Australians who reached Paraguay. William Lane and his comrades found a country in ruins where the surviving women and their children were incapable of raising a smile. But Paraguay needed to be repopulated so the Australians received a warm welcome. Lane, Cameron, Cadogan, Kennedy, Gilmore, Wood and the others were the founders of the colonies of New Australia and Cosme, which in due course bequeathed thousands of descendants —Australian and Paraguayan— as well as a rich cultural legacy that belongs to both of our nations.

The expedition that set sail on The Royal Tar on 17 July 1893 from Sydney Harbour provides a solid basis for writing the history of Paraguay-Australian bilateral relations. In the words of the historian Marisa González Oleaga, “They have left us a heritage of dignity and pride. Nobody will ever again recreate the experience of New Australia, but people will always envisage the possibility of new worlds beyond the horizon.” Many years have elapsed since that heroic enterprise, but Utopian ideals continue to inspire men and women throughout the world striving to reach the Light on the Hill.

First shipload of Australian immigrants left Sydney on the Royal Tar in 1893

 

Today, humanity is facing grave humanitarian crises. Limited resources frustrate endeavours to ameliorate the fate of people in embattled regions. We may draw inspiration from the pilgrims who sailed in The Royal Tar, risking their lives in a quest of a “little Utopia” in a distant land. It is significant that two works about this extraordinary adventure should be staged in Australia at the same time. The message conveyed by Gilmore, Lane and Lawson continues to resonate in the works of talented contemporary Australian artists and writers who remember the idealism and courage of their forebears. And by some mysterious telepathy, the saga of these intrepid settlers has also inspired an Argentinian movie director, Cristian Pauls, to tell their story. In collaboration with Paraguayan partners, the movie is currently in production on the other side of the Pacific.

This efflorescence of interest in the shared history of Australia and Paraguay is not mere coincidence. It is an urgent reminder that we should both work together to keep alive our historical memory. Our artists, poets and writers are telling us that it is our joint responsibility.

Esteban Bedoya is Chargé d’Affaires of Paraguay, Canberra.

New book series ‘Decoloniality’

In fall 2015, we created a new book series on Decoloniality, which was supported with conference panels and mini-conferences in 2015 and 2016.

We want to take this opportunity to invite book proposals from this community by officially announcing the launch of this new book series DECOLONIAL OPTIONS FOR THE SOCIAL SCIENCES. Information about the series, which is published with Lexington/Rowman, can be found at our web-site, which will also increasingly be used to publish additional content: https://decolonialsocialscience.wordpress.com/

ABOUT THE SERIES
More than being just an ‘emerging paradigm’, decoloniality is a troubling and troubled conversation that does more than just cross the boundaries of disciplines, geo-polities, time frames, cultures, and identities. Interrogating the acts and gestures of crossing borders as events that simultaneously also make borders, decolonial perspectives have opened the possibility for border thinking and border existences that challenge the social sciences at their core.
The book series seeks proposals that consider in all aspects the gesture of sociological delinking from the coloniality of power, being, knowledge and life itself. All contributions should aim to consider themselves as interventions to answer this challenge: “Projects aimed at ‘ decoloniality ,’ understood as the simultaneous and continuous processes of transformation and creation, the construction of radically distinct social imaginaries, conditions, and relations of power, knowledge.” Our main aim with series is to consider, discuss, and develop ideas and questions that represent an epistemic de-linking that challenges sociology.

A SERIES EDITED BY : Alexander I. Stingl (IAM FAU Erlangen – Nürnberg), Oyeronke Oyewumi (Stony Brook), Nicholas Rowland (Penn State), and Sabrina M. Weiss (RIT)

The series is co-supervised by an editorial advisory board, comprised of both well-established senior researchers and promising junior scholars from all over globe.

Alexander Stingl serves as corresponding editor and can be reach via email at [email protected]

Roze a Wail’: Whales, Whaling and Dreaming

Roze a Wail’: Whales, Whaling and Dreaming
29-30 September 2016
Australian Indigenous Studies
The University of Melbourne
The conference is grounded in Indigenous peoples’ connection with whales through ritual, song and story; and post-contact, their involvement in the whaling industry and the impact of whaling on their lives and culture. The conference encourages diverse contexts for discussion; for example, historical, sociological, cultural, literary, philosophical, scientific, artistic, ecological and economic perspectives.
As well as papers that present Indigenous stories of whales and whaling, we are also interested in representations of Indigenous peoples and practices in literature, film and visual art. Key texts in this area might include Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and the novel and film of Witi Ihimaera’s The Whale Rider.
We especially welcome contributions that combine analysis with the experiential narratives of whales and nature-based lifestyles.
Expressions of interest should be sent to the Secretary, ‘Roze a Wail’ conference at <[email protected]>. A formal call for papers will be made in early 2016.
We thank Kim Scott for his permission to use ‘Roze a Wail’ (quoted from the opening pages of That Deadman Dance) as our conference title.

Epistemologies of the South (Sydney 14 April 2016)

Epistemologies of the South

Epistemologies of the South

Epistemologies of the South: Mapping new directions in Australian social sciences

When: 9:00am – 5:00pm, Thursday 14 April 2016
Venue: Conference Room, 174 City Rd, Darlington Centre, University of Sydney

Conveners:
• Raewyn Connell
• Fran Collyer
To RSVP, please contact: Rebecca Pearse [email protected]

Calls to decolonize the social sciences have raised questions about the global and national politics of knowledge, the shifting structures of knowledge production, and the capacity of existing social theory to explain the world. At present, the place of Australian social science in the global postcolonial knowledge project is unclear. This workshop will bring together scholars developing postcolonial and Southern perspectives in the social and political sciences. The event will be an important moment in the development of Australian social science agendas that challenge Eurocentricism and carve out new directions for theory and research. Across the day, there will be focused discussion about current and future possibilities for research and collaboration.

The workshop is a free event. ECRs and HDR students are invited to apply for travel funding. Please send your CV and 200 word expressions of interest before 15 December 2016 to:  [email protected]

An-other way of being in the contemporary world

Reflections on Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum

Dr Riccardo Armillei
The Alfred Deakin Research Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University

Dr Eugenia Demuro
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University

‘Que todo lo que hagamos tenga una dosis de humanidad’
(Rigoberta Menchú Tum)

Rigoberta Menchú Tum

Rigoberta Menchú Tum

 

On Wednesday 29th of July, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr Rigoberta Menchú Tum delivered the UNESCO Chair for Cultural Diversity and Social Justice Annual Oration at Deakin University. Since its inception, the UNESCO Chair Program has promoted the establishment of hundreds of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks, serving the dual function of ‘think tanks’ and ‘bridge builders’ between academia, policy-makers, local communities, research and civil society (UNESCO 2013). The Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation was endorsed with this prestigious recognition in 2013, when Prof. Fethi Mansouri was awarded the UNESCO Chair in comparative research on ‘Cultural Diversity and Social Justice’. Due to her illustrious career in the struggle for Indigenous rights and ethno-cultural reconciliation, Rigoberta Menchú Tum was chosen, and kindly accepted the invitation, to be this year’s orator.

Rigoberta Menchú Tum was born in 1959 into a Quiche Mayan peasant family in Guatemala. A year later Guatemala was plunged into a civil war that lasted 36 years. It has been estimated that the civil war caused the death of 200,000 people, the displacement of more than half a million people, and the destruction of countless Mayan villages. The worst of the war came between 1979 and 1984, ‘during which over 90% of the total human rights violations were committed’ (Chamarbagwala & Morán 2011, p. 42). In 1982, following the military’s systematic oppression of any form of insurrection, and after the death of several members of her own family, Menchú Tum fled to neighboring Mexico. At that time, she was virtually unknown in her own country. It was after the death of her father in 1981—when he was burned alive by the Guatemalan army in the Spanish Embassy along with another thirty-eight members of the Committee for Peasant Unity (CUC)—, that Menchú Tum’s public visibility started to grow (Arias 2001). In 1983, she published I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala, a gripping document that charts her path to political awareness and which attracted international attention and courted controversy. Since then, she has become an icon of indigenous resistance, a leading advocate of indigenous rights and a voice in recognition and reconciliation processes, not only in Guatemala but globally. Her work has earned her several international awards, most notably, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 (The Nobel Foundation 1992).

At Deakin University, Menchú Tum spoke on the guiding principles of her philosophy and of her ancestral knowledge – a model for another way of thinking. Her message was to imbue all our actions with a dose of our humanity, and for those of us working within academia, to put ourselves in the service of the world and to work towards an ‘integral academic vision’. This approach entails three different dimensions: human beings are composed of a spiritual, a material and a social dimension, which need to be in equilibrium with each other. The emphasis on materialism, and the lack of consideration for the spiritual and social dimensions, has had disastrous consequences for the times we live in. This is grounded on the premise that ‘what happens to others happens to us’. In this way, the need to bring together the personal and the collective is an important means to enact community practises of mutual respect and cooperation. The practise of respecting others, of acknowledging and seeing others, must be central to our behaviour and code of ethics.

For Menchú Tum, the social is built on the practise of a true egalitarianism that emphasises our social selves within a collective, with the aspiration of bettering ourselves in the service of others. This, Menchú Tum cites as the creation of a ‘culture of peace’. According to Menchú Tum the biggest secret of human beings is humility, as it is through humility that we can experience gratefulness towards other living creatures and towards the earth. Without dismissing the material dimension–for we are material beings—we should be content to take only that which ‘fits in our hands’ and leave the rest to others, as when we accumulate beyond our needs we are taking what is meant for others. Menchú Tum’s words, derived from the accumulated wisdom of her Mayan ancestors, spoke of a ‘science for life’ that provides guiding principles to live and to address three pressing questions: Who am I? Where do I come from? And, Where am I going? According to Menchú Tum, answering these involves seeing, listening and feeling. Our eyes, she tells us, are not enough.

For social scientists this requires developing new standards and categories of ‘knowledge’, and to re-consider how knowledge is used and re-produced. For instance, what social scientists regard as Education (with a capital E) within a Western context, and by extension what often defines Indigenous peoples the world over as ‘uneducated’, excludes non-Western epistemological and ontological traditions, and fails to recognise and appreciate other ways of knowing. If Indigenous peoples measured knowledge only within this Western frame, they would loose other ancestral ways of knowing the world. In an academic context measured by outputs, citation indexes and our ability to generate commercial returns, the idea of academia in the service of humanity is a revolutionary stance. And with academic peer-review plagued by gatekeepers and conservatism, opening up research to new ways of knowing the world and accommodating ‘subaltern’ epistemologies is a radical call to action. Any response will require us to shift the value system of the academic endeavour away from competition and the status quo, and towards community, humanity and new possibilities.

Menchú Tum has been often characterised as a ‘subaltern voice’ and has herself become an ‘object’ of study under the intensive scrutiny of Western intellectual elites. In particular, as Arturo Arias (2002) has argued, the controversy regarding Menchú Tum’s testimonio should be interpreted as ‘a symbolic lesion (lesson?) about the unwillingness of hegemonic intellectuals to listen to subaltern ones’ (p. 481) – part of a broader tendency to distort and transform other voices with the aim of misrepresenting ‘subaltern’ narratives. At one point of her oration, recalling the torture of her family members, tears welted in her eyes, yet her message was an optimistic one: to promote a different ‘code of thinking’; to reconfigure ourselves in the contemporary world. Those of us working within humanities and social sciences, and more broadly within academia, cannot be impassive in the face of these requests. We are left pondering on the need to open up new horizons of inquiry and on how to accommodate different perspectives within our academic endeavours. Undoubtedly, this will also require listening and engaging with seriousness and respect to the wealth of Indigenous scholarship and other knowledges. Today, the still-apparent lack of an intellectual investment in this direction, as Rigoberta Menchú Tum stressed, is frustrating any real possibility to enact other ways of being in the world.

 

Bibliography

Arias, A 2001, ‘Rigoberta Menchú’s history within the Guatemalan context’, in A Arias (ed.), The Rigoberta Menchú Controversy, University Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, USA, pp. 3-28.

Arias, A 2002, ‘After the Rigoberta Menchú Controversy: Lessons Learned About the Nature of Subalternity and the Specifics of the Indigenous Subject’, MLN, vol. 117, no. 2, pp. 481-505.

Chamarbagwala, R & Morán, HE 2011, ‘The human capital consequences of civil war: Evidence from Guatemala’, Journal of Development Economics, vol. 94, no. 1, pp. 41–61.

The Nobel Foundation 1992, ‘Rigoberta Menchú Tum – Biographical’, Nobelprize.org, retrieved 3 August 2015, <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1992/tum-bio.html>.

UNESCO 2013, University Twinning and Networking, UNESCO, retrieved 11 August 2015, <http://www.unesco.org/en/university-twinning-and-networking/university-twinning-and-networking/>.

Gendered Modernities in Motion – Call for papers

Gendered Modernities in Motion. Literary and Cultural Interrogations of Gender and Sexuality in a Time of More Pronounced Transnational Dialogue

Special themed number of the Journal of Literary Studies

Call for contributions

You are kindly invited to submit your articles for a special themed number of the Journal of Literary Studies edited by Andries Visagie (University of Stellenbosch) and Martina Vitackova (University of Pretoria).

Gender and sexuality are often the terrains where conceptions of personhood are contested as societies evolve towards variegated responses to modernity. Fresh perspectives on gender and sexuality are needed for a more comprehensive picture of modernities that in contemporary culture are not only in constant motion but also thoroughly fluid. Today the view of a singular modernity is countered by a view that the will to autonomy and mastery associated with modernity is, in fact, much more multidimensional in different parts of the world and at different points in time, and the insertion of gender and/or sexuality into new understandings of modernity becomes the critical site for comparison.

The increased mobility brought about by technological innovation and the rapid exchange of ideas across the globe lead to the development of new gendered subjectivities, or, conversely, the entrenchment of older conceptions of gender and sexuality. The question is how literary and cultural production are contributing to contemporary thinking about modernity, and, in particular, how gender in literature and culture is giving shape to a modernity (or, indeed, modernities) that can no longer be limited to a singular trajectory rooted in European thought. Instead, contemporary phenomena associated with modernity (e.g. migration, new relations between species and the growing importance of cities) are producing a variety of vernaculars characterised both by hybrids and new zones of signification with pretensions to purity. The conference on “Gendered modernities in motion” invites critical responses from scholars interested in gender, sexuality and queer studies to unpack modernity as it is evolving in different parts of the world.

Some of the questions related to literature and culture that we aim to address include but are not limited to:

  • In what ways is modernity an ongoing phenomenon that conditions/interrogates intersections between race, class, gender and non-human animals?
  • How do literature and cultural practice in postcolonial societies and the global South deal with same sex desire in a modernizing world where long established traditions are brought into contact with new queer and other gendered identities?
  • How does migration to the more privileged North bring about new responses to variously configured gendered identities, including same sex practices?
  • To what extent do rituals of affiliation articulate with gendered practices in a modernising world?
  • What is the role of religion, belief and tradition in the formation of modern gendered identities?
  • To what extent have gendered urban geographies become the sites where modernities evolve?
  • How do gendered modernities articulate with the function of institutions, access to rights and citizenship?
  • What is the impact of hybridity on the evolving trajectories of gendered modernities in the North and the South?

Complete articles should be submitted electronically to [email protected] not later than 31st October. For Instructions for Authors and more information on the journal see: http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=rjls20#.VcH1C_ntjjU

We are looking forward to your contributions!

With kind regards,

Andries Visagie and Martina Vitackova