All posts by mzantsi

In 2008, Paraguayan author predicted and described the Pope’s resignation

Life, at times, imitates art.

In the novel, “The Apocalypse of Benedict” (El Apocalipsis según Benedicto) published in 2008, prize-winning Paraguayan author, Esteban Bedoya, accurately describes the Pope’s retirement at the age of 85. Incredibly, one paragraph of Bedoya’s novel reappeared 2 years later in 2010, when Benedict XVI, in an interview (which was later published as a book) with a German journalist, expressed a possible condition for his retirement. At the end of Bedoya’s short novel, after his retirement, the ex-Pope was continued to be called “Benedict”.

In the first part, with an admirable writing style that is both precise and surgical, Bedoya tells a story, very similar to reality, of the public life of Benedict XVI, whose full name is Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, who after the death of John Paul II, was elected as the 265th Pope on the 19th May, 2005.

In the second part, Bedoya unleashes his creativity and, amongst other events, Benedict XVI resigns. What follows, is a recommendation for anyone who has yet to read the book: to get themselves a copy and read it.

But it’s not just by coincidence or chance that Bedoya is lead to such an accurate prediction. It is however, the development of the novel that drives and justifies this outcome.

The resignation and retirement of the Pope, detailed in Bedoya’s fiction, is now seen today repeated in reality and has taken many by surprise. Accordingly, use of this fiction should be highlighted as an effective method to interpret and explain what really occurs in the dark, yet elaborate corridors of the Vatican.

One of the extracts from the novel that accurately describes certain sentiments and reasons for retirement which have since been publicly expressed by Benedict XVI himself, years after Bedoya’s novel had been published, includes:

The press speculated and started rumours which spoke of the retirement of the Pope: Benedict himself had announced his intention to resign in the case of being unable to carry out such responsibility (“The Apocalypse of Benedict”, page 21).

Benedict’s sentiment in Bedoya’s 2008 novel, fits perfectly with the paragraph highlighted by the Basque newspaper, GARA, on 12th February 2013 which reads:

The protagonist himself (Joseph Ratzinger), in a book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald, confessed in November of 2010 his willingness to “resign due to illness, if physically, psychologically and spiritually (he) were not able to perform (his) job (in: http://preview.tinyurl.com/cy9az8y).

The idea is not to take away potential readers of the novel, so in it, after the resignation, the former Pope was continued to be referred to as Benedict…

In light of this, Cubadebate published the article: “Lombardi: We will continue to call him Benedict XVI” (in: http://tinyurl.com/bu7vd4r).

It’s worth highlighting the film “Habemus Papam”, by Italian film director Nani Moretti, which tells the fictional story of Cardinal Melville, who, when elected Pope, suffers a panic attack that prevents him from taking office. However, in the case of the Bedoya’s novel, both the identity and age of the Pope who decided to retire is actually depicted: the same Joseph Ratzinger – Benedict XVI, at age 85.

To think that a Pope can retire is not something extraordinary, even though the last time it happened was 598 years ago, but to actually predict the name and age of the Pope who has now, in real life, resigned and retired…. well that’s a different story.

In turn, author Frei Betto has so far written about five resignations, including that of Benedict XVI:

In the history of the Church there are four popes who resigned …: Benedict IX (01/05/1045), Gregory VI (20/12/1046), Celestine V (13/12/1294) and Gregory XII (04/07/1415). Benedict XVI will be the fifth, as of 28 February 2013 (in: http://tinyurl.com/bfdyls2).

Literature is also capable of writing the history of the future

In delving into universal literature and cases of authors who produced works considered clairvoyant, emerge the names of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury and Manuel Scorza.

Julio Venre was a successful French writer thanks to his ability to attract a very diverse readership. He captivated audiences by pioneering the science fiction genre and his works were not only popular in his time, but even still today.

He predicted with great accuracy in his fantastic tales the appearance of some of the products generated by the technological advances of the twentieth century; TV, helicopters, submarines and spaceships (in: http://tinyurl.com/ylmn3om).

Herbert George Wells was a writer, novelist, historian and British philosopher. Wells wrote science fiction novels such as “The Time Machine” (1895), whose original title was “The Chronic Argonauts”, “The Invisible Man” (1897), “The War of the Worlds” (1898) and “The First Men in the Moon “(1901).

George Orwell, under the pseudonym of Eric Blair, was a British writer, and wrote the novel “1984” in 1948. Perhaps this title arose as a rearrangement of the last digits of the year to place the work in the future. It is often cited as a counterexample to a utopia (an imagined place in which everything is perfect), with “dystopian fiction” (an imagined place in which everything is undesirable). In this book the concept of “Big Brother” emerges; a police state which is totalitarian, vigilant and repressive, as it used to be three decades ago, due to results of projects like “ECHELON” (UKUSA Security Agreement: United States, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand).

Ray Douglas Bradbury, American science fiction writer, wrote fantasy stories with a poetic prose such as; “The Martian Chronicles” (1950), “The Golden Apples of the Sun” (1953), “A Medicine for Melancholy” (1960), “The Machineries of Joy” (1964) “Ghosts of the New” (1969), and among his novels, the unforgettable “Fahrenheit 451” (1953), is also highlighted as part of his dystopian fiction.

Manuel Scorza, excellent writer, poet and social activist from Peru, wrote the monumental epic series “The Silent War”, composed of five novels: “Drums for Rancas” (1970); “Garabombo, the Invisible” (1972), “The Sleepless Rider “(1976), “The Ballard of Agapito Robles”(1976) and “Requiem for a Lightning Bolt” (1978). In the latest of the series, Scorza wrote about certain characters and their actions which, two years later, came true in a few sociopolitical cases in Peru.

However, in the case of “The Apocalypse of Benedict” Esteban Bedoya went a step further, venturing into unchartered territory and creating a piece of literature which, five years ago, described with amazing accuracy something that then was the future and today is now the present.

International recognition of Bedoya’s nouvelle format

In some proposals for the classification of novel literary works nouvelle or novella is a story of a lesser extent than a novel and is defined by Julio Cortázar as a “genre somewhere between a story and a novel.”

With respect to the number of words in a nouvelle, some authors set their limits between 30,000 and 50,000 words, but it is not an inflexible rule. Two nouvelle works are: “The Tracker” by Julio Cortázar and “Perjury in Snow” by Adolfo Bioy Casares.

This extension which responds to the nouvelle format is apparently where Esteban Bedoya is most comfortable. “The Apocalypse of Benedict” in its Spanish version has 13,389 words and in English, 14,756. His excellent nouvelle will be republished under the title of “The Ear Collector” and in its Spanish version will be 35,914 words.

The novel “The Apocalypse of Benedict” is not limited to the accuracy of the story and guessing what happens now in 2013, it has outstanding literary merit pertaining to both the structure and the level of creativity. In fact, for this work Bedoya received the 2010 PEN America/Edward and Lily Tuck Prize for Paraguayan Literature.

As a writer, Bedoya has also received awards from the Academy of American Poets (1982) and publisher, Helguero (1983).

His much publicized novel “The Bear Pit” (2003), was translated into French under the title “La fosse aux Ours” (2005), the German title “Der Bärengraben” (2009) and published in France by La dernière Goutte.

His novel “The Evil Ones” (“Les Mal-aimés”) (2006) was translated and published in France as by L’Haremattan and the novel, now titled “The Ear Collector” will be translated into French and published in France by La dernière Goutte.

“The Apocalypse of Benedict” is being translated into English for publication in the United States.

After ten years of his creative work being published, Esteban Bedoya’s writing continues to increase in creativity, with genuine stories that are not only worthwhile reads, but are enjoyed with the same pleasure as that of the best of Augusto Roa Bastos.

Article by Vicente Brunetti from Kaos en la Red (translated by Gabrielle Hall).

DIFFERENCE AND REPETITION: REFLECTIONS ON THE CURRENT SOUTH AFRICAN MOMENT by Achille Mbembe

Commenting on the South African predicament in a recent opinion piece in The Mail and Guardian, Mbembe wrote: “A planetary recoding of situations of misery, debt and enforced idleness is underway. Today, black people are still paying the price of yesterday’s racial discounts, without which white privilege would have been but a mirage. The next decade will see increasing conflict between market forces and democracy, between the rule of property and the rule of the poor. The capacity of the South African State to mediate between the rights of the propertyless and the requirements of capital accumulation will be severely tested”. In this lecture, Mbembe will reflect on the current South African political moment. He will also assess the crisis of culture which afflicts South Africa’s democracy and the extent to which contemporary struggles for emancipation truly transcend the law of repetition which Frantz Fanon foresaw as the biggest threat to difference and newness.

Achille MBEMBE is a Research Professor in History and Politics at WiSER and a Visiting Professor in the Romance Studies Department and The Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University. He is a co-Convenor of The Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism (JWTC) and the Editor of the digital cultural magazine The Johannesburg Salon. He is the author of numerous books in French and is mostly known in the English-speaking world for his classic, On the Postcolony (Bil, Venter/Altron Award, 2005). His latest book, Sortir de la grande nuit (Editions La Decouverte, Paris, 2010) has sold more than 10,000 copies and will be published by Columbia University Press in 2013.

Thursday, 14th March 2013
6:00-7:30pm
WISER Seminar Room, 6th Floor, Richard Ward Building,
East Campus, Wits University

Refreshments will be served

Please RSVP to [email protected]

What is the role of geography in sociopolitics?

Lorenzo Veracini

Senior Research Fellow, Swinburne University, Melbourne

‘North’ and ‘South’ are simultaneously geographical and sociopolitical categories. Colonialism – a hierarchical relationship that is premised on the superordination of a metropole that is premised on the subordination of a periphery – is fundamentally involved in both dialectics: in the first case, because it is premised on a distinction that only geographical displacement makes possible; in the second case, because it is a relationship – it defines self and other as it embeds them in an inherently unequal relationship.

Settler colonialism – a particular form of colonialism where the colonisers “come to stay” and are founders of political orders that are endowed with a specific self-constituent sovereign capacity – is a manipulation of both these categories and their ordering; this is why it should feature in any South-South dialogue.

Geographically, settler colonialism is premised on a displacement that is ultimately a non-displacement. Settlers transform geography and a capacity to do so is a measure of their success. As well as founders of political orders, therefore, they are destroyers of ecological ones (and therefore builders of new landscapes). Indeed, it is exactly because they are able to destroy existing ecosystems that they are so effective at establishing durable political regimes. As they consume places at a fierce rate and routinely dissolve distance, they Europeanise space. No wonder that the old term for settler colonialism was ‘planting’; their countries look like the ones they have left behind.

Of course settlers need to manipulate the terms of geographical representation as well. Wakefield’s imaginary goodbye to his grandmother is a case in point. As she mentioned how far New Zealand was, he tore the map, connected the opposed margins, and turned it upside down to place the settler colony to be at the centre of his representational system. James Vetch’s 1838 Map of Australia, another geographically imaginative act of settler colonial evocation, showed Spain and Portugal tucked in at the bottom.

This notion, however, is much older and Jean-Pierre Purry, colonial adventurer and serial promoter of (failed) settlements, tried to establish colonies in Australia, South Africa and North America because he assumed in an act of geographical speculation (he was a compulsive speculator) that colonisation – the reproduction of a self-supporting and virtuous sociopolitical bodies – would only be successful at around 33 degrees latitude, the latitude of biblical Canaan. These are all examples of decentering acts of geographical manipulation that envisage a north in the south.

Sociopolitically, settler colonialism also turns the metropole-periphery opposition upside down. This is why we can talk about a settler “revolution”. Settler colonialism establishes immediately autonomous sociopolitical bodies that, in the future, will be entirely independent of the ties that bind it to an originating locale. Settler colonialism is thus colonialism without permanent external subordination (settler control of indigenous alterities is not exactly external – that is why the notion of internal colonialism emerges in settler colonial contexts and is eventually reimported to Europe). Settler colonialism produces islands of autonomously colonising ‘North’ in the global ‘South’.

Question

How do we narrate the lack of exact fit between geography and sociopolitics when we approach the North-South divide (beside settler colonialism, the topic of my intervention, isn’t there plenty of ‘North’ in the ‘South’ and even much more ‘South’ in the ‘North’)?

¿Cómo narrar la falta de ajuste exacto entre la geografía y sociopolítica cuando nos acercamos a la división Norte-Sur (al lado de colonialismo, el tema de mi intervención, ¿no hay un montón de “Norte” en el “Sur”, y más aún mucho ‘Sur’ en el ‘Norte’)?

A statement and question offered to participants of the symposium Diálogo Trans-Pacífico y Sur-Sur: Perspectivas Alternativas a la Cultura y Pensamiento Eurocéntrico y Noroccidental, University of Santiago, 8-9 January 2013

How to move with honour between laws of the south?

Shaun McVeigh

Associate Professor, Law School, University of Melbourne

I welcome the opportunities that this congress creates to discuss and reflect on many of the relationships formed across the South.

For many Australia is viewed politically, juridically and economically as an outpost of the North. The Australian state has done little to alter the colonial forms of belief and government by which Australia was established as a sovereign nation. It continues the expropriation of the life, land, and laws of the South. However, there are also many involved in assisting Australia take up its place again as a pacific nation of the South, a nation able to live with justly with its own laws and one capable of honouring the laws of the Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples of the South. At the centre of this lies a concern with the conduct of lawful relations. For the non-Indigenous peoples of Australia and elsewhere who live by laws inherited from the North it is necessary to think again about what it means to live lawfully and to honour laws. Only one part of this will be concerned with human duties and human rights.

At present as a jurist and jurisprudent I am involved in two projects engaging a lawful South. One, with Kevin Murray, involves developing ways in which designers from Australia might engage with artisans and crafts people of the south in ways that create honourable relations of exchange and trade. Another, with Sundhya Pahuja, involves maintaining international law as a meeting places of laws rather than as an administrative domain of the North.

Question

How do we conduct ourselves with honour as we move within and between the laws of the South?

¿Cómo nos comportamos con honor como nos movemos dentro y entre las leyes del Sur?

A statement and question offered to participants of the symposium Diálogo Trans-Pacífico y Sur-Sur: Perspectivas Alternativas a la Cultura y Pensamiento Eurocéntrico y Noroccidental, University of Santiago, 8-9 January 2013

Comaroffs: ‘Theory from the South

A recent journal article from the Comaroffs rallies the cause for a southern perspective. But it leaves much work to be done in developing the critical tools that might achieve this.

‘The Global South’ has become a shorthand for the world of non-European, postcolonial peoples. Synonymous with uncertain development, unorthodox economies, failed states, and nations fraught with corruption, poverty, and strife, it is that half of the world about which the ‘Global North’ spins theories. Rarely is it seen as a source of theory and explanation for world historical events. Yet, as many nation-states of the Northern Hemisphere experience increasing fiscal meltdown, state privatization, corruption, and ethnic conflict, it seems as though they are evolving southward, so to speak, in both positive and problematic ways. Is this so? In what measure? What might this mean for the very dualism on which such global oppositions rest? Drawing on recent research, primarily in Africa, this paper touches on a range of familiar themes—law, labor, and the contours of contemporary capitalism—in order to ask how we might understand these things with theory developed from an ‘ex-centric’ vantage. This view renders some key problems of our time at once strange and familiar, giving an ironic twist to the evolutionary pathways long assumed by social scientists.

Jean Comaroff and John L. Comaroff ‘Theory from the South: Or, how Euro-America is Evolving Toward Africa’ Anthropological Forum Vol. 22, No. 2, July 2012, 113–131

PNG Symposium on Traditional Knowledge

SAEM MAJNEP MEMORIAL SYMPOSIUM ON TRADITIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL KNOWLEDGE

To be held at the University of Goroka, 31 October – 2 November 2012

CALL FOR EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST

Ian Saem Majnep was a member of the Kalam tribe from the Kaironk Valley in Madang Province who was born around 1948. He worked closely with the late Ralph Bulmer, the Foundation Professor of Anthropology at the University of PNG, and also with Andrew Pawley, now Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at the Australian National University, on the documentation of the Kalam language and traditional environmental knowledge. Saem’s work on the documentation of traditional Kalam knowledge was recognized through the award of an honorary doctorate by the University of PNG in 1989. The Saem Majnep Memorial Symposium (‘the Symposium’) is named in honour one of PNG’s first internationally recognized indigenous knowledge experts, who sadly passed away in 2007. The basic aim of the Symposium is to enhance the capacity of universities in PNG to train students in the appreciation and documentation of traditional environmental knowledge, engage them in deeper processes of interaction with the local holders of such knowledge, and involve them in wider processes of biocultural education, expression, and revitalization.

Background

Indigenous knowledge holders are increasingly demanding recognition for their practices without that recognition undermining the position of their knowledge as a socially embedded process. Recognition of Intellectual Property Rights has proved to be an inadequate route to deal with this issue. Whatever ‘indigenous knowledge’ was and is, it is also undergoing transformation in the contemporary world – it does not exist in a vacuum, but is embedded in the changing relationships internal to indigenous communities, and between members of these communities and external interest groups. The development of new models for the documentation and dissemination of such knowledge must therefore be based on recognition of at least three issues:

  1. The growing awareness of external threats to the reproduction of indigenous knowledge and practices, offset by a growing awareness in indigenous communities of the importance of preserving these things for future generations.
  2. The desire of indigenous peoples to present themselves to the outside world as knowledge holders and to gain recognition of their stewardship of lands and environments based on relations of mutual constitution rather than alienable possession.
  3. The opportunities presented by new technologies for recording and transmitting indigenous knowledge and practices in digitally mediated forms.

There is growing evidence that most of the students now entering universities in PNG come from urban family backgrounds, have little experience of rural village life, and are largely unfamiliar with traditional environmental or ecological knowledge (TEK). There is already some provision for the design and delivery of courses relating to TEK in the PNG university system, but much more could be done to improve the resources available for the teaching of such courses. Although some university graduates find employment in non-government or community-level organizations that have some interest in the documentation or revaluation of TEK, they have often received very little in the way of relevant training while at university. The same is true of the vast majority of graduates who find employment in organizations that have no such interest. As the years go by, an increasing proportion of the individuals who count as members of the national elite are losing all connection with the forms of knowledge possessed by village-level experts who commonly have very little in the way of formal education. Some provision is already made for the teaching of TEK in PNG’s secondary school curriculum, but there is again a notable shortage of suitable curriculum materials. The University of Goroka can play a key role in helping to fill this gap because of its role in training and current and future secondary school teachers.

Outcomes of the Symposium

We expect the short-term outcomes of the Saem Majnep Memorial Symposium to include:

  1. A review of what has so far been achieved in the documentation and dissemination of TEK in and from PNG, with particular focus on partnerships between scientific and local experts, and on the relationship between research and education.
  2. A review of new technologies for documentation and dissemination of TEK at local, national and international scales, with appropriate recognition of issues involving intellectual property rights.
  3. An outline for the first edition of a textbook or manual to be used in training tertiary students (including secondary school teachers) in practical techniques for the documentation and dissemination of TEK.
  4. Plans for development of additional funding proposals for development of institutional capacity and resources to undertake such documentation and dissemination through the formal education system in PNG.
  5. Plans to connect this type of activity with the integration of TEK into local-level land use and resource management systems in PNG.

Longer term plans to build institutional capacity to document and disseminate TEK in PNG will be based on these short-term outcomes. All participants will be asked to formally approve the use of their contributions to the Symposium in any future publication or in any document used for teaching purposes.

Organisation of the Symposium

Key participants in the Symposium will include:

  • Scientific and local experts who have been involved in the documentation of TEK in PNG through partnerships of the kind pioneered by Ralph Bulmer and Saem Majnep;
  • Individuals with particular expertise and experience in teaching university students about TEK in PNG;
  • Individuals with particular expertise and experience in developing the use of new technologies for the documentation and dissemination of TEK; and
  • People with a professional interest in the potential use of TEK as a means to promote the conservation of biological diversity or the management of local ecosystems in PNG.

The Symposium organisers are planning to invite approximately 30 participants from outside Goroka, including 10 local experts in TEK from Eastern Highlands and surrounding provinces with road connections to Goroka. In addition, we plan to invite another 20 participants from Goroka itself, including UOG staff and staff of partner organisations based in Goroka.

The Symposium will be advertised in PNG’s national newspapers, as well as by means of posters in UOG, in order to boost attendance by interested members of the public (including schoolteachers) from Goroka and surrounding areas, as well as by interested staff and students of UOG (including school-teachers taking in-service courses). Part if not all of the Symposium proceedings will be conducted in Tok Pisin in order to facilitate the participation of local indigenous knowledge experts who do not speak English.

A Symposium Steering Committee (SSC) has already been established at UOG. The SSC is responsible for the identification of individuals to be invited to the Symposium and for sending out the invitations, but is receiving support and advice from partner organisations in the identification of individuals to be invited to the Symposium from outside Goroka.

Expressions of Interest

If you would like to be funded to participate in the Symposium, please send a short (maximum 200-word abstract) of the topic on which you would like to speak and an even shorter (maximum 100-word) note about your past and current interest in the documentation and dissemination of TEK in PNG to:

If you are able to fund your own travel to Goroka and would like to participate as an observer or discussant, please just send a short note about your past and current interest in the documentation and dissemination of traditional environmental knowledge in PNG.

A Symposium program will be developed when the list of likely expert participants has been established and they have indicated the topics on which they would like to speak.

We aim to have a draft program ready for circulation before the end of September, so would like to receive expressions of interest by Friday 21 September at the latest.

Kim Scott: “Language & Nation”

An important event not to miss if you are in Melbourne on 25 July:

Kim Scott: “Language & Nation”
Hosted by Australian Indigenous Studies, School of Culture and Communication, Faculty of Arts

Professor Kim Scott of Curtin University is  one of Australia’s most signi?cant authors.   His major works That Deadman Dance (2011),  Benang (1999) and True Country (1993) have  received a host of literary prizes including the Miles Franklin Literary Award, Victorian  Premier’s Literary Award, Commonwealth  Writers Prize, and Western Australian  Premier’s Book Award. Professor Scott has also been named West Australian of the Year  2012 for his work in Indigenous language regeneration as well as his contributions to Australian literature.

Professor Scott’s fiction is uncompromising in its identification and contestation of  reader expectations of Indigenous writing  and authorship. His command of Nyoongah,  Aboriginal, Australian and English literary forms produces complex narratives about  intimacy, identity and history in the Australian context. This combined with his work in the  area of Indigenous language revitalisation creates new possibilities for communication  and expression. Professor Scott’s masterful use of genre and social commentary calls  for a new type of reader who is willing to engage in breaking down existing codes of  representation, politics and repression that  continue to operate in contemporary Australian  society.

In a wide-ranging address Professor Scott will bring together his concerns with Indigenous cultural renewal though language revitalisation and the role of literature in an evolving vision of Australia in the twenty-first century. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012
7.00pm – 8.00pm
The Basement Theatre
Spot Building
The University of Melbourne
PARKVILLE  VIC  3010
Admission is free. Bookings are required. Seating is limited.
To register visit: http://alumni.online.unimelb.edu.au/kimscott

International Conference on “University Leadership for Integrating Knowledge Diversity for Sustainability”

Sub-themes: Regenerating Social Science with (1) Locally Relevant (Indigenous) Knowledge Systems and (2) Sustainability Principles
October 5-7, 2012
Venue: AlBukhary International University, Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia (www.aiu.edu.my)
Conference organisers: AiU and Multiversity
Suppported by Ministry for Higher Education, Malaysia/AKEPT – Higher Education Leadership Training Academy

The International Conference on “University Leadership for Integrating Knowledge Diversity for Sustainability” scheduled for October 2012 is taking place at a most turbulent time in the lives of universities and higher education.

Several universities have been seriously considering disassociating themselves progressively from decades-long dependence on imported Western academic frameworks and to replace these with more productive interactions with diverse knowledge traditions including local or indigenous knowledge available within local, regional and national arenas. In contrast with Western knowledge frameworks, local knowledge systems carry inbuilt sustainability features.

At the global level, despite numerous declarations and initiatives to formulate and implement more just, resilient, environmentally sustainable policies, change has come slowly, in fact too slowly, for the planet.

Post Rio+20, higher education (HE) was to play a more critical leadership role in the changing intellectual landscape especially in the effort to redefine the paradigm of knowledge and learning at least at the institutional level and bring this in line with sustainability directives.

However, the HE system is not finding it easy to transform itself to meet the requirements of the new construct required with a clear change in purpose. The challenges expected include the extensive reorganisation and transformation of knowledge to enable universities to allow for a more integrated approach to address urgent and serious global issues and overall strengthening of the capacity of social science to generate socially useful, culturally harmonious and relevant knowledge and information.  Hence the proposed October Conference.

The new approach which the October Conference seeks to host proposes to cut across conventional knowledge disciplines and is encompassed within a holistic framework which includes careful study, revalidation and use of thousands of non-western technologies, values and wisdom that have been generated in diverse, local, national and regional contexts.  

The conference follows closely on the themes of the international conference on “Decolonising Our Universities” held by Universiti Sains Malaysia in June 2011. However, where the earlier conference dwelt largely on a comprehensive critique of the existing – admittedly Eurocentric – university system and the need to change, the AiU October Conference proposes to transcend those boundaries and provide leadership in the challenging sphere of revalidating culture-based knowledges, in addition to proposing alternative knowledge structures that further sustainability and sustainable livelihoods, thereby strengthening social science.

The AiU International conference is thus designed to tackle two fundamental sub-themes:

  • Higher education for sustainability which will look at the new construct with a clear change in purpose to transform existing knowledge structures in social science to allow for a more integrated approach to sustainability problems facing the planet.
  • Examination, revalidation and use of indigenous knowledge, wisdom and values within the university (higher education) system leading to serious consideration and integration of these knowledge systems at the national, regional and global levels.
  • The conference is inviting international and local experts and practitioners to discuss the sub themes with a view to:
  • Appraise the existing knowledge system within the framework of sustainable development directives of the international community and to generate an informed critique, as it is widely accepted that conventional frameworks of higher education and development are unsustainable and that the existing structure of knowledge generation in social science does not lead to sustainable practice.
  • Examine current gaps in the support of sustainable education and discuss alternative knowledge constructs, especially indigenous knowledge, to fill these gaps.
  • Achieve a credible target of integrating indigenous knowledge, wisdom and values with conventional social science in order to implement the internationally endorsed directives relating to sustainability.

The conference will be of two full days’ duration on both the proposed themes and will host approximately 100 people both from the international arena and from Malaysia. It will commence on 5th October (Friday afternoon) and conclude on 7th evening. There will be an official opening ceremony and two key note addresses for each of the sub-themes.

Call for Papers: South-South Symposium (7-10 January 2013)

The symposium South-South Dialogue: Alternative Perspectives to Western Culture and Thought will be held as part of the Third International Congress Sciences, Technologies and Cultures: A Dialogue Among The Disciplines of Knowledge, 7-10 January 2013, at University of Santiago of Chile (Usach). For more information, see link: www.internacionaldelconocimiento.org.

In recent years, perspectives have emerged that contest the universal status of Western knowledge. Post-colonial thinking has recently been joined by new alternative paradigms, including Peripheral Thought, Southern Theory, Indigenous Studies and Decolonialism. Each posits the possibility of a knowledge that is particular to the South. This provides a basis for a south-south dialogue about alternatives or critiques of Western knowledge, involving researchers and intellectuals from non-Western regions (Latin America, Oceania, Africa and Asia).

Common questions emerge:

  • Is Western thought to be superseded by these new paradigms?
  • What are themes that are shared in common across the South?
  • Is the goal of knowledge for its own sake specific to the West?
  • How can we implement an ecological approach to knowledge?
  • Is knowledge relative to the location from where it emerges?

This symposium welcomes contributions to the evolution of critical approaches to Western thought. This includes reflections on colonisation, independence movements, notion of ‘Third World’ and ‘Developing Countries’, ‘Global South’ and neo-liberalism. As well as critiques of the West, this symposium aims to foster constructive alternatives that reflect the values of participating countries.

Expression of interest

The abstract must be sent to e-mails of coordinators with following specifications:

  • Deadline: 30 June 30th 2012
  • Length: 200 words maximum
  • Academic or professional status (PhD, Master, professor, field of professional activity, etc.)
  • Organisation
  • Send to: southdialogue@gmail.com
Final paper

The paper must be sent to coordinators´ e-mails with following specifications:

  • Deadline: 31 August 2012
  • Length: 15 pages (Times New Roman, size 12, double spacing).
Entry fee
  • Academics and professionals from research organizations: 95US$
  • Post graduate Students (Master or PhD): 70 US$
  • Undergraduate Students: 30 US$
  • Participants without presentation: 30US$
Coordinators
Links