Call For Papers
AAG 2017 Boston (April 5-8, 2017)
Session title: Practices of Decolonization and Racial Justice in Geography
Session convenors: Amber Murrey (Clark University), Patricia Daley (University of Oxford), and Yonique Campbell (The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus)
During the early years of the 21st Century, we have witnessed powerful reassertions of the continuing political, social, and economic relevance of decolonizing projects within the university. Working within many intellectual paradigms (subaltern studies, area studies, feminist and anti-racist politicalecology, decolonial studies, critical race studies, anarchist thought), decolonizing scholars have advanced innovative projects to undermine privilege and power within institutions of higher learning. These efforts have included the bolstering of a sundry and powerful literature articulating critiques of racial, gender, andgeographical inequalities and their reverberations and influences within university spaces. These dialogues confront deeply rooted, complex, and multidimensional power structures that continue to effect and enforce long-standing colonial inequalities. There is a well-developed and self-critical scholarship withingeography that has called out the discipline’s whiteness (in our classrooms, in our curriculums, and in our reference lists), the discipline’s privileging of Anglophone voices and places, the discipline’s role in advancing colonial projects, and the discipline’s hetero-normative methodological orientations. Race and colonialism have been urgently re-centered in today’s universities. This re-centering is made all the more acute by the charged global atmosphere created by the US Presidential Election, by rising anti-Black and anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence across North America and Western Europe, by demands to confront long-standing racial injustices within policing practices, by the racialized effects of global climate change, and by growing global economic inequalities.
At the same time, powerful student movements and activist-intellectual projects—from #RhodesMustFall to #whyismycurriculumsowhite to #CadaanStudies to “I, Too, Am Harvard” to #BlackLivesMatter to #FeesMustFall—have demanded that university administration and faculty account for the entanglements and engagements of the university with(in) historical and contemporary forms of oppression (both on and off campus). Indeed, universities have long been spaces wherein larger social changes reverberate profoundly: spaces of resistance and struggle as well as oppression and suppression.
We have seen this again throughout more than 18-months of sustained #Oromo student struggles across the Oromo region of Ethiopia, where hundreds of student activists have been shot at, beaten, and disappeared, where Internet connectivity has been reduced, and where campuses have been occupied by military police officers. We have seen this again through the violent police crackdown on protestors at the University of Nairobi, which resulted in the indefinite closing of the institution. We have seen this again in campuses across the US and the UK, where students have disrupted sporting events and held die-ins and lie-ins to bring attention to racial inequalities within their campuses and communities, s but are met with opposition and condemnation. Again, as we drafted this CfP, news was breaking that police fired teargas and shot rubber bullets at students (protesting increased tuition fees) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard campus.
Call for Abstracts
For this AAG panel session, we invite activists, scholars, artists, and decolonizers to participate in dialogue on these and other efforts underway to decolonize in the university. We are excited by the prospect of creating meaningful conversations across paradigms and between traditions of knowledge, so that scholars advocating and practicing slow scholarship against/within neoliberalized/managerialized academic cultures connect, for example, with anti-racist scholars… or so that anti-racist slow scholars engage with anarchist feminist pedagogists and Pan-African political ecologists, and so on. Bringing together people who are actively involved in efforts to decolonize the university and the discipline of geography, we will reflect on (collective experiences of) decolonization as a critical practice. At the same time, we have witnessed co-optations of calls to “decolonize the university” within hegemonic institutional frames, laid out, as these calls have been, through normative and established hierarchies of place and knowledge within our unequal and still-colonized global higher education landscape. We will be attentive to such efforts to mainstream or instrumentalize intellectual decolonization(s) and calls for racial justice.
Towards these ends, we invite outlines of potential discussions (200 words) that address these and other related issues. Possible topics include:
- Creating and sustaining collaborative decolonizing academic cultures
- The role of scholars in decolonizing and/or colonizing projects
- Enactions and/or experimentations of pedagogical, curriculum, and classroom decolonization(s)
- Contemporary student movements and (re)configurations of power within university spaces
- Instrumentalization(s) of anti-racist or anti-colonial knowledge projects by hegemonic actors
- Racial justice, racial inequalities, and the discipline of geography (or the social sciences)
- Place-based reflections on the politics of appeals to “decolonize knowledge,” to “decolonize the university,” and/or to “decolonizegeography”
- Engagements with academic exclusions and punishment(s) within university spaces
If you would like to participate in this conversation, please send an outline of your ideas (200 words) to Patricia Daley (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yonique Campbell (email@example.com), and Amber Murrey (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Friday October 7th, 2016. We look forward to connecting with you.