RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2019

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165 Furthering the Decolonising Debate in Geography: International perspectives (1)
Affiliation Developing Areas Research Group
Convenor(s) Sarah Radcliffe (University of Cambridge, UK)
Chair(s) Sarah Radcliffe (University of Cambridge, UK)
Timetable Thursday 29 August 2019, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Room Sherfield/SALC Building, Room 7
Session abstract The panel aims to provide an open and inclusive space in which to discuss decolonising geography - in all its multiple facets, arenas, agendas and actors -- as an international endeavour. Decolonizing debates have taken on varying emphases, vocabularies, interpretive frameworks, and pedagogic priorities across the world. For instance the debates in Brazilian geography (do Carmo Cruz & Araujo 2017) draw on distinct disciplinary concepts and histories of practice to those found in the UK.
Decolonising is often understood as a process, rather than a singular endpoint of achieving decolonial knowledge and relations. Decolonizing can hence be understood as a framework that starts from a critical analysis and praxis in our present world characterised by its colonial-modern configurations of power, labour, intersectional inter-subjective relations, racialization, knowledge production and relations with nature. In this sense, decolonizing geography is an ongoing contested and uneven process, that has to tackle engrained explanations of the world as much as the institutions and disciplinary structures we work in (at times working against).
Given the rapidly-shifting and richly proliferating debates around decolonizing geography, the panel invites engagement with a broad range of issues and questions:
• What does decolonizing geography in the classroom mean in different parts of the world? Does the curriculum have to be white? What strategies exist to nurture solidarity pedagogies and multiepistemic literacy?
• To what extent do decolonizing geography debates reflect Anglophone and North Atlantic debates and blindness? How have marginal, subaltern and decentring 'southern' geographies emerged and challenged metropolitan disciplinary conventions?
• Decolonizing is often described as happening inside and outside the university. To what extent is that happening around the world and with what impacts?
• What political and intellectual strategies are needed to counter coloniality? Are these strategies 'translatable' between different parts of the world?
• Is the decolonising debate shifting how and why research is done? Does this vary across sub-disciplines? What tools, writings and praxis have been inspirational?
• How can we conceptualise and understand the politics of circulating 'regionally specific' outcomes of decolonising debates in forums such as this panel? For whom do we exchange these ideas - how can we place it within a solidarity network rather than fall into the trap of academic extractivism?
• What might be the next steps - reading lists on google docs (which language? by sub-disciplines?), international exchanges; purpose and destination of field classes?
Linked Sessions Furthering the Decolonising Debate in Geography: International perspectives (2)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: ac2019@rgs.org
Decolonising Development Geography
Jessica Hope (University of Bristol, UK)
In discussing decolonising development geography, I will draw primarily upon work being done on Latin American. Specifically, on new conceptualisations of development (and natures) that articulate indigenous ontologies in critique of dominant and hegemonic logics and practices. In examining the work of development geographers and political ecologists, I aim to question how this work engages with marginal and subaltern geographies, what this means for the core institutions and agendas of development, as well as some of the politics and consequences of researching and critiquing this emergent decolonising agenda. Finally, I will discuss examples of decolonising praxis in English universities and development institutions.
Trespassing In/On the Decolonial
Oliver Kramsch (Radboud University, The Netherlands)
Culling ‘international perspectives’ on the working through of post- and decolonial strategies in the academy assumes implicitly a nationally situated subject capable of speaking with (often gendered) authority in a domesticated national language on the intellectual dynamics of a national intellectual ‘scene’. This is not the case in The Netherlands, where an ascendant generation of ‘maroon academics’ – academics fitfully integrated into the Dutch professional-academic power matrix and originally hailing outside of the European Union proper – now constitute the leading edge of post- and decolonial debates in the country, operating largely under the radar of what I have called the nationally-administered Funded University Knowledge Complex (FUKC). In the context of a wider cultural-institutional milieu still passively aggressive to postcolonial problematics – especially at Dutch university, where such themes are frequently perceived as foreign imports irrelevant to the contemporary Netherlands and applicable exclusively to Anglo-American realities (Hooper & Kramsch, 2007) – members of this generation engage in what I shall call trespassing in/on the decolonial. Three forms of trespassing are canvassed in this paper: multiple linguistic registers, trans-continental entangled theoretical dialogues; and personal and spatial accountability towards decolonial futures.
Aquatic spaces from the perspective of a hemispheric feminist decoloniality/ Espacios acuáticos desde una descolonialidad feminista hemisférica
Sofia Zaragocin (Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador)
Reflections on feminist struggles for territory in Latin America rarely include the theme of water. Given the region's serious conflicts over the world's largest water resources, feminist territorialities discussions must by necessity engage with the theme of hydraulic territoriality. Water conflicts are largely driven by the expansion of extractivist frontiers (mining, energy, export agriculture and forestry), and have been the subject of feminist debates around territory. In this presentation, I analyse various approaches to society-environment-water links, drawing what I term three hydraulic epistemologies, namely hydrosocial processes (Boelens et al 2017), water's eco-geo-politics (Bolados et al 2017) and water-territory (Panez 2017). In dialogue with these hydraulic epistemologies, I engage with decolonial perspectives to outline a hemispheric feminist decoloniality of aquatic spaces.
Las reflexiones sobre las luchas feministas por el territorio en América Latina rara vez incluyen al agua. Siendo esta la región con mayor cantidad de recursos hídricos en el mundo, y con serios conflictos sobre si, se vuelve necesario llevar a las discusiones actuales sobre territorialidades feministas al tema de la territorialidad hídrica. El conflicto por el agua se debe en gran parte a la expansión de las fronteras extractivas (por ejemplo, mediante la actividad minera-energética, agroexportadora y forestal), procesos que se han venido analizando desde los debates feministas sobre el territorio en América Latina desde algún tiempo atrás. En este texto analizaré varias formas de comprender el vínculo entre sociedad-ambiente-agua y su relación con los debates contemporáneos desde las territorialidades feministas. Las propuestas aludidas en este escrito son en relación a procesos hidro-sociales (Boelens, et al. 2017), la eco-geo-política-del agua (Bolados et al. 2017) y el agua-territorio (Panez, 2017); que desde mi modo de ver, son tres marcos conceptuales que empatan con las propuestas hechas desde las territorialidades feministas. Desde estas tres entradas, que las he agrupado como epistemologías hídricas, dialogaré con propuestas descoloniales en torno a los debates feministas territoriales para llegar a una descolonialidad feminista hemisférica de espacios acuáticos.
The audacity of the ocean: Pacific positionalities in geography in the Antipodes
Yvonne Underhill-Sem (University of Auckland, New Zealand)
In this space I want to examine three decolonial moments in recent years where the trauma of colonisation was sutured back into contemporary geographies in ways that strengthened the ties that bind. These moments were:
• in a conference seminar involving over 30 members of the geography community mostly from Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand
• in a graduate classroom following the tragic killing by a white supremicist of 51 members of the Muslim community at their Friday prayers in Christchurch, Aotearoa/New Zealand
• in the negotiation of a research project to make Pacific gender research discoverable and located in the Pacific
These three moments offer insights into the practice of recalibrating ethno-political positionalities fully cognisant of tensions in decolonial imperatives of the Global South.
Challenges of the Decolonising Project and Some Solutions
Mfaniseni Sihlongonyane (Wits University, South Africa)
It is common knowledge that many countries in the developing world especially in Africa have failed to develop equitably in order to realise social justice because of the constraints of the colonial legacy. The development of many countries in the continent is an extension of the colonial fiat in the post-colonial era and the rhetoric of decolonising often well-articulated in the period after independence was sheer rhetoric. Over the decades, decolonising has come up in bouts of arguments emphasising new vocabularies, interpretive frameworks and pedagogic priorities across the world. However, the decolonising project remains incomplete and a contentious one. This discussion seeks to explore the challenges of decolonising in the continent and in South Africa in particular. The paper looks at the experience of South Africa since 1994 and identifies some possible solutions to the challenges.