Graduate conference on Postcolonial Studies – Frankfurt, June 2011

Might be of interest:


Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders”

Goethe-University Frankfurt


Call for Papers


International Graduate Conference


Colonial Legacies, Postcolonial Contestations:



16th – 18th June 2011

Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany

Organizer: Prof. Dr. Nikita Dhawan

In the past two decades postcolonial perspectives are increasingly influential in the Social Sciences and the Humanities. In particular, postcolonial-feminist interventions have contributed decisively by revealing the pivotal status and stubborn persistence of colonial gendering and racialisation processes for the structuring of the postcolonial late-capitalist world. The epistemic and material conditions that underpinned European colonialism continue to shape current socio-political constellations and global relations; so that the formal end of European colonial rule has not translated into decolonisation of the global North and the global South. If the Social Sciences and the Humanities seek to overcome this violent and exploitative historical legacy in order to contribute to the processes of decolonisation, they need to adopt a critical perspective that involves a reassessment of their disciplinary powers and responsibilities.

It is against this backdrop that the Frankfurt Research Center for Postcolonial Studies (FRCPS) seeks to contribute to ongoing debates in the Social Sciences and the Humanities by hosting the International Graduate Conference on Postcolonial Studies. Conference presentations are sought particularly to examine those fields in which postcolonial theory has largely been underrepresented. Postcolonial-feminist theory comprises a key point of reference for the conference, because it has simultaneously led to an increasing differentiation and crucial revisions both within Postcolonial Studies as well as within Gender and Women’s Studies.

The conference’s goals are twofold: first, we seek to illustrate the epistemological and methodological relevance of a postcolonial (feminist) perspective within the various disciplines of the Social Sciences and the Humanities by example of concrete research projects; second, we aim to facilitate (trans-)disciplinary networking. The conference is conceived of as a graduate conference for early career researchers; contributions with a reference to postcolonial (feminist) theory from advanced students, doctoral candidates and postdocs in the Social Sciences and the Humanities are most welcome.




Patricia Hill Collins (University of Maryland)

Dipesh Chakrabarty (University of Chicago)

The following sections will be accepting paper proposals:

Section: 1 – Third World and Postcolonial Approaches to International Relations


Panel 1: Political Practice and Third World/Feminist Approaches to International Institutions

(Panel Convenors: Katja Freistein/Philip Liste)

Panel 2: Saving Brown Women? Deliberating the “Post” in Post-colonialism and Post-conflict (Panel Convenor: Rirhandu Mageza-Barthel)

Panel 3: Transnational Social Movements and the Postcolonial Condition

(Panel Convenor: Elisabeth Fink)

Section: 2 – Postcolonialism meets Economics


Panel 4: Building Bridges: Critical Political Economy and Postcolonial Theory

(Panel Convenors: Simone Claar/ Nikolai Huke)

Panel 5: Culture vs. Capitalism: Postcolonial Emancipations and the Ambivalences of the Market

(Panel Convenor: Katja Rieck)


Section: 3 – Postcolonial Academia? Knowledge, Methodology and Representation


Panel 6: Postcolonising Methodologies

(Panel Convenors: Joshua Kwesi Aikins/ Nadine Golly / Maria Teresa Herrera Vivar)

Panel 7: Teaching Emancipatory Postcolonial Knowledge

(Panel Convenors: Nadine Golly / Joanna James)

Panel 8: Between Subjection and Subjectivation: Postcolonial-Queer-Feminist Perspectives (Panel Convenors: Jasmin Dean / Astride Velho)

Section: 4 – Postcolonial Politics of Human Rights, International Aid and Global Governance


Panel 9: Postcolonial Perspectives on Human Rights

(Panel Convenors: Olivia Rutazibwa/ Eva Georg / Aylin Zafer)

Panel 10: Postcolonial Power and Capitalism – Critical Approaches to Contemporary International Aid

French: Pouvoir postcolonial et capitalisme – Approches critiques de l’aide internationale contemporaine

 (Panel Convenors: Olivia Rutazibwa / Kai Koddenbrock)

Section: 5 – Negotiating Western Normativity and Intellectual History – Secularism, In/Justice and Revolution


Panel 11: Secularism, Religion and Politics: Critical Interventions

(Panel Convenor: Zubair Ahmad)

Panel 12: Transnational In/Justice in a Postcolonial World

French: In/justice/s transnationales dans une monde postcolonial

(Panel Convenor: Franziska Dübgen)

Panel 13: Revolution Reconsidered – Slavery, Enlightenment and the Haitian Revolution (Panel Convenor: Jeanette Ehrmann)

Section: 6 – Entangled Historical Legacies and Politics of Memory


Panel 14: Postcolonial Perspectives after Auschwitz

(Panel Convenor: Ulrike Hamann)

Panel 15: Postcolonial Thought and the Problem of Periodization

(Panel Convenor: Felix Schürmann)

Panel 16: Taking Postcolonialism elsewhere? Post-Soviet Postcolonialities

(Panel Convenor: Alexander Vorbrugg)

Section: 7 – Postcolonial Statehood and Governmentality


Panel 17: Representations: The (Post)colonial ‘Body Politic’ in Historical Perspective

(Panel Convenor: Verena Steller)

Panel 18: Postcolonial Perspectives on Corruption and Statehood

(Panel Convenor: Philipp Zehmisch)

Panel 19: Weak States, Failed States, Developmental States – Problems and Challenges in Conceptualising Political Formations in Postcolonial Africa

French: ‘Etats fragiles, Etats défaillants, Etats développeurs’ – Problèmes et défis concernant la conceptualisation des formations politiques de l’Afrique postcoloniale

(Panel Convenor: Anna Krämer)



Section: 8 – Cultural Politics and Postcolonial Urban Spaces

Panel 20: African Cultural Production in the Global Economy

French: Les productions culturelles africaines dans l’économie mondialisée

(Panel Convenor: Lotte Arndt)

Panel 21: Postcolonial Representations of Urban Spaces

Spanish: Representaciones poscoloniales de espacios urbanos

(Panel Convenor: Andrea Gremels)

About the Frankfurt Research Center for Postcolonial Studies:

The Frankfurt Research Center for Postcolonial Studies (FRCPS), which is headed by Prof. Dr. Nikita Dhawan, is one of the first research settings in the German-speaking academic landscape to decidedly approach research within the Social Sciences from a postcolonial perspective. Having established the promotion of young social scientists as one of its priorities, the FRCPS regularly holds a colloquium, whose participants individually organize the respective panels. In hosting the International Graduate Conference, the FRCPS aims to provide graduates and early career researchers with the opportunity to present and discuss their work in the above-mentioned thematic areas.

How to Submit Proposals:

For your paper proposal to be considered, we request that you email the respective panel convenors directly. An abstract (max. 500 words) and a short bio-note (max. 100 words) should accompany your proposal. The closing date for applications is 30th November 2010. Detailed information on the respective panels can be found here:

Conference languages are English, French and Spanish. Abstracts may be submitted in a language as stipulated in the relevant panel’s call for papers. For the French and Spanish-language panels translations will be made available. The conference rooms are accessible for people of all abilities. Please indicate if any further aides and/or support are needed when registering for the conference.  

Registration & Participation:


There are no conference fees, but we kindly request registrations until 31st May 2010: Please state ‘registration’ in the subject heading.

A limited number of travel bursaries will be provided, especially for paper presenters from the global South. Please motivate your application in a short accompanying letter (max. 300 words).


Critical and Decolonial Dialogues Across South-North and East-West

Critical and Decolonial Dialogues Across South-North and East-West
7-9 July 2010
Middelburg, The Netherlands,
The Roosevelt Academy of the University of Utrecht and
The Center for Global Studies and the Humanities at Duke University.
The aim of the three days workshop is to build a series of critical dialogues
around issues of Education, Development, (un)Freedom, Conviviality, Global
Justice and Epistemic Decolonization with the ultimate goal of instigating
conversations and collaborative projects between decolonial approaches and
current European critical visions in the humanities and the social sciences.
The workshop seeks to create networks of epistemic and political actions and
interventions toward building alternatives. The collapse of abstract universals
(Christianity, Liberalism, Marxism, Islamism) as the road to Paradise are
enough evidence that there is no one global future or destiny to work toward,
but the need to change the present demands to take seriously the concept
and practice of “dialogue.” A dialogue that is only possible within a diversity of
In Europe, there is a legacy of critical reflection on modernity that is rarely
brought to dialogue with decolonial thinking. On the other hand, decolonial
reflection on modernity is grounded on a genealogy of thought that is rarely, if
ever, taken into consideration by European critiques of modernity. What are
the issues, the concerns, the concepts, the investments of these two
trajectories of critical thoughts? What do they have in common and to what
extent they complement each other?
By critical reflections we refer here to the legacies of the Frankfurt School but
also to post-modern and post-structuralist critique of modernity in Europe. By
decolonial reflections we refer to the legacies of decolonial political revolutions
after WWI, to the epistemic legacies that emerged from that experience (i.e.
Gandhi, Shengor, Cesaire, Cabral, Fanon) as well as to current de-colonial
thinking in South America, the Caribbean, among Native Americas and
Latino/as in the US. The dialogue South-North and East-West intends to cut
across hegemonic geopolitics of knowledge.
By critical reflections we also mean pursuing research that on the one hand
unveils the persistent rhetoric of modernity, growth, development, happiness
that hides its need to increasing poverty, growing marginalization and
unhappiness for billions of people in the planet. The workshop is grounded on
the belief that there is great need to bring together committed researchers,
thinkers and practitioners to engage in a series of open and learned
dialogues. In particular this workshop aims to promote a South-North
theoretical encounter around the need to work toward decolonization of
knowledge, and hence epistemic justice.

On the one hand, the Western European tradition of thought has struggled to
understand modernity, in particular its experiences of violence such as the
holocaust, totalitarianism as well as experiences of discrimination (gender,
race) and social desintegration. On the other hand, the school of decolonial
thinking has fought to understand the violent experience of
colonialism/modernity by looking at issues such as slavery, the destruction of
nature, the imposition of the modern notions of gender, of time and space, the
hegemony of western aesthetics… In between both, critical schools of
thoughts emerged in South and Eastern Europe as well as in Africa, Asia and
Latin America that diversify trajectories of emancipation and demand for
urgent dialogues. Although, both traditions of thought are well established in
their own academic circles and within their own body of literature, they have
rarely been put together. It is a central tenet of this workshop that a dialogue
between these two perspectives would make a contribution towards a South-
North, East-West dialogue of knowledges. The workshop will follow from a
summer course in which students will explore both traditions of thought. It is
expected that students will also participate in the workshop.
Walter Mignolo and Rolando Vázquez

A book of interest

I thought this book might be of interest for our questionings:

Out of Africa. Post-Structuralism’s Colonial Roots By Pal Ahluwalia

“At the heart of this book is the argument that the fact that so many post-structuralist French intellectuals have a strong ‘colonial’ connection, usually with Algeria, cannot be a coincidence. The ‘biographical’ fact that so many French intellectuals were born in or otherwise connected with French Algeria has often been noted, but it has never been theorised. Ahluwalia makes a convincing case that post-structuralism in fact has colonial and postcolonial roots. This is an important argument, and one that ‘connects’ two theoretical currents that continue to be of great interest, post-structuralism and postcolonialism.

The re-reading of what is now familiar material against the background of de-colonial struggles demonstrates the extent to which it is this new condition that prompted theory to question long-held assumptions inscribed in the European colonial enterprise. The wide-ranging discussion, ranging across authors as different as Foucault, Derrida, Fanon, Althusser, Cixous, Bourdieu and Lyotard, enables the reader to make connections that have remained unnoticed or been neglected. It also brings back into view a history of struggles, both political and theoretical, that has shaped the landscape of critique in the social sciences and humanities.

This clear and lucid discussion of important and often difficult thinkers will be widely read and widely debated by students and academics alike.”

Deleuze Panel ISA 2011

Me and Sean Molloy and David Bailey are submitting a panel for ISA 2011 Montreal which will be on Deleuze.  Is anyone on this here blog keen to act as discussant for said panel?


Robert Deuchars

Morgan Brigg (Queensland)

* your point about the “violent erasure of non-European thought in critically minded projects” certainly resonates with me. but I’m probably pursuing this in my own quirky way. i gave a paper (still very rough – presentation notes, really) at a symposium on indigenous knowledge at sydney uni late last year. i’ll give an updated version here at uq in june. fyi, the abstract:

Engaging Indigenous Knowledge in the Academy: From Sovereign to Relational Selves
Morgan Brigg, UQ.
Mainstream knowledge production relies upon the figure of a discrete and self-sufficient knowing subject as the locus of knowing. In universities and other dominant knowledge institutions the official story tells us that this figure achieves distance from his/her “subject matter” to generate objective and valid knowledge. But this version of the knowing self is a thinly-disguised fiction, and the accompanying knowledge practices are an elaborate set of tricks which researchers play on themselves and others daily. This orthodoxy generates a series of patterned contradictions and an imbalanced and destructive hierarchy of knowledge practices. The resulting knowledge complex militates against engaging Indigenous Knowledge. Somewhat paradoxically though, this same dominant knowledge complex also contains possibilities for engagement. Ideas of relatedness, connection, and local interaction have potential for making links with – and facilitating – Indigenous Knowledge in the academy. These and related ideas are expressed in methodological and theoretical schemas as innovative and diverse as autoethnography, contingency theory, and complex adaptive systems. Much traditional scholarship and those heavily invested in the dominant knowledge complex will struggle to embrace the relational foundation of such approaches. However, navigating relationality and absolutism is a key challenge of our time, and as an instance of what can be gained through engage across different approaches to knowledge, I argue that Indigenous Knowledge provides mainstream knowers with a demonstration of how to have supple enough minds to accommodate the relational alongside the absolute. In the process of working with both the relational and the absolute we might reconfigure our own selves as researchers and build meaningful links and collaborations which help to facilitate the reception and development of Indigenous Knowledge in the university setting.

* on foucault and deleuze, i think the problem is mainly with the acolytes. but then the fact that there are so many of them makes it a problem for the ‘brand’, so to speak. i don’t do much with Foucault and Deleuze now, and I partly moved away because i got tired of many of the followers not doing anything very interesting. I think both F & D would be pissed off re the followers, i think that at one point F referred to criticism as the art of reflective insolence, and he certainly wanted people to apply that to his work. but we don’t see much of that…

* on the deleuze – fanon framing, in some ways this interests me, but you’ll see from above that i’m on a slightly different trip. i’m also thinking about playing around with bruno latour’s (another european!) work on political ecology, which for me has the advantage of opening up an exchange with the sciences (the above paper draws a lot on latour). and i’m interested in making links directly with australian aboriginal thought, although that’s a tough and long-term gig. none of this is to say that i think you’re off track with what you propose – i’m partly just musing through where i sit in relation to it.

* i think there is a lack of exchange btw these authors and the ‘traditions’ they represent, but i’m not positioned quite right to be able to comment in a very firm way about it, or about what my vision of it would be. if i were to ‘join the project’ i’d have to immerse myself in both authors, and i’m probably not able to do that given the other interests i note above.

* but, i have a sense – more than a sense, actually – that there is a very strong resonance between the type of work that you’re talking about and what i’m planning/hoping to do as mentioned above. similarly, it sounds like we’re interested in similar things – that our work is animated by similar concerns…!

* so that leaves me saying that i’d be interested to see where this goes, and to see along the way if there might be way to link up on the key themes if not on the authors… what do you think?

Heloise Weber (Queensland)

Thanks immensely for this initiative…..It sure is timely to engage explicitly the modes of ‘closures’ (and enclosures) not just in IR but in global politics more generally, and the various ‘disciplines’ within it. I come to an appreciation of the value of such a project from my work and interest in development, and especially development through dispossession and domination; frequently, this is articulated through discourses of ‘improvement’, often premised upon the naturalization of a quite specific (“Western”?) conception of ‘development’. The latter, as we know, is often presented in idealized ways that obliterates the other(‘s) histories. This vision and representation of development (‘civilization’) continues in thought and practice, and resistance to it also continues in various forms.

While many anti-colonial thinkers and movements resisted the often brutal (and savage) behavior that has been integral to ‘civilization’, they were, nevertheless, forced to walk the line –- at least to some extent– and / or in many cases also embraced some premises of the ‘civilizing mission’ as being superior to other ways of knowing, doing and being (Gandhi and Nehru come to mind here..). An understanding of the complexity (brutality) of our histories and their legacies–as well as the various solidarist efforts for more humane relations and development pathways – are what Fanon and Du Bois and other anti-colonial thinkers bring to the otherwise teleologic narrative of the history of progress. And, I feel I should mention here Chinua Achebe’s beautiful book, Things Fall Apart….

Anyway, I have not read Deleuze. I have read some Foucault, and I like some of it. More specifically, I like the ‘reverse ethnography’ that he brings to bear on “Western civilization”. But, I’m not convinced of the use of Foucault’s works in the study of political economy, for instance. I do also share concerns that some working from within such approaches (“post- structuralism”..??) have tended to assume ‘intellectual’ hegemony by purporting to articulate the critical voice over others. And, in this context, I kind of see a trend emerging that is conflating ‘post-colonial/de-colonial’ concerns and such lines of enquiry, merely with (critical?)‘methods’ of enquiry. In such cases, substantive critical concerns are subsumed as merely instrumental to the method of inquiry itself– this is my feeling. For this reason, I am particularly thankful to you for raising this as an explicit focus. It matters for political reasons as much as for the pursuit of intellectual analysis of our histories, and thus also for potential discussions of alternative developmental pathways. Such an account cannot really come from within the confines of methodological approaches, which are becoming increasingly self-referential.

Given my interest in understanding substantive social and political relations (also how we can better understand these relations), and my interest (like many others) in writing back in agencies of the ‘subaltern’, Fanon, and other anti-colonial/de-colonial thinkers bring not just these histories to life, but also offer better accounts of the meanings of historical relations. They caution against mimicking the violence that has been implicit to the history of development… Importantly, they render visible other(‘s) histories which the narrative of international relations has so quickly and so easily obliterated… (this violence is prevalent for example, in discourses of failed states as well in the simplistic comparativist trope that underpins the idea and practices of ‘international’ development).

Working along these lines of inquiry, others who come to mind, as having made important contributions to such concerns (for me, at least) include, Memmi, Du Bois, Nandy, Grovogui, Seth, Hindess, Cooper, Chakrabarty, Mbembe, Rojas, Chatterjee and Shilliam (do you know him? :-))…… …and in a different way, but nevertheless not unimportant to such debates, at least to some extent, I think, are Hobson (J.M) and Goody (J).

I love the project, Robbie! As for scope content, organization and remit: the blog is a good start! Perhaps in the longer term we could think of possibilities to workshop these ideas … the dialogue is important.

Syllabi, Symposia and Translations

Now that Fanon/Deleuze is alive as an idea, Robbie and I have been discussing thickening and deepening the contribution it could make. The first element of this programme is already available over in the new Symposiums section, where Alina Sajed’s ‘The Post Always Ring Twice?’ is ready and waiting for critical engagement. I would propose three related ways of further extending the conversation.

First, a collection of essential texts. The blog from which we stole this format is somewhat exemplary in this sense, providing a rather extensive list of must-read manifestos, reviews, videos and interviews. Although I hesitate to use the word ‘fun’, there is an opportunity here for contributors to formulate their own top-5 or top-10 lists in the comments below and celebrate the most influential or important thinkers, texts, or statements for our purposes.

These days, access to peer-reviewed published articles is surprisingly easy. Many publishing houses now have open-access policies for their authors once their articles have been out in the world for a certain amount of time. For example, over at Millennium, authors can make pre-publication versions of their articles available immediately in their own institutional repositories, and can replace that with the post-publication version 12 months after publication. I would encourage the published academics among us to check their own agreements and to seriously consider this option if they are entitled to make their work more publicly available. There are also a surprising amount of full works available, at least sometimes with the consent of their authors.

Second, symposia. Especially given the initial role of particular thinkers in this initiative, it might be worth considering selecting a number of the key texts identified above and structuring a discussion around their contributions. Again, there are models for such a thing. This could either be a free-for-all or condensed critiques from a smaller number of interlocutors. New titles are great to do this with, but for a start, I’d be intrigued to see something like a range of takes (approving or critical) on Provincializing Europe or The Black Atlantic or The Eastern Origins of Western Civilization, not to mention on the central works of Fanon and Deleuze themselves.

Third, translations. This would seem to be an absolutely central service for a project on de-centering the European experience. Actual translations of key statements might already exist and just need to be made available. Alternatively, those among us who already have access to them and the requisite language skills might wish to do some translating themselves. The feasibility of this will obviously depend heavily on existing resources and the levels of commitment that can be devoted to this agenda.

Often academics don’t make enough effort to get their stuff out there, as if already surrendering to neo-liberal modes of knowledge production in which everyone churns out ‘ideas’ but simultaneously feels that what they produce is worthless dross. Making Fanon/Deleuze a resource for combating that trend strikes me as worth pursuing. So speak up if it moves you too!