Workshop ‘Current Trends, Uncommon Paths: Decolonising the Academia through Feminism‘

13.01.2022

University of Vienna, Department of African Studies

13th-14th of January 2022

Call for Papers

Decolonisation as a process has long ceased to refer only to the ‘official’ withdrawal of European colonial powers from various parts of the world. Rather, the concept of decolonisation is increasingly used and reinterpreted to refer to the inequalities and power mechanisms that guide our world, to challenge them, and thus to open up new debates. This concept can be stretched and formed and used in new ways, like movements such as ‘Rhodes must fall’ indicate.

In the academic world, the desire for decolonisation has launched a number of initiatives globally in recent years to liberate university education from a one-sided orientation to 'Western' institutions and knowledge traditions and to open it up to knowledge that has been and continues to be marginalised by old and new imperialisms: Decolonise the curriculum! Decolonise education! Decolonise the academia!

This should, of course, include the dismantling of gender hierarchies and a transformation of patriarchal concepts/notions of gender. A number of feminist researchers such as María Lugones (Toward a Decolonial Feminism, 2010), Chandra Talpade Mohanty (Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, 2003) or Sylvia Tamale (Decolonization and Afro-Feminism, 2020) have laid the foundations for a decolonial feminist approach in the academia. They emphasize that ‘gender’ and ‘coloniality/raciality’ cannot be treated separately, but must be seen intertwined and interactive. As Tamale argues for the decolonisation of universities in Africa, this cannot be limited to changing the curriculum, but needs to address research policy, the inclusion of diversity, didactic methods as well as the institutional ethos, i.e. the fundamental culture of the university. Changes at one level without considering the other layers will remain incomplete. In all these layers, as she further shows, gender is critically involved.

In this workshop we would like to highlight ideas, approaches and implementations of decolonisation at universities in Africa as well as in Europe from a feminist perspective. In doing so, we link to an understanding of feminism as holistic, social transformation shaped by African thinkers and women of colour, which challenges ‘all forms of domination, in particular as they relate to patriarchy, race, class, sexuality and global imperialism’ (Decolonization and Afro-Feminism, 2020, xiii).

Taking this understanding as an inspiration for this workshop, we aspire to make room for current trends and innovative ways of challenging and transforming the academia through decolonial feminist thought and practice. As key question we want to pose:
How do we make the intellectual work of women – in particular Women of Colour – in these different levels of decolonisation visible?

Further keywords to be considered include, but are not limited to:
Traditions of knowledge – White and male dominance in scholarly literature and reading lists – intergenerational learning – marginalised voices claiming space in the academia – research and teaching contributions to social transformation outside the university – decolonial feminism as a form of resistance.

We apply a workshop format in the course of which we would like to discuss pre-circulated papers from the invited participants. The idea is that all participants should read the papers of other presenters in advance of the workshop and serve as a discussant for one other paper. The language of the workshop will be English. Abstracts of papers (not exceeding 300 words, including a biographical note of not more than 50 words) should be sent to Lisa Tackie (lisa.tackie@univie.ac.at) by October 25th 2021. Authors of accepted papers will be sent notifications by November 15th 2021. The draft papers (10-15 pages) should be submitted by December 30th 2021 to allow all participants time to familiarise themselves with the other topics.

We plan to hold this workshop at the Department of African Studies, at the University of Vienna. Due to the Covid situation, a final decision of the format (on-site, digital or mixed) will be made end- November. Either way, we encourage you to send your abstracts. So even if not everyone can join the workshop on-site, a mixed-format will be arranged.

We hope to welcome you at the workshop and are very much looking forward to your contribution!

Organising Team
Martina Kopf, Department of African Studies: martina.kopf@univie.ac.at
Lisa Tackie, Department of African Studies: lisa.tackie@univie.ac.at

FWF-project V554-G23 on Concepts of development in postcolonial Kenyan literature and
Department of African Studies, University of Vienna