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Workshop: Engaging Struggles Across the Global South and East

When Jul 26, 2021 03:00 to
Jul 27, 2021 08:00
Where online (Webex)
Contact Name
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Since its inception, the study of culture has been engaging with societal and political struggles. Scholars in the field have been at the forefront of challenging and rethinking dominant paradigms and epistemologies, especially during the consolidation and further expansion of neoliberal capitalism in the second half of the 20th century. Rethinking the idea of objectivity and the position of researchers, they have developed alternative research approaches that center on collaborative knowledge production and have contributed to critical inquiry into entrenched geo- and body politics of knowledge. Taking up these endeavours, the workshop aims at deconstructing regional and hemispheric categories in the study of culture by employing the perspectives offered by the concepts of global South and East together with the framework of engaged and collaborative research.


(Photo: Yaugen Attsetski)

The present event seeks to re-engage with the increasingly pertinent debates on engaged, activist and counter-hegemonic research and to bring together scholars undertaking such work across a variety of contexts. While activist and collaborative research has received acknowledgement in the study of culture and in the social sciences more generally, it remains a marginal approach in today’s academic landscape. Conversely, because of the little attention and systematic support this tradition has received, many, and especially junior scholars often struggle to forge and build up collaborative research relationships. The event aims to synthesize earlier conversations and bring into  dialogue existing collaborative research projects from the global South and East in order to explore, among others, the following aspects: i) What is the potential and value of dialogue within activist scholarship across regions such as the global South and East?  ii) How to navigate the diverging and sometimes mutually contradicting criteria of collaboration partners (e.g. short-term support, specific input) on the one hand, and academic institutions (i.e. publication outputs and theory-building), on the one other? iii) How can the position of activist and collaborative approaches in academic institutions – and thus also the position of academia within society – be improved? iv) What are the theoretical and philosophical groundings and implications of activist approaches? And what are their implications for challenging and rethinking existing approaches and categories in the established geo- and body politics of knowledge, as has been proposed in decolonial thought and critical geopolitics? v) How to build up coalitions among different geographic locations and contexts, on the one hand, and to visualize their global power asymmetries, on the other hand?


In conversation with critical geopolitics and decolonial interventions into area studies, this event aims to make use of critical perspectives such as the ‘Global South’ and ‘Global East’ in order to facilitate dialogue and cooperation between those engaged in these contexts. The conversation along these lines takes such critical research as an entry point to unravel the production and ordering of space, identity and material relations as well as corresponding forms of power and domination within the discourses of cultural studies and social inquiry more generally. The workshop is thus a conceptual exploration not only across research areas within the GCSC, but also of the potentialities of engaged research and coalitions across departmental, thematic and regional divides.


Detailed schedule

As the programme might be subject to last minute changes, the most recent version can be found here.

Day 1, 26 July:

Introduction                                                                                                         3 pm    

Panel i: Struggles for land and livelihoods                                                         4-6 pm

Questions of land and livelihoods have been of central importance in modern societies and received renewed urgency in the wake of recent transformations and crises of global racial capitalism. While community-based initiatives and social movements across the world make demands for land reform, equal distribution and regulation of extractive industries, new processes of land grabbing and large-scale agricultural projects have further threatened people’s livelihoods and continued legacies of violent dispossession and disenfranchisement. Similar processes occur in global urban spaces where inequality, invisibility and dehumanization are (re-)produced through peripheralization, hyper-urbanization and differential provisioning of adequate housing, infrastructures and services. The goal of the panel is to shed light on practices, discourses and tactics of politicization and resistance towards urban and rural exploitation, expulsion and subjugation regimes and to explore the role that activist and engaged research plays or can play with regard to such struggles.


Planned speakers:

Stella Paterniani, Federal University of Paraná, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and City Occupied research group

Andrei Karpeka, Minsk Urban Platform

Pia Bombardella, North-West-University, Potchefstroom

Léa Tosold, University of São Paulo, member of the Anti-racist and Anti-colonial Studies Intervention Collective (Gira) and of the São Paulo´s Solidarity Committee to the Resistance Struggles in the Tapajós Region (Comtapajós)


Moderators: Fabian Pindus and Giovana Possignolo, GCSC

Panel ii: Collaborative engagement in arts & culture                                         6.15-8 pm

Collaborative research on arts and culture has delivered important insights on artists’ lifeworlds, conditions of living and production of artistic and cultural genres, as well as their political and societal entanglement and agendas. More so, artistic scholar-activism has explored  the borderzone between academia and art and thus demonstrated the symbiotic potential of these spheres. This panel invites contributions that further explore this context and thus offer new reflections and the importance and necessity of engaged and collaborative research in the study of culture and humanities more generally.   


Planned speakers: 

Maria Mayerchyk & Olga Plakhotnik, University of Alberta: Queer feminist artivism in Ukraine 

Karolina Kluczewska, Centre for Global Cooperation Research, Duisburg: Building reciprocal and supportive relations with artists and cultural organizations in Tajikistan      

Tomáš Rafa, Artist, photographer and director: Online education for young people affected by  far right and intolerant misinformation


Moderator: Candace Goodrich, GCSC 


Day 2, 27 July:

Panel iii: Critically engaged research                                                                  2-3.45 pm

Long-standing debates on ‘writing culture’, representation and academic knowledge production have affected a rethinking of ideas of ‘objectivity, researcher positionality and of the binary between activist and supposedly detached and neutral ‘armchair’ research. This panel will draw inspiration from these conversations to showcase and reflect on possibilities of critically engaging with people’s lifeworlds, sentiments and struggles while not taking a manifestly ‘activist’ approach. To this end, a range of approaches and perspectives will be brought into conversation, including oral history and biographical research, studies of social and activist movements, and new ways of using publication and knowledge outlets to give a voice and presence to research participants.  


Planned speakers: 

Zoran Vuckovac, GCSC: Oral histories of workers in post-Socialist Bosnia and Hercegovina

Juan Brigard, GCSC: Autobiographical constellations of coauthorship: Textual bindings in a divided Colombia

Juliana M. Streva, Free University of Berlin, experimental filmmaker, director of Mulheres em Movimiento: TBD

Vanya Solovey, Humboldt University of Berlin: Doing feminist research on feminism in Russia


Moderator: Tobias Schädel, GCSC


Panel iv: Doing knowledge on civic resistance in Belarus and beyond              4-6 pm

This discussion will focus on the role of grassroots initiatives developing from the political protests, and reflect on how political turmoil and governments' repression in the global East affect research practices and researcher’s participation. With the focus on Belarus, where protests against the 26-years-long rule of President Alexander Lukashenka have been going on since the summer of 2020, this exchange between academia and activism aims to reflect on the changing regional and geopolitical prisms taken to study protest and its subtler (“micropolitical”) forms.


Planned participants:

Andrei Zavalei, LGBTQ activist

Sasha Razor, University of California, Los Angeles

Prof. Danijela Majstorović, University of Banja Luka, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

Prof. Thomas Bohn, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

Oksana Dutchak, Kyiv Politechnical Institute


Moderator: Vira Sachenko, GCSC


Public Keynote: Scholarly-activist engagement in digital times                       6.30-8 pm

Lara Montesinos Coleman, Senior Lecturer in International Relations and International Development, University of Sussex

Conversations on participatory, collaborative and activist research have continuously driven a reconsideration of ideas of value neutrality, objectivity and positionally in cultural studies and social sciences. They have also shaped the contours of a somewhat separate genre of scholar-activism which transcends academic research into practical engagement with urgent questions and needs of social actors and communities. Yet, both this approach and other ‘engaged’ research has faced multiple challenges of restricted access, scepticism and dismissiveness of mainstream academia and more recently the Covid-19 pandemic. Against this background, Lara Montesinos Coleman’s keynote will develop a perspective on scholar-activism in today’s world, in which increasingly digital interactions seem to intensify political and societal struggles.   


Registration open. To receive the participation links and attend the workshop please register at

Coordinators: Tatsiana Artsimovich, Dr. Philipp Lottholz, Fabian Pindus, Giovana Possignolo, Vira Sachenko

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