Monthly Archives: November 2017

Global South Perspectives: Towards decolonization, de-stratification and de-centralization of social knowledge production

International Workshop

18-19 April 2018

Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

Keynote speakers:
Prof. Pei-Chia Lan, National Taiwan University
Dr. Tamari Kitossa, Brock University

Plenary speakers:
Prof. Franz Waldenberger, German Institute for Japanese Studies,  The Max Weber Foundation
Prof. Bandana Purkayastha, University of Connecticut

Call for papers

Social knowledge and knowledge production, on a global level, is heavily stratified. Most centers of social knowledge production, such as globally high-ranked universities,  ‘international’ academic journals, ‘competitive’ conferences and major funding bodies lie in Western countries. Producers  of social knowledge, especially those of greater influence and prestige, tend to be White, from Western societies, or had to undergo training at high-ranking Western universities and display in-depth familiarity with the academic and cultural grammars disseminated there.

Critics in the fields of Postcolonialism, Cultural Studies, Global South-driven Critical Theory, and Critical Race and Whiteness Studies have argued that this imbalance in global knowledge production, initiated by imperialism and colonialism and maintained and re-inscribed by vast contemporary global inequalities,is systematically distorting the knowledge that is produced. As Walter Mignolo and others have pointed out, knowledge production is carried out under Western master frames or ‘cosmologies,’ which center and mainstream Western theory and findings as the scholarly ‘core’ and the foundation that new knowledge must be built on, while provincializing and trivializing non-Western past and present knowledge production, and relegating non-Western territories to sites for data collection.

It has been argued that this stratification in knowledge production leads to Western and White lived experiences, perspectives, interests, and sensitivities being woven into social theory, which is subsequently not recognized as positioned, but mainstreamed and normalized as ‘general theory’. Conversely, theoretical and empirical work that is underpinned by, and focuses on, the lived experiences, perspectives and concerns of Non-White and Non-Western scholars, faces much stronger hurdles to recognition, and tends to be deselected, or assigned to the margins rather than the center of social knowledge: To a late session on the last day of a conference, to a roundtable, to a section on ‘regional’ issues in a journal, or to a job in ‘ethnic studies.’

Situated as we are in a globally interconnected system with highly unequal distribution of resources,  burdens, and life chances, this highly stratified knowledge production is problematic,  and can even be dangerous. It is problematic because the social sciences are not accumulating knowledge on ‘the global social,’ but instead they are producing an incomplete, distorted version of it. It is dangerous because policy decisions of strong local and global influence are in danger of being made following partial, one-sided or even biased knowledges. For example, free trade agreements or other international policies, implemented based on supposedly neutral knowledge, benefit Western societies but are associated with increased social stratification, labor exploitation, environmental destruction, toxin dumping and other problems in the Global South. Elsewhere, migration policies are designed that focus on keeping out, screening and disciplining migrants, ignoring groundbreaking work by racialized scholars on the causes of and countermeasures against racism and discrimination by receiving society members.

The aim of this workshop is to strengthen the dialogue, connections and collaboration of scholars pursuing ‘Southern’ or ‘Subaltern’ approaches. Scholars are invited to discuss research agendas, theories, methodological issues and empirical studies based on perspectives, experience, concerns and needs of people in the Global South and racialized or indigenous groups in the Global North. The workshop emphasizes thematic inclusiveness.

All interested individuals are invited to submit papers as well as session proposals!

Download the PDF version of the 2018 Call for Papers here!

View the booklet of the 2017 Global South Perspectives workshop here!

Please note: This workshop is organized back-to-back with the 6th Global Social Sciences Graduate Student Conference held on the 20th of April at Hong Kong Baptist University. Participants are welcome to attend and present at both events.


Please submit abstracts (max. 250 words)

Submission Deadline: February 15th 2018

Workshop grants:

A limited number of travel grants to the workshop are available. Applicants for the grants must hold a PhD, and must have submitted their workshop presentation as a full paper (max. 9000 words) by the 15th of February, 2018). The travel subsidy will be paid in cash during the workshop Hong Kong.

Organized by: The Joint Research Group on Migration, China and the Global Context

Max Weber Foundation & Faculty of Social Sciences, Hong Kong Baptist University