Where is the North when theory travels across the South?

Authors: Ahsan Kamal*, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Christopher Courtheyn, Universidad del Rosario, Bogotá, Colombia
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Political Geography, Third World
Keywords: Theory, southern theory, postcolonial theory, feminist theory, decolonial theory, action-research
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: 8216, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Can social theory travels across the South without pointing to the North? Southern theories and postcolonial, decolonial, and feminist perspectives have been able to decenter northern Theory and gain a firm foothold in the academy. Nevertheless, some scholars continue to point out that southern theorising is, for the most part, restricted to the confines of the Northern academy -- the critics point to limits dictated by the political economy of knowledge production, racialized order of the modern university, and the positionality of the scholars themselves. Taking these criticisms as the starting point, we reflect on how theory travels and the baggage it accumulates. As a pair of scholars from or working in the South who converged in the United States, we draw upon experiences of walking with social movements, academic training in the USA, and teaching/learning in southern universities. We tentatively posit that the South must taken, and dismantled, as the theoretico-empirical co-constitutive pair of the North, in order to explore the differences-within-differences of southern theorizing. We suggest that southern theorising must be linked to the praxis of and by the southern decolonizing, postcolonial, subaltern, liberating, emancipating, and futuring work that is at the intersection of action and theory.

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