Critical Theory from the South: Everyday Politics & Southern Feminism II

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Governor's Room, Omni, East
Organizers: Susmita Rishi, Amy Piedalue
Chairs: Amy Piedalue


Building upon dialogues on ‘quiet social movements’ (AAG 2017) and ‘engaging southern theory’ (AAG 2018), we envision these sessions as a space for continued conversation about global south urbanisms and social change praxis. In ‘Critical Theory from the South,’ we combine these earlier sessions’ interests: attending to the formation of political space and political subjectivity through the mundane (and often invisible) relations of everyday urban life; and responding to the call to re-examine “the territory of thought itself” (Roy and Crane 2015) by engaging with, and learning from processes of world-making situated in sites of marginality and anti-oppression struggles. Exploring everyday politics in this manner means re-examining ‘critical theory’ and seeking it outside the traditional ‘canon,’ given that the latter reifies both white, Euro-American vantage points and masculinist moves to universal knowledge. As with previous sessions, we encourage participants to reconsider traditional definitions of the global South, which presume it to be a geographical category identified by the location of a place on the globe. Rather, we seek to map “the south” by tracing the operation of imperial power. This means recognizing “southern spaces” as scattered across the globe - as non-cohesive but recognizable based on parallel processes of historical marginalization, deprivation, and engineered inequality. It requires seeing the ‘south’ not as fixed geography or place(s), but rather as a flexible signifier that calls attention to historical and contemporary entanglements of colonialism, and the production and maintenance of inequalities through these power formations.

In these proposed sessions we envision two sub-themes: (1) spaces of everyday politics and (2) southern feminisms. The first theme of everyday politics provides a framework for thinking beyond the geographic imagination of a fixed north/south and toward an identification of the creation of ‘southern spaces’ through the operation of power. In this sense, we might identify ‘southern spaces’ at various locales across the globe, and map power and inequalities through these spaces and those that act within them. Recognizing and answering theorizations from these spaces is vital – in defiance of continued assumptions about where the north and south exist, and about who makes theory. The second theme, southern feminisms, aims to simultaneously confront the elision of southern voices from mainstream feminist theory in the Anglo academy and to recognize the critical work that diverse bodies of feminist thinking have done to advance intellectual and activist movements for transformation and justice. In highlighting southern feminisms, we aim to center the thinking and work of subaltern/marginalized womxn [located as such by power], who continue to forge new ground not only through their engagements with complex inequalities and struggles against multivalent formations of power, but also by virtue of their creative, strategic, and brazen world-making, which frames justice as more than an antithesis of exploitation or violence, but as a praxis of becoming, creation, and love as well. Participants in these sessions will (re)consider their work through the lenses of 'quiet social movements' and 'southern theory,' as potential avenues for unsettling dominant paradigms of critical theory that marginalize particular places and sites of knowledge making.

Participants in these sessions will engage with these themes (and others) by addressing one or more of the following areas:
Who is a southern theorist? Who are the southern theorists (perhaps often non-academic theorists) we’ve engaged within the course of our research? How do we, or do we not, recognize them in our writing, teaching, conference presentations? What would change about our ideas and theories if we worked harder to center and engage these southern theorists in those spaces?
Production of alternative knowledges and epistemologies - ethnographies and studies of southern knowledge production that are outside the ‘canon’
Alternative sites and material spaces of grounded politics, social relations, etc. that subvert traditional understandings of the political;
Narratives of everyday (often invisible) social life that explore the place-based modes of everyday social and political change operating in and through the global South
The production of political space, subjectivity, & collective identity in “southern spaces.” How might this defy, ignore and/or resonate with paradigms of modern liberalism (in terms of freedom, justice, etc.)?
Negotiating critical encounters with difference and inequality in urban politics (i.e., informal solidarities, alliance building, coalition politics, etc.)
Methodological interventions that aid in building deeper understandings of everyday urban life and employ creative approaches to elaborating the knowledge and insights emergent from ‘southern spaces’ - for example, walking ethnographies of marginalized spaces; body mapping; participatory action research; creation of music, poetry, theatre, or art; etc.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Discussant Rajyashree Reddy University of Toronto 20 9:55 AM
Presenter Vivian Rodriguez Rocha*, Penn State University, Un trato personalizado: Intimate labor and transnational place-making at the ethnic beauty parlor 20 10:15 AM
Presenter Danielle Rivera*, University of Colorado, Boulder, Centering Latinx Spaces in the “Nowhereness” between Global North and South 20 10:35 AM
Presenter Yolanda Valencia*, University of Washington, Confronting Legal Death Through Epistemologies of the South 20 10:55 AM
Presenter Solange Muñoz*, University of Tennessee, Keeping the urban poor “in their place” and “out of place” 20 11:15 AM

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