"(De-)Colonizing Knowledge: Figures, Narratives, and Practices"
Workshop, February 16-17, 2015
Free University of Berlin, Research Area Global History
Sebastian Conrad, Alexandra Przyrembel
The workshop “(De-)Colonizing Knowledge: Figures, Narratives, and Practices” aims at analyzing the interrelationship between processes of (de-)colonization and the production of knowledge during the 19th and 20th centuries. In recent years, the history of knowledge has developed into one of the most thriving fields in historiography. Following Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978), discussion focused on the production of ‘colonial knowledge’ by particularly analyzing hegemonic dimensions of knowledge in the colonial context. This research included a broad range of different methodological approaches and themes – from the transnational networks of geographers to the role of intermediaries as ‘brokers of modernity.’ However, two perspectives seem to have been widely neglected. First, the impact of ‘local knowledge’ on the (re-)definition of knowledge as a category. Second, the transition from colonial to decolonized states and the consequences of this process for the circulation and distribution of knowledge.
The workshop will examine discussions and attempts to (de)colonize knowledge production within academic disciplines as well as ‘classical’ writings. Attempting to avoid any teleological narratives and dichotomous boundaries, we will seek to explore how ‘Western’ thinkers like Max Weber or Pierre Bourdieu might have framed their writings within colonial narratives. Additionally, we hope to analyze the practice of knowledge production itself, whether it be in the form of participant observations, social surveys, or the creation of legal norms. The following questions will structure our discussions: How is knowledge production intertwined with ‘unconscious’ or informal practices of information gathering?How can we integrate ‘local’ perspectives without constructing the ‘local’ as a fixed entity? How can we define transitions from colonial to postcolonial contexts, and what are the concrete consequences for ‘new’ disciplines like development studies?And: How can we decenter established master narratives and terminology?
Zeit & Ort
16.02.2015 - 17.02.2015
Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut, Koserstr. 20, 14195 Berlin, 3rd floor, room A 336