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International Conference

The Global South on the Move - Transforming Capitalism, Knowledge and Ecologies

Organized by the Global South Studies Center and  CA IV Cultures and Societies in Transition
7 - 9 June, 2017
Seminargebäude, University of Cologne

Though long considered distant and ‘other’, the so-called ‘Global South’ now seems to be closer to the ‘North’ than ever. Redirected capital flows, labour migration, refugees, new forms of knowledge and theory-building seeking to leave old Eurocentric perspectives behind – all these developments suggest a profound global re-mapping of territorial, political, socio-economic, cultural, and epistemic relations. This conference has investigated the major transformations occurring within and as a consequence of actors of the Global South, and aims to stimulate cross-area and interdisciplinary research. We have focussed on ongoing transformations in three key areas: capitalism, knowledge, and ecologies.

Transforming Capitalism

This key area explores how actors around the globe are transforming, contesting, and adapting capitalism. At the same time, political and socio-economic power structures are re-affirmed. The key area covers topics ranging from (un)fair labour relations, to investments from key players from the Global South such as China in Africa, or Angola in Portugal. It also addresses the global connections between local producers on one hand and global consumers on the other. What, for example, are the consequences of palm oil consumption in Europe with regard to reproduction processes and gender relations in South East Asia? What role do skilled and unskilled labour migrants play in capitalist systems? The panels aim to enhance our knowledge of labor migration, standardization of labour, and linkages between South-South, North-South, and South-North actors and economies.

Transforming Knowledge

This area seeks to address how current and past movements of people, ideas and things influence the global production of knowledge and its unequal power relations. To what extent are actors from the Global South excluded from processes of knowledge production and knowledge circulation? To what extent do academic systems and cultural representations structurally reify a simplistic divide between the so-called “North” and “South”? What is the role of engaged intellectuals in problematizing such categories? The panel seeks to investigate forms and mechanisms of epistemic exclusion and silencing. How do emerging powers like the BRICS states renegotiate global knowledge, as in the case of industrial standardization? It will also examine the role of artistic practices in reproducing and countering such knowledge-creations either about or from the “Global South”.

Transforming Ecologies

The third key area investigates human–non-human relations within a transforming social and physical world. The notion of ecologies thereby refers to delicate balances, complex interactions, and the (natural) environments in which they take place. We focus on the entanglements of changing socio-spatial, human-environmental and socio-technological realms and assemblages. How do people adapt to environmental transformations, and how do they appropriate new techniques and practices? By disentangling translocal ecologies we aim to challenge rigid binaries (such as human/nature) and illuminate processes of de- and re-territorialization in the Global South.