Working Group: Thinkers and Theorizing from the South

The working group ‘Thinkers and theorizing from the South’ was initiated in late 2018, in order to cultivate conversations and discussions on thinkers and regional intellectual histories, and more widely on ways of thinking and theorizing the world from the perspective of ZMO’s regions of research (as part of the wider so-called ‘Global South’). Related themes are covered and discussed among ZMO colleagues, together with further Berlin-based researchers at Free University Berlin and Humboldt University of Berlin. In monthly meetings, we engage in interdisciplinary and inter-regional conversations, with a sense for the diverse (trans)regional intellectual traditions and languages, with an interest in the respective relevant key concepts, debates, genres, and arguments – all this also particularly with a view to current decolonial challenges, and to the need to redress the dominance of Eurocentrism in scholarship.

Since summer 2020, this group has linked up with the co2libri initiative on ‘Conceptual collaboration: Living Borderless Research Interaction’, funded by the Berlin University Alliance (BUA). Regular joint online meetings and discussions since then have included our colleagues based in Cape Town, Nairobi, Beirut, Delhi, Utrecht, and elsewhere.

Lectures and joint meetings of the Working Group, coordinated by Prof. Dr. Kai Kresse

  • December 2018: Kai Kresse (ZMO/FU Anthropology) on Henry Odera Oruka as important global philosopher, on African philosophy, the sage philosophy approach, ecophilosophy, and philosophy of justice
  • 25 January 2019: Niels Riecken (ZMO) on his book draft „Abdallah Laroui and the Location of History”
  • 28 February 2019: Sandra Calkins (FU Berlin) presents her paper draft “Toxic remains: infrastructural failure and connectivity in a Ugandan molecular biology lab“ (since published as: Calkins S. Toxic remains: Infrastructural failure in a Ugandan molecular biology lab.     Social Studies of Science. 2021; 51(5): 707-728.)
    and Tyler Zoanni (NYU) presents draft paper “Religion, politics, and pre-colonial secularity in nineteenth-century Buganda“
  • 28 June 2019: Stefan Skupien (WZB) and Franziska Duebgen (Universität Kassel) on book chapters of their recently published monograph „Paulin Hountondji: African Philosophy as Critical Universalism“ (Skupien, Stefan, and Dr. Paulin Hountondji : African Philosophy as Critical Universalism. Cham, Switzerland, 2019. Print. Global Political Thinkers.) and Bertold Bernreuter (Universidad Intercontinental, Mexico City) on his research on and with, indigenous philosophical thinkers in Mexico, with a particular focus on questions of method
  • 29 November 2019: Rakesh Pandey (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi) on The Purva-Paksha of the Indian Modern: History, Critique, and Constructive Philosophy
  • 11 December 2019: First Berlin Southern Theory Lecture by Felwine Sarr      (Université Gaston Berger Saint- Louis, Senegal) on Rewriting the humanities from Africa: for an ecology of knowledge.
  • 31 January 2020: Dr. Saleem Badat (Mellon Foundation. Formerly Vice-Chancellor at Rhodes University and Program Director for International Higher Education at the Mellon Foundation) speaks on aspects of the agenda of decolonization in structural and institutional terms.

Since 2020 in collaboration with co2libri

  • 10 July 2020: Max Stille (postdoctoral researcher at MPI) presents and discusses the introduction of his recent prize-winning book "Islamic Sermons and Public Piety in Bangladesh: The Poetics of Popular Preaching" (2020); and Tony Oyowe, (University of Western Cape, South Africa & Humboldt Research Fellow based at Humboldt University) presents a forthcoming article on personhood and social death.
  • 15 October 2020: Workshop „Concepts and conceptualizations: din and dunya in the muslim world“ in cooperation with ZMO research unit ‘Contested Religion and Intellectual Culture’.
  • 27 November 2020: Abdulkader Tayob (University of Cape Town, ZMO) discusses the decolonization of religious studies (Tayob, “Religion(s) after Critique: Decolonial Strategies for the Study of Religion(s)” to be published in: Journal of Critical Religion); and Birgit Meyer (Utrecht University, ZMO) problematizes some core aspects concerning the study of religion in Africa (since published as: Meyer, Birgit. "What Is Religion in Africa? Relational Dynamics in an Entangled World." Journal of Religion in Africa 50.1-2 (2021): 156-81.).
  • 22 January 2021: Anaheed Al-Hardan (American University Beirut) presents a paper on re-reading Du Bois for a critical reorientation of sociology, “The Canon Revised: W.E.B. Du Bois, Colonialism and Sociology”; and Mohamed Hashas (VRF, ZMO) on his newly published edited on Islamic Ethics (Brill 2020), (Hashas, Mohammed, and Mutaz al-Khatib, eds. Islamic Ethics and the Trusteeship Paradigm: Taha Abderrahmane’s Philosophy in Comparative Perspectives: الأخلاق الإسلامية ونسق الائتمانية: مقاربات في فلسفة طه عبد الرحمن. Brill, 2020.
  • 21 May 2021: Fishbowl Talk “Reversing the Gaze” with Prof. Dr. Elisio Macamo (University of Basel, Switzerland) and Dr. Nahed Samour (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), moderated by Prof. Dr. Claudia Derichs (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin).
  • 23 July 2021: Fishbowl Talk “Practice-based Research in a Globalized Authoritarian Context – Scapes of Solidarities and Activisms within/across borders” with Dr. Fathima Nizaruddin (Jamiat-e-Millia University Delhi / HU) and Börries Nehe (Coordinator International Research Group on Authoritarianism and Counter-Strategies, moderated by PD Dr. Andrea Fleschenberg (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin).
  • 15 October 2021: Workshop on “Decolonizing collaboration” with Grace Akello, Professor of Medical Anthropology, Gulu University: “The nature of inequality in scientific collaborations in Africa” – Grace Akello focusses on specific dilemmas of scientific collaboration she witnessed as head of the medical anthropology program in Gulu, Northern Uganda; and Prince Guma: “Countering completist pursuits: diversity, incompleteness and a call for collaboration” – Prince Guma will discuss material underpinnings, namely, infrastructures of collaboration and will challenge us to think with infrastructural „incompleteness“ to move beyond conventional framings in terms of highly dichotomized understandings of success/failure; and Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Chair for Epistemologies of the Global South, University of Bayreuth: "Global Coloniality of Power and Collaborative Knowledge Production". Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni examples lingering obstacles to genuine north-south collaboration and will sketch ways of decolonizing collaboration.
  • 10 December 2021: Fishbowl Talk “Negotiating Research Ethics as Decolonial Praxis”      with authors’ collective of the forthcoming special issue Negotiating Research Ethics in Volatile Contexts (Autumn/Winter 2022/23), moderated by Dr. Abida Bano and Dr. Sarah Holz, in cooperation with the Open Access Journal International Quarterly for Asian Studies.

The working group ‘Thinkers and Theorizing from the South’ links up with the organization of the Berlin Southern Theory Lectures, co-organized between ZMO and the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at FU-Berlin.