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Ertegun House

Spatialising the Social Sciences in Postcolonial Contexts

This workshop aims to create a platform for debate between scholars critically engaging the concept of space in postcolonial contexts. The realisation that geography matters has encouraged social sciences and humanities scholars towards what has come to be called the spatial turn in a variety of disciplines. This term refers to a scholarly shift away from conceptually and analytically valuing time over space, and away from an understanding of space as a mere container giving shape to broader phenomena. These disciplinary changes have had a particular impact on the study of societies in post-colonial contexts. Studies have shown the importance of considering space when analysing, for example, forms of popular resistance and political transformation (Bayat, 1997, 2010; Gunning and Zvi Baron, 2012; Combes, Garibay, and Goirand (eds.), 2015; Oslender, 2016); lived experiences at urban and social margins (Doraï, 2005, Doraï and Puig, 2012; Dias, 2013); and much more. This workshop will tackle such questions in depth and provide a cross-disciplinary platform for exchanges between scholars working at the intersections of geography and other social sciences or humanities disciplines. As Edward Soja (2011) has observed, postcolonial studies and human geography have always enjoyed an intimate entanglement. The spatial turn, however, as he has also pointed out, has provoked new concerns within and in relation to postcolonial scholarship. In postcolonial countries, struggles over territory – physical, epistemological, cultural, corporeal and others – have meant that scholars from or working on such contexts were paying attention to space and place long before the spatial turn (Noyes, 1992; Chambers and Curti, 1996; Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin, 1994; Bhabha, 1994; Bhabha, 1990). How, nonetheless, has the increased attention to and production of critical spatial perspectives throughout the humanities and social sciences affected the study of space in the postcolonial world? As Soja writes, has it allowed for critical moves away from binaries like colonizer/colonized, East/West, North/South, capitalism/socialism? What other, non-dichotomous ways of thinking and narrating the postcolonial condition does the spatial turn enable? 

For more information about the conference please click here.

Registration for the event is available here.