A group of Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) faculty members examined the notion of the Global South and its contemporary implications on scholarly research, journalistic practices, teaching and the world at large at an event hosted by the Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South (#IAS_NUQ).
In introducing the event, Marwan M Kraidy, dean and founder of the institute, noted that the institute’s mission is “to forge multidisciplinary and multimodal approaches to knowledge on the Global South by harnessing traditions from the liberal arts, media, communication and journalism,” and that this event with NU-Q faculty is “an open invitation to engage, deliberate, and collaborate about what the Global South means”.
The first event in the institute’s Critical Conversations series was moderated by Krishna Sharma, president of the Northwestern Qatar student body. The panel featured Professors Banu Akdenizli, James Hodapp and Marcela Pizarro.
In her comments, Akdenizli challenged the neoliberal understanding of the Global South and made a case to examine the notion beyond the binary divisions of South and North. Instead, she offered to look at the Global South as an “imagined transnational community, which is about challenging dominant voices of the world, especially in politics, and trying to formulate some alternatives to the existing status quo”.
Akdenizli also stressed the need to examine the Global South as as notion at the national and regional levels. “Inequality is not just between countries,” said Akdenizli, calling for scholars to examine inequalities between and within communities and arguing for a new understanding of the Global South centered on communities’ issues and struggles.
Hodapp, whose research focuses on African, world and postcolonial literature, examined the history of the Global South as a notion and experience and its relevance to communities across the world. “The notion of the Global South has a genealogy, and there are many ways to construct that genealogy,” noted Hodapp. “One of the most important ways to construct that is its relation to notions such as post-nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and related concepts like Afropolitanism.”
For academics and scholars researching cultural, economic and political inequalities beyond state-centric forms, Hodapp said this unconfined thinking about the Global South “enacts South-South comparison as lateral solidarities, as a conceptual framework to address places and people negatively impacted by capitalist globalisation, both in the past, such as colonialism, and present”.
Drawing from her Chilean family’s experience with displacement and her career as an international journalist, Pizarro explained how the Global South informs her work in the university and the newsroom. “It's a useful compass,” said Pizarro, “it keeps me on my feet in the classroom, in the newsroom, on the picket line and the edit, at the protest, and on this academic panel.”
Critical Conversations is a series of events under the auspices of the newly-launched Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South. Through a variety of similar events and programmes, the institute aims to amplify faculty and students’ scholarship and media-making and to produce and promote evidence-based storytelling focused on the media history, culture and societies of the Global South.