Decolonial Reconstellations in the Longue Durée

Seminar Conference, UMass-Amherst

March 1-3, 2018

Seminar participants follow this link for research clusters, abstracts, and contact information.

 The WSIP seminar-conference, “Decolonial Reconstellations in the Longue Durée” builds on the 2015-16 Sawyer Seminar to generate questions and concepts for decolonial analysis. We bring together an interdisciplinary set of scholars of pre-1500 and post-1500 periods to rethink standard narratives of the world’s dialectically entangled histories.  Papers will develop non-Eurocentric perspectives on global history, political economy, and culture, grounded in local and regional case studies. For public events linked to our upcoming “Decolonial Reconstellations” conference, follow this link.  We invite all members of the Five College Community to join us.

As has become clear in WSIP events, this project of paradigm revision entails reimagining not only the spatio-temporal coordinates of our histories but also our ways of generating and narrating these frameworks. Likewise it requires interdisciplinary knowledge-sharing and open-ended thinking. To this end, the conference follows a workshop-style format leading to a collection structured by interdisciplinary collaboration, including either co-authorship or collectively developed conceptions.

In early correspondence for the conference, we were struck by participants’ emphasis on ways of knowing, or epistemologies, ranging from the cosmological to the disciplinary. We have thus also begun to cast our project as one of “Reframing Epistemologies,” which we anticipate will also keep in view the de-eurocentrizing angle of the project.   The seminar-conference will be organized around research subgroups, focusing on long-historical epistemologies of environment, economics, civilization, and science as well as of aesthetics, translation, and political and intellectual movements for change.   We anticipate that this approach will prompt some reorienting of individual projects as well as new concepts for periodization, methods, visions, and critiques. We also expect these themes to shape the public forum.

One note on our conference title.  In recent years, some scholars have distinguished decolonial studies from postcolonial studies, yet at WSIP we aim to develop a long-historical, interdisciplinary method that integrates the analyses and insights of both.  If, as some would argue, postcolonial studies mainly seeks to critique the modern/colonial, Anglo-European world order, and decolonial studies seeks to highlight visions originating outside of that order (especially among indigenous peoples), WSIP explores the ways that, for more than two millennia, a range of transhemispheric interactions has generated both the problems and the creative visions of the global world. Our commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration is itself inspired by the long collective legacy of peoples’ envisioning of a better world. We chose the term “decolonial” insofar it is guided by that vision.