Around the world, there are people eating a similar culinary and intellectual diet. We see this massive diffusion of processed foods, hamburgers, and Coca Cola as analogous to the hegemonic grasp of Western social theories and methods. These are often labeled “global” but they are not. This blind spot can make us take for granted that people around the world ask and answer questions in the same way—that there is something called theory and a package of strategies called methods that we use to build it.
What tools can we create to grapple with our own epistemological and methodological biases? This checklist is meant to be a tool that does just that. It does not take the social conditions and political boundaries within which knowledge is produced for granted, it seeks fluidity, permeability and movement. It also seeks to promote more egalitarian, collaborative, multi-sited knowledge production partnerships that include thinkers, creators, and activists from across the globe.
Checklist to deconstruct and reconstruct:
The checklist will be used to motivate and organize all of the Global DeCentre’s activities. The following considerations can guide anybody who develops student activities, exhibitions, conversations, critical pedagogies, etcetera.
How do I decenter that?
Motivation and ambition
1a. What binds us?
1b. What makes us different? Do we capitalize on these differences?
1c. What inspires us?
1d. Does what we are attempting to do advance social transformation?
2a. Is the process as well as the outcome decentered?
2b. Is there space for impulse and improvisation?
2c. Does what we are doing cause curiosity? Is it original? Does it both unravel and also spark?
2d. Does it allow moments of ‘uneasiness’? Is there room to communicate if we are hurt and offer our perspectives?
2e. Does it allow receiving and producing knowledge in different ways that go beyond words to include images, notes, sensory input?
3a. Is it possible for people from all corners of the world to attend?
3b. Are we diverse – in all kinds of ways?
3c. Does our engagement with one another continue beyond a single encounter?
3d. Does it give us the right to be human (different; vulnerable; guilty)?
3e. Does it enable solidarity, by creating spaces for others to align themselves with our thoughts, but also to oppose them?
3f. Does it function as a safe space, and at the same time, as a daring space that unsettles the routine and the dominance of the usual suspects?