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SSRC-Warwick Summer School

Postcolonial Identities and Decolonial Struggles: Creolization and Colored Cosmopolitanism
(International Field)

This workshop addresses the production of contestatory cultures from the age of enslavement and colonization to that of decolonization. It is concerned with the continuing resonance across social, cultural and political fields of the emancipatory struggles of those times. We will focus, in particular, on the historical and contemporary dimensions of creolization and colored cosmopolitanism. Creolization refers to the mutually constituting processes of identity construction, such as cultural syncretism, hybridity, or mestisaje that oppressed peoples create in their struggles against injustice, most usually in contexts of colonialism, settlement, and enslavement. It is a frame through which researchers can recognize these difficult histories, not to diminish the inhumane conditions of the time, but rather to acknowledge the creative capacity of human endeavour to cope with and overcome such conditions. The idea of ‘colored cosmopolitanism’ is one such product that points to movements of socio-cultural engagement and solidarity across racial and national lines.

There are many ways to study resistance to domination through cultural creation. Students might, for example, probe voodoo and self-emancipation in Haiti, the history of African and Native alliances against oppression across the Americas, or the many instances of local resistance to colonial depredations across the globe. Our focus on colored cosmopolitanism is intended to facilitate investigation into the development of cross-racial identities and cross-national linkages between twentieth century struggles against domination as suggested by the examples of Pan Africanism, the Non-Aligned Movement, the international indigenous rights movement, or Rastafari. The workshop takes the concepts of creolization and colored cosmopolitanism into the twenty-first century, not by linking them to standard understandings of globalisation, but rather by examining how the movements and settlement of people, concepts, and ideas reveals the persistence, as well as the reconfiguration, of socio-cultural identities and a variety of borders.

We will particularly welcome applications from students whose research will focus on three themes related to creolization and colored cosmopolitanism in any region of the world:

  • Cultural: the creation of cultural understandings and movements via music, art, dance, literature, that relate culture to the histories of struggles; contemporary uses of media to define and redefine social movements
  • Political: popular struggles for emancipation, anti-colonial resistance, and civil and human rights, and attempt to establish institutional forms of alliance and mobilization for these broader movements
  • Social: contesting the long-established racialised and colonial institutional orders, and examining the possibilities of building alternative relations and structures.

With its focus on contestatory cultures, we expect this workshop will appeal particularly to students from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds including Sociology, Geography, Anthropology, Ethnomusicology, Performance Studies, History, English, Comparative Literature, Political Science, and Philosophy but we encourage applications from students based in other humanities and social science disciplines as well.

Open to doctoral students based at universities within the U.S. and first-year doctoral students based at universities within the United Kingdom.

Workshop dates:

Spring - May 28-June 2, 2013 in Coventry, England

Fall - September 18-22, 2013 in Cambridge, Massachusetts