What are the ways in which we can think the world from categories derived from particular spaces and lifeworlds, rather than working with categories seen as universal? Concepts such as modernization, westernization which were current in the period of the Cold War, with the implicit telos of Europe, have been replaced by seemingly radical paradigms like postcolonial theory. We need to think with broader geographies – the oceans – and intellectual systems from the global south, as indigenous knowledge.

Over the last ten years, I have been working with students and postdocs at my Centre to as why the global south has been rendered in terms of histories from elsewhere. We have worked with the need to think beyond contingent formations like the nation to think about connected histories between Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Instead of staying within the triad of pre-, colonial, and post-colonial, we have argued for the paracolonial. That is to say the existence of flows, identities, and institutions that have preceded the colonial, sat alongside it, and exceeded the existence of national states. What Edouard Glissant has called an archipelagic relation, the imagination of affinity between non-contiguous spaces, is the central idea. We argue for developing an indigenous library of concepts to rewrite the social sciences. Recovering from the amnesia that colonialism wrought towards indigenous knowledge is key. We work towards a fluid epistemology of the global south.


Tags: Global South, Oceanic History, South Asia, Colonialism, Modernity, Indigenous Knowledge.