Stephen Small: Decolonizing Knowledge Production on Black Europe and the African Diaspora

The University of Tampere in Finland is organizing the sixth conference on Afroeuropeans from 6 – 8 July 2017. The theme this year is Black Cultures and Identities in Europe. Stephen Small and Sandew Hira are organizing a panel on Decolonizing Knowledge Production on Black Europe and the African Diaspora.

Mainstream academic analysis of the African Diaspora in Europe is dominated by a preoccupation with European political and economic interests, inaccurate assumptions about the growth of Europe and the development of European identity, and a failure to account for the limits of industrialization and modernity.  It was influenced by European philosophers and scholars that embraced scientific racism, Social Darwinism and eugenics. It has failed to address the irrepressibly gendered nature of knowledge production. The epistemological foundations of this knowledge production are deeply flawed.

Criticism of mainstream knowledge on the African diaspora saw its greatest impetus with the arrival in Europe of unprecedented numbers of Black people (and other people of color) as immigrants, settlers and citizens.  They have developed alternative epistemological foundations but have been largely excluded from the academy. Building on the work of some critical scholars inside the academy, this includes independent scholars and writers, Black women’s organizations and performers of music, theater and literature. This includes critical race theory, Black feminist theory, post-colonial studies and decolonial studies.

This panel proposes papers on the African Diaspora within a DTM framework. DTM rejects the epistemological foundations of mainstream knowledge, which invariably focuses on immigrants, adaptation, tolerance and gratitude, and typically disavows the relevance of racism in favor of ethnicity and nationality.  In opposition, the DTM framework advocates knowledge production based on a recognition of citizenship, an evaluation of institutional racism, and appreciation of rights and respect. We seek papers that challenge the taken-for-granted assumptions of academic neutrality; that highlight issues of gender and solidarity; that challenge colonialist language and that embrace new concepts and terminology.

Participants who are interested in this panel should contact Stephen Small: small@berkeley.edu.