CFP: Decolonizing Knowledge

Submission deadline: April 30, 2021

Conference date(s):
November 19, 2021 - November 20, 2021

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Conference Venue:

Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna
Vienna, Austria

Topic areas


Call for Papers & Call for Epistemic Intervention

The "Decolonizing Knowledge" conference will take place from November 19th-20th, 2021 in Vienna in cooperation between the University of Vienna, the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, University of Art and Design Linz, the Institute for Science and Culture (IWK), the International Research Centre for Cultural Studies (IFK), and the Viennese Society for Intercultural Philosophy (WiGiP).

This conference is organized as a forum to bring together different decolonial initiatives in and out of universities in dialogue. The conference also discusses and reflects upon epistemic mechanisms of (neo) colonization, as well as opportunities to decolonize knowledge in different academic fields, the arts, and activism. In addition to addressing the presented works, the aim of this conference is to better connect, work together on decolonial knowledge practices, and ensure more diversity of the faculty, staff, and curriculum within different educational institutions.

There remains a widespread view that colonialism – as a systematic occupation, oppression and exploitation of territorial areas, resources, and bodies of “Others” – is an event of the past. This contrasts with the view that colonialism is in many ways ruthlessly ongoing and therefore, an continuously present condition. Yet more strongly, we are confronted today with new, subtler forms of colonial violence. Amidst these conditions, examining colonialism cannot be limited to historical examination, which is nonetheless indispensable. On the contrary, the mechanisms of colonial thought and action of the present must be analysed and interventions found. It is important to find (counter) strategies of analysis and critique, as well as opportunities for networking to build solidarity across different academic fields and perspectives, in order to point out and deconstruct local and global neo-colonial power relations across theories and practices to take action for transformation.

With this in mind, we want to address in our conference the multi-faceted means in which colonial knowledge mechanisms emerged, occurred, and continue to perpetuate. Moreover, methods of colonial logic will be analyzed, which up to today present themselves as an incontestable, sovereign culture of reason and seeks to secure its epistemic position of power by opposing a devalued “Other”. In doing so, “other” knowledge cultures and practices are either stigmatized as irrationalities; violently suppressed and excluded as non-legitimate or completely “unusual”; or they are distorted into coveted kitsch, exoticism, and esotericism. In other cases, knowledge of “Others” is appropriated, but at the price of denying its origins, hiding it away, and even obscuring the path leading up to it. These mechanisms therefore not only aim to reinforce colonial supremacy, but also block transformations of liberation, which could emerge through participation and equal rights. For this very reason, we would like to ask: which “other” knowledges could survive the abusive, all-consuming violence of colonialism? How did they assert themselves locally and globally against a colonial-driven knowledge regime and in that respect, reveal possibilities for emancipatory transformation?

The conference title “De/ Colonizing Knowledge” refers not only to the question of how colonial knowledge is produced but also how anti-colonial, emancipatory knowledge is produced. Moreover, how do these knowledge processes inevitably affect or even constitute experiences of reality? Such processes can take place in different epistemic practices. In addition to institutionalised forms of knowledge, in particular, such as academic knowledge production, we also refer to forms of knowledge used in situations in everyday life, the habitus of the body; various forms of art, social and spiritual rituals, as well as using objects, technical tools, digital media or also in political activism. We also consider subtle knowledge practices that are difficult to grasp at a first glance, which elude language and other forms of articulation because they occur subtly, but (in some instances) unknown or unconscious. 

However, all these forms of knowledge, which can be expanded, further differentiated, or also blended with one another, do not stand in isolation, but across many different relations. These knowledges refer to diverse problems and conflicts, as well as needs, desires, and hopes.

Thus, we see our call for »Decolonizing Knowledge« as a larger call to bring together different contributions of decolonial research and practices into exchange – beyond disciplinary knowledge fields and hierarchies. In addition to the classical lecture format, we also welcome and support other presentation formats from performance lectures to films, poems, paintings, or installations. Workshops, participatory activities, and alternatives to lecture-style presentations are also very welcome.

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Connecting discussions on decolonizing knowlege in the German-speaking world is an important focus of this conference. Therefore, German will be the main language of the conference, but we will strive to create spaces for other languages as needed.  

Please send your lecture proposal as an abstract or for technical projects and artistic contributions, a description of your planned project by April 30th, 2021 to [email protected] Further details on the abstracts and project proposals can be found below. Decisions and proposal acceptances will be informed by mid-July 2021.

A publication of the conference contributions is planned. For participants without institutional affiliation and/or with financial difficulties, a portion of the travel and accommodation costs will be covered (budget permitting). The conference is free of cost for participants and audience members.

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Conference Submission Instructions:

For lectures and performance lectures:

  • Indicate selected format 

  • Title

  • Abstract (6,000 characters)

  • Short bio and contact information

  • Technical Requirements

For workshops, participatory activities, performances, and other presentation formats:

  • Indicate selected format

  • Title

  • Abstract (4,000 characters)

  • Concept (list of planned activities, number of participants) (1,000 characters)

  • Short bio and contact information

  • Technology and materials required

For technical/practice-based submissions and artistic contributions:

  • Indicate type of contribution

  • Title

  • Description of the planned project

  • 2 Images

  • Short Bio and contact information

  • Technology and materials required, designs

    PLEASE NOTE: Production expenses cannot be reimbursed.

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Please send proposals and application materials by April 30th, 2021 to: [email protected] 

Decisions and proposal acceptances will be informed by mid-July 2021.

Conference postponement due to COVID-19 cannot be ruled out at the moment.

Supporting material

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