ACLA Panel on the Global South and the Question of Method

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    Anne Garland Mahler
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    Organizer: Magali Armillas-Tiseyra

    Co-Organizer: Anne Garland Mahler

    Co-Organizer: Duncan McEachern Yoon

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    <div class=”field-item even”>In the first issue of The Global South (2007), Alfred López defined the Global South as “the mutual recognition among the world’s subalterns of their shared condition at the margins of the brave new neoliberal world of globalization” (3). Recently, others have described it as the “political consciousness” resulting from this condition (Mahler, “The Global South”; Prashad, The Poorer Nations). While the term has geographic connotations, the “South” is configured as a situational––rather than geographic­­––location that indexes spaces of inequity and marginalization around the globe. The concept aims to transcend state-centric forms of analysis while acknowledging the ways contemporary global capitalism produces new, rescaled socio-spatial configurations.

    In sum, the Global South refers to a fluid mapping of the so-called externalities of capitalist accumulation as well as to the transnational political collectivities produced through neoliberal globalization. The term itself is borrowed from social science and development circles. However, in literary and cultural studies it is most often used as a framework for trans-regional comparison that accounts for contemporary global distributions of political, economic, and cultural power.

    This seminar seeks to move beyond identifying what the Global South “is” to what it means to engage the Global South as critical praxis: is there (yet) a Global South theory? What are the possible (or necessary) sources for the articulation of methodologies associated with working on/in the Global South? At stake is the constitution of the Global South as a field of study alongside other large-scale comparative frameworks, including Postcolonial Studies and World Literature. While the Global South overlaps with these, we aim to better define the specific concerns and contributions of the Global South.

    Possible questions include:

    • What does a Global South reading look like?
    • Is there a Global South “genre”?
    • Is the Global South a periodizing framework?
    • Is the Global South utopian or dystopian?
    • What is (or is there) Global South nostalgia?
    • What is the relationship (or, what are the points of overlap) between the Global South and other politically inflected trans-regional frameworks, such as the postcolonial?
    • What is the relationship of the Global South to the history of Marxism and/or Marxist criticism?
    • How does it intersect (or not) with the concept of decoloniality?
    • What role can recent criticisms of neoliberalism, world-systems theory, theories of uneven development, and dependency theory play in understanding the Global South, and vice versa?
    • What is the role of translation and what are the language(s) of the Global South?
    • What is the relationship between the Global South and Human Rights?


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