Public Lecture: The Relational politics of transnational collaboration

Unknown-1Hosted by The Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre (VIAD)
27 July 2016
Room LG010, FADA Building, Bunting Road Campus


In this lecture, I think through what transnational collaborations between people positioned differentially in the Global North and the Global South mean within the context of a decolonising impulse. I consider the challenges, pleasures and prospects for creating meaningful engagements through the relations of inequality and power that these different South-North positionings imply, especially from within an institutional framework pushing to internationalise knowledge and scholarship in terms of teaching, learning, pedagogic practice and research. What does it mean to decolonize and to internationalise? How do these different frames of reference work in tension and how might they intersect productively?

My starting point is the idea that ‘global coloniality’ (Quijano, 2000) works to frame the interrelations and interdependencies between nations and the people that make them up, and that this operates as a means to reproduce unequal imperial dynamics. I bring my understanding of ‘relational politics’ (Hunter, 2015) into this analysis as a way of considering the lived everyday’s of this global coloniality, its embodied ontopolitics; how these lived everyday’s relate to institutional practices, subjective experience and emotions and how the lived everyday constitutes a form of resistance to the imperial impulse of ‘global coloniality’. This is because the idea of relational politics provides a way of thinking about the intersecting relationalities which enable collective action to occur through difference. It which recognises the realities of the ways in which material, symbolic and affective violence travels from North to South and back again. These realities are always (of) here and at the same time (of) there. It recognises that the relational struggles which make the connections between these heres and theres are constitutive of a decolonising impulse crucial to producing social change. This is a social change which might be able to connect multiple ‘wes’ across time-space in a way that resists the fundamental rationalist linear dualisms that work to shore-up ‘global coloniality’.

I make my way into this analysis via institutional policy documents from Leeds UK and Johannesburg, my empirical work in education, health and social care services in the English context, and autoethnographic reflection rooted in my work with VIAD in Johannesburg.

Hunter, S. (2015) Power, Politics and the Emotions: Impossible Governance? London: Routledge.
Quijano, A. (2000) ‘Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism, and Latin America’ Nepantla: Views from the South 1.3:533-580.

Prof.  Shona Hunter is an Associate Professor in Sociology and Social Policy Governance, University of Leeds (UK), and a Visiting Associate Professor in the Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre (VIAD), University of Johannesburg, South Africa.


For further information on the event please contact:
James Macdonald, Curatorial Project Manager, Visual Identities in Art & Design Research Centre
Office: +27 (0)11 559 1249, Email:
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