Deabting Development opening session
Key to a reflection on the role of universities for social transformation and building solidarity towards social and environmental justice is to understand the nexus between power and knowledge production in the academy. This requires us to critically reflect on the values that underpin our universities and the role of staff and students in either reproducing or dismantling hegemonic status quo conditions. In this opening session invited speakers will reflect on the notion of “impact”, “transformation”, “sustainability”, and other buzzwords that universities often use in defining their social mission statements. Such vocabulary illustrates how conventional academic and scientific language often risk being used as vehicles for epistemic violence and legitimization of status quo ‘development’ in an era of growing ecological and social injustice. In doing so, the session invites us to reflect on whether there is such a thing as a “neutral” or ”objective” knowledge that can be produced in isolation of existing power geographies and social conditions. The speakers will also reflect on the roles and responsibilities university staff and students have in pushing for social transformation, and how the “language of dissent” and critical notions such as “decolonization” and scholar-activism are often disciplined through cooptation and trivialization of their meanings.
Speakers, Panel discussion