Universities, social transformation, and the politics of knowledge



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° n/a Engels
Tags: IOB, development

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

Type opleiding:
Lezingen en studiedagen
Sociale wetenschappen
Invited speakers

Willem Schinkel is Professor of Social Theory at Erasmus University Rotterdam. His work centers on social and political theory, specifically on issues ranging from migration to racial capitalism and fascism in Europe.

Amber Murrey is an associate professor at the School of Geography and the Environment of the University of Oxford since 2018, having previously held academic positions at the American University in Cairo, Clark University in Massachusetts and Jimma University in Ethiopia. Her research on resistance and social change in Africa is empirically grounded and integrates the political geographies of environmental and socio-political struggles with decolonial theory and resistance studies.


Swati Kamble is an anti-caste intersectional feminist researcher-activist. Her research broadly focuses on human rights and social justice movements, decolonisation and intersectionality. She has a PhD in socio-economics from the faculty of social sciences at the University of Geneva. Her doctoral research focused on the political mobilisation of India's caste-affected, caste-oppressed communities, their movement history and how this movement has shaped oppressed caste women activists into agents of change. She studied how Dalit women activists influence policy processes by negotiating and navigating andro-centric, upper-caste bureaucratic spaces of power.

Additionally, she has studied Roma women’s movement in Hungary and how the European decade for Roma inclusion plan’ policy did not reflect the issues of Roma women that the Roma civil society has been advocating for. Currently, she is researching the digital activism of Dalit women and middle-class Dalit women’s mobility in the Indian neo-liberal market. She is also collaborating with Dalit, indigenous and marginalised groups and organisations in India on a project around mapping and archival of indigenous forms of knowledge and decolonisation

UAntwerpen Stadscampus R.002

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