Cfp * Decolonising Political Concepts * 6 juin 2019

Conference “Decolonising Political Concepts”, Thursday 19th – Friday 20th September 2019, hosted by the Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law (CISRUL), University of Aberdeen. Deadline for abstracts submission: 6th June 2019.


Postcolonial and decolonial thinkers and activists have spent the last decades unravelling the intellectual, political and structural legacies of colonialism and ongoing coloniality in our contemporary world. Political concepts are part of these legacies. The way academics define and use them is generally mediated by traditions of political thought marked by and even framed by coloniality. However, and despite the increasing and far-reaching work of postcolonial and decolonial research, this aspect of political concepts is still too often silenced or ignored in some academic settings. As a Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law and a PhD programme focused on political concepts, we feel the need to bring these debates to our research and thinking. We aim to engage not only with the Centre’s core concepts but also with projects dealing with, but not exclusively, sovereignty, secularism or democracy. We particularly invite intersectional critiques and perspectives on political concepts and decolonial theories related to these. We call for papers on the coloniality of political concepts, and on how ontological, epistemological and political closures and exclusions are reproduced through their use. Papers engaging more explicitly with assumed and reproduced political and
epistemological hierarchies resulting from an uncritical engagement with Western political concepts are also welcome. Lastly, we seek to open up collective and collaborative reflections on how to expose, challenge and overcome the colonialities
still permeating ideas and research by questioning the tools that political concepts are. We aim to engage with non-Western and indigenous political thought and experiences, inviting prospective speakers to reflect on alternative uses and on what
decolonised political concepts might look like. We see such dialogues as necessary in order to find ways of living together that acknowledge and respect plurality and allow for genuinely “postcolonial” academic and political contexts. (see attached pdf for extended version).


The conference will be held at the beautiful Old Aberdeen campus of the University of Aberdeen on Thursday 19th and Friday 20th September. Confirmed speakers include:

  • Julie Cupples is Professor of Human Geography and Cultural Studies at the University of Edinburgh, and specializes in cultural geography, development studies and media and cultural studies. Her recent publications include Unsettling Eurocentrism in the Westernized University (2018), co-edited with Ramón Grosfoguel.
  • Oscar Guardiola-Rivera is Professor in Law at Birkbeck University of London. His work spans theory and history of human rights, constitutionalism, international law and globalisation. Among many other publications, he is the writer of the award-winning What If Latin America Ruled the World? (2010).
  • Salman Sayyid is Professor of Social Theory & Decolonial Thought at the University of Leeds. His extensive and interdisciplinary work might be place under the umbrella of Critical Muslim Studies. His books include Islamism as Philosophy: Decolonial Horizons (2017).

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