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South-South

The South-South working group seeks to create an interdisciplinary body of knowledge based on direct experiences and grounded research within regions that have been designated as “Global South.” The Global South metanarrative, increasingly appearing in recent scholarship as well as buzzwords in the worlds of international politics, finance, and trade, and used as an alternative to former terms such as “developing world,” “third world countries,” is part of a long line of negative Eurocentric adjectives that have been employed to describe so-called peripheral nations.

In contrast, we are inspired by the writings of anthropologist Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing on friction as a metaphor for the diverse and conflicting social interactions that variously construct, imagine, and inhabit this world - our world - as one where many worlds fit (the pluriverse, to use Arturo Escobar’s term). South-South aims to rub up against, and in proximity with, various Global South formulations and to bring them into stark contrast with regional dynamics. However, our emphasis will be to foreground the complexity of regional, national, cultural specificities and south-south connections that dispels the myths and metanarratives about not only geopolitically dividing up the world but also the anthropocentric hubris to do so.

Given the enormity of the area referred to under this rubric, we begin our exploration by focusing specifically on South Asia. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, group members will consider ways in which diasporic and transnational configurations disrupt geopolitical designations and explore various south-south implications for artistic practices and materiality, interregional coalitions and transnational solidarity activism, global and ethnocultural art histories, and critical visuality studies.


Organizers

  • Alice Ming Wai Jim, Professor, Department of Art History (Faculty of Fine Arts)
  • Gada Mahrouse, Associate Professor, Simone de Beauvoir Institute & Women’s Studies (Faculty of Arts and Sciences)
  • Aman Sandu, PhD Humanities Student (Student Coordinator)

Group Members

Khadija Aziz is a textile and digital artist and educator. She investigates the making and transformation of patterns through the play of analogue and digital processes. By marrying slow textile-making techniques and tools with spontaneous digital manipulation methods, she creates installations, digital images, animations, and Augmented Reality experiences. Through pattern and play, Khadija's work explores the potential of digital materiality: bringing digital into the physical and the tangible into digital spaces.

Dr. Natasha Bissonauth teaches Visual Art and Art History at York University (Toronto). Her research centers queer, trans, and feminist contemporary art practices with expertise in South Asia and its diasporas. Recent research interests expand upon indenture studies, archival work, and material culture. She is currently working on a book project that creates passage between diasporas rarely discussed together in art history, making room for a more expansive and permeable legacy for the discipline. By braiding transnational cartographies across histories of immigration and indenture, threading ‘areas’ like South Asia, the Caribbean, and Mauritius, Black and Brown seams within the discipline emerge. Select publications include “Sunil Gupta’s Sun City: An Exercise in Camping Orientalism” (Art Journal; 2019), “The Future of Museological Display: Chitra Ganesh’s Speculative Encounters” (book chapter in Museums, Sexuality, and Gender Activism, 2020), and “The Dissent of Play: Lotahs in the Museum” (South Asia Journal, 2020).

Surabhi Ghosh is an associate professor in the Department of Studio Arts. She uses textiles, patterning, and site-responsive installations to materialize contradictory narratives, while analyzing the tensile relationship between materials, objects, and their contested social and political value. Her current work investigates the transmission of cultural identity and nationalist ideology to diasporic people, specifically South Asian immigrants and their descendants in North America. Her current projects include a digital storytelling project she curated for the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and new work for solo exhibitions at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, P. E. I., and the Maison des arts de Laval.

Alice Ming Wai Jim is an art historian and curator of contemporary art, with a specialization in cultural production by racialized visible minority BIPOC artists. Her research on diasporic art in Canada and contemporary Asian art has generated new dialogues within and between ethnocultural and global art histories, critical race theory, media arts, and curatorial studies.

Rilla Khaled is an Associate Professor in the Department of Design and Computation Arts and director of the Technoculture, Art and Games (TAG) Research Centre, under the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology. Her research & creation centres on the design of persuasive and critical/speculative playful media, interactions between games and culture, and practices involved in emerging forms of game design.

Nalini Mohabir is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment at Concordia University. She writes, researches, and teaches in the fields of feminist and postcolonial migration geographies, and is interested in gender and racial justice, as well as flows of power and social change. She has published articles in Small Axe, Habitat International, Caribbean Review of Gender Studies, and Interventions, and is co-editing a book entitled: The Fire That Time: Transnational Black Radicalism and the Sir George Williams Occupation.

Varda Nisar is a PhD Candidate in the Art History Department at Concordia University. Previously, she has worked for the Karachi Biennale's Educational Program, as well as established a Children’s Art Fest. She was also a 2015-16 Fellow for Arthink South Asia; in 2012, she was selected for a month-long Cultural Heritage Workshop, organised by Smithsonian, University of Wisconsin, and American Institute of Pakistan Studies. Her doctoral research focuses on national narratives in national institutions in Pakistan, and the role they play in creating a hegemonic identity for the post-colonial nation state. Her previous research on the Silawat Community – the original stone masons in her city of Karachi – has been presented in a number of conferences.

Aman Sandhu is an artist and researcher; he is currently a PhD (research-creation) student in the Humanities at Concordia. His research is focused on improvisation as a methodology for decentering whiteness in artistic practice, from the studio to pedagogy to institution-making. Through a study of improvisation, he aims to rethink the place of refusal in critique to produce other ways of coming to knowledge. Sandhu studied at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 2013-15 and graduated from The Glasgow School of Art’s Master of Fine Art program in 2017. Sandhu was awarded the 2020 Emerging Visual Artist Residency at Cove Park, Helensburgh. He was included in Glasgow International 2020/21 and has been engaged in a long-term pedagogical research project with SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre), Toronto since 2020.

Balbir K. Singh is Assistant Professor of Art and Racial Justice in the Department of Art History, as well as the Faculty for Fine Arts nominee for a Tier II Canada Research Chair. Broadly, her work centers the racial, gendered, and sexual politics of embodiment, surveillance, and policing. Using anti-colonial methods of reading and sensing, Singh builds on theories of opacity in her in-progress manuscript “Militant Bodies: Racial/Religious Opacity and Minoritarian Self-Defense,” which takes a materialist feminist approach to explore questions that center post-9/11 racial and religious hyper-policing of Muslim and Sikh bodies. Moreover, she teaches courses in Asian and Arab diasporic cultural studies; race, affect, and aesthetics; visual culture and surveillance studies; and the politics of fashion and the body. Singh has been published in journals including Sikh Formations, Critical Ethnic Studies, QED, Surveillance and Society, Rhizomes, and the Journal of Asian American Studies. Currently, she serves as Reviews Editor for the College Art Association’s Art Journal.

Kanwal Syed completed her Ph.D. in Art History from Concordia University (August 2022) entitled: “ ھم گنہاگار عورتیں (We Sinful Women): Urban Feminist Visuality in Contemporary Art and Feminist Movements in Pakistan After 9/11.” Her research interests engage with critical art histories, contemporary South Asian art and non-western Feminist Art – and Global Art Histories. She did her under-graduation as a studio artist, with a major in sculpture from the National College of Arts, Pakistan. In 2012, she completed her M.A in Art History from University Sains Malaysia, entitled Caught in The Middle: Socio-Political Imageries in Contemporary Art in Pakistan Post 9/11 (2001-2013). She is the author of two published texts in peer-reviewed international journals.

Jaret Vadera is an Assistant Professor in Intersectional, Feminist, and Decolonial 2D and 4D Image-Making Practices, Studio Arts. He is a transdisciplinary artist whose work explores how different social, and technological processes colonize the ways that we see the worlds around and within us. Vadera hacks different visual systems, and rewires them to glitch, rupture, and open up parallel ways of seeing.


Key Questions

  • How does the ‘Global South’ see, identify, and define itself?
  • How to create direct connections between the Global South and embrace each other's complex colonial/postcolonial histories without being essentialized?
  • What is the impact of unproblematized Global South discourses on the cultural production of racialized communities living and working in the Americas? How do these discourses complicate non-Indigenous, non-Black POC identifications?
  • Is there an alignment of Global South and BIPOC categories? Do they fail to acknowledge the specific experiences of white supremacy of peoples of colour who do not self-identify as Black or Indigenous?

Activities

  • Group meetings organized according to research synergies of group members, enabling interdisciplinary scholarly exchange, opportunities to discuss projects-in-progress, and develop new research networks to lay the ground for future collaborations.
  • Graduate student mentorship and professional development
  • Public Lecture Series (TBA)
     
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