by Annika Basten, Dshamilja Roshani, Emmanuel Dahan, Vanessa Lee, Yasmine Bakr |
The Summit of Colonialism?
“The Summit of Colonialism?” or „Der Gipfel des Kolonialismus?” is a critical investigation of the recent G20 Summit through a postcolonial lens in the form of a magazine. We use the happenings in and around the G20 Summit in Hamburg as a starting point for discussion around current international political, cultural, social and economic processes and thereby aim to demonstrate how colonial power relations are produced and reproduced. That is, not all content in the magazine will be specifically focused on the G20 Summit itself but will also include other related topics of post- and neocolonialism, as we do not want to create a limiting framework. Along with our own contributions to the magazine, we will collect the works of others as an attempt to act as a platform for discussion with a greater audience outside of the academic context. One of our primary motivations and goals for this project is to break out of this academic context and engage with knowledge created outside of the university. We aim to make this magazine accessible to as many people as possible by engaging with different media (not just including texts), providing access both physically and digitally, providing space for different languages and avoiding overly academic language. The decision to try avoid having English as the primary language is deliberate as we hope to decenter English and the Eurocentrism of such discourse. Throughout this course we have identified the elitism within the university and we hope to challenge this with this magazine. Further, as we are aiming to be a space for learning (and unlearning), we will actively challenge the imposition of knowledge and try to embrace a mutual, two-sided form of education. As Freire states in Pedagogy of the Oppressed: “Education must begin with the solution of the teacher-student contradiction, by reconciling the poles of contradiction so that both are simultaneously teachers and students” (72). All those involved with the magazine – the writers, designers, photographers, poets, readers – act simultaneously as teachers and students in the critical space of this magazine. We are challenging the idea of an objective knowledge, which can only be taught by authority figures within the university. In applying this concept further, we will leave physical copies of these magazines in public spaces in hopes of valuable conversations between friends or strangers, where, perhaps momentarily, they will take on the roles of teacher/student. By adopting these roles, each of us may “develop the critical consciousness which would result from our intervention in the world as transformers of that world” (73). We hope this magazine will inspire to carry this critical consciousness into other spaces of our lives.
Concerning our aim to break out of academic contexts, it made sense for us to use the form of a magazine as it it allows various media approaches and makes space for conversation with a diverse audience due to its accessible nature. It also provides the possibility to generate, share and discuss information in a digital and physical form. Along with the contributions each member of our group made to the magazine, we also aimed at including contributions from other people to open up a space where people can share their ideas and opinions: We put out a call for contributions to our classmates, asked our friends personally for content they wanted to share and contacted people who were involved in one or another way in the topics to ask for their commitment. In that way, we hoped to gain diverse contributions ranging from articles, interviews, comments and translations to photos, poetry and short stories. To open up conversations with various people about the G20, we tried to include different languages and use accessible language. Although relatively academic language was difficult to avoid, we tried to balance this out with works consisting of plainer language. We will make this magazine accessible online, in hopes of reaching a diverse audience through various social networks. Further, for an even greater reach of audience, we will print out the magazine in a physical form and distribute them in sites outside the university. These may include bookstores, train stations, public bathrooms, parks and more.
3. The topic and its relevance for political, economic and social discussions
As our project is embedded in the subject of critical postcolonial perspectives and we are interested in investigating contemporary production and reproduction of colonial power, we decided to use the G20 Summit as a focal point as it reflects current political, economic and social processes. We found that public discourse about the G20 often failed to provide firstly general information about the summit itself and secondly explanations for the motivations behind the protests, including its whole diversity and controversies. Therefore, we wanted to make this knowledge accessible by summarizing basic information about the G20 before proceeding with our own criticism about the G20 summit. We hope to create alternative narratives – not only by opposing the labelling of G20 protests as useless, destructive and purely violent actions, but also by presenting a different view on the “partnership with Africa” and all its related topics. Furthermore, we see the magazine itself as an act of resistance against the injustices that the G20 is symbolizing: Through the process of thinking critically and contributing work to the magazine, having thoughtful and engaged conversations with our friends and peers, reading each other’s poetry and listening to each other’s music, attempting to decenter English, Europe and academic language, we want to actively resist the implicit and explicit dynamics that the G20 represents.
This project was quite aspirational in its goals and despite our best efforts, not all of them could be fully met. We found it difficult to accomplish our goals towards diversity: First, it was challenging to reach out to people not in our circles, which resulted in many contributions coming from other students – which was also partly due to the dilemma of not wanting to demand too much time and resources from people we could not pay for their work. Second, although we did manage to include content in four languages (English, German, French and Arabic), we consider this to be not fully sufficient for our goal towards language accessibility as three of them are European languages. Our end result does not correlate exactly with our goals and proposals. Perhaps this was due to the structure of the university and our positionalities as students but we take this not as a discouragement but rather motivation to continue to critically apply our knowledge to the work we do.