Past dialogues


Pedro Oliveira
(Universität der Künste Berlin and Decolonising Design Group)
Richard Pithouse (Rhodes University)
Zhara Bayati (University of Gothenburg)

Date:  Wednesday, April 26, at 16.00 – 19.00.
Place: The library, HDK – Academy of Design and Crafts, Kristinelundsgatan 6 – 8, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Refreshments will be served. Signing up for the event is required and is done here. Signing up with close on April 19, midnight.


On behalf of PARSE and CGM
Erling Björgvinsson, Onkar Kular and Henric Benesch

The dialogue is conjointly arranged with Public Talks: Any Given Sunday – Cape Town collaborative as part of Draft, April 27, 17.00, Glass House, Valand Academy Chalmersgatan 4. For more information see below.

In relation to the second PARSE biennial conference, taking place in November 16 – 17 2017 and in collaboration with The Centre on Global Migration this dialogue wishes to address institutional and epistemological exclusions, master paradigms, and institutional racism within educational institution as well as in relation to how such institutions interact with civil society. It will also address communal and collective perspectives for a new arts and humanities, which rejects universality and progress and that instead embraces epistemic and disciplinary disobedience and pluri-national institutions.

Arts and design education and cultural institutions aim for diversity, yet remain quite homogenous in their staffing, in their understanding and promotion of aesthetics, and in their view of knowledge, and whom they collaborate with. Further more, universities are increasingly expected to deal with societal challenges through collaborating with public and private institutions and civil society groups. Various forms of participatory formats have been developed with the aim to redistribute power, but nevertheless often end up reproducing existing power structures as well as exclude.

If the university is to collaborate with the surrounding society, it needs to head on and fundamentally address how new knowledge perspectives and practices can be developed by acknowledging differences in how we understand and act in the world and what are considered valid results. It also means that the university needs to critically address who are the subjects of participation? How and from where are they selected? Why are certain institutions, organisations, people seen to be in greater need of receiving participatory ‘support’? What aesthetic-political subjects and imaginaries are produced in such projects and processes? How if at all is power and decision-making redistributed? How does the instrumentalisation of participation reconfigure cultural production, citizens as subjects, and institutions?

Pedro Oliveira: Decolonising design education: A pedagogical model of care
The effort to decolonise design education can only begin if we struggle to reshape the understanding of design from thehegemonic narrative of a Western[ised] performance of making, to encompass all that which sets the conditions for human living. So rather than “decolonising” being deployed as another qualitative modifier to be put in front of what design does – implying provisional lenses that can be easily switched or removed, – we must interrogate the colonial foundations of what design is, and how this fiction gets normalised into a depoliticised pedagogical model. In that sense, decolonisation becomes a foundational issue rather than merely another approach. In other words, when one fails to interrogate the colonial nature of this fiction, decolonisation becomes yet another ‘service’ that can be ‘offered’ in order to accommodate and exempt the field from any political accountability on the reproduction and perpetuation of oppressive and unsustainable materialities.

While it can be agreed that design needs to account for inclusion of those usually neglected by the outcomes of designing, we believe this to be only the surface layer of a much more profound ontological problem. There cannot be a decolonising effort in which designers – even a diverse group – are still taught a productivist model which puts our very existence at threat, sustaining the deliberate appropriation and hierarchisation of not only nature, but also of other human beings. Instead, we argue that a pedagogical model of care is at the center of an effort to de-link the field from its colonial shackles, and move towards novel understandings of design research and praxis. We understand the (re)design of institutions, design practices and design studies (efforts that always occur under conditions of contested political interests) to be a pivotal challenge in the process of decolonisation.

As the Decolonising Design group, we work towards developing propositions as to how and where the decolonisation of design education – and the educational model of design – can be performed. In this short talk, we will do so by looking at the emancipatory pedagogies found in the work of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, the border consciousness model of feminist writer Gloria Anzaldúa, as well as in the idea of pluriversal education put forward by the Zapatista movement.

The Decolonising Design group was founded in 2016 by eight researchers stemming from or with ties to the Global South, as a response to Euro- and Anglocentric socio-technical politics and pedagogies of design as both a field of research and praxis. In that sense, the group aims to contribute to a systematic, rather than additive, change in the field; it does not aim to offer an “alternative perspective” on design, but to question the very foundations upon which the discipline was established. For this talk in Gothenburg, the group will be represented by Pedro Oliveira, design researcher in sound studies and a PhD candidate at the Berlin University of the Arts.

Richard Pithouse: Coloniality, the University & Civil Society
This presentation will begin by showing some of the ways in which the post-apartheid South African university sustains an investment in forms of liberalism that are, plainly, racist. It will then show that that while socialist ideas and practices in the post-apartheid academy have often been critical of liberal assumptions about economics it has not been unusual for them to be invested in liberal ideas and practices about politics, especially in terms of questions of organisation, mobilisation and representation. It will be argued that the idea of civil society, often understood in the post-Cold War era as donor backed NGOs, has frequently functioned to reinscribe forms of paternalism, in many cases acutely raced, that had been subject to serious critique from the 1970s till the end of apartheid.

Professor Richard Pithouse is the senior researcher at the Unit for the Humanities (UHURU), at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, and a Visiting Researcher at the Wits Institute for Social & Economic Research (WiSER), at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He has also held a George A. Miller Visiting Professorship at the University of Illinois in the United States. He has been a regular contributor to the media over the last twenty years. While his journalism has mostly been concerned with politics he has also written about music and poetry. A collection of his recent journalism, Writing the Decline, was published in 2016. Pithouse has sustained a lifelong commitment to participation in popular struggles and has often been asked to share ideas with popular struggles and movements in South Africa and elsewhere. He has taught at trade union schools in South Africa, and at the MST political school in Brazil.

Zahra Bayati “The Other” in teacher education  – A study of the racialized Swedish student’s conditions in the era of globalization
Zahra Bayati will speak about her empirical studies related to “the other” in teachers education. The study confirms the findings of previous studies, which show that the Swedish Eurocentric education system have many struggle in era of globalization, for example students from non-European countries experience stigmatization, exclusion and discrimination on structural and individual levels. But at the same time, the study also found existing resistance with many agents willing to embark on the transcending approach. The empirical study is analyzed in relation to postcolonial perspectives (Babha, 1986; Said, 1978/2000) and critical race whiteness theory (Du Bois, 1903/1998; Frankenberg, 1995) with social constructionism and poststructuralism as points of departure.

Zahra Bayati is a senior lecture at Faculty of Education, Gothenburg University.

Conjointly with Public Talks: Any Given Sunday -Cape Town collaborative as part of Draft
Sethembile Msezane (Cape Town)
Riason Naidoo (Cape Town)
Richard Pithouse (Johannesburg)

Thursday, April 27, at 17.00, Glashuset, Valand Academy (Chalmersgatan 4)

PARSE Dialogue on Secularity and on Exclusion

PARSE, in collaboration with GIBCA, invites you to a PARSE Dialogue on the themes of:
The PARSE Journal Issue on Secularity – in collaboration with GIBCA (autumn 2017)
and the conference 2nd Biennial PARSE Conference on Exclusion (November 2017)

Wednesday Nov. 16, at 13.00-16.00
Jonas Staal (artist, founder, New World Summit)
Nav Haq (curator, GIBCA 2017)
Ola Sigurdson (Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Gothenburg)
Andrea Phillips (PARSE Professor of Art, Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg)

This discussion launches the collaboration between PARSE and the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art. The theme of the biennial will examine contemporary issues of secularity. The event will be a chance to find out more about the collaboration and enter into discussion about the relevance of secular ideas and practices today.
Follow this link for more information.

Wednesday Nov. 16, at 16.30-18.00
The PARSE Professors and Working Group

An open discussion on the impact of exclusions in contemporary life in order to develop ideas and collaborations for the 2nd PARSE biennial conference, taking place in November 2017. We will introduce the theme and welcome all contributions.
For more information about the Conference please follow this link.

Date: November 16, 2016
Place: Glashuset, Akademin Valand, Chalmersgatan 4 Gothenburg, Sweden.
Drinks will be served. RSVP before Nov 10 to mina.dennert@gu.se

PARSE seminar with Stefano Harney and Fred Moten on The Undercommons

PARSE invites you to a seminar with Stefano Harney and Fred Moten on their widely influential book of essays, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (2013). In it, they draw on social and political thought as well as aesthetic critique to formulate a social poesis of upheaval and self-organization, confronting the force of politics, capitalist logistics, policy and governance.

”We owe it to each other to falsify the institution, to make politics incorrect, to give the lie to our own determination. We owe each other the indeterminate. We owe each other everything.
An abdication of political responsibility? OK. Whatever. We’re just anti-politically romantic about actually existing social life. We aren’t responsible for politics. We are the general antagonism to politics looming outside every attempt to politicise, every imposition of self- governance, every sovereign decision and its degraded miniature, every emergent state and home sweet home. We are disruption and consent to disruption.”
—Stefano Harney and Fred Moten

As this will be a seminar based in discussion, participants are expected to read the book beforehand (available here: http://www.minorcompositions.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/undercommons-web.pdf). The conversation, however, will focus on the following chapters in particular: ”The University and the Undercommons”, ”Blackness and Governance”, ”Planning and Policy”, and ”The General Antagonism: An Interview with Stevphen Shukaitis.”

Date: September 7, 2016
Time: 16-18
Place: Glashuset, Akademin Valand, Chalmersgatan 4 Gothenburg, Sweden.

Stefano Harney is Professor of Strategic Management at Singapore Management University.
Fred Moten is a poet and Professor of English at University of California, Riverside.

The seminar will be followed by a poetry reading with Fred Moten and a conversation between Moten and Khashayar Naderehvandi, poet and doctorand at Akademin Valand. This public event is co-organized by Göteborgs Litteraturhus, Akademin Valand, and PARSE.