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The Colonial Wound and the Practice of Repair

The Colloquium, The Colonial Wound and the Practice of Repair, aims to engender a fertile intellectual space for an interrogation and reparative engagement with the injury: psychic, existential, and spiritual, wrought by centuries of colonial violence. For this colloquium, the call for emerging researchers includes international doctoral candidates, postdoctoral researchers and early career researchers who have received a doctorate in the last five years.

With the publication of W.E.B Du Bois’s, The Souls of Black Folk, the diagnosis of the colonial condition as a social pathology became a theoretical problematic that would influence debates between activists, scholars and future politicians. Whether the theoretical focus has been on alienation, trauma or non-being in Asia, South America or Africa, practitioners of colonial studies have emphasized the relationship between racializing violence, the deracination of local structures and the constitution of a wounded, colonized subject. In many postcolonial societies, the transformation of the colonial condition instituted a new regime of violence, one that did not heal the wound but intensified the laceration. These developments gave birth to the study of the Postcolony, as a regime of brutality and corrupt conviviality. In this context, the practice of repair as an open-ended process of individual and communal healing has been essential to restoring the dignity and independence of the former colonized and colonizer. Significantly, the reparative is concerned with re-humanizing modes of deficient sociality, transcending hitherto colonial relations that divided human beings into violently opposing types.

We call for abstracts for papers, panels, round table discussions and other forms of creative presentations to address questions that cover, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Rebuilding subjectivity and community in the postcolonial/post-apartheid context
  • A critical interrogation of different forms of colonial violence: legal, political, psychological, epistemic and institutional.
  • Histories and studies of individual, social and political movements concerned with reconstructing or repairing the colonial subject.
  • Different theoretical and disciplinary conceptualizations of the colonial wound: (inter/transgenerational) trauma, alienation and social death. This includes analyses of colonial subject formation, including processes of racialization and sexualization.
  • How do the intersecting legacies of race, gender and class contribute to an understanding of the colonial condition as a wound?
  • Conceptualizing repair as a psychological, political or ethical practice.
  • How might the visual, performance and literary arts contribute to practices of repair in post-apartheid South Africa and postcolonial society?