Faculty explore Global South potentials and limitations

November 08, 2022
Northwestern Qatar faculty examined the notion of the Global South and its implications on their scholarly and pedagogical work at the latest Critical Conversations panel hosted by the Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South (#IAS_NUQ). 
Northwestern Qatar Professors Rana Kazkaz, Joe Khalil, and Claudia Kozman discussed their first encounter with the idea of the Global South and how, since then, they have grappled with its meaning in and out of the classroom in a virtual panel moderated by Clovis Bergère, assistant director for research at #IAS_NUQ.
Kazkaz pointed out how the term Global South has emerged to describe shared colonial legacies, saying, “if the Global North is exclusive, then surely the Global South’s power [and] its magic could reside in its inclusivity.” She noted, however, that there is also a risk of reducing the Global South to a “secondary beggar position, one where we always have to self-identify as marginalized and thought of as desperate for inclusion and legitimacy as we pursue the right to be equally human.”
As a filmmaker, Kazkaz noted that looking at the Global South through the shadow of the Global North could also have a negative effect on filmmakers and storytellers. “But doesn’t this just contribute to further dehumanization if we must always be confined to stories that provide evidence of our humanity to those who would rather deny it?” asked Kazkaz, stressing the need for a definition that would encourage filmmakers to delve into the vast range of human experiences in the region.
Building on Kazkaz’s framing of the Global South as an inclusive term, Kozman, a quantitative researcher, explained how from a methodological standpoint, a focus on inclusivity could help prioritize the advancement of knowledge from the Arab region. “The Global South, for me,” she said, “is more about inclusion for the sake of knowledge advancement… I believe that the only way you can advance a field is to build on it and broaden the context.”
Kozman went on to highlight how focusing on amplifying historically marginalized voices from the Global South in academia will counter the Western hegemony over knowledge. “The Global South is also about how scholars and journalists work to counter the hegemony of the West in dictating what we should do and what we shouldn’t do,” said Kozman.
Khalil invited us to consider the spatial and temporal dimensions of the Global South, a notion that for him moves at its own, often unprecedented, speed. Drawing on Emily Keightley’s concept of mnemonic imagination, Khalil noted how often the term Global South is used nostalgically, to recall the present layers of the past. “The Global South, for many, is nostalgic,” said Khalil. “It is often used to resurrect a time when the oppressed found the strength to fight together for something that unites them. It is also used to recall, unfortunately, a nostalgia of defeat and dependency.”
Instead, Khalil asserted that he likes to draw more on the positive aspects of the term in his work, while still calling out structural inequalities, noting the shared potentials unlocked when examining the commonalities of the Global South and its communities. “We should try to resist using the Global South as a reductionist term. What, instead, if we expand its meanings? In doing so, I am reminded of Herman Wasserman’s invitation to write not on, or from, the Global South, but rather to write with the Global South. Often when we think of what is shared in the Global South, we think of the historical legacies of misrepresentations and inequality, but I wonder: are there also more positive ones, like the amazing potential coming for what is shared in what we call South?”
Critical Conversations is a series of events under the auspices of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South. Through a variety of events and programs, the institute aims to amplify faculty and students’ scholarship and media-making and to produce and promote evidence-based storytelling focused on the media history, culture, and societies of the Global South. To watch the recording, click here.