Northwestern faculty reflect on the notion of the Global South

March 16, 2022

A group of multidisciplinary scholars at Northwestern University reflected on their engagement with the Global South as a notion and experience at a Critical Conversations webinar hosted by the Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South (#IAS_NUQ).

Yasemin Y. Celikkol, a global postdoctoral scholar at #IAS_NUQ, moderated the discussion and began by examining the use of the term Global South compared to the term Global North. She noted that according to Google Ngram (a tool used to chart word frequencies from books allowing for examination of sentiment shift as reflected in books) while the use of Global South has increased and become “trendy,” the use of the Global North remains low in the academic sphere.

To catalyze dialogue about the opportunities enabled by the Global South and its relevance to the world today, the notion was examined by a panel featuring Northwestern Professors Jessica Winegar, Pablo J. Boczkowski, and Anto Mohsin.


Boczkowski, a professor of communication studies and founder of the Center for Latinx Digital Media, said the term Global South was both useful and highly problematic. It is useful, he said, because “it allows you to mark a certain distinction that needs to be marked, but in the process of doing [so], it lumps together ‘the other,’ and reinforces the othering of the other.”

Winegar, a professor of anthropology who specializes in cultural politics, noted it was important to remember that the term Global South is both “embodied and relational,” highlighting that, while the term can be obfuscating, it is also useful as “a political solidarity project.”

Reflecting on his experience and views that shaped his understanding of the notion of the Global South, Mohsin, a science and technology studies professor at Northwestern Qatar, explained what it means to him on a personal, intellectual, and pedagogical level. “Global South means voice, representation, and a series of attempts to equally contribute to knowledge production about the world,” he said.

Critical Conversations is a series of events under the auspices of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South. Through a variety of similar 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.