As a construct, the ‘Global South’ polarises views in the social sciences. On the one hand, proponents often think of it as a kinder alternative to the chequered genealogies of the ‘Third World’ or the ‘developing world’. For some, it captures the Asian-African solidarity against colonial powers in the shape of the now-forgotten Bandung Conference. On the other hand, some resist the woolly term for it presumably reproduces the very politics of othering it seeks to criticise, ever so trapped in the language of the Global North. That it is oblivious to the struggles of the powerless and the dispossessed in so-called ‘advanced economies’ and, more recently, to the epistemic marginalization of the ‘Global East’.
Yet, recent attempts have been made to retrieve the conceptual promise of the Global South as a political imaginary aimed at forging solidaristic ties between and among peripheries, no matter the hemisphere. Others even put forward the notion of the ‘global souths’ to refrain from monolithizing the conditions of ‘southernness’.
With these premises in mind, in what ways do we recalibrate our understanding of the Global South in the face of the ongoing crises in capital, climate, and covid-19? Why and how must we commit to it as a different kind of doing research? Or as a kind of Bandung 2.0? Are there more reflexive alternatives to the concept? In what ways does it inspire a radically new way of world-making in various disciplines? What happens when voices from the global south/s come together and think through these issues together?
In this speaker-less conversation, we gathered, as it were, by the bonfire to jointly think through, defamiliarize, and try to be reflexive about the idea of the ‘global south/s’ and how it relates to the (im)possibilities of enacting solidarity today.