In & out of the ivory tower: The struggles & silver linings of solidarity-building


Good morning, everyone. On behalf of South/South Movement, we thank the organizers of the European Graduate Network Conference for inviting us today and thank you all for joining us. It is our pleasure to share with you our story and what South/South Movement is about, what we do, and how we are working towards building a space of solidarity, and critical research, inviting all interested to collaborate with us, as we labor to bring down walls and unsettle current mainstream and western-centric knowledge regimes to create space for global souths ways of knowing. Global souths, here, are deliberately indicated in lower case and plural.

We see South/South Movement as a transnational student collective independently run by and for scholars, and activists from and for the global souths. We are invested in questioning Eurocentric and western-centric knowledge regimes in social and political studies and beyond. 

This space which is continuously being built collaboratively was initially conceived of during different conversations between Antonio and me over coffee at Nador 15, in Budapest. At the time, we were just starting our Ph.D. and academic journeys and already frustrated by the state of academia, we saw constraints and walls being put up as we had to continually defend and explain our choice of methodology, the vantage points through which we approach our inquiries, and our insistence on critically engaging in discussions on decoloniality, anti-imperialism, alternative ways of knowledge generation, and activist  scholarship. This was compounded by the lack of resources that spoke to what we aimed to do in our work and how we saw our roles as researchers. Whether within or outside academic institutional walls, we faced epistemological and methodological restrictions that made difficult our attempts at finding a generative space for critical knowledge and research. 

So, we decided to create the space for it. As we do not see ourselves reflected in many of the current groups and platforms, we wanted to extend beyond the traditional notions of Global South (this time with capital G and S) and related research groups, as these geographical categories and binaries of south vs north and center vs periphery had no space for nuance. It is in the space within and between these constructed binaries that we find richness, where we can build community, and that is where we wanted to start exploring. We invited fellow travellers to join us in rethinking this idea of the Global South, and we came to understand that there are multiple souths, we consider the notion of these global souths as positionality and experience rather than geography.  We wanted to also focus on the idea of movement, not only in a sense of mobilization but against stagnation, towards growth and continual motion. 

More than two years since those initial conversations, South/South Movement has grown to house several projects, research groups, and countless events. We are lucky to have brilliant co-organizers as we push for a collaborative and horizontal approach within the collective. We continue to explore different formats and ways of organizing which encourage debate, questioning, and experimentation. You will hear more about these initiatives and projects from our dear co-organizers today. 

In starting South/South Movement we hoped to shape the context that we are in, as south students researching and living within Europe. We wanted to take our place as actors rather than be acted upon. We often hear that our role as graduate students and junior researchers is to focus on our degree programs and ensure our employability. Strong stances come after tenure, and while many can agree that there is a crisis in academia, we are often told it is not our role or our time to upset the current flow. We are told to make ourselves milder, more digestible, less confrontational and wait our turn. Maybe if we behave “good enough” we can be included on a diversity panel. But what a transformative space would academia be if we refused to do that? If we continued to question and unsettle the waters?

Within our conversations at South/South, one line of questioning always emerges: what is our role as researchers? What value is our work, our education, and our research if it is not emancipatory? If it does not question systems of oppression and push for radical equality and justice? What value are academic pursuits if they do not also build community?  

We see this as the starting point from which we build, and we hope that South/South Movement is one of many such student-led foundations. 


As we build contra the main currents of the neoliberal metropolitan academy, South/South has courted suspicions against what we stand for as a collective. 

Two years ago, when we came out with an open invitation to rethink the global south/s in ways that Taraf has sketched, one such suspicion that sticks out and still stings came in the form of this: ‘Beware the anti-imperialist imperialist’. Here, the implicit reading is that we are re-inscribing the very thing we wish to dismantle.

Yet shouldn’t a genuine politics of anti-imperialism oppose all forms of imperialisms? 

How does this misplaced angst submerge our different yet intersubjectively shared lived experiences in and outside the global academy?

In what ways have we tried to turn this pushback into a more generative energy?

We emphasise praxis, praxis, and praxis in terms of enacting an ethics of care and of knowing otherwise.

In what follows, we hope to give you a glimpse of how we have tried to concretise these sensibilities forward.

And I would like to start with a decolonial forum we have been invited to collectively co-edit with Society & Space on non-western imperialisms, taking Russia’s war against Ukraine as a departure point. Because of their personal entanglements as artist-researchers with lived experiences under the ongoing war, Darya Tsymbalyuk and Anna Engelhardt have had to make a difficult political decision to step down and, resonating with our ethos, have entrusted the forum in our hands. As South/South, we understand the meaningfulness of this trust and are committed to nurturing the forum in a way that stays faithful to its decolonial thrust:

(1) highlighting the multitude of ways one can stand in constellations of solidarity with others struggling against violence and oppression given the diversity of colonialities and

(2) unlearning non-western colonial/imperial orders by facilitating allyships with and within those struggles. 


I joined South/South in 2021, however, it’s only recently that I have taken up organizational responsibilities.

The event on the screen—a reading group on Freire’s Pedagogies of the Oppressed—is what prompted me to join South/South. For South/South, reading Freire was part of a broader agenda of exploring the emancipatory potential of education, and critiquing the manner in which in reality education often ends up re-producing existing hierarchies, including those that exist between the North and the South. On the point the knowledge hierarchies between the North and the South, Freire and other related texts also started us down a path that has deepened our understanding of terms such as “decolonization”, which are unfortunately often reduced to a mere slogan.

To explore these ideas of radical pedagogy further and see them through the lens of practitioners, we engaged in conversations on two separate occasions with friends from the Open Learning Initiative (or OLIve). OLIve is a refugee access program that provides education to refugees and displaced persons. It was founded in 2016 at CEU and has since expanded to other universities and countries. The conversations with OLIve pushed us towards understanding the responsibility of universities to shape the context in which they find themselves. It also helped us recognize the limits of universities in establishing solidarity with disadvantaged groups and with radical causes. For us, this meant that we need to continue our work in fostering alternative sites of solidarity outside the university, while at the same time working to transform the traditional university thereby unleashing education’s emancipatory potential.

In the coming months, we hope to continue our explorations in radical pedagogy and support similar projects elsewhere.


I recently joined the South/South Movement as one of the co-organizers. I organize, together with Taraf, the reading group of the {Method}ology Otherwise research group. My primary interest in this project was led by the isolation that our research creates. We, as researchers, are constantly focused on our own quests within our own disciplines. The {Method}ology Otherwise group allows us to expand knowledge and communicate issues through different perspectives. It is a space for questioning how academics go about their research in relation to the real world and how the Global North reproduction of knowledge obfuscates and disregards other sources of knowledge coming from the Global South.

The {Method}ology Otherwise is concerned with how theory and practice influence each other in displacing the arrogance of the academic world and replacing it with an open dialogue. In addition, the research group focuses on alternative ways, regarding methods and methodologies, to deal with practical problems using different epistemologies. The research group has multiple aims, and I am currently involved in the reading group sessions.

The reading sessions within {Method}ology Otherwise translate the research group’s effort to engage in debates and peer learning. The next reading session, April 4, collects all the focuses mentioned before. The selected text is Epistemologies of the South, written by Boaventura de Souza Santos. His goal with this book is to criticize the Eurocentric critical theory without negating all its merits, and to demonstrate how the South has epistemologies that evolved outside theory and can help us to deal with our modern issues. The book introduction, which will be discussed, elucidates how theory and practice are currently in dissonance and the need to listen to the multiple epistemologies social movements are creating. 


EUROGLOT is an independent research network for graduate and early career researchers. It was initiated from the interest from Antonio and myself  to explore pathways and possibilities of working on EU/Europe outside the main disciplinary currents of European Studies.

As the different projects of the South/South Movement are shaped by the interests of their co-convenors, Euroglot so far reflects our main questions and interests to ‘speak’ about Europe differently: by amplifying global, local and othered voices. 

Through this research network, we aim to create a kind of ‘transperipheral’ opening where we can learn from each other across peripheries and jointly, among others: 

  • discuss our projects together as peers 
  • question what counts as canon 
  • share our lived experiences in the academe and beyond 
  • co-organise conference panels, lectures, methodological workshops, reading groups, and so on

From our main activities, we would like to highlight the reading group sessions and conference panel proposals.

In the first three sessions of the reading group series we explored the various conceptual frameworks to decolonial and postcolonial approaches. In September we discussed the possibility of a ‘decolonial project for Europe’, followed by a discussion of the decentring agenda. We closed the year with a reading group session on the possibilities of ‘provincializing Europe’.

As an outcome of these reading group sessions, we have collaboratively published an editorial in the European Foreign Affairs Review under the title: ‘Decolonizing Rather than Decentring “Europe”‘.

We started 2023 with a three-part series on the emerging concept of the Global East. Building on our previous theme on the decolonial and postcolonial perspectives on Europe, we addressed the particular epistemic space identified and conceptualised between Global South and Global North. We have discussed various readings on this ‘grey zone’, as well as the liminalities and dualities encompassed by the concept of Global East. During these sessions, we engaged with the sudden rupture caused by the fall of the Soviet world and the ensuing attempts to conceptualise the void left after the former “Second World” prompted by questions about the possible links between the (post)socialist, (post)communist and the (post)colonial.

Our reading group sessions have also led to a circle of close collaborators, colleagues, and friends with whom we are working to co-organise a themed track at the 53rd European Studies Conference in Belfast.

We are pleased to convene 11 panels on (en)countering Europe as global, othered, and transperipheral voices. Our track aims to provide an open yet critical space for scholars working on Europe outside the main disciplinary currents of European Studies, with a particular attention to contributing to current conversations around decentring, decolonising, and diversifying ways of knowing on Europe, including but not limited to the European Union (EU). We ask how we might come to ‘speak’ differently about Europe and its many entanglements in the social and political world.

As such, we welcomed paper and panel proposals that:

  • wrestle with Europe’s (hi)stories of colonialism/coloniality and the oft-sidestepped legacies of imperialism in Eurasia;
  • employ interpretivist methodologies and critical approaches to EU policies, integration theories, and external/diplomatic relations; and
  • think through the problem of Eurocentrism by amplifying Global South and Global East positionalities and rethinking curricular thought and praxis in European Studies in a globalised academy.



As graduate students who walk in bodies that are colonised, racialised, minoritised, and othered in ways that often intersect and resonate with each other, we are committed to building transnational solidarities across and within conditions of peripherality.

It is small wonder, and by a happy chance perhaps, that our stories converge here, at CEU, being a distinctly diverse university that it is in the Global North.

For us, diversity is, however, a necessary but insufficient condition in questioning Eurocentrism and unsettling hierarchical modes of knowledge-making.

As the next generation of scholars, we believe we CAN and SHOULD unsettle the status quo NOW, even if that means going against tired academic conventions or sometimes strategically detaching from the neoliberal university.

To this end, and in our own small way, we create a space open to all. A sanctuary where we are not othered. 

We oppose hierarchies. 

We take the agency of our co-organisers seriously. 

We insist on taking the knowledges of global souths and global easts seriously.

By way of concluding our collective keynote, we’d like to share with you what our fellow traveler Ethel Tungohan has said about us when speaking about doing socially engaged research: ‘Engaging in a space like South/South Movement, I find I could finally exhale. I could be myself … in your community as a bellwether of the times to come’. 

Thank you for letting us exhale and be ourselves. ∎