Tag Archives: dialogo sur-sur

What is the role of geography in sociopolitics?

Lorenzo Veracini

Senior Research Fellow, Swinburne University, Melbourne

‘North’ and ‘South’ are simultaneously geographical and sociopolitical categories. Colonialism – a hierarchical relationship that is premised on the superordination of a metropole that is premised on the subordination of a periphery – is fundamentally involved in both dialectics: in the first case, because it is premised on a distinction that only geographical displacement makes possible; in the second case, because it is a relationship – it defines self and other as it embeds them in an inherently unequal relationship.

Settler colonialism – a particular form of colonialism where the colonisers “come to stay” and are founders of political orders that are endowed with a specific self-constituent sovereign capacity – is a manipulation of both these categories and their ordering; this is why it should feature in any South-South dialogue.

Geographically, settler colonialism is premised on a displacement that is ultimately a non-displacement. Settlers transform geography and a capacity to do so is a measure of their success. As well as founders of political orders, therefore, they are destroyers of ecological ones (and therefore builders of new landscapes). Indeed, it is exactly because they are able to destroy existing ecosystems that they are so effective at establishing durable political regimes. As they consume places at a fierce rate and routinely dissolve distance, they Europeanise space. No wonder that the old term for settler colonialism was ‘planting’; their countries look like the ones they have left behind.

Of course settlers need to manipulate the terms of geographical representation as well. Wakefield’s imaginary goodbye to his grandmother is a case in point. As she mentioned how far New Zealand was, he tore the map, connected the opposed margins, and turned it upside down to place the settler colony to be at the centre of his representational system. James Vetch’s 1838 Map of Australia, another geographically imaginative act of settler colonial evocation, showed Spain and Portugal tucked in at the bottom.

This notion, however, is much older and Jean-Pierre Purry, colonial adventurer and serial promoter of (failed) settlements, tried to establish colonies in Australia, South Africa and North America because he assumed in an act of geographical speculation (he was a compulsive speculator) that colonisation – the reproduction of a self-supporting and virtuous sociopolitical bodies – would only be successful at around 33 degrees latitude, the latitude of biblical Canaan. These are all examples of decentering acts of geographical manipulation that envisage a north in the south.

Sociopolitically, settler colonialism also turns the metropole-periphery opposition upside down. This is why we can talk about a settler “revolution”. Settler colonialism establishes immediately autonomous sociopolitical bodies that, in the future, will be entirely independent of the ties that bind it to an originating locale. Settler colonialism is thus colonialism without permanent external subordination (settler control of indigenous alterities is not exactly external – that is why the notion of internal colonialism emerges in settler colonial contexts and is eventually reimported to Europe). Settler colonialism produces islands of autonomously colonising ‘North’ in the global ‘South’.


How do we narrate the lack of exact fit between geography and sociopolitics when we approach the North-South divide (beside settler colonialism, the topic of my intervention, isn’t there plenty of ‘North’ in the ‘South’ and even much more ‘South’ in the ‘North’)?

¿Cómo narrar la falta de ajuste exacto entre la geografía y sociopolítica cuando nos acercamos a la división Norte-Sur (al lado de colonialismo, el tema de mi intervención, ¿no hay un montón de “Norte” en el “Sur”, y más aún mucho ‘Sur’ en el ‘Norte’)?

A statement and question offered to participants of the symposium Diálogo Trans-Pacífico y Sur-Sur: Perspectivas Alternativas a la Cultura y Pensamiento Eurocéntrico y Noroccidental, University of Santiago, 8-9 January 2013

How to move with honour between laws of the south?

Shaun McVeigh

Associate Professor, Law School, University of Melbourne

I welcome the opportunities that this congress creates to discuss and reflect on many of the relationships formed across the South.

For many Australia is viewed politically, juridically and economically as an outpost of the North. The Australian state has done little to alter the colonial forms of belief and government by which Australia was established as a sovereign nation. It continues the expropriation of the life, land, and laws of the South. However, there are also many involved in assisting Australia take up its place again as a pacific nation of the South, a nation able to live with justly with its own laws and one capable of honouring the laws of the Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples of the South. At the centre of this lies a concern with the conduct of lawful relations. For the non-Indigenous peoples of Australia and elsewhere who live by laws inherited from the North it is necessary to think again about what it means to live lawfully and to honour laws. Only one part of this will be concerned with human duties and human rights.

At present as a jurist and jurisprudent I am involved in two projects engaging a lawful South. One, with Kevin Murray, involves developing ways in which designers from Australia might engage with artisans and crafts people of the south in ways that create honourable relations of exchange and trade. Another, with Sundhya Pahuja, involves maintaining international law as a meeting places of laws rather than as an administrative domain of the North.


How do we conduct ourselves with honour as we move within and between the laws of the South?

¿Cómo nos comportamos con honor como nos movemos dentro y entre las leyes del Sur?

A statement and question offered to participants of the symposium Diálogo Trans-Pacífico y Sur-Sur: Perspectivas Alternativas a la Cultura y Pensamiento Eurocéntrico y Noroccidental, University of Santiago, 8-9 January 2013

Who are your moral heroes?

Christine Black

Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Griffith Center for Coastal Management, Griffith University, Brisbane

Greetings from Dr Christine Black

I have been asked to contribute to this conference through this intermediary of writing a few paragraphs to convey a message from Australia. As an Indigenous woman of the Kombumerri and Munaljahalai peoples I want to first acknowledge the spirits of your lands and those who have come before you and those who will come after you. Your continent is a powerful and vast land that has experienced continuous invasion like no other continent on this earth. And yet it prevails and gives your people life. We should all be thankful for what the land we walk upon each day gives to us personally. Furthermore your Indigenous Peoples have survived through all these invasions and have preserved and protected the ancient knowledge of your lands. To preserve a culture and law takes strength and moral fortitude. It is not preserved by technology but relationships, relationships between humans and their beloved land. Land teaches people how to live on it, and to understand the law of a land takes thousands of years of caring for land.

Australia has a unique responsibility to the world. That responsibility is to must preserve and perpetuate the oldest continuous culture and law in the world. This is a great honor bestowed upon Australians by providence.

It has also been my personal responsibility to continue and share that ancient knowledge and law. I have carried out this responsibility by writing a book on Indigenous legal theory entitled The Land is the Source of the Law: A Dialogic Encounter of an Indigenous Jurisprudence. (Routledge). This book is made up of many stories of how the law of sharing and caring is the most important moral compass a peoples can live by. That caring begins with caring for the Land and environment. The book is not just meant for academics, as the knowledge of our Senior Law People is for everyone to learn how important it is to understand that lawful behaviour comes from caring for Land and not just ourselves.


I have also been asked to pose a question to the participants. I would therefore ask; who, in your opinion has demonstrated moral courage which others of the South could learn from? In other words who are your heroes and how can citizens of other nations in the South learn from their exemplar moral behavior.

¿Qui, en su opinión, ha demostrado coraje moral que otros del Sur puede aprender? ¿En otras palabras, que son sus héroes y cómo pueden los ciudadanos de otras naciones en el Sur de aprender de su comportamiento ejemplar moral?

A statement and question offered to participants of the symposium Diálogo Trans-Pacífico y Sur-Sur: Perspectivas Alternativas a la Cultura y Pensamiento Eurocéntrico y Noroccidental, University of Santiago, 8-9 January 2013

How to prioritise the intellectual work of the global South?

A statement and question offered to participants of the symposium Diálogo Trans-Pacífico y Sur-Sur: Perspectivas Alternativas a la Cultura y Pensamiento Eurocéntrico y Noroccidental, University of Santiago, 8-9 January 2013

Raewyn Connell

Professor of Sociology, University of Sydney

Dear Colleagues,

Greetings from Sydney! I am a sociologist, interested in both empirical research and social theory. I have been working for many years on the critique of Northern dominance in social science, and on the positive task of building a globally inclusive social science. Only this, I believe, will realize social science’s potential to be the democratic self-knowledge of society on a world scale. This project requires continuing encounters between intellectual workers across the global South. My book Southern Theory, published in 2007, records both the critique of Northern social science, and my encounters with social thought in Africa, Iran, Latin America and India, as well as Australia. Since publishing that book I have been studying Southern formations of gender theory, and I am currently working on Southern analyses of neoliberalism, and on the uses of Southern perspectives in applied social science.


The question I would pose for your consideration is: How do we develop curricula in higher education – especially in theory courses, which are both vital and difficult to change – that prioritize the intellectual work of the global South? What are the growth points around which new teaching agendas can crystallize?

¿Cómo podemos desarrollar planes de estudio en la educación superior – especialmente en cursos teóricos, que son a la vez importante y difícil de cambiar – que priorizan el trabajo intelectual de los países del Sur? ¿Cuáles son los puntos de crecimiento en torno al cual las nuevas agendas de enseñanza pueden cristalizar?