Beyond the Rencontres
No serious engagement with the legacy of Fanon’s insurgent practical-theoretical and aesthetic work or with the Bandung Spirit will be adequate without fostering the links between knowledge creation, artistic expression, and social change. As a result, the organization of the 3rd Rencontres of the Frantz Fanon Foundation has involved the creation and coordination between several interconnected activities that, together, offer substantial elements of a paradigm for the decolonization of knowledge, aesthetic production, “civic engagement,” and critical theorizing. They are (1) The Decoloniality Cluster, (2) The “What is Decoloniality?” speaker series, (3) the doctoral seminar “Decoloniality and the Spirit of Bandung,” (4) the Rencontres itself, and (5) a special issue on the theme of the Rencontres to appear in the journal Bandung: Journal of the Global South.
More information on the inter-connected activities:
- The Decoloniality Cluster: convened by Prof. Nelson Maldonado-Torres (Incoming Director of the Rutgers Advanced Institute for Critical Caribbean Studies, and member of the Executive Committee of the Frantz Fanon Foundation) the cluster involves the participation of a dozen graduate students and alumni who, together, have been working in designing and implementing participatory-action research projects at Rutgers, in New Brunswick, and in the region. One important dimension of this work is a series of collaborations with the Lazos Community Center in Downtown New Brunswick. Lazos offers various services to the majority-Latinx city of New Brunswick residents and serves as a site for youth education and community support. The Decoloniality Cluster has also been engaging in dialogues with scholars and activist with similar projects in New York City, while it is also working on the formulation of a grammar to engage in the decolonization of knowledge at the university in face of the failure of liberal multiculturalism, and of diversity and inclusion initiatives. The work of the Decoloniality Cluster informs the 3rd Rencontres’ major sub-themes, which include, an engagement with critical theory, civic engagement, institutional transformation, music, visual art, and health.
- The “What is Decoloniality” speaker series. The work of the Decoloniality Cluster and the themes of the 3rd Rencontres demand a more substantive and continued engagement with reflections about decoloniality that the Rencontres itself can provide in the two days of the event. As a result, the Rutgers Advanced Institute for Critical Caribbean Studies created a speaker series to complement the Rencontres and also to better prepare interested faculty, students, and members of the community to engage in the various forms of decolonizing knowledge, being, and power that are needed today.
- The doctoral seminar “Decoloniality and the Spirit of Bandung.” Prof. Nelson Maldonado-Torres has selected this topic for his Fall 2018 doctoral seminar in Comparative Literature. The main title of the seminar is “Comparative Literature in Dialogue.” This semester students will engage in various dialogues with speakers in the “What is Decoloniality?” speaker series, with presenters in the 3rd Rencontres, and with members of the Decoloniality Cluster and other members of the Rutgers, New Brunswick, and New York City community who are working on decolonial critical theorizing, aesthetic creation, and related projects of social and institutional change.
- The 3rd Fanon Rencontres itself is one of the main catalysts for the previous activities as well as one of the most important activities that will support the work of the Decoloniality Cluster, the doctoral seminar, and the speaker series. The invited researchers, artists, and community organizers will engage in reflections on the unfinished project of decoloniality in dialogue with Fanon’s work and the legacy of Bandung in light of the two sets of interrelated problematics presented above. More particular questions that presenters have been asked to address include: What is the meaning of decolonization and non-alignment today? How to advance the oppositional and coalitional consciousness that one finds from Bandung to the Tricontinental Conference of 1966 and all through Fanon’s writings? What contemporary projects, interventions, and spaces in communities and nations, and across communities and nations, continue the project of decolonization and decolonial ruptures in face of liberalism, neoliberalism, neofascism, new and old forms of alienation, Islamophobia, anti-immigration, scapegoating of minoritized populations, anti-black racism, the continued presence of apartheid in “post-apartheid” societies, and permanent war today? What is the import of Panafricanism and Third World solidarity, alliances between people of color and indigenous groups, and coalitions addressing race and gender discrimination along with homo- and transphobia, among others.
- Special issue(s) in peer-reviewed journal Bandung: Journal of the Global South. Selected works from presenters in the Rencontres and other specialists in decolonial thinking will be part of one to two special issues in a scholarly journal. The co-editors bring a strong intergenerational, international, and transdisciplinary dimension to the edited project that echoes the paradigm for critical thinking, research, and action that is present in the organization of the Rencontres and the activities of the Decoloniality Cluster. They are Nelson Maldonado-Torres (Puerto Rican and U.S. Afro-Latino scholar; Rutgers, New Brunswick), Mireille Fanon Mendes-France (France; President, Frantz Fanon Foundation), Jeong Eun Annabel We (South Korea; Rutgers, New Brunswick), and Zandisiwe Radebe (South Africa; University of South Africa and Blackhouse Kollective).