Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia(JMI) organised an MHRD-SPARC supported public lecture on “Thinking from the Global South: Generating Concepts” on 28 th November 2019.
Professor Dilip M. Menon from University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa was the main speaker. It was chaired by Professor Shahid Amir from the Department of History, University of Delhi.
The lecture opened with a welcome address by Professor Nishat Zaidi, Head, Department of English.
Professor Menon began his lecture by positing the significant question, that is, what does it mean to partition the world and think from the Global South, especially at a time when there is a sense of urgency in terms of transnational issues such as global warming.
Professor Menon defined the Global South as an ongoing project, a conceptual and experiential category that is beyond geographical boundaries. His lecture focused on the essential enquiry into whether ideas such as the Global South diminish the larger perspective of looking at the world by thinking in terms of a particular territory or open up possibilities by questioning ideas such as space, time and what constitutes the West or East or South.
Following this, he delved into the need for the production of theory from spaces such as the Global South and moving beyond the set path of following a Eurocentric theoretical base.
Professor Menon further talked about universalism of categories that come to us from a few centuries of Euro-American thought and the fact that certain concepts have become universal on account of colonialism or imperial power.
He also talked about the agitation at his own university concerning fee hike and the need for specific syllabi in South Africa because of their specific intellectual needs and questions which led to the idea of what exactly a South African university should be. This involved going back to a time when academics like Ngugi wa Thiong’o were thinking about the enterprise of knowledge and universities. He also discussed the problem of universities being a monolingual entity in a multilingual space.
Apart from the question of space, the lecture also focussed on the question of time and how far back do we have to go in order to write the history of the present. It also focussed on the multiplicity of times within which people live, the idea of the modern and the contemporary.
Professor Menon ended his lecture by talking about how the project of the Global South is invariably linked with the concept of words and how words can be used to provide a window to a larger view of the world, the self, ethical behaviour and so on.
The lecture was followed by a detailed discussion by the chair, Professor Shahid Amin and question and observations by the students.
The lecture was attended by faculty, students and researchers from not only English Department of JMI, but also people from other departments and universities.