Crisis and Critique: Rethinking Europe and the Global South

From Crisis to Critique

Crisis-talk dominates contemporary public debates, from the global financial crisis to the ongoing migration crisis, and from the environmental crisis to the global covid-19 health crisis. The term crisis today is often ‘hijacked’ by populist, xenophobic, and anti-democratic agendas in Europe that limit the space of political choice and the imagination of alternatives.

This network sets out to approach the transversal crises in our globalized present as framings through which specific narratives of the present gain valence while others are excluded. Making crisis an object of interrogation, our network brings together scholars whose work explores how different crisis-scapes produce experiences of the present, rest on or disrupt established narratives of the past, and broker specific outlooks on the future.

The populist, (crypto-)colonial, racialized or gendered discourses through which many declared European crises are inflected, often reinforce long-standing hierarchical understandings of Europe as isolated and disconnected from its peripheries, or, more generally, as disjunct from the Global South. They also exacerbate polarizations within Europe, i.e., between the European North and South. However, frameworks of crisis can also occasion radical shifts in the perspectives, grammars, and narratives through which we understand relations between the Global South and Europe. Our group is attentive to such shifts and the ways they can be reflected, imagined, and performed through fictional modes: literature, cinema, comics/graphic novels, and other artistic modes of expression that thwart (crypto-)colonial mobilizations of crisis.

By comparing and contrasting contemporary crisis-scapes in Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Global South, we explore local and global positionalities and entanglements in the globalized present. We are particularly interested in alternative framings of this present, as well as in spaces of futurity that emerge from contemporary crisis-frameworks. Our research engages new trends in literature but also in cinema, art(ivism), and protest cultures in Europe and the Global South that move beyond crisis rhetoric to envision critical transformations of the present and paths to possible futures.


In this context, we are concerned with how the field of ‘crisis studies’ today could evade academic opportunism and develop innovative approaches that involve a rethinking of critique. By thinking together crisis and critique, we ask:

  • Under which conditions could crisis-scapes foster new cultures of critique, decolonization, and resistance to post-truth populism and the neoliberal governmentality of crisis, or alternative narrativizations of the past, present, and future?
  • How can we generate critical vocabularies – informed by theoretical paradigms from Europe and from the Global South – that are better equipped to address new challenges in our globalized present than previous paradigms?
  • How can the experiences of subjects-in-crisis be voiced without producing a spectacle of misery or resorting to the trope of victimhood?
  • How can hegemonic grammars or conceptual metaphors involved in contemporary crisis rhetoric be transformed towards alternative social imaginaries?

This research group builds on, and aims to expand existing, long-standing collaborations between its members, which have already generated various forms of output, including joined publications, international conferences and workshops (some of which were part of the OSL programme), conference panels (including panels during the annual OSL-research day), research-based teaching, and impact activities. Some collaborative activities took place or are taking shape through existing research groups and partnerships on related topics, such as the “Crisis and Critique” network at LUCAS/Leiden University, the “Crisis, Critique, and Futurity” research group at ASCA/University of Amsterdam, the Oxford-Amsterdam TORCH partnership “Rethinking Modern Greek Studies in the 21st Century: A Cultural Analysis Network”, and the “’European way of Life’: Construction and Critique” research network (Leiden University, University of Groningen, Jagiellonian University, Helsinki University and University of Jyväskylä).


Team members (in alphabetical order)

Members of the above-mentioned groups, as well as other scholars whose work engages the theme and objectives of the proposed group, will join forces by forming this larger research group under the aegis of OSL. This group, which we intend to expand with more members, will boost existing collaborations and spark new ones with colleagues in the Netherlands and international partners.

The actual list of scholars that will be involved in this group’s activities is in practice longer than the names mentioned below. The following list is therefore only indicative, and will be constantly updated.


Maria Boletsi (Leiden University / University of Amsterdam,

Eva Fotiadi (St. Joost School of Fine Art & Design, Den Bosch)

Kristina Gedgaudaite (Princeton University)

Janna Houwen (Leiden University)

Florian Lippert (University of Groningen)

Liesbeth Minnaard (Leiden University)

Dimitris Papanikolaou (Oxford University)

Danelle du Plessis (University of Groningen)

Ksenia Robbe (University of Groningen)

Margriet van der Waal (University of Groningen/Amsterdam University)

Astrid Van Weyenberg (Leiden University)


Theories from the South and the East in Literature and Culture

This research group sets out to explore and develop theoretical approaches for the study of literary and broader cultural production that interlink the knowledge and experiences of the Global South and the Global East. A product of post-Cold War globalization, the term ‘Global South’ replaced the politically motivated ‘three-Worlds’ division with a seemingly neutral scheme focalizing economic inequalities. Since the 2000s, the term has been employed to generate new social movements as well as projects of theorizing from postcolonial sites (Connell 2007, Comaroff and Comaroff 2012) with the aim of producing knowledge not only for these regions but also for the interconnected problems in the Global North. These projects, however, risk perpetuating the erasure of the former Second World from global epistemological maps. Drawing on recent interventions proposing ways of re-inscribing the East into the global equation (Müller 2018) and putting postsocialism into a conversation with postcolonialism (Tlostanova 2012, 2017), we aim to initiate closer examinations of literatures and other cultural productions from the Global East and the Global South for teasing out concepts, perspectives and structures of feeling that can generate theoretical approaches of global social relevance.


If knowledge is always situated, projects of decolonizing institutions and practices need to draw on ideas and concepts from somewhere. Knowledge generated by literature and art is of major value for such projects due to the ability of these media to (re)configure senses (of space, time, and being), relations (between humans, humans and non-humans, humans and matter), and ethical-political orientations. We ask: in which ways do literary and art practices mediate knowledges involving Southern and Eastern perspectives that can be relevant for new transnational cultural repertoires in various places including the Global North?


The group aims to act as a forum for discussing current research and practices of theoretical significance from places in the Global South and East, and for generating new perspectives that can elucidate past and present cultural processes and that have an interdisciplinary potential. The group’s focus and aims address the focal points of the OSL including the topics of globalization and postcolonialism, and of literature and knowledge production. Our collaborative activities will focus on questions of literary theory, comparative studies, and interdisciplinary approaches. We welcome new participants working on questions within any areas within the scope of the group.



Aims and objectives


(1)  connecting research and researchers developing theoretical and methodological approaches that draw on knowledge practices and experiences of places in the Global South and the Global East, or across them;


(2)  exploring literature and culture as specific sites of generating decolonizing knowledge that yield concepts and perspectives for interdisciplinary projects of epistemological decolonization;


(3)  generating interdisciplinary dialogues between literary/cultural studies and other perspectives on decolonizing knowledge production (through reading group discussions, invited lectures, and joint participation in interdisciplinary conferences);


(4)  developing new approaches and comparative frameworks for the study of literature and culture in the interconnected world (including the Global North) through collaborative initiatives (workshops, publications, courses).



Members of the group


The group brings together researchers working at several Dutch universities, some of them already having long-term collaborations which this newly formed group will build upon. The group’s work will also involve existing collaborations with research groups and universities abroad, particularly in the Global East and South. The group is open to all interested researchers, and will welcome PhD researchers as well.


Ksenia Robbe (University of Groningen, coordinator,

Hanneke Stuit (University of Amsterdam, coordinator,

Sanjukta Sunderason (University of Amsterdam)

Judith Naeff (Leiden University)

Boris Noordenbos (University of Amsterdam)

Margriet van der Waal (University of Groningen/University of Amsterdam)

Kylie Thomas (Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Amsterdam)

László Munteán (Radboud University)

Maria Boletsi (Leiden University/ University of Amsterdam)

Astrid van Weyenberg (Leiden University)

Emily Ng (University of Amsterdam)

Noa Roei (University of Amsterdam)

Emiel Martens (University of Amsterdam/Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Sruti Bala (University of Amsterdam)

Senka Neuman-Stanivukovic (University of Groningen)

Eszter Szakacs (University of Amsterdam)

Peyman Amiri (University of Amsterdam)

Josh Weeks (University of Amsterdam)

Asli Ozgen-Tuncer (University of Amsterdam)

Events and activities:

Politics and Poetics of Strike in the Postsocialist and Postcolonial Encounter, 7-8 April 2022

Eternal Presents and Resurfacing Futures: Postcolonial/Postsocialist Dynamics of Time and Memory in Literature and Art, 28 October 2021

OSL Research Groups: Literature, Law and Society

The research group “Literature, Law and Society” is intended as an open platform for an interdisciplinary dialogue on the nexus of law and literature, branching and extending beyond narrow conceptions of either law or literature and exploring and questioning the exclusivity of that pairing.

The aim of the research group is to act as an incubator of collaborative research ideas, to translate these ideas into concrete and viable research projects, and to disseminate the resulting research findings to a wide variety of audiences.

Starting from April 2019, the group will hold trimonthly meetings to share ideas and provide a platform for interdisciplinary collaboration within and beyond OSL. If you are interested in joining the group’s activities, please send an email to the coordinators.




Current members:


Initiatives, calls and publications:


Useful links:

OSL Research Group: Tourism and Travel Cultures

OSL Research Group: Tourism and Travel Cultures


There is a lot of research being done in the Low Countries concerning travel literature and the relationship between literature, travel, transnationalism and tourism. This group aims to bring together researchers and research groups to facilitate collaboration on a regular basis. Output has included a panel on life writing by women in colonial contexts during the 2018 ‘Narrative Matters’-conference and contributions to two OSL research days. All junior and senior scholars interested in the various cultural and literary dimensions of travel and tourism are invited to join the group.


Sjoerd-Jeroen Moenandar (s.j.moenandar[at]


Babs Boter, Tom Sintobin, Sjoerd-Jeroen Moenandar et al.

Research day – Readings

  • Tom Sintobin (Radboud University): ‘“My ladies and my luggage were unloaded” Cyriel Buysse on the road with three women’
  • Babs Boter (Vrije Universiteit): “The Not So Solo Traveler: Mary Pos, Dutch Writer and Journalist”
  • Alan Moss (Radboud Universiteit: “Female Passengers and Female Voices in Early Modern Dutch Travelogues of Leasure Trips”

OSL Research Group: Cultural Memory

OSL Research Group: Cultural Memory


Over the past two decades, the field of cultural memory studies has established itself internationally as an important and fertile area of inter- and multi-disciplinary research. Institutionalized through dedicated journals (Memory Studies was started in 2008), associations (Memory Studies Association was inaugurated in 2016) and standing committees (e.g. at MLA), with its own canon of theoreticians, the field has not only matured, but also grown and diversified. The members of this research group share an interest in recent developments in the rich and diverse field of cultural memory studies, and explore the material turn in memory studies, decolonial approaches to cultural memory, transnational memory, memory and life writing, etc.

The group’s activities include the organization of Ravenstein Seminar 2019, on the subject of materiality and memory.

The group welcomes new members. To get in touch please contact group coordinator prof. dr. Liedeke Plate.


Prof. dr Liedeke Plate (


Anna Menyhért, Daný van Dam, Boris Noordenbos, Dennis Kersten, Yvonne Delhey, László Munteán, Brigitte Adriaensen et al.

OSL Research Group: Poetics of Knowlegde


Knowledge and scientific imagination are inherently linked up with issues of form and representation. This insight has informed the work of literary scholars such as Gillian Beer and N. Katherine Hayles as well as research in the fields of science studies, discourse analysis and certain strands of new materialism (K. Barad et al.). The members of this research group share an interest in recent developments in these fields and, more specifically, in the ways in which literary texts relate to other discourses and forms of knowledge, the shifting boundaries between literature and science and the history of divergent epistemic cultures in various contexts and disciplines. The bi-monthly meetings of the group are devoted to the discussion of work in progress by the group members, key publications in the fields of interest and the planning of joint activities (symposia, conference panels etc.). Previous meetings have focused on topics such as environmental posthumanism & science fiction and economic discourses & Dutch literature. The group welcomes new members. To get in touch please contact group coordinator dr. Marieke Winkler.


Marieke Winkler (Marieke.winkler[at]


Saskia Pieters, Mary Kemperink, Stephan Besser, Marrigje Paijmans, Jolanda van Lee, Leonieke Vermeer, Anne Fleur van de Meer, Tom Idema, Lucas van der Deijl et al.