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

2 replies

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] 1 (research group Theories from the South and the East) (1.11 / Gravensteen […]

  2. […] Panel 1 (research group Theories from the South and the East) and Panel 2 (Literature, Law and Society)15:20-15:30 Coffee break15:30-16:40 Panel 3 (Crisis and […]

Comments are closed.