Building Bridges: An Interdisciplinary Conference

deadline for submissions: 
December 31, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Postcolonial Studies Centre at Nottingham Trent University and Bonington Gallery

Keynote speakers: Avtar Brah and Sophie Chao

Plus a reading from Leone Ross


Around the world we are witnessing a surge in sociopolitical and environmental movements in response to the ongoing oppression and violence by hegemonic forces and to the global crisis of climate change. These movements inspire our ‘Building Bridges’ conference. The conference is based in the arts and humanities, but seeks to build conceptual, theoretical, and tangible links between these fields and others, through the nexus of decolonisation and anticolonial struggle. We invite, particularly from early career and postgraduate researchers, academic, activist, and artistic work which engages with decolonial, postcolonial, and anticolonial practices and theories. ‘Building Bridges’ is free to attend and participate in, and will take place online between 4th-7th April 2022 – this online format has been designed around the current circumstances of Covid-19, and with the intention of procuring international participation and attendance. The conference is part of the Formations series run by Nottingham Trent University’s Postcolonial Studies Centre and Bonington Gallery. The series takes its inspiration from the word ‘formations,’ which signals the way that objects and concepts are arranged, patterned, and aligned, or the ways in which objects come into view, inviting new ways of seeing the world. ‘Building Bridges’ considers this focus of the Formations series through the lens of decolonisation. The conference is interested in the potential of this ontological and epistemological framework to shift worldviews and refocus perspectives. 

According to Gurminder K. Bhambra, Dalia Gebrial, and Kerem Nişancɩoğlu, decolonising ‘re-situates’ colonialism, empire and racism ‘as key shaping forces of the contemporary world, in a context where their role has been systematically effaced from view.’ It also ‘purports to offer alternative ways of thinking about the world and alternative forms of political praxis’ (Bhambra, Gebrial, and Nişancɩoğlu 2018). Following Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang, we are careful not to employ decolonisation as ‘a generic term for struggle against oppressive conditions and outcomes’ which risks conflating incommensurable goals (Tuck and Yang 2012). Rather, we hope to trace fruitful interconnections between experiences of, and resistance to, colonialism across diverse geographic and cultural spaces. On the one hand, ‘Building Bridges’ intends to foster connections between hitherto disparate subjects, concepts, methodologies, and viewpoints or interpretations. The aim is to unsettle long-held dominant ideologies and narratives that function to sustain the invisibility of colonial and empirical legacies in the contemporary world, in its educational, governmental, and cultural institutions and structures.  On the other hand, ‘Building Bridges’ emphasises the need to unbuild, to deconstruct, destabilise, and problematise the kind of connections and structures that uphold Eurocentric and colonial frames of reference as ‘universal’; difference, plurality, and positionality must be retained even while new connections are traced. 

Bhambra et al. suggest that decolonisation is not a unified, singular process, but a network of definitions, interpretations, aims, and strategies that mirrors the shape of ‘coordinates’. Through the format of this four-day conference, we intend to create a network of disciplinary, thematic, and formal intersections which will perform the (un)building of bridges between diverse fields of reference to which the title of this conference refers. We therefore welcome contributions in the form of papers, interactive workshops, readings, interviews, short film screenings, and more, in order to bring together hitherto discrete fields or to push at and unsettle the boundaries between others. Our intention is not to forge false connections, but to open up dialogues between parallel points of reference which may share common interests or goals. For this reason, the final day of the conference will be centred around the enactment of building bridges through an open round table discussion, inviting contributors and attendees to find and/or disentangle common threads between the material covered during the first three days. 

We welcome contributions on (but not limited to) the following topics: 

  • Indigenous studies 
  • Black British literature and studies 
  • Dalit studies 
  • Gender studies, queer theory, agency, and identity 
  • Political displacement (migration, refuge, diaspora, and dispossession) 
  • Ecocriticism and environmentalism 
  • Postcolonialism and its sociopolitical tensions
  • Literary, artistic, and academic form in response to decolonisation 
  • Sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics with the decolonial
  • Decolonisation of the body, land, and architecture
  • Decolonial modernism
  • Decolonial knowledge(s) and pedagogy 
  • Thinking beyond colonial binaries
  • Creative practice in terms of any of the above 

Abstracts for papers (or other forms of single contribution) should be 300 words, and proposals for panels should not exceed 500 words. For both, please include a short biographical note (100 words), written in the third person and including any relevant publications or papers if applicable. Please submit these before 31st December 2021. Decisions will be communicated by 31st January 2022. Where necessary, we may ask for more information or for a second draft of an abstract. Presentations should be around 15 minutes. We are working towards collating papers into a book or a special edition journal – more detail will follow on this in the new year. 

The Postcolonial Studies Centre at NTU champions a social justice vision that is mindful of global inequalities. Researchers from the Global South are, therefore, particularly encouraged to send in their contributions.

This conference is organised by NTU’s Postcolonial Studies Centre and convened by Allan Njanji, Bethan Evans, Dani Olver, Margaret Ravenscroft, Purnachandra Naik, Trang Dang and Valentina de Riso.

Please submit your abstract by 31st December 2021 to 

Email us at the same address if you have any questions.