Desiree Poets: "Prefiguring Decolonization: Notes Across Brazil and the US Academy"
(Center for Humanities)
Decolonization has become an increasingly salient and debated term in various academic disciplines and political movements. For some, the adoption of "decolonization" in such diverse spaces runs the risk of turning it into a buzzword emptied of radical meaning. In this talk, Desiree Poets builds on the understanding that the "Western" university has historically benefitted from and contributed to colonial and Imperial projects, arguing that efforts to transform the university cannot be separated from efforts to transform society.
Building on her work with urban Indigenous, maroon (quilombo) and favela communities and movements in Brazil, Poets reflects on the (im)possibilities of politically meaningful scholarship that crosses the borders between two settler colonial contexts, one in the Global North and the other in the Global South, as well as those between academia, political organizing, NGOs, and community-produced arts and memory. Poets highlights that settler colonialism and Imperialism, and resistances to them, play out on material as well as symbolic levels, involving questions of land, labor, and embodied as well as written knowledge production. She illustrates this argument through two sites of community-led memory and artistic production, one dance ritual and one visual art exhibit, that prefigure the goals of decolonization in society and the academy.
Desiree Poets is an assistant professor of Postcolonial Theory in the Department of Political Science and Core Faculty of the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT) PhD Program. Through ethnographically-informed, critical, and collaborative methods, Poets has been working with urban Indigenous, favela, and maroon communities and movements in Brazil's Southeast Region since 2013. Her research focuses on settler colonial and postcolonial theory in Latin America; (de)militarization of urban Brazil; arts, collective memory and community change, and questions of gender, ethnicity, class, and race.
As part of Virginia Tech's Center for Humanities' series of research associate colloquia, Poets will discuss her work with the center's director, Sylvester Johnson. Please join us for this engaging talk. The event is free and open to the public and we invite anyone to attend. There will be a brief Q and A with viewers following the discussion. If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact the Center for Humanities at 540.231.1981 or email firstname.lastname@example.org at least 10 business days prior to the event.