Session 3

3. Historical Methods in Grappling with the Global South Challenges in the 21st Century

This session explores the role of historical methods and approaches in grappling with the Global South challenges in the 21st century. It calls for contributions that use history as a method to thinking through and understanding the origins and evolution of various social, political and economic challenges in the contemporary period. This becomes even more imperative if one takes the perspective that some explanations of the present are traceble to the past and that the present and the future can be sensible through understanding the past. To make sense of this interconnectedness, one can resort to history as a method that engages the past, extrapolated from various vantage points. Enlightenment ideals and imperial doctrines still hold sway. In a context of contested epistemological approaches, especially between the Global North and South, we posit that the real value and meaning of the past is best told by those who experienced it or whose present conditions and future aspirations are conditioned by historical processes and events. We appreciate that historians are acting in the present and must dig into a past which they may not be directly involved in. As a corollary to this, our emphasis is on the prioritisation of a multiplicity of ontological points of depatures based on scienctific values and factualities. As Dipesh Chakrabarty notably advances, historians must elucidate non-European histories through non-European eyes. He cautions against “engaging the universais” inevitable in postcolonial scholarship, through dominant analystical categories and concepts solely developed in the Global North, particularly, Europe, since such an approach bears“the burden of European thought and history.” These notions and their associated logics are, in his view, “both indispensable and inadequate in helping us to think through the various life practices that constitute the political and the historical in the [Global South]”. Inviting scholars from, and working on, the Global South, the session emphasises theoretical, empirical and cases studies from the Global South.