Palgrave Studies in Decolonisation and Grassroots Black Organic Intellectualism (MaSPP)

PALGRAVE MACMILLAN BOOK SERIES

A call for contributors

See Press Release, here.
See MEaP Academy Scholars, here.

Introduction

Our MEaP Academy Scholars’ Publishing Programme (MaSPP) is an exciting opportunity to publish a Palgrave Pivot title under the mentorship of MEaP Academy Community Training & Research Institute (MaCTRI), with a view towards using that book to earn a PhD (by publication). There will be 15 books in total that will comprise the series. However, this call is also open to potential contributors who have no wish to participate in MaSPP.

Series Theme

Secondly, there are the “organic” intellectuals, the thinking and organising element of a particular fundamental social class. These organic intellectuals are distinguished less by their profession, which may be any job characteristic of their class, than by their function in directing the ideas and aspirations of the class to which they organically belong.

Gramsci (1999:131)

Antonio Gramsci’s description of “organic intellectuals” is particularly prescient in the context of current global #BlackLivesMatter protests (Beckett, 2021) and the recent US insurrection that took place in the US Capitol Building (Gordon, 2021), where we could clearly see the power of grassroots movements (with their leaders and ”organic intellectuals” at the helm). We also witnessed these movements’ potential to affect policy and political agendas. In reality, this was a two-way process that in the Capitol’s case became a polarising and violent process in terms of the implications for US democracy (BBC, 2021). However, what these two seemingly opposing social movements had in common was a community ideology that, via their ‘thought leaders’ or “organic intellectuals” had been able to unite diverse communities into social action whether be it in protest of police brutality against African Americans (Kansara, 2020; Amnesty, 2021) or the perceived economic anxieties of the White working classes from the rust belt (Breunig, et al., 2020). Both communities feeling strongly aggrieved in terms of how they perceive social justice and their relationship to it.

In a UK context, outside of these social movements, the academy has also attempted to grapple with the need for social justice by focusing on decolonisation in terms of ‘decolonising’ its own power structures and its curricula (Liyanage, 2020; Bhambra, et al., 2018). The (student) communities within the academy have campaigned for academic spaces that foreground racial and indeed epistemological equality in terms of the curricula delivered. However, there does seem to be a disconnect between this very necessary academic enterprise and the wider UK grassroots #BlackLivesMatter (social) movement (McIntosh, 2020), in terms of praxis (Clennon, 2020). This disconnect has also manifested in a perplexing two-way process with UK policy and political agendas, as social justice work focusing on racial inequality has been banned from mainstream political discourse (Trilling, 2020; Weale, 2020). It is not clear how the academic discourse around decolonisation manifests in grassroots liberatory discourse (Choudry, 2015) especially within this current political environment.

To address this perceived disconnect, this series will attempt to uncover what decolonisation actually means and what it looks like. The series will examine the activities of “organic intellectuals” in their grassroots settings whilst exploring the process of decolonising the Eurocentric classist origins of the “organic intellectual”, itself (Gordon, 2009). The series will focus on decolonisation as a process of acknowledging and situating traditional heritage knowledges (Mignolo, 2002) in communities that allow for successful and strategic positioning for social justice activism. However, this idea of ‘traditional heritage knowledges’ is complex because in this series, the focus of these heritage knowledges will be from the African Diaspora in Europe, Latin America, The Caribbean and Continental Africa. Since the African Diaspora is at once global and local (glocal), the series will explore the inherent tensions between traditional pre-colonial knowledges and their colonial transformations (Vazquez, 2011; Bhambra, 2014) in Europe, Latin America, The Caribbean and in their heritage heartlands on the Mother Continent (of Africa). The series will show how marginalised African Diaspora communities in their daily lives in the quest for social justice are grappling with decolonisation by virtue of balancing their lived histories (i.e. their heritages) with their lived contemporary experiences (i.e. how their heritages create ontological spaces (c.f. Maldonado-Torres, 2007 for his ‘coloniality of being’) within their national assimilationist identities, e.g. in the UK, the White working classes (Joshi, 2019)).

The scholar activists/practitioners featured in this series will interrogate decolonisation as a concept from both their disciplinary and embedded (i.e. non-academic, non-‘research’ project based) community contexts. The series will, in effect, be showcasing the activities of what are in actuality “organic intellectuals” (Gramsci, 1999:131) who through their various disciplines seek to uncover the nature of community knowledge(s) and attempt to theorise it/them as a crucial counterpoint(s) to the decolonial knowledge and discourse situated in the academy. In other words, the authors will explore how their practice functions as a grassroots decolonial praxis, as they apply their interpretations of the decolonisation process to their communities’ social organising, resistance and agency. In essence, the series advocates for the grassroots return of the “organic intellectual” who in previous eras was able to help galvanise community empowerment without the platform of an academic institution behind them. In particular, we are thinking of outstanding figures such as CLR James (Clennon, 2017), Marcus Garvey, Olive Morris, Frantz Fanon, Angela Davis, Paulo Freire, Ella Baker, Augusto Boal, Ida B. Wells, Antonio Gramsci, James Baldwin, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, Bayard Rustin, Marsha P Johnson and many others who exemplified such community and intellectual service.

The benefit of this series will be to produce a canon of work that centres the decolonial struggles of the African Diaspora grassroots from a grassroots perspective rather than from the more removed vantage point of the academy. The series will contextualise the #BlackLivesMatter social movement by offering an insight into the epistemological and ontological thinking and ‘doing’ that is happening in the grassroots behind the very public scenes of visible protests around the world. The series will also, by implication and by virtue of exploring the ideological discourses of the African Diaspora grassroots, suggest why radical right wing White resistance to racial justice is on the rise (e.g. in the rhetorical guise of the UK ‘left behind’ White working classes in Redwall areas (Winlow, et al., 2017; Clennon, 2017)). As a result, this series will benefit both the academic scholar and the grassroots activist by contributing to the epistemological bridge-building between both these intellectual communities towards organising for social change (Clennon, 2018).

Series Editor: Dr Ornette D Clennon

For more details, please contact Dr Ornette D Clennon at ornette@meap.org.uk

 

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One thought on “Palgrave Studies in Decolonisation and Grassroots Black Organic Intellectualism (MaSPP)

  1. The Ethics of Decolonisation

    Dr Ornette D Clennon (Series Editor)

    I was particularly struck by Dr Jessica Hernandez’s (https://www.jessicabhernandez.com/) views about sharing sacred indigenous knowledge. They can be read here: https://twitter.com/doctora_nature/status/1489009182250455041?s=20&t=JYbxPprXrLgXATkjdxYqfQ) where she specifically asks about the intention of Western researchers vis a vis commoditising indigenous knowledge for what she essentially describes as personal gain. This reminds me of the familiar data mining malaise usually inflicted on minoritised communities with its obvious echoes of colonial mineral extraction. Dr Hernandez fundamentally believes that this sacred indigenous knowledge is not something that can be commoditised and sold in a paper or book but has to be lived and experienced. She says that if researchers really want to know about these epistemologies, they need have real skin in the game and really invest themselves in these cultures (meaning developing actual relationships with communities) and only then will some sort of ethical responsibility for this knowledge be possibly developed (consent and permissions and explicit input from communities about what and how their knowledges are shared).

    This struck a chord with me, as our book series is about how decolonisation is lived in our grassroots communities across the African Diaspora. In terms of the traditional heritage cultures we will be exploring, what indeed will be our ethical frameworks for their presentation, preservation and applicability for our communities?

    Lots of food for thought.

    Like

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