York University’s Global South Forum “Reconceptualizing Bandung: Non-Alignment and Third Worldism Today” took place on April 5.
The virtual event discussed the significance of the “Bandung spirit” associated with the Asian-African Congress of 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia, which was attended by delegates from 29 Asian and African nations, to discuss peace and oppose contemporary colonialism, racism and capitalism.
Co-organized by the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC), Founders College, the graduate and undergraduate programs in Development Studies and the African Studies program in the Department of Social Science, and the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR), the event brought together three globally prominent speakers from diverse backgrounds and different geographies to consider the structural shifts that accompanied decolonization, the continuous exploitation through an international division of labour, and the legacy of resistance as represented by Non-Aligned Movement and Third Worldism.
The speakers included Su Lin Lewis, an associate professor in modern global history at the University of Bristol; Yao Graham, the coordinator of Third World Network-Africa, based in Accra, Ghana; and Houria Bouteldja, a founding member of le Parti des Indigènes de la République, a decolonial political member organization in France.
Driving the discussion were the shared structures of feeling among the scholars about the political, social, cultural and ecological problems in the capitalist world economy.
EUC Professor llan Kapoor says, “Bandung represents the powerful idea of ‘non-alignment,’ that is, a refusal to conform to the mainstream socioeconomic norms on offer today, be they capitalist, liberal democratic or authoritarian – norms that privilege the already privileged and exploit the excluded. The idea is to struggle instead for a new, radically egalitarian world which puts the excluded first.”
YCAR Director and EUC Professor Abidin Kusno notes, “Today, the context is ‘Asia rising’ a reality which surpasses the dream of Bandung, but it is not clear how the rise of China for instance would challenge European hegemony and the global capitalist economy to build a more democratic and egalitarian world order.”
Pablo Idahosa, an associate professor in African studies/international development studies at the Department of Social Science at the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies says, “A reassessment of the global order political-military, resource and financial realignments taking place, and the ambivalence of many countries in the global south towards them, would benefit from lenses provided from the global south, and not only because of but perhaps accelerated by, the invasion of Ukraine.”
“Reconceptualizing Bandung” is the most recent event organized by the Global South Forum at the University, which has presented a series of events brought together since 2019 by Kapoor, Kusno, Idahosa, Viviana Patroni, associate professor of international development studies at the Department of Social Science, along with EUC Associate Professors Stefan Kipfer and Anna Zalik.
The goal of the forum is to bring together the community of colleagues at the University committed to facilitating conversations about development more inclusive of the critical intellectual contributions from the global south itself.