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The Western

Decolonizing Political Science

Community Co-Chairs
We call this virtual community a virtual collective, as it is an intentional organization of scholars united by shared values and goals centered on decolonial politics and decolonizing academia. This virtual collective is organized and facilitated by junior women of color political scientists. We come from different subfields, universities, backgrounds, and academic ranks. We acknowledge that there are no Native or Indigenous women in this initial group of facilitators. To address this, we will prioritize the recruitment of Native and Indigenous women colleagues in all of our initiatives and develop non-tokenizing relationships based on genuine trust and solidarity in this continuous process.

Our leadership style is flexible and reflective. We refuse to reproduce neoliberal or diversity-based styles that lead to nepotism and the concentration of power with status quo academics. We do not have a centralized or a hierarchical power structure, our members' input has equal weight to those of the facilitators. Our facilitators are determined by time and interest, rather than appointment.

Our initial lead facilitators (in alphabetical order):
• Jenn M. Jackson (she/they), Assistant Professor, Syracuse University, Onondaga Lands. I acknowledge my positionality as a middle class, queer, disabled, androgynous cisgender Black woman with citizenship in a tenure track position at an elite, research I institution.

• Melina Juárez Pérez (she/hers) Assistant Professor, Western Washington University, Lummi & Nooksack Lands. I acknowledge my positionality as a working-class queer, disabled, light-skinned, cis Chicana with citizenship in a unionized tenure track position.

• Danielle Casarez Lemi (she/hers), Tower Center Fellow, Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Jumanos, Tawakoni, and Wichita Lands. Southern Methodist University. I acknowledge my positionality as a lighter-skinned, cis-het white Mexican/Filipino-American with citizenship.

• Maricruz Osorio (she/her/hers) is a Graduate student at the University of California, Riverside, Cahuilla Lands. I acknowledge my positionality as a light-skinned cis-het woman with citizenship.

• Rachel Torres (she/hers) Graduate Student, University of Iowa, Kiikaapoi Lands. I acknowledge my positionality as a biracial, white-passing, cis Chicana with citizenship in a unionized position.

• Diane Wong (she/they), Assistant Professor, Rutgers University-Newark, I acknowledge my positionality as a queer femme East Asian with citizenship in a unionized tenure track position on unceded Leni Lenape lands.

How to Participate:
If you’re interested in participating, please contact:

Area Contact(s)
General Questions Melina Juárez Pérez (she/hers), juarezm2@wwu.edu
BIPoC Praxis Lab: Reading Group Rachel Torres (she/hers), rachel-torres@uiowa.edu
BIPoC Praxis Lab: Website / Media Jenn M. Jackson, jjacks37@maxwell.syr.edu
Workers’ Collective Diane Wong, dw465@cornell.edu
Melina Juárez Pérez, juarezm2@wwu.edu
Rachel Torres (she/hers), rachel-torres@uiowa.edu
Diane Wong, dw465@cornell.edu
Jenn M. Jackson, jjacks37@maxwell.syr.edu
Workshops Diane Wong, dw465@cornell.edu
Melina Juárez Pérez, juarezm2@wwu.edu
Rachel Torres (she/hers), rachel-torres@uiowa.edu
Diane Wong, dw465@cornell.edu
Jenn M. Jackson, jjacks37@maxwell.syr.edu

 

How to Support
WPSA is not requiring any fees or membership dues to participate in its Virtual Communities during the 2020-2021 Pilot Program. Many people are volunteering their labor to make that possible, a model that will not be sustainable if we are to continue offering this program on a more permanent basis.

If you would like to support this initiative now and increase its viability for the future, please consider donating to help pay for administrative and IT costs. We especially invite participants who are not currently dues-paying members of WPSA to contribute. We suggest a sliding-scale of $5-$25 as you are able. You may contribute here: https://www.wpsanet.org/forms/donation.php

Community Focus
This virtual collective strives to build collective power to develop anti-oppressive research, teaching, and institutional practices, as well as breaking silos and creating healthy and radical relationships between ourselves, our communities, and all non-human beings. To accomplish this, we focus on three central goals:

1. Intellectual Growth. This space contributes to decolonial intersectional politics as practiced in political science. The central topics of interest include: investigating the ways our discipline and academia relate to and are complicit in politics and systems that marginalize; developing methods and frameworks that are in tune with the reality of changing demographic and political landscapes; and imagining new sociopolitical structures (including higher education) and power relations beyond Western paradigms. As a primarily BIWoC-led collective, we actively support the intellectual growth and visibility of Black, Indigenous, and other women of color and their work.

2. Reflexivity, Accountability, & Healing. We also envision this space as a place for mutual growth and healing, as our institutions are often violent and traumatizing. Scholars of color face toxic and outright hostile campus environments that often end in lateral violence against our colleagues of color and in wielding power against easily targeted students, campus workers, and society in general. We aim to build a reflexive space where we can hold ourselves accountable for our individual and systemic contributions to this harm, specifically when it comes to our complicity in anti-indigeneity, anti-Blackness, ableism, and the repression of sexual and gender minoritized peoples.

3. Praxis. This space challenges the normalization of complacency, gatekeeping, and other practices that stifle meaningful engagement with our communities, histories, and politics. Instead, we encourage scholars of color to actively engage in anti-oppressive participatory research that centers and engages with marginalized communities, in particular our own. We encourage radical public intellectualism, community organizing, and other forms of decolonial and liberatory practices. We are committed to pushing the boundaries of theory to reflect our realities, particularly around the issues of abolition, reparation, and repatriation of settler lands.

Intended Participants
Our virtual collective is built by and primarily for junior (pre-tenure) self-identified women of color (WoC). However, our target participants include scholars of color who are interested in decolonization and intersectional politics. Our aim is to build leadership among junior WoC, and thus, the facilitation of this virtual collective is primarily led by us. However, understanding the need to address the internalization of imperialist, capitalist, settler colonial, white supremacist, and heteropatriarchal ideologies within our broader communities of color, we highly encourage all scholars of color of all ranks to join our virtual collective.

While this Virtual Community provides spaces that are inclusive, most events and meetings are intentionally designed for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPoC) participants. White academics interested in decolonizing political science are welcome to join the Workshop and Worker’s Collective events and other Virtual Communities focused on similar concerns.

Events are free, however, we encourage those with professional or personal funding, especially tenured and senior scholars, to donate for programming costs (i.e. speaker fees, participant compensation) and the labor put into managing the Praxis Lab. Inspired by Sistah Scholar, our virtual collective is guided by the following principles, which are fluid:

1. We operate on transformative reflexive accountability. Meaning, this is a no policing, shaming, or guilting zone -- let's practice personal and collective accountability that doesn't reproduce harm and toxicity
2. Assume good intent, if you need clarification -- reach out to the person(s)
3. Treat all shared experiences and moments of vulnerability as private
4. No academic institution, concept, method, or politics are infallible
5. Treat this as a safe space to open our minds, be vulnerable, and introspective
6. We don't expect our Black, Afro-Latinx, and/or Native colleagues to pull the weight of learning and healing processes
7. We expect male colleagues to practice reflexivity when participating in this BIWoC- centered project. Be aware of your positionality in all spaces
8. We will not tolerate people who incite fear, intimidate, or have active known histories of these behaviors, especially sexual harassment, bullying, or institutional violence

Purpose
While intersectional politics are growing in political science, decolonial politics that frame analyses in ways that challenge dominant power relations are less encouraged. Yet, as rapidly changing global landscapes illustrate, rising tensions between imperialist practices and indigenous and marginalized populations challenge many traditional conceptualizations of politics.

In addition, investigations on academe’s role in fueling social tensions, and its (our) role in advancing and legitimizing Western imperialism, are even more restricted. Universities, for example, drive gentrification and housing crises in their surrounding communities as they take land and displace Native, Black, poor, and other marginalized peoples. They extract brain power from these same communities domestically and abroad. And within the Ivory Tower, academics reproduce feudalist and neoliberal modes of teaching and working until our bodies can no longer. Moreover, academics continue to harm our communities through their extractive methods and pedagogies in multiple ways.

This collective creates the space for scholars, particularly junior scholars of color and other marginalized social locations, to engage in critical dialogues and collaborations around all of these issues. We aim to build an intellectually productive and collegial space for scholars to engage in decolonial intersectional praxis. This includes rigorous discussion of ideas, methods, and pedagogy; engaging in individual and collective accountability, evaluation, and reflection; and encouraging and supporting community-academic collaborations.

We hope that through these processes we can grow the leadership and strength of WoC in political science and academia broadly and contribute to advancing the demands of those at the most precarious margins of power. We see this as building a hub of BIPoC power. A space where we can help each other not just navigate academia but take bold actions for the collective good, including creating new spaces to build power and dream anew.

Kinds of Events Planned
Our virtual collective is made up of multiple co-constructing projects: the BIPoC Praxis Lab, Worker’s Collective, and Workshops. Although the aims of these projects are interrelated, each has an area of particular focus. These spaces will allow for scholars to work through their own accountability within their scholarship and behavior, as well as heal from the trauma inflicted on us by white supremacist and colonial structures. These spaces will also have concrete action components for members to engage in to further this mission outside of Political Science.

BIPOC Praxis Lab
As its name suggests, the BIPoC Praxis Lab is a BIPoC-only space. The Praxis Lab is meant as a space to learn, heal, and act. Scholars can connect with others seeking to expand their study of decolonization or are involved or interested in being involved in grassroots community building and community-based research. There are multiple projects within the Praxis Lab, and this list will expand and retract based on interest.

Our Reading Group (formerly Decolonial Politics Study Group) is a BIPoC-only space. Initially, this group was formed by Chicanx/Latinx political scientists as a means to address our internalization of anti-Blackness and anti-indigeneity and interrogate the ways we perpetuate imperialist ideologies in our scholarly work. This revamped Reading Group expands these topics to foster a deeper understanding of decolonization, anti-imperialism, and intersectionality.

The Media Project is a BIPoC-only space for those interested in radical public intellectualism, other forms of radical politics, and/or non-traditional political engagement. This is a space for sharing resources on publishing/reaching beyond academic venues; for highlighting BIPoC and decolonial, anti-oppressive research; and for creating subaltern media through podcasts, blogs, social media, and other non-academic methods. This is a place for insurgent scholarship that moves beyond the rigid limitations of Western logics and methods.

Workshops
We will host workshops on critical indigenous and intersectional pedagogies, decolonizing research, and create space for accountability where we discuss how to hold colleagues accountable for their complicity in white supremacist and colonial structures, as well as how to reduce the harm inflicted upon marginalized communities by these structures. Some of these workshops will be in collaboration with other WPSA virtual communities.

Worker’s Collective
The Worker’s Collective is a place where unionized academics, students, and campus workers can meet, discuss, and organize together. This space is open to all, although non-whites seeking to participate are encouraged to facilitate junior/ WoC colleagues attending so as to not turn this into a white-male dominated space. Non-unionized academics that are interested in unionizing can find the help and resources to navigate those processes here. The ultimate goal of this group is to create a working-class consciousness and hub of power to combat the growing neoliberal onslaught on public education— let’s get organized for the anti-higher education onslaught coming our way (already here really!).

Upcoming Events
Information about upcoming events will be posted here and on the unified Virtual Communities calendar at http://www.wpsanet.org/virtual/calendar.php as events are scheduled. Convert event times to your local time zone at https://www.worldtimebuddy.com/.

First General Meeting
Date: September 4, 2020 Time: 3-4pm PST | 5-6pm CT | 6-7pm EST
Event Details:
Join us for our first General Meeting! We’ll introduce ourselves, present current projects, & discuss our collective vision for this Virtual Community.
Contact for Access:
Sign-up to attend: tinyurl.com/decolonizePSVC or https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/
1FAIpQLScwd0E4fiPxHboQ78oQAlNdCUyiu97GMhyb22l8
vzSIRdt9HA/ viewform?usp=sf_link

Questions: Melina Juárez Pérez, melina.juarez@wwu.edu