MESAAS Graduate Student Conference 2023: Decolonizing Cartographies [20–21 April 2023]


The Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS) at Columbia University is pleased to announce its annual Graduate Student Conference on the 20th and 21st of April, 2023. This conference is a space for graduate scholars, activists, artists, and others to think through and confront colonial systems.

The conference this year is interested in “Decolonizing Cartographies” – or, stated broadly, how do we challenge colonial regimes of knowledge and the ways they divide the world?

In order to pursue these questions, we must also ask what ‘decoloniality’ means and looks like across various settings: academic, artistic, practical, etc. In what ways does the decolonial contrast with the anti-colonial, what does each position offer, and what possibilities are opened and foreclosed by reorienting from one to the other?

For example, cartography as science and practice implies a focus on issues of knowledge production while at the same time involving acts of representation. Humanistic and social scientific practice, more broadly, especially within the university, continues to operate out of an epistemology that complicates efforts to decolonize it. How can we shift our pedagogy and practice to begin producing decolonial knowledge and engendering decolonial practice?

We encourage papers and presentations which speak to our theme. Topics may include but are not limited to

• Human Geography

• Technopolitics & Expert Knowledge

• Alternative Lifeworlds

• Racialization

• Colonial gendering

• (Re)presentation

• Textual Landscapes

• Translation

• Non-Modern Epistemologies and Ontologies

• Peripheries

• Critical Ecologies

• Decolonial Aesthetics

• Critical Approaches to Sexuality

• Transnational Cinema and Media

• Colonial and Decolonial Temporalities

• Settlement/Unsettlement

• Conceiving Ruptures & Continuities

This is a hybrid conference. This conference will be held predominately on Zoom, with some in-person components for those in the New York City area. Please submit your abstracts for a 20-minute presentation by the 27th of February, 2023 to this link:

Abstracts should be no longer than 350 – 400 words. Please include a short biography of no more than 100 words in your submission. Notification of paper acceptance will be sent by mid-March. Your final papers should be submitted by April 10th. You can follow the conference on our Twitter page:

Please direct any questions to the following email:

  Address:  401 Knox Hall, MC9628
606 West 122nd St,
New York, NY 10027
  Tel: (212) 854-2556