Worlding the Global: The Arts in the Age of Decolonization is an international academy and outreach initiative designed to collaboratively re-imagine and pluralize the “global” from multiple geocultural perspectives. This four-day academy is designed to connect advanced research in critical global studies and Indigenous studies, to mobilize that knowledge to universities and museums, and to create an international network of researchers and practitioners working in critical global cultural studies.

Our academy is the first in a series of four international summits and will be the inaugural activity of TrACE (Transnational and Transcultural Arts and Culture Exchange), an international and intergenerational network of researchers working in transnational and transcultural studies founded at Carleton University, Ottawa in 2018 with colleagues from Concordia University, Heidelberg University, and University of the Arts London. Working in collaboration with Àbadakone / Continuous Fire / Feu continuel at the National Gallery of Canada, the academy takes as its ethical starting point its situation on unceded Algonquin territory. It argues that conventional binary models of settler versus Indigenous, east versus west, north versus south, fail to analyze the complex power and knowledge structures of the world. Instead, it proposes to understand our global world as a temporally constituted and open-ended process of lived interrelations and interconnections.

This initiative understands art and its related discourses as world-making practices, which articulate, perform, construct and analyze the global from multiple and entangled positions and according to complex geo-historical and socio-political power structures. Situated in Canada, it seeks to facilitate a multi-pronged dialogue between long-separated discourses of settler-colonial, migrant, diasporic, and other transnational and transcultural histories and ways of knowing in art, to understand how these perspectives enact and (co-)constitute the global. Building on Indigenous discourses that incorporate decolonial approaches as fruitful terrain for unsettling modern Western institutionalized knowledge and for articulating multiple ways of relating to the world, the academy conceives of decolonization in the context of complex global entanglements of power and knowledge structures. It seeks to move beyond the binary model of colonizer and colonized that puts the colonizer at the centre of the discourse and the colonized in a reactive position, moving instead towards understanding decolonization as a multi-sited and collaborative engagement with histories, epistemologies, power, migration, capital, and culture.

Our academy utilizes a variety of innovative formats to push discussions beyond Western ways of knowing, and also maintains scholarly rigor and debate. In our current environment of global inequality, Indigenous dispossession, and environmental degradation, which have given rise to a justifiable suspicion of neoliberal globalization and a rise in reactionary populist nationalisms, Worlding the Global is an urgent project that seeks to publicly articulate new ways of living together.