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part 4 Southern Studies in Practice This page intentionally left blank 153 Interlocality and Interdisciplinarity Learning from Existing Models of the Global South kirsten dellinger, jeffrey t. jackson, katie b. mckee, and annette trefzer The term “Global South” was coined in the 1970s by the United Nations when it established a special unit dedicated to “South-­ South cooperation”—devel‑ opment assistance shared between developing countries—and was originally used to describe those “less developed” countries of the world in terms of the UN Human Development indices or in terms of income per capita. Since the term has grown common, tending to replace the term “Third World,” it has evolved to take on many meanings. One of the most interesting arenas in which we can observe these diverse and sometimes divergent meanings is post-­ 1990s academic scholarship on the topic of globalization. While the Global South has become a well-­ recognized concept in both the humanities and the social sciences, we argue that usage of the term is anything but con‑ sistent and that this indicates uncertainty within the academy with regard to its meaning. This may create problems for academics who wish to have interdisciplinary conversations about the Global South, but, on a deeper level, the shifting meaning of the term indicates the complexity of defining power relations within the contemporary moment of intensely networked daily life. In order to more clearly understand this moment, and in an effort to move be‑ yond disciplinary divides, this essay explores the concept of the Global South from the perspective of scholarship within both the humanities and the social sciences and draws on the direct experiences as scholars of an interdisciplin‑ ary working group at the University of Mississippi devoted to the topic of the Global South. The goal of this essay is threefold. First, we offer an interpretation of some current models of the Global South and a response to them. This narrative is not a complete overview of all existing literature on the Global South, but rather a collective story of our own experiences interrogating this concept as an interdisciplinary working group. Central to this story is our own unique social location in Mississippi. Our attempt to conceptualize how Mississippi’s place within the concept of Global South both afforded us insights into cross-­ 154 dellinger, jackson, mckee, and trefzer disciplinary work and created certain terminological difficulties. Second, we outline how our own attempts to find common interdisciplinary ground on which to build collaborative research quickly revealed some of the limitations of individual scholarly approaches. Interrogating the various epistemological orientations of the scholars we studied became central to our discussions, and in this paper we will explore the implications of these different logics and frameworks, paying particular attention to where they overlap or con‑ tradict one another. Finally, we approach the Global South through the con‑ cept of “decentered interlocality,” a term we used to integrate geographical and institutional locations by invoking a dynamic from one location while simultaneously raising an awareness of the power dynamics and inequalities inherent in other locations. Decentered interlocality allowed us to understand the complexities of our contemporary global culture and enabled us to work together across disciplinary lines. The Global South Crosses the Disciplines For three years, the interdisciplinary faculty working group on the Global South at the University of Mississippi welcomed social scientists and humani‑ ties scholars to discuss various definitions and applications of this concept with respect to our specific location here in Mississippi. As a working group, we immediately noticed that we were interested in borrowing from each oth‑ er’s disciplines. Literary scholars began incorporating sociology readings, and social scientists increasingly relied on literature and film in their classes. All of us were assigning the work of historians and geographers. Nevertheless, as we read each other’s canonical works and as we listened to invited speakers who were themselves transcending disciplinary boundar‑ ies in their research, the unique biases and norms of our epistemological ori‑ entations crept up. Sometimes these disciplinary fences were easily ­ hurdled, and we moved forward. At other times differences between scholars in the sciences and the humanities surfaced that created tensions within the group and became opportunities to proselytize one another on the merits of our own academic perspectives.1 In short, we became aware of the different pri‑ orities, agendas, perspectives, and biases of our fields. Alvin Gouldner called these the “domain assumptions” of theory, the basic epistemological orien‑ tations of scholars that involve key concepts...


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