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Message posted on 13/12/2019

Call for papers: Reimagining social innovation through decolonisation

Dear all

Please see below information on a stream 'Reimagining social innovation
through decolonisation'
at the 12th International Social Innovation
Research Conference 2020, Sheffield University Management School, UK, 1st –
3rd September 2020 - Theme: ‘Social innovation and enterprise for more
prosperous, fair and sustainable societies’.

Conference website:

Stream chairs: Stephen Allen (University of Sheffield), Emanuela Girei
(University of Sheffield) and Andrea Jimenez (University of Sheffield)


Stream description and submission information:

Stream overview:

Social innovation (SI) has become increasingly popular within academic and
policy making circles as a way to tackle grand societal challenges,
including poverty, inequality and climate change. However, what is not
always apparent and considered is that this growing popularity is
underpinned by heterogeneous and often competing understandings of what SI
is and ought to be. Significantly it has been noted that the dominant
framing of SI which guides policy making of multilateral organisations,
such as the EU and the World Bank, is profoundly shaped by neo-liberal
assumptions and values, which put market-economic priorities at the core of
SI agendas (see for instance Fougère, Segercrantz, & Seeck, 2017). This
means that social business, economic efficiency and managerialist
blueprints are often prioritised to position SI firmly within narratives of
‘caring neoliberalism’. Discourses on SI in the Global South reflect
dominant framings by centring around strategies for transforming vulnerable
and marginalised citizens into active and productive economic subjects. In
this sense, rather than being emancipatory, SI can reinforce and reproduce
neo-colonial relations, dynamics and practices.

With this stream, we aim to draw upon the decolonial turn in social
sciences. The decolonial turn is variously informed by areas of research
including post-colonial theory, critical development studies and critical
management studies. Our intention is to liberate SI from modernist,
universalist and colonial traps so that possibilities can be imagined to
inform alternative understandings and practices of SI. As Maia (2018)
suggests, if colonial innovation concentrates on competition, survival of
the fittest and economic success, decolonial innovation might focus on
collaboration, partnership, bottom-up forms of organising and, more
generally, on approaches that draw and elaborate on indigenous and
marginalised ways of knowing.

Stream design:

The stream will be designed as a learning process that maximizes
participation and facilitates inquiry and dialogue into these and other
topics. Therefore, there will be an emphasis on discussing papers in small
groups rather than on traditional, frontal presentations. The stream may
also venture outside the conference room and engage with people and
organisations external to the conference as part of the learning process,
as well as use technologies to enable people who are not physically
attending to participate in some sessions remotely. We have chosen to
approach the stream in this way because we want to be innovative in how we
come together and learn at conferences, and also create space for a
multiplicity of ways of knowing to be reflective of aspects of decolonising

Abstract and panel proposals submission closes: 28th February 2020



Dr Mario Pansera

University of Bristol
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