Introduction: Monocultures of Knowledge

Sheikh, Shela. 2016. 'Introduction: Monocultures of Knowledge'. In: ‘Under the Tree: Taxonomy, Empire and Reclaiming the Commons’, part of Qalandiya International. Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre, Ramallah, Palestinian Territory, Occupied. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

Speaker(s): Munir Fakher-Eldin, Vivien Sansour, Shela Sheikh, Beth Stryker, Omar Imseeh Tesdell, Marcell Mars, Nida Sinnokrot

Historically, colonialism and cultivation have been intertwined. Botanical taxonomy has underpinned European colonial expansion and served as a precursor for racial hierarchization. If this now-hegemonic classification system, instituted by Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778), can be likened to contemporary practices of bioprospecting and appropriating indigenous/local knowledge for the profit of transnational corporations, what critical, legal, literary and aesthetic tools might we employ in order to interrupt this ‘monoculture of knowledge’ of contemporary science and global neoliberal capitalism? How does the colonial construction of knowledge relate to contemporary questions around access to resources (file-sharing, seed banks, agricultural commons) and the suppression of ‘ecological’ thinking? Faced with contemporary biopiracy and epistemicide, how might we conceive of alternative practices of piracy and the commons that ‘harvest’ not only knowledge but also memory and the imaginary?

This event includes the opening of the Community Garden, BookScanner, and Moving Garden and is in collaboration with SAKIYA.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Talk)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


12 November 2016Accepted

Event Location:

Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre, Ramallah, Palestinian Territory, Occupied

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

07 Aug 2017 12:23

Last Modified:

07 Aug 2017 12:23


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