"It’s much more meaningful to connect people in an open-ended way than to just start communicating about what you’ve found at the end of your research."

Interview with Julie Carlier, co-ordinator of the interdisciplinary research consortium Ghent Centre for Global Studies.

Julie Carlier has been co-ordinator of the Ghent Centre for Global Studies since it was founded seven years ago. We spoke with her about her experiences on the occasion of the establishment of six new IDC.

The consortium you are coordinating is called Ghent Centre for Global Studies. What does global studies entail?

Julie Carlier : "By global studies, we mean the critical study of globalisation. We pay particular attention to the relationship and interaction between local and global processes. People often see globalisation as something that takes place above our heads and over which we have no influence, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Global processes are also produced locally and influence local processes in turn. Think, for example, of the international financial markets. These seem abstract and elusive, but are in fact made by people in specific places like Wall Street or the City of London. Our centre focuses on the interaction between economic, political, social, and cultural globalisation as a process of ’world-making’."

Can you make specify that a little more?

Julie Carlier : "We actually work on the typical global challenges: fair trade and economic inequality, depletion of natural resources and land rights, climate justice, migration, democratic citizenship, etc. We look at these in relation to local processes, but also in the tradition of critical social theory. It investigates how power and power relations shape our world. It is very important in this critical tradition that research is always linked to a social commitment to contribute to more equality and justice. Based on the same motivation, we are now also discussing the decolonisation of the knowledge we produce and the society in which we live."

Which researchers are in your consortium? Are there any well-known names?

Julie Carlier : "It’s highly varied. We have historians; political scientists from EU, international, and conflict and development studies; sociologists; economists; human rights and migration scholars, etc. We have a total of ten research groups from six faculties. The main promoter or spokesperson of the consortium is Koen Vlassenroot (of the Department of Conflict and Development Studies). In addition, people will probably also know Sami Zemni, Eva Brems, or Ilse Derluyn. In fact, we focus less on the big names and senior professors, and more on the energy, ambition, and commitment of younger professors, postdocs, and doctoral students. There are many dynamic researchers working with us, who conduct research in very creative ways, linking their research to social impact in any case. For example, three PhD students (from conflict and development studies, history, and intercultural pedagogy) worked with participatory video. This is a participatory research method that creates visual material in co-creation with the people around which the research revolves. The videos generate source material for their research, but are also a way for those people to draw attention to the problems they are fighting against. These researchers organised the first Participatory Video Festival in Ghent in 2018. That put them and Ghent University on the international map, and was such a great success that there will now be a sequel."

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