Call for Abstracts: Decolonising Work and Organisations

By in Conferences, Research on 14th Aug, 2017

Dear comrades, please join us for fun and solidarity at the Gender, Work and Organization conference in Sydney, 13-16th June, 2018.
Despite the ways in which our lives are profoundly gendered and racialised, organisational theorising has traditionally assumed a white Western male norm in its attendant ontological and epistemological stances (Grimes, 2001; Liu, 2016; Metcalfe & Woodhams, 2012; Nkomo, 1992; Nkomo & Al Ariss, 2014). Mainstream research of organisations and their members tend to focus on the perspectives and experiences of white male subjects in the Global North, whose worldviews and experiences are assumed to be universal.

When mainstream studies are focused on gender, women tend to be treated as variations on the ‘default,’ with the assumption that the findings are applicable only to/for women. Similarly, studies frequently treat non-white subjects as special, ‘exotic’ cases, while reproducing homogenising and stereotypical representations of them (Kwek, 2003; Narayan, 2000). In essence, the gendered, racialised ‘Other’ is a material and epistemic transgression of normalised white male bodies in organisations. Much of organisational theorising and research does not address the foundational assumptions upon which the field was based, and continues to proliferate.

The silencing of gender and race in organisation studies are not just research ‘gaps’ to be filled. While theorisations of gender have given us the language and understanding to speak of multiple and fluid gendered identities (Harding, Ford, & Fotaki, 2012; Knights, 2014; Knights & Kerfoot, 2004), our field has yet to develop equally nuanced engagements with race (Parker, 2005; Zanoni, Janssens, Benschop, & Nkomo, 2010). Under globalisation and capitalism, gender and race along with other intersectional relations bear the hallmarks of Western colonialism, which too often remain invisible and unquestioned (Alamgir & Cairns, 2015; Nkomo, 2011; Özkazanç- Pan, 2012).

Within this context, intersectionality has become an oft-deployed concept, almost celebratory in nature, mimicking the language of diversity but devoid of significant theorising on the relations of power and oppression in organisations (Mohanty, 2013). In contrast, we want to reclaim the analyses and approaches available from an intersectional framework to address the silences in organisational theorising. We are interested in giving voice to ideas that examine how relations of gender and race can exemplify differences in power, status and legitimacy in organisational contexts and beyond. Our goal is not necessarily emancipatory knowledge for/about the ‘Third World/two-thirds world’, but rather, we aim to address the ways in which oppressions takes shape in the epistemic, material, and social world in which we inhabit and write about in organisation studies (Metcalfe & Woodhams, 2012).

Promising approaches to decolonial theorising have emerged at the nexus of feminism, critical race theory and postcolonialism. Although these diverse fields are typically treated as separate entities in organisational research, their cross-disciplinarity has fostered intellectual movements under various names including decolonial feminism, multiracial feminism and anti-racist feminism. While its proponents speak from different standpoints, they collectively seek to identify and challenge the intersecting systems of white supremacy and neo-/colonialism alongside ongoing challenges to patriarchy (Narayan & Harding, 2000; Parry, 2004; Swarr & Nagar, 2010). Together, these movements raise the voices of ‘outsiders’ to become producers of knowledge in order to undo the epistemic violence (Spivak, 2012) of white, Western masculinist theorising (Loomba, 2007).

This stream aims to advance the conversation of how organisation theorising could embrace a more meaningful engagement with the intersections of gender and race. We invite submissions that offer conceptual and empirical insights from researchers of all levels, intellectual backgrounds and identifications/identities. We also welcome submissions written ‘differently’—beyond the confines of traditional academic paper structures—and in languages other than English. Submissions may include but not limited to themes such as:

  • Intersectionality and feminism, including the various movements of decolonial, multiracial, anti-racist, transnational and women of colour feminisms.
  • Critical interrogations of whiteness, such as theorisations of how it may be redone or undone.
  • How racial and/or colonial dynamics of power impact organisations and their members.
  • Resistance against white supremacy, neo-/colonialism and/or patriarchy in organisations.
  • Developing transnational, postcolonial and decolonial feminist practices that destabilise the white Western masculine ‘canon’ of organisation studies.
  • Engaging with the politics of representation, such as via critical collaborative projects of knowledge production (Mir, Calás, & Smircich, 1995).
  • Indigenous feminist scholarship and practices in ‘post-colonial’ (McClintock, 1992) regions such as Australia, South America and beyond for exploring the epistemology of trans-local feminist movements.
  • Challenges of researching gender and race in the white masculinist academy.

Submission of abstracts (max. 500 words) by 5pm on Wednesday, 1 November (AEST)
To submit, go to:
For stream enquiries please contact: Helena Liu
Papers from the stream will be selected for a special issue proposal of the Gender, Work and Organization journal.

Helena Liu, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Banu Özkazanç-Pan, University of Massachusetts, United States
Fahreen Alamgir, Monash University, Australia


Alamgir, F., & Cairns, G. (2015). Economic inequality of the badli workers of Bangladesh: Contested entitlements and a “perpetually temporary” life-world. Human Relations, 68(7), 1131–1153.

Grimes, D. S. (2001). Putting our own house in order: Whiteness, change and organization studies. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 14(2), 132–149.

Harding, N., Ford, J., & Fotaki, M. (2012). Is the “F”-word still dirty? A past, present and future of/for feminist and gender studies in Organization. Organization, 20(1), 51–65.

Knights, D. (2014). Binaries need to shatter for bodies to matter: Do disembodied masculinities undermine organizational ethics? Organization, 22(2), 200–216.

Knights, D., & Kerfoot, D. (2004). Between representations and subjectivity: Gender binaries and the politics of organizational transformation. Gender, Work and Organization, 11(4), 430–454.

Kwek, D. (2003). Decolonizing and re-presenting culture’s consequences: A postcolonial critique of cross- cultural studies in management. In A. Prasad (Ed.), Postcolonial Theory and Organizational Analysis: A Critical Engagement (pp. 121–146). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Liu, H. (2017). Beneath the white gaze: Strategic self-Orientalism among Chinese Australians. Human Relations, 70(7), 781–804.

Loomba, A. (2007). Colonialism/Postcolonialism (2nd ed.). Milton Park: Routledge.

McClintock, A. (1992). The angel of progress: Pitfalls of the term of “post-colonialism.” Social Text, (31/32), 84–98.

Metcalfe, B. D., & Woodhams, C. (2012). Introduction: New directions in gender, diversity and organization theorizing — Re?imagining feminist post?colonialism, transnationalism and geographies of power. International Journal of Management Reviews, 14(2), 123–140.

Mir, R., Calás, M. B., & Smircich, L. (1995). Global technospaces and silent voices: Challenges to theorizing global cooperation. In D. Copperider & J. Dutton (Eds.), Organizational Dimensions of Global Change (pp. 270–290). London: Sage.

Mohanty, C. T. (2013). Transnational feminist crossings: On neoliberalism and radical critique. Signs, 38(4), 967– 991.

Narayan, U. (2000). Undoing the “package picture” of cultures. Signs, 25(4), 1083– 1086.

Narayan, U., & Harding, S. G. (2000). Decentering the Center: Philosophy for a Multicultural, Postcolonial, and Feminist World. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Nkomo, S. M. (1992). The emperor has no clothes: Rewriting “race in organizations.” The Academy of Management Review, 17(3), 487–513.

Nkomo, S. M. (2011). A postcolonial and anti-colonial reading of “African” leadership and management in organization studies: Tensions, contradictions and possibilities. Organization, 18(3), 365–386.

Nkomo, S. M., & Al Ariss, A. (2014). The historical origins of ethnic (white) privilege in US organizations. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 29(4), 389–404.

Özkazanç-Pan, B. (2012). Postcolonial feminist research: Challenges and complexities. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 31(5/6), 573–591.

Parker, P. S. (2005). Race, Gender, and Leadership: Re-envisioning Organizational Leadership from the Perspectives of African American Women Executives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Parry, B. (2004). Postcolonial Studies: A Materialist Critique. London: Routledge.

Spivak, G. C. (2012). Subaltern studies: Deconstructing histriography. In In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics (pp. 270–304). Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Swarr, A. L., & Nagar, R. (Eds.). (2010). Critical Transnational Feminist Praxis. Albany, NY: Sage.

Zanoni, P., Janssens, M., Benschop, Y., & Nkomo, S. (2010). Unpacking diversity, grasping inequality: Rethinking difference through critical perspectives. Organization, 17(1), 9–29.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: