My Research Experience with Mecila
Global Convivial Forum
Léa Tosold (SCRIPTS FU-Berlin / Former Mecila Junior Fellow, 2020-2021)
Mecila Annual Meeting (Cologne, November 2021).
The partnerships I have established at Mecila will certainly outlive the duration of the scholarship; some may even last forever. I have learned a lot both in terms of content and in terms of the practice of working collaboratively.
I am an interdisciplinary researcher and activist. My academic work is on feminist and anti-racist epistemologies, from which I aim at rethinking collective forms of existence as resistance in contexts where violence is naturalised and ongoing. In my Ph. D., I engaged in a theoretical-political discussion of the politics of difference based on the Munduruku people and the riverside populations struggle to defend their territories against the construction of mega dams in the Middle Tapajós river region in the Amazonian rainforest. As a Mecila Junior Fellow in 2020-2021, I had the opportunity to work on memory politics and its global-local connections relying on Beatriz Nascimento’s notion of quilombo.
I was part of the first cohort of fellows since the Covid-19 health crisis. Even though we had to work online and the scholarship was cut down to seven months, I found Mecila to be a vibrant, respectful, and very stimulating space for the flourishing of my research. In addition to the colloquia, I participated in the activities of the three Research Areas (RA). The meetings were enjoyable and soon became a highlight of the week, different from the usual constraints of online work we have faced throughout the pandemic.
It was the first time I had worked with a group of researchers who were at the same time genuinely interdisciplinary and highly qualified, all of whom were involved in topics related to conviviality-inequality. It provided valuable insights for my research and dealt with specific theoretical issues that are common to all of us, conferring clarity for the onto-epistemological challenges we collectively face in our academic work.
This applies not only to the general colloquia but also to the meetings and activities of the different RAs. For example, in the RA (Hi)Stories of Conviviality, we had the opportunity to discuss the underlying notions of temporality in our work and its broader theoretical implications. The RA Medialities of Conviviality, among other topics, provided the chance to discuss the relationship between form and content in academic work. We discussed in the RA Politics of Conviviality how to deal analytically with collective resistance processes while simultaneously considering the (re)production of violence and testing the application of our knowledge regarding current pressing issues such as the pandemics.
I also appreciated the collaborative process with Senior Fellow Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez and Junior Fellow Juliana Streva to organise a podcast based on the common strands of our work — which is something I had only done before as an activist. Our podcast, inspired by the notion of quilombo by Beatriz Nascimento, dealt with different forms of producing knowledge. We had wonderful and inspiring support from the incredible Mecila team. I am sure we are all are very proud of the outcome!
It was the first time I worked with a group of scholars managing three languages simultaneously: English, Portuguese, and Spanish. The ability to switch and deal with different languages, in my opinion, also contributed to the creation of a welcoming atmosphere of working together that enabled us — including myself — to find other ways of mobilising and expressing in the group our best individual contributions.
The partnerships I have established during my time at Mecila will certainly outlive the duration of the scholarship; some may even last forever. I have learned a lot both in terms of content and in terms of the practice of working collaboratively.