Slavery: The Past and Present of Social (Un)Justice. Introducing the Decolonial Option
Slavery remains the most telling event and process in the formation of Western Civilization and the modern/colonial world in the Atlantic, from the XVI to early XIX centuries. An aberration upon which Western modernity built its economic foundations at the same time that managed to “normalize” the dispensability of human lives. Dispensable where lives of people considered lesser human and subjected to be enslaved and dispensed with when they were no longer necessary. Slavery was not only a set of processes and events. It was, above all, the consequence of a frame of knowledge that established a hierarchy of human beings. That frame of knowledge was and is what today we know as “racism.” Slavery was deeply rooted in epistemic un-justice.
The fourth edition of the Middelburg Decolonial Summer School focus on ” Slavery: The Past and Present of Social (Un) Justice.” It is designed to investigate the logic and presupposition of Global Un-justice in the modern/colonial world, from 1500 to 2000. The seminar takes place in Middelburg, a key city of the Dutch slave trade and it is set against the backdrop of the 150 anniversary of the abolition of slavery in The Netherlands.
The ‘Decolonial Option’ aims to open new perspectives for understanding global (un) justice as well as to overcome them in the process of imagining and building just and convivial futures. If coloniality, as unfolded in the collective project “modernity/coloniality”, is the logic behind social un-justices, it remains hidden under the rhetoric of modernity, Decoloniality shall be—therefore—the process of disclosing and undoing coloniality to promote and contribute to enact social justice. Global un-justices operates at all levels of the socio-economic and cultural spectrum, from economy to politics, from religion to aesthetics, from gender and sexuality to ethnicity and racism, and above all, in the control of knowledge.
The Decolonial Summer Seminar will take advantage of what Middleburg has to offer to understand the history of slavery and its connection to the formation of Western power. Building on the local history of Middelburg, we will theoretically explore the nature and consequences of slavery and we will draw the continuities between the colonial past and current forms of social un-justice around the world. We will pay special attention to emerging project, parallel to the project modernity/coloniality/decoloniality who are working toward overcoming the legacies of the South-North divide. If the colonial matrix of power encompasses several domains (economy, politics, gender, cosmology, aesthetics, racialization), the task of overcoming coloniality requires of many people in many areas of knowing and doing. Activists, artists, scholars, journalists will, among others, contribute to the goals of the 4th edition of the Decolonial Summer School at Middleburg.