What does it mean to Decolonize? Introducing the Decolonial Option
7th Annual Decolonial Summer School
15th of June – 1st of July 2016
University College Roosevelt (Middelburg, The Netherlands)
The decolonial is increasingly used as an expression in blogs and conferences such as “decolonizing Europe” or “decolonizing X, Z or Y”. There also expressions such as “decolonizing knowledge” or “decolonizing the university.” In this summer school we want to ask what are the concrete tasks that to decolonize implies for our times. What indeed is required to accomplish the decolonization that the expression promises?
In the Summer Seminar we will construe decoloniality as processes of delinking. Delinking from what?
From coloniality of power and therefore from the temptations of the promises of modernity reaching us through a rhetoric of progress and well being by means of acquiring, having more, competing to be the best and, in the process, losing ourselves in the world of objects and images, of the fascination of the digital and the oblivion of ourselves. Decoloniality is a process of delinking from modernity/coloniality
To that end, the decolonial option is a way to entering the process of delinking:
The decolonial option implies
a) A revisiting of the formation of the modern/colonial order, by introducing an option, the decolonial option, to the understanding of the historical and geographical origins of our troubled present,
b) The identification of decolonial trajectories at work around the world and at different domains of the colonial matrix of power
c) The recognition of processes of re-mergence and re-existence that are configuring decolonial horizons.
d) The need of border thinking (border gnosis) that emerges from the experiences of dwelling in the border and leads to processes of re-emergence and re-existence configuring decolonial horizons.
The course drew upon concrete examples of decolonial processes under way in social movements, in epistemic communities, and at institutions like the university and the museum.
At a personal level the students examined their own location in the colonial matrix of power and, consequently, how can they understand from their own positionality the decolonial option as a way to delink from coloniality. Furthermore, how could each participant find its own way to carry on decolonial processes grounded in personal experiences and local histories.
The decolonial option doesn’t offer a global blueprint that pretends to be good for the almost 8 billion people in the planet. It maps the decolonial as an option and leaves the door open to be enacted by emergent decolonial processes. The decolonial option encourages pluriversality and rejects universality; it comes to light and materializes when collective and diverse construction of pluriversality—in doing and thinking, sensing and believing—is embodied in decolonial actors and institutional agencies.