Volume 2, Dossier 1: On Decoloniality

This dossier offers a highlight on the work of an ongoing project focusing on the epistemic, the economic, the political and the ethical. Epistemically, the project was founded on the premise that Eurocentrism is basically a question of imperial knowledge in which the rhetoric of modernity (a rhetoric of salvation and progress, and salvation as progress) hides and disguises the logic of coloniality (a logic that justifies oppression, exploitation, and violence in the name of salvation and progress). “De-coloniality” is conceived as a process of epistemic de-linking from Eurocentrism. If—the argument goes—the rhetoric of modernity embedded in imperial reason legitimized coloniality (e.g., imperialism with and without colonies, but modernity always entangled with coloniality), then what is needed is not just a change of content within the limits of imperial reason, but a change in the terms of the conversation. Anibal Quijano conceived this move as epistemic de-linking.

A fuller picture of the accomplishment of the project in the past ten years could be found in three recent publications. Globalization and the De-colonial Option, edited by Walter Mignolo in collaboration with Arturo Escobar (a special issue of Cultural Studies 21/2-3, 2007) is the first collection in English that provides a good introduction to the overall project. It contains the foundation article by Anibal Quijano in which the triad modernity/coloniality/de-coloniality is laid out and an overview by Arturo Escobar. In the same issue Nelson Maldonado-Torres explores the concept of (de) coloniality of being and José Saldívar makes the link between coloniality and borderland, between South American colonial histories and Chicanas colonial histories. A couple of articles on the consequences of thinking de-colonially about and around ex-Soviet colonies as Rumania, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan (Manuela Boatca and Madina Tlostanova).(1) In El Giro Decolonial. Relfexiones par una diversidad epistémica más allá del capitalismo global, co-edited by Santiago Cástro-Gómez and Ramón Grosfoguel (Bogota, 2007), you can find a short history of the constitution and unfolding of the project and a wide array of essays including de-colonizing the university in which he lays out his influential notion of “hybris del punto cero”; (Castro-Gómez), de-colonizing Western universals (Ramon Grosfóguel), on interculturality and coloniality of power (Catherine Walsh), on anthropology and coloniality (Eduardo Restrepo). In Bolivia, José Luis Saavedra compiled a collection of essays (published by PIEB, Proyecto Investigación Experimental de Bolivia) in 2007, titled Educación superior, interculturalidad y descolonización. This collection responds to current debates, in Bolivia, on de-colonizing higher education and it includes an article by Aymara intellectual Mamani Condori on the “road and de-colonization” and a collaboration on Afro Caribbean Franz Fanon and Fausto Reynaga (Aymara intellectual and activist).

In this dossier, you will find an article by Zulma Palermo (Cultural Critique, based at the Universidad Nacional de Salta, Argentine), on de-colonizing the university. Her article joins forces, within the project, with Castro-Gómez on de-colonizing the university, the hybris of the zero-point and the dialogues of knowledges.(2) Edgardo Lander (Sociologist, based in Caracas and deeply involved in the World Social Forum), offers here one version of his ongoing, and dramatic, reflection on time and global warming: unlike the situation one hundred years ago, long-range planning is cut-off by the growing possibility of the death of life in the planet.

The contributions by José de Souza Silva and Eduardo Ibarra Colado place us beyond the social sciences and humanities, which is the original site of the project modernity/colonialilty/de-coloniality. José de Souza Silva is Researcher of Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (EMBRAPA) and Director of Red Nuevo Paradigma para la innovación institucional en América Latina. From his training and experience, he offers (in two short pieces) a condensed version of an intense work in which research, epistemology and ethics interacts with activism. Eduardo Ibarra Colado is Director of the Department of Insitutional Studies at the Universidad Autónoma de México-Unidad Cuajimalpa. Ibarra-Colado makes here a signal contribution as he unveils the logic of coloniality underneath current celebration of management; management as the key that opens all the doors toward a bright neo-liberal future. He sees, correctly in my view, “management” as the new face of the logic of coloniality. In sum, the four contributions suggest what the concept of “coloniality” can do for us and which are the paths that the de-colonial option (and the diversity of de-colonial options within the singularity of the de-colonial paradigmatic shift) open up for us in our task of imagining and creating a world in which many worlds can co-exist.

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Zulma Palermo addresses the decolonization of the university from her experience at the Universidad Nacional de Saltain Argentina. This essay is a reflection on a university-based project, which has parallels with the cultural studies PhD program at the Universidad Simón Bolívar, Quito, that engages decolonial knowledge and understanding. Palermo is working on this endeaveour with colleagues in the schools of agronomy and of economy at Salta. This de-colonial interdisciplinary project, between the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences, places her in conversation with the contributions of Ibarra-Colado (in Mexico) and de Souza Silva (in Brazil) in this dossier.

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Edgardo Lander engages five of the many global processes animating the contemporary moment, and he argues that destruction of the conditions of life, growing mercantilization, permanent state of war, decline of liberal democracy and the multiple forms of resistance are the main tendencies that conform the present and future of mankind and life. He then points to the possibilities of building democratic, egalitarian, culturally plural and diverse societies that can live in peace and celebrate life rather than war. His vision for the future employs a counter-cultural and decolonial method that pays attention to local and particular forms of resistance. Click here for an English version of Lander's article.

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Eduardo Ibarra-Colado discusses the current state of Organization Studies in Latin America, disclosing the epistemic coloniality that prevails in the region. Adopting an approach based on the recognition of the relevance of the geopolitical space as place of enunciation, he argues for the relevance of the ‘outside’ and ‘otherness’ to understand organizational realities in Latin America. Ibarra-Colado concludes by renewing the urgency of appreciating the organizational problems of Latin America from the outside by proposing a preliminary research agenda built from original approaches that recognize otherness.

By assuming that humanity is experiencing another change of epoch since the 60s, José de Souza Silva (i) situates entrepreneurship in historical perspective; (ii) characterizes the ongoing crisis of the paradigmatic crisis of industrialism; and (iii) synthesizes the emerging global scenarios and their implications to social enterprises. Among the emerging metaphors of the machine, arena, and ágora derived from the corresponding cybernetic, market, and contextual worldviews, he proposes the ágora as the one most favorable to the social enterprise. Finally, he argues that the social entrepreneur is a central figure as societies reimagine civil society and the common good.