Center for Global Studies and the Humanities

Duke University

13Nov2013 The Worlds & Knowledges Otherwise Project Presents

Volume 3, Dossier 3: Uneasy Postcolonialisms


UNEASY POSTCOLONIALISMS

Edited by Manuela Boatcă

 

 

PREFACE to the DOSSIER
Walter Mignolo

(De) Coloniality and Uneasy (Post) Colonialism.

Walter D. Mignolo

“Uneasy Postcolonialism” is indeed an appropriate title for this dossier, to honor the memory and the work of Fernando Coronil. Fernando was a relentless thinker and anthropologist who twisted anthropology to question theories instead of using theories to do anthropological work. His argument that prompted this dossier is for the reader to enjoy.  The introduction by Manuela Boatcă contributes to understanding the meaning of Fernando’s contribution in a larger context.

In this short preface I would just like to underline why post-colonialism is uneasy, a theme of various conversations I had with Fernando. Fernando was one of the founding members, if we can use this expression, of the collective Modernity/Coloniality. The collective’s initial moment was in 1998 when several of us, including Fernando, met in Montreal in the meeting of the International Sociological Association–we have been convoked by Venezuelan sociologist Edgardo Lander. The guiding idea of the convocation was “coloniality.”  Anibal Quijano, who introduced the concept, was there among us.

The fact remains that while “Latin America and Postcolonialism” has been debated in the US and in Europe, it is neither a concern nor a problem in South America and the Caribbean. If dependency theory could be interpreted (as Fernando suggests in his article) as a postcolonial contribution in South America, such interpretation is post-factum (to use the “post”) came indeed before “postcolonialism” was invented.  The term and concept of the “postcolonial” needed first the term and concept of the “postmodern,” introduced by Jean-Francois Lyotard in The Postmodern Condition, 1978, the same year that Edward Said published Orientalism. So that Said became a postcolonial reference after 1980, approximately, when the term “postcolonialism” was introduced. However, The Question of Palestine, published the same year, rarely if ever, is mentioned as a postcolonial reference. The Question of Palestine is indeed an argument that matches other decolonial arguments: Frantz Fanon The Wretched of the Earth, (1961) and Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized (1957). These arguments fit better the “de-colonial” than “post-colonial.”  Memmi and Fanon were writing in the middle of the struggle for decolonization and Said’s at the high moment of the Israel/Palestine conflict.

In South America and the Caribbean, the term and idea of the “decolonial” has currency, before 1980, among Indigenous intellectuals (cfr. Fausto Reynaga) and among Afro-Colombians (cfr. Manuel Zapata Olivella), and among Afro-Caribbeans, at least since C.R.L. James published The Black Jakobins (1938). However, much before that Haitian Pompée-Valetin Vastey published his forgotten classic Le systéme coloniale devoilé (1814). So that dependency theory that flourished in the mid-sixties, was the theoretical/politico-economic response from South America to the global conditions. In Africa and Asia the key word was not “dependency” but “decolonization.” All of that again, much before 1978: decolonization entered the political vocabulary after WWII and it became of high currency after the Bandung Conference, in 1955.

“Decolonization” became institutionalized in Bandung and used in references to both new states that emerged after independence from direct colonial domination (e.g., the settlers went home). Shortly after, the term “Third World” was introduced. So that decolonization became connected with the Third World and post-coloniality with European post-modernity. For “Latin” America post-colonialism was indeed uneasy. And the uneasiness could be explained as a consequence of coloniality of knowledge.

When Anibal Quijano in 1990 introduced the concept and key term “coloniality” as the darker side of Western modernity, it slowly became clear to all of us working with this concept, that “decoloniality” neither need wait for interdependence and the post to work nor ended after independence. Thus, it became clear to us that Guaman Poma de Ayala at the end of the sixteenth century was already engaged in a decolonial struggle at the high moment of Spanish colonialism; same with Ottobah Cugoano in the British Caribbean and in the eighteenth century; same with Mahatma Gandhi in British India. In this regard, dependency theory was not a post- but a de-colonial, and we will say today a de-westernizing effort. Why? Because dependency theory had two ambiguous outcomes: to delink from capitalism (that Samir Amin in his book of 1982, La desconnection) via socialism or to delink from capitalism via capitalism (that we know today by the cases of Singapore and China, but also the project of BRICS states). The uneasiness, in other words, comes from the fact that decoloniality, which runs through the Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of Pillage of the Continent. Published in 1972 Eduardo Galeano did not need French post-structuralism to understand “coloniality” that running through his own veins.

“Coloniality of knowledge” doesn’t refer only to the imperial rhetoric, be it Christian, (neo) liberal and (neo) Marxist. It refers also to all spheres of knowledge from the right, the left and the center. This is indeed a matter of fact. Western knowledge is all over. Decoloniality and post-coloniality are two different but parallel responses to coloniality of knowledge. What is important however is to be aware that decoloniality of knowledge doesn’t consist of rejecting Western epistemology and finding some “authentic” epistemology that has been disavowed: e.g., non-Western indigenous knoweldges. By “indigenous” I mean knowledges that have been accumulated from centuries in different parts of the world. All European knowledge from the renaissance to today is also indigenous, for Europeans are as indigenous as Africans, Asians and Pueblos Originarios in the Americas from the Mapuches in South America to First Nations in North America or Maories in New Zealand.

The bottom line then of “uneasy postcolonialism” is that potcoloniality piggy-backed on post-modernity, and since post-modernity established itself as a European critique of European modernity and had a world-wide reach in academic and intellectual circles, post-coloniality enjoyed the flourishing and propagation of the “post.”  The “post” however, maintains the linear conception of time so that global history has to be seen either in terms of the universality of European history (e.g. Hegel) or any local history has to be seen also in terms of linearity, so that “post-colonial” Algeria is understood as the socio-economic and cultural formation that comes after the French left the colonies and the colonies where transformed in a nation-state (following the European model of nation-state).

“Geopolitics of knowledge” was a concept introduced to underline the limits of “coloniality of knowledge” and to shift the geography of reasoning. As Fernando remarks, there is a long history in which “Latin” American intellectuals of European descent (more visible) (e.g., José Carlos Mariátegui, Seven Essays on Peruvian Reality, 1928), next to Indigenous thinkers (e.g., Fausto Reinaga, América India y Occidente, 1974) and Afro-Continental and Afro-Caribbean (e.g., Eric Williams Capitalism and Slavery, 1944). All of these works, and much more, have been sent back to the ¨traditional¨ once that the pos-modernity of the post-colonial captured the imagination of the captive minds.

What I just said is not a critique of ¨post-colonialism¨ but the ¨coloniality¨ effect. Thus, while the main contribution of postcolonialism was to introduce the colonial question into Western dominated debates it fell into the trap of the Eurocentric fashion that converted French post-structuralism into an intellectual commodity. Thus, another reason why postcolonialism is ¨uneasy¨ (and sometimes irrelevant) for ¨Latin¨ American, First Nation or Pueblos Originarios thinkers, artists and activists and for Afro-Continental and Afro-Caribbean intellectuals.

One could certainly interpret Memmi, Fanon, Gandhi or Reynaga within the frame and premises of post-colonialism. One could, also, start from Fanon, Memmi, Gandhi or Reynaga and interpret post-colonialism from the frame and premises of decoloniality. This is what geopolitics of knowing, sensing and believing means: avoiding the linear chronological trap of modernity according to which “the newest” is the “best” and if I do not endorse the newest or buy the last model of the iPod, I am in danger of being “seen” as traditional, conservative and out of history.

Last but not least, the post- and de-colonial have colonial legacies in common such as Catholicism and Protestantism have Jesus Christ and his appropriation by the Roman Church in common. [1] The uneasiness of the postcolonial in Latin America perhaps is parallel to the uneasiness of Protestantism in Latin America: in that local history Catholicism and the de-colonial run deep in the memories of First Nations, people of European descent and of Afro-descent, as well as to the variegated migrant population that began to move to the Americas, and to Latin America, in the mid nineteenth century when the steam boat and the rail road (thanks to British industrial revolution and imperial expansion), created the conditions for massive (proportionally at the time) migrations.

 


[1] For a overview of the decolonial project, see the annotated bibliography, “Modernity and Decoloniality,” Oxford Bibliography on Line, http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199766581/obo-9780199766581-0017.xml. A library subscription is necessary to access the full bibliography.

 

Manuela Boatcă: Introduction

 

Uneasy Postcolonialisms. Easing the Way into a Non-Topic.

 

“While from an Asian perspective it has become necessary to “provincialize” European thought, from a Latin American perspective it has become indispensable to globalize the periphery: to recognize the world-wide formation of what appear to be self-generated modern metropolitan centers and backward peripheries.”

                                                       Fernando Coronil, Latin American Postcolonial Studies 2004

 

Textbook knowledge of postcolonial theory typically includes the fact that the emergence of postcolonialism as both a descriptive term and an academic field of study occurred in parallel to the creation of the Third World at the end of the Second World War. Chronologically post-colonial as well as logically the object of what would later become postcolonial studies were therefore the newly independent states resulted from the decolonization of European empires in Asia and Africa. This conceptualization has consequently tended to leave out a wide array of world regions that – for very different reasons – did not easily fit either within the category of the Third World or within the conventional postcolonial timeline. Among them were regions that had achieved independence long before the end of World War II, and had therefore been postcolonial avant la lettre, such as Latin America; territories that were occupied in the immediate aftermath of World War II, but were not perceived as Western colonial outposts because of a long history of ideological legitimation of Western control therein, such as Palestine; and countries that profited from and participated in the Western colonial enterprise, yet themselves evinced marked colonial traits, such as Ireland. After the demise of socialist regimes in Europe in 1989/90, the Third-Worldization and colonization of Eastern Europe by its West that Andre Gunder Frank diagnosed as early as 1992 further diluted the referent of the category to which postcolonial theory was supposed to apply.

Individual cases commonly not subsumed under the (post)colonial experience have recently been analyzed as such, as in the case of Ireland in relation to British colonialism (Cleary 2002) or Goa vis-à-vis Portuguese and British colonialism (Pinto 2007). In particular, recent collective works (Bartolovich/Lazarus 2002) that view postcolonial theory as being grounded in Marxism prompted the claim that Ireland and Russia, rather than India and China, had been Marx’ and Engels’ non-Western case studies. The claim that the critique of colonialism as inextricable from the critique of capitalism is specifically Marxist is grounded in two classical analyses: first, Engels’ view of Ireland as Britain’s “first colony” and, second, Marx’ shift of political stance from advocating a socialist revolution in England to viewing Irish liberation as a precondition for the emancipation of the English working class (Marx 1969). The two are taken to be the initial sources that provided the conceptual toolkit and the analytical groundwork for what would later be called the analysis of underdevelopment in colonial contexts (Nimtz 2002: 73, Jani 2002: 95, Cleary 2002: 120).

Outside such relatively recent works, the results of dealing with uneasily postcolonial spaces such as Ireland, Goa, Eastern Europe, or Palestine, have however tended to stand alone as daring existential statements of the type „Ireland was a British colony“ and „Goa is different than the rest of India“, thus requiring painstaking historical justification and contextualization time and again. Systematic critique of the overgenera­li­zation inherent in the „postcolonial“ category and consideration for the historical variety of colonial experiences has come in particular from Latin American theorists of decoloniality, who viewed the primarily English-speaking field of postcolonial theory as having focused on British colonialism and Anglophone colonies at the expense of Iberian, French or Dutch colonial endeavors and their legacies in Latin America and the Caribbean (Mignolo 2000, Coronil 2004, Grosfoguel 2006). Rather than easing the way to cultural and epistemic decolonization, they argued, many self-designated postcolonial approaches merely revamp Western postmodernist and poststructuralist thought and project it onto a select group of colonial realities – mostly, the former British colonies.

Thus, although the historical existence of different colonialisms is common knowledge, the objective reality and analytical relevance of different postcolonialisms has not yet become a taken for granted notion of postcolonial theory. By gathering recent works that engage with Latin America, Ireland, Palestine, Goa, and Eastern Europe from a postcolonial or decolonial perspective and grouping them under the tentative label of „uneasy postcolonialisms“, the present dossier attempts to contribute a concrete step towards the Latin American decolonial thinkers‘ call for epistemic diversality and global decolonization. It starts with Fernando Coronil‘s seminal text on Latin American postcolonial studies, initially published in 2004, and which in many respects paved the way for the current dossier on uneasy postcolonialisms. In it, Coronil points to the fact that the absence of a corpus of Latin American postcolonial studies is not a problem of studies on Latin America, but, rather, one between postcolonial and Latin American studies. Although Latin America was seen as part of the very Third World that postcolonialism took upon itself to study after World War II, it was marginal to the discussions on the (post)colonial condition of the newly independent nations of Africa and Asia in the latter half of the twentieth century. As “old” postcolonial nations that had faced the problem of national development for a long time, the key word in Latin American social thought during this period was not “colonialism” or “postcolonialism”, but “dependency”. In sharp contrast to modernization theorists, dependency authors argued that development and underdevelopment were the mutually dependent outcomes of capitalist accumulation on a world scale. While acknowledging the various shortcomings of dependency theory, Coronil however insists that the dependency approach represents one of Latin America’s most significant contributions to postcolonial thought within this period, one that anticipated the hall­­mark postcolonial critique of historicism, as well as provided conceptual tools for a much needed postcolonial critique of contemporary imperialism: “As a fundamental critique of Eurocentric conceptions of history and of capitalist development, dependency theory undermined historicist narratives of the “traditional”, “transitional”, and “modern”, making it necessary to examine postcolonial and metropolitan nations in relation to each other through categories appropriate to specific situations of dependency” (Coronil, in this dossier).

Indeed, in a seminal article entitled “Americanity as a concept, or the Americas in the World-System”, published in 1992, former dependency theorist Aníbal Quijano and world-systems theorist Immanuel Wallerstein traced the emergence of racial and ethnic categories and the corresponding hierarchization of labor forms according to racial classifications back to the European colonization of the Americas in the sixteenth century. The creation of the geosocial entity of the Americas therefore appears as the constitutive act of a modern world-system whose division of labor was premised as much on White wage laborers as it was on Black African slaves and Amerindian indentured workers: Consequently, “The Americas were not incorporated into an already existing capitalist world-economy. There could not have been a capitalist world-economy without the Americas” (Quijano/Wallerstein 1992: 551). However, if racism as an epistemic operation had first surfaced in the ethnicization of Indians in the Americas, and was thus contemporaneous with the onset of modernity, then racialized thinking was not premised on the ideological separation of a dynamic West from a static Orient in the wake of the Enlightenment ideals of progress, as Edward Said’s classical postcolonial analysis of Orientalism suggested. Rather, the onset of modernity/coloniality had pioneered a form of epistemic racism in which the self-definition of Christian Europe occurred in contrast with and as inferiorization of the barbarian New World in the sixteenth century.

In a critique of both Said and Wallerstein, Walter Mignolo and Fernando Coronil therefore argued that the Orientalism of the 18th and 19th centuries could not have been conceived without a previous idea of Occidentalism, whose emergence coincided with the onset of the Western European colonial expansion in the Americas (called the Indias Occidentales in the Spanish Empire). As a discourse dominating Western representations of the Other, the Orientalism that emerged following the Enlightenment had allowed Western European culture to gain “in strength and identity by setting itself off against the Orient as a sort of surrogate and even underground self” (Said 1978: 3). Scholarly, literary and scientific depictions of the Orient as backward, irrational, in need of civilization and racially inferior produced during the next centuries had served as a background for representations of the Occident as progressive, rational, civilized, even biologically superior, thus justifying European colonization and control. Yet it had been due to the rise of Western Christianity as the dominant religion in Europe in relation to Judaism, Islam, and Eastern Christianity, as well as due to the concomitant Western European colonization of the Americas in the sixteenth century, that the Occident had first become the measuring stick for a worldwide hierarchy of difference, of which eighteenth-century Orientalism would be but the most prominent instance. Such apparently disconnected events as the conquest of Muslim Granada by the Catholics in 1492, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Columbus’ “discovery” of the New World that same year are viewed as joint signals of the growing self-assertion of Europe as Christian and Western in the “long” sixteenth century, and at the same time as harbingers of subsequent practices of the production of difference from an Occidentalist standpoint: the production of religious difference within Europe and that of colonial difference in the conquered areas (Mignolo 2006a). The juxtaposition, in the modernity/coloniality approach, of processes of religious othering underlying the persecution of Jews and Moors in the Iberian Peninsula on the one hand and of processes of racial and ethnic othering that accompanied the extermination and enslavement of Indians and Blacks in the Americas on the other thus recasts and nuances the world-systems perspective on the geoculture of the capitalist world-economy in general and of racism in particular: What Quijano and Wallerstein had analyzed as the ethnicization of the work-force in the Americas according to the ethnic categories created after the conquest is thereby revealed to be the colonial side in the making of the modern world-system’s geoculture, in place since the sixteenth century and therefore meant to structure a system that, according to Walter Mignolo (2000), has to be understood as being “modern/colonial” at the same time.

Hence, in this perspective, Occidentalism as “the expression of a constitutive relationship between Western representations of cultural difference and worldwide Western dominance” (Coronil 1996: 57) does not represent the counterpart of Orientalism, but its precondition, a discourse from and about the West that sets the stage for discourses about the West’s Other(s) – i.e., for Orientalism, but also for anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and sexism (see also Boatcă in this dossier). Nor is Occidentalism a mere synonym for Eurocentrism, since it emerged not as a pan-European, but as an essentially pan-Western discourse, that constructed and downgraded both European and non-European Others to the extent that their “Westernness”, i.e., their Occidentality, had become questionable in a given historical and geopolitical context:

„If racism is the matrix that permeates every domain of the imaginary of the modern/colonial world system, ’Occidentalism’ is the overarching metaphor around which colonial differences have been articulated and rearticulated through the changing hands in the history of capitalism … and the changing ideologies motivated by imperial conflicts“ (Mignolo 2000: 13).

In order to understand these rearticulations, Rochelle Pinto suggests in her chapter titled “Temporality and Colonialism between Goa and Latin America”, it might be worth revisiting the nature of the colonial difference at the beginning point of colonialism. Some features, Pinto argues, were common to both Latin America and South Asia – for instance, the distinctive moves of Western dominance, such as the desire for classification, categorization, and linguistic hierarchization of colonial cultures, or the terminologies and sources of oppression and resistance, such as capital, colonialism, colonial difference, and indigenous mobilization. However, the marked differences between Iberian and British colonialism point to distinct perspectives on modernity as well as different ways of structuring power in the two colonial contexts. Whereas race in Latin America played a far more decisive role in identity and nation formation, the term “caste” denoted little more than a hierarchy of discrete groups of either indigenous people or vegetation. In contrast, in Goa, race shaped anti-colonial politics between the creolized elite and the Portuguese, but “caste”, which entered into the language of the Church, marked the routes through which Christianity took hold and colonial power was effected among Catholics and Hindus. Thus, Pinto claims, “Goa was the terrain on which the uncomfortable juxtaposition of an early modern coloniality and nineteenth century governmentality converged”: Goan colonial subjects were not only upper caste Hindus who called on a discourse of binary difference between colonizer and colonized, but also upper caste Catholic subjects who called both on the vocabulary of Christianity and the discourse of caste privilege, and added to this the discourse of scientific governance and colonial improvement when in a position to administer Africans. Therefore, Pinto concludes, if Latin America is the forcing ground for a critique of the world systems theory, which makes it necessary to include coloniality as a counterpart and starting point of modernity, this moment also includes Goa, usually relegated to the exteriority of the Indian history for the very reasons that make the region an uneasy fit with postcolonial theory in general and South Asian Subaltern Studies in particular.

In turn, the chapterby Khaldoun Samman aligns itself with a decolonial perspective by thinking through the Occidental-Oriental binary with respect to another uneasily postcolonial space, Palestine. In his analysis of Zionism as a civilizing mission, Samman zooms in on the process by which, in the nineteenth century, a minority of the European Jewry adopted the Western racist discourse about the “Oriental Other” by strategically constructing the Jews and their interests as European while silencing the historical and archeological record of long-standing non-Jewish communities in traditional Palestine. Building on previous work by Ella Shohat and Joseph Massad, among others, Samman shows how the new Israeli state defined itself as both the representative of world Jewry and as radically distinct from the Arabs surrounding it, thereby causing the historically interlinked identities of Jew and Arab to become two distinct and separate categories of people. While Palestinians were thus constructed as aliens to the Jewish State, the history of the Sephardic and the “Oriental” Jews was separated and removed from its Mediterranean, Levantine, and North African context. For Jewish Zionists and their European Allies, the “Jewish Question” was thus resolved by placing the Jews as a race and nation of their own while holding on to the idea that they are members of the Western/civilized world. In Samman’s words, “The desire to Occidentalize the Jew is thus dialogically related to the Anti-Semitic Gaze of Christian Europe” (Samman, in this dossier). The world-system that Latin American decolonial theorists had diagnosed as “modern/colonial” rather than just “modern” appears in this case to be just as endemically Orientalist, as analyzed elsewhere by Samman and Al’Zoby (2008).

In the chapter entitled “Black Spots of Whitewashed Id-entities”, Festus Ikeontuoye documents a similar instance of racist thinking drawing on Occidentalist premises in the case of Ireland. According to him, anti-Black racism in Ireland both bears the hallmark and recycles all the rhetoric of the old European “race” discourse. Thus, Ikeontuoye argues that the historical processes that produced “whites” and “Western Civilization” equally subjugated “blacks” and the “aboriginal” people of Europe, to which the Irish historically belonged. While the Celts, Gauls, Goths, Visigoths, Dacians, or Britons did not consider themselves white or defined themselves via an Occidentalist trajectory linked to the Greco-Roman civilizational axis, the episteme of modernity/coloniality required transcending a “darker” inferiority on the way to civilized whiteness. Since all processes of imperial assimilation are always framed as a rupture, Ikeontuoye argues, the logic of “whiten or die trying” involved not only inserting oneself into the racial hierarchies of the coloniality of power model on the highest possible rung, but also expunging one’s own non-Whiteness in that process. This logic accordingly links the Spanish Reconquista and “conversions” to US and Caribbean slave plantation systems, hacienda systems in the Americas, and the Irish becoming “white” not only by turning against Black Africans, but by denying their own initial self-identification as black. When the Irish refer to themselves as “White, Christian, Catholic and Celtic”, Ikeontuoye concludes, they are thus evoking a fundamentally flawed transnational geohistorical system of thought far beyond the boundaries of every historically documented definition of Irishness as blackness. At the same time, they are inscribing themselves in the complex racializing logic of coloniality.

The emphasis that the Latin American theorists of modernity/coloniality placed on the Western colonial – and especially, American – dimension of the capitalist system’s expansion left the contribution of Ottoman, Tsarist or Habsburg imperial power to the establishment of inner-European and Eurasian ethnic and racial hierarchies unaccounted for (see Mignolo/Tlostanova 2006 and Mignolo/Tlostanova 2012 for recent exceptions). In the chapter entitled “Multiple Europes and the Politics of Difference Within”, Manuela Boatcă therefore revisits the relations of power and the different hierarchies taking shape within Europe itself in the modern era and their connection to global coloniality. In order to overcome the assumptions of “unity in diversity” underlying both the discourses on Europe as a political project and the theoretical approaches on the plurality of modernity, Boatcă suggests replacing the notion of a single Europe producing multiple modernities by the one of multiple Europes with different and unequal roles in shaping the hegemonic definition of modernity and in ensuring its propagation. Drawing on the work of Latin American modernity/coloniality theorists, she traces the emergence of the double imperial difference in Europe (stretching on to Asia) to the parallel construction of the colonial difference overseas. From this perspective, it becomes clear that the subdivisions underlying the imperial map of multiple Europes served to positively sanction the hegemony of “heroic Europe” – France, England, and Germany – which, as epitomes of what Hegel had called “the heart of Europe”, thus became the only authority capable of imposing a universal definition of modernity and at the same time of deploying its imperial projects in the remaining Europes or through them. Re-mapping Eastern Europe and the Balkans as the “epigonal Europe” in the context of a hierarchical model of multiple Europes reveals that the blindness to the (neo)colonial logic prevalent in these areas’ political and identity discourses rather makes them accomplices of the colonial project of power underlying the emergence of modernity. Reducing Europeanness to a triumphalist version of modernity restricted to a handful of heroic “founding fathers”, Boatcă ultimately argues, fails to take into account the multiplicity of Europes and their respective (and contradictory) contributions to European civilization – replete with, and inseparable from, colonialism, imperialism, slavery, and warfare.

At the end of his prescient chapter on Latin American postcolonial studies – a topic still so uneasy in the 2000’s that a later version was renamed “Elephants in the Americas: Latin American Postcolonial Studies and Global Decolonization” – Fernando Coronil stated: „If the relationship between colonialism and modernity is the core problem for both postcolonial and Latin American studies, the fundamental contribution of Latin American studies is to recast this problem by setting it in a wider historical context. The inclusion of Latin America in the field of postcolonial studies expands its geographical scope and also its temporal depth. A wider focus, spanning from Asia and Africa to the Americas, yields a deeper view, revealing the links between the development of modern colonialism by Northern European powers and its foundation in the colonization of the Americas by Spain and Portugal”. Even more importantly, this larger frame modifies prevailing understandings of modern history: “Capitalism and modernity, so often assumed both in mainstream and in postcolonial studies to be a European process marked by the Enlightenment, the dawning of industrialization, and the forging of nations in the eighteenth century, can be seen instead as a global process involving the expansion of Christendom, the formation of a global market and the creation of transcontinental empires since the sixteenth century.“ (Coronil, in this dossier). The logical next step, he pleaded, was therefore to start “globalizing the periphery” according to this wider historical context. Taking Fernando Coronil’s plea as a starting point, the current dossier thus aims to open up the discursive space to which the term „postcolonial“ is supposed to apply so as to include the uneasy postcolonial spaces these and other texts increasingly address and thereby bring theoretically, geographically and historically distinct postcolonialisms into a fruitful dialogue.

 

References

Coronil, Fernando (2004). Latin American Postcolonial Studies and Global             Decolonization, in Postcolonial Studies Reader, edited by Lazarus, Neil.             Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 221-240.

Cleary, Joe (2002): Misplaced ideas? Locating and dislocating Ireland in colonial and         postcolonial studies, in: Crystal Bartolovich/Neil Lazarus (ed.): Marxism,         modernity, and postcolonial studies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.             101-124

Frank, Andre Gunder (1992): Nothing New in the East: No New World Order, in: Social   Justice Vol. 19, No.1, pp. 34-59

Grosfoguel, Ramón (2006): Preface. Review, special issue ‘From Postcolonial Studies to

Decolonial Studies: Decolonizing Postcolonial Studies’, 19(2), 141-143.

Mignolo, Walter (2000): Local Histories/Global Designs. Coloniality, Subaltern

Knowledges, and Border Thinking. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Mignolo, Walter (2006): Islamophobia/Hispanophobia: The (Re)Configuration of the

Racial Imperial/Colonial Matrix, Human Architecture. Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge, V, 1, Fall 2006, pp. 13-28

Mignolo, Walter/Tlostanova, Madina (2006): Double Critique: knowledge and scholars at

risk in the post socialist world, South Atlantic Quarterly 105: 3, Summer 2006

Mignolo, Walter/Tlostanova Madina (2012): Learning to Unlearn: Decolonial Reflections

from Eurasia and the Americas (June 28, 2012), Ohio University Press: Columbus

Nimtz, August (2002): The Eurocentric Marx and Engels and Other Related Myths, in: Crystal Bartolovich/Neil Lazarus (eds.): Marxism, Modernity, and Postcolonial Studies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 65-80

Pinto, Rochelle (2007): Between Empires: Print and Politics in Colonial Goa, Oxford:        Oxford University Press

Quijano, Aníbal/Wallerstein, Immanuel (1992): Americanity as a Concept, or the Americas in the Modern World-System, International Journal of the Social Sciences, 134, pp. 549-557

Samman, Khaldoun/Al-Zo’by, Mazhar (eds.) (2008): Islam and the Orientalist World-System, Boulder/London: Paradigm Publishers

 

Articles & Commentaries

  • Latin American Postcolonial Studies and Global Decolonization Fernando Coronil Fernando Coronil‘s seminal text on Latin American postcolonial studies, initially published in 2004, in many respects paved the way for the current dossier on uneasy postcolonialisms. In it, Coronil points to the fact that the absence of a corpus of Latin American postcolonial studies is not a problem of studies on Latin America, but, rather, one between postcolonial and Latin American studies. Although Latin America was seen as part of the very Third World that postcolonialism took upon itself to study after World War II, it was marginal to the discussions on the (post)colonial condition of the newly independent nations of Africa and Asia in the latter half of the twentieth century. As “old” postcolonial nations that had faced the problem of national development for a long time, the key word in Latin American social thought during this period was not “colonialism” or “postcolonialism”, but “dependency”. In sharp contrast to modernization theorists, dependency authors argued that development and underdevelopment were the mutually dependent outcomes of capitalist accumulation on a world scale. While acknowledging the various shortcomings of dependency theory, Coronil however insists that the dependency approach represents one of Latin America's most significant contributions to postcolonial thought within this period, one that anticipated the hall¬¬mark postcolonial critique of historicism, as well as provided conceptual tools for a much needed postcolonial critique of contemporary imperialism: “As a fundamental critique of Eurocentric conceptions of history and of capitalist development, dependency theory undermined historicist narratives of the “traditional”, “transitional”, and “modern”, making it necessary to examine postcolonial and metropolitan nations in relation to each other through categories appropriate to specific situations of dependency” (Coronil, in this dossier).
  • Temporality and Colonialism between Goa and Latin America Rochelle Pinto Rochelle Pinto suggests in her chapter titled “Temporality and Colonialism between Goa and Latin America”, that it might be worth revisiting the nature of the colonial difference at the beginning point of colonialism. Some features, Pinto argues, were common to both Latin America and South Asia – for instance, the distinctive moves of Western dominance, such as the desire for classification, categorization, and linguistic hierarchization of colonial cultures, or the terminologies and sources of oppression and resistance, such as capital, colonialism, colonial difference, and indigenous mobilization. However, the marked differences between Iberian and British colonialism point to distinct perspectives on modernity as well as different ways of structuring power in the two colonial contexts. Whereas race in Latin America played a far more decisive role in identity and nation formation, the term “caste” denoted little more than a hierarchy of discrete groups of either indigenous people or vegetation. In contrast, in Goa, race shaped anti-colonial politics between the creolized elite and the Portuguese, but “caste”, which entered into the language of the Church, marked the routes through which Christianity took hold and colonial power was effected among Catholics and Hindus. Thus, Pinto claims, “Goa was the terrain on which the uncomfortable juxtaposition of an early modern coloniality and nineteenth century governmentality converged”: Goan colonial subjects were not only upper caste Hindus who called on a discourse of binary difference between colonizer and colonized, but also upper caste Catholic subjects who called both on the vocabulary of Christianity and the discourse of caste privilege, and added to this the discourse of scientific governance and colonial improvement when in a position to administer Africans. Therefore, Pinto concludes, if Latin America is the forcing ground for a critique of the world systems theory, which makes it necessary to include coloniality as a counterpart and starting point of modernity, this moment also includes Goa, usually relegated to the exteriority of the Indian history for the very reasons that make the region an uneasy fit with postcolonial theory in general and South Asian Subaltern Studies in particular.
  • Invisibilizing Palestine(ans): Zionist and Israeli Nationalism, A Occidentalization of the Jew Khaldoun Samman The chapter by Khaldoun Samman aligns itself with a decolonial perspective by thinking through the Occidental-Oriental binary with respect to another uneasily postcolonial space, Palestine. In his analysis of Zionism as a civilizing mission, Samman zooms in on the process by which, in the nineteenth century, a minority of the European Jewry adopted the Western racist discourse about the “Oriental Other” by strategically constructing the Jews and their interests as European while silencing the historical and archeological record of long-standing non-Jewish communities in traditional Palestine. Building on previous work by Ella Shohat and Joseph Massad, among others, Samman shows how the new Israeli state defined itself as both the representative of world Jewry and as radically distinct from the Arabs surrounding it, thereby causing the historically interlinked identities of Jew and Arab to become two distinct and separate categories of people. While Palestinians were thus constructed as aliens to the Jewish State, the history of the Sephardic and the “Oriental” Jews was separated and removed from its Mediterranean, Levantine, and North African context. For Jewish Zionists and their European Allies, the “Jewish Question” was thus resolved by placing the Jews as a race and nation of their own while holding on to the idea that they are members of the Western/civilized world. In Samman’s words, “The desire to Occidentalize the Jew is thus dialogically related to the Anti-Semitic Gaze of Christian Europe” (Samman, in this dossier). The world-system that Latin American decolonial theorists had diagnosed as “modern/colonial” rather than just “modern” appears in this case to be just as endemically Orientalist, as analyzed elsewhere by Samman and Al’Zoby (2008).
  • Black Spots of Whitewashed Id-entities: Rethinking the Deltaic Tributaries of the "Celtic Spider" Festus Ikeontuoye In the chapter entitled “Black Spots of Whitewashed Id-entities”, Festus Ikeontuoye documents a similar instance of racist thinking drawing on Occidentalist premises in the case of Ireland. According to him, anti-Black racism in Ireland both bears the hallmark and recycles all the rhetoric of the old European “race” discourse. Thus, Ikeontuoye argues that the historical processes that produced “whites” and “Western Civilization” equally subjugated “blacks” and the “aboriginal” people of Europe, to which the Irish historically belonged. While the Celts, Gauls, Goths, Visigoths, Dacians, or Britons did not consider themselves white or defined themselves via an Occidentalist trajectory linked to the Greco-Roman civilizational axis, the episteme of modernity/coloniality required transcending a “darker” inferiority on the way to civilized whiteness. Since all processes of imperial assimilation are always framed as a rupture, Ikeontuoye argues, the logic of “whiten or die trying” involved not only inserting oneself into the racial hierarchies of the coloniality of power model on the highest possible rung, but also expunging one’s own non-Whiteness in that process. This logic accordingly links the Spanish Reconquista and “conversions” to US and Caribbean slave plantation systems, hacienda systems in the Americas, and the Irish becoming “white” not only by turning against Black Africans, but by denying their own initial self-identification as black. When the Irish refer to themselves as “White, Christian, Catholic and Celtic”, Ikeontuoye concludes, they are thus evoking a fundamentally flawed transnational geohistorical system of thought far beyond the boundaries of every historically documented definition of Irishness as blackness. At the same time, they are inscribing themselves in the complex racializing logic of coloniality.
  • Multiple Europes and the Politics of Difference Within Manuela Boatcă Manuela Boatcă revisits the relations of power and the different hierarchies taking shape within Europe itself in the modern era and their connection to global coloniality. In order to overcome the assumptions of “unity in diversity” underlying both the discourses on Europe as a political project and the theoretical approaches on the plurality of modernity, Boatcă suggests replacing the notion of a single Europe producing multiple modernities by the one of multiple Europes with different and unequal roles in shaping the hegemonic definition of modernity and in ensuring its propagation. Drawing on the work of Latin American modernity/coloniality theorists, she traces the emergence of the double imperial difference in Europe (stretching on to Asia) to the parallel construction of the colonial difference overseas. From this perspective, it becomes clear that the subdivisions underlying the imperial map of multiple Europes served to positively sanction the hegemony of “heroic Europe” – France, England, and Germany – which, as epitomes of what Hegel had called “the heart of Europe”, thus became the only authority capable of imposing a universal definition of modernity and at the same time of deploying its imperial projects in the remaining Europes or through them. Re-mapping Eastern Europe and the Balkans as the “epigonal Europe” in the context of a hierarchical model of multiple Europes reveals that the blindness to the (neo)colonial logic prevalent in these areas’ political and identity discourses rather makes them accomplices of the colonial project of power underlying the emergence of modernity. Reducing Europeanness to a triumphalist version of modernity restricted to a handful of heroic “founding fathers”, Boatcă ultimately argues, fails to take into account the multiplicity of Europes and their respective (and contradictory) contributions to European civilization – replete with, and inseparable from, colonialism, imperialism, slavery, and warfare.
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