“Decolonizing Knowledge and Power: Postcolonial Studies, Decolonial Horizons” is part of a larger intellectual and political initiative generally referred to as the “modernity/(de)coloniality research project.” A basic assumption of the project takes knowledge-making, since the European Renaissance, as a fundamental aspect of “coloniality” – the process of domination and exploitation of the Capitalist/Patriarchal/Imperial Western Metropolis over the rest of the world. “Decolonizing Knowledge and Power” becomes, then, a task and a process of liberation from assumed principles of knowledge and understanding of how the world is and should be, as well as from forms of organizing the economy and political authority.
Our summer institute will question basic assumptions engrained in the idea of modernity, progress, and development and will encourage thinking and living in search of non-eurocentric and non-corporate social and human values.
The world we live today is the result of more than 500 years of Western colonial expansion and imperial designs. This created a world system with unequal power relations between the North (including the North within the South) and the South (including the South within the North). These global inequalities are produced by racial, class, gender, sexual, religious, pedagogical, linguistic, aesthetic, ecological and epistemological power hierarchies that operate in complex and entangled ways at a world-scale. This “Western-centric/Christian-centric, capitalist/patriarchal, heteronormative, modern/colonial world system” denies the epistemic diversity of the world and pretends to be mono-epistemic. The Western/Capitalist/Patriarchal tradition of thought is the hegemonic perspective within the world system with the epistemic privilege to define for the rest of the world, as part of an imperial universal design, concepts such as democracy, human rights, economy, feminism, politics, history, etc. Non-Western traditions of thought are concomitantly inferiorized and subalternized. This process is intricately tied to the history of imperial designs such as the Renaissance and Christianization in the 16th century, the Enlightenment in the 18th century, Positivism in the 19th and early part of the 20th century, developmentalism in the mid-20th century, neo-liberalism in the late 20th century and the imperial project of “exporting democracy” at the beginning of the 21st century. These imperial/colonial designs over the past 500 years illustrate over and over again that modernity is produced on the shoulders of coloniality, that is, there is no modernity without coloniality.
The international Summer School, “Decolonizing Knowledge and Power,” aims at enlarging the analysis and investigation of the hidden agenda of modernity (that is, coloniality) in the sphere of knowledge, power and being. Who is producing knowledge? What institutions and disciplines legitimize it? What is knowledge for and who benefits from it? How is our social existence colonized and how to think about decolonization of being? What power hierarchies constitute the cartography of power of the global political-economy we live in and how to go about decolonizing the world? Decolonizing knowledge and power as well as de-colonial thinking is the priority of this summer school.
Our summer institute will question basic assumptions engrained in the idea of modernity, progress, and development and will encourage thinking and living in search of non-eurocentric, non-corporate social and human values. Doubts about such capitalist, patriarchal and Eurocentric horizons, are also generating distinct horizons of knowledge and understanding that the seminar will address as "decolonial horizons."
We will arrive at “decolonial horizons” by following three interrelated routes: a) embracing epistemic diversity in order to move beyond the mono-epistemic privilege of the West; b) examining the different moments of imperial/colonial histories and geographies in which the West colonized other cultures, civilizations and historical systems; c) providing a series of basic questions and concepts to facilitate the decolonization of power, knowledge and being.
Throughout the seminar we will provide a historical overview of Western intellectual and educational history since the Renaissance and identify the moments of imperial/colonial relations of Europe and the US with the rest of the world.
Throughout the seminar we will provide a historical overview of Western intellectual and political-economic history since the Renaissance and identify the moments of imperial/colonial relations of Europe and the US with the rest of the world. Identifying the historical and geographical moments in which the West entered in contact with other cultures and civilizations will allow us to locate diverse decolonial horizons (in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Middle East and Asia). We will link de-colonial horizons with the task of devising research projects and educational transformations required by the diverse growing decolonial alter-globalisation movements in their struggles for a world beyond capitalist, imperialist, patriarchal, heterosexist and colonial power relations.
The basic questions are:
- Who produces and transmits knowledge and understanding?
- What institutions support the production of hegemonic knowledge and understanding and why are knowledges and understandings that lack support from such institutions not validated as institutional knowledge and understanding?
- How do we think about the relation between culture and political-economy in complex non-reductive ways?
- What is coloniality of being and how to think about decolonization of being?
- What is the cartography of power of the modern/colonial Capitalist/Patriarchal World-system and how to re-conceptualize the struggles to decolonize and transcend it?
De-colonizing knowledge means then to call into question the principles that sustain the current dominant knowledge, understanding and expectation of what society should be like, how social subjects should behave, what kind of knowledge is accepted as relevant, what applications receive grants or fellowships, and which knowledge and understanding is encouraged and which is devalued, silenced or simply not supported. De-colonizing knowledge means to open up horizons and visions that are generally denied by mainstream academia and media.