Middelburg: Critical and Decolonial Dialogues across South-North and East-West

CoverThe three-day workshop was organized by The Centre for Global Studies and the Humanities at Duke University and University College Roosevelt, University of Utrecht.

Critical and Decolonial Dialogues Across South-North and East-West
7-9 July 2010
Middelburg, The Netherlands

The aim of the three days workshop is to build a series of critical dialogues around issues of Education, Development, (un)Freedom, Conviviality, Global Justice and Epistemic Decolonization with the ultimate goal of instigating conversations and collaborative projects between decolonial approaches and current European critical visions in the humanities and the social sciences. The workshop seeks to create networks of epistemic and political actions and interventions toward building alternatives. The collapse of abstract universals (Christianity, Liberalism, Marxism, Islamism) as the road to Paradise are enough evidence that there is no one global future or destiny to work toward, but the need to change the present demands to take seriously the concept and practice of “dialogue.” A dialogue that is only possible within a diversity of horizons.

In Europe, there is a legacy of critical reflection on modernity that is rarely brought to dialogue with decolonial thinking. On the other hand, decolonial reflection on modernity is grounded on a genealogy of thought that is rarely, if ever, taken into consideration by European critiques of modernity. What are the issues, the concerns, the concepts, the investments of these two trajectories of critical thoughts? What do they have in common and to what extent they complement each other? By critical reflections we refer here to the legacies of the Frankfurt School but also to post-modern and post-structuralist critique of modernity in Europe. By decolonial reflections we refer to the legacies of decolonial political revolutions after WWI, to the epistemic legacies that emerged from that experience (i.e. Gandhi, Shengor, Cesaire, Cabral, Fanon) as well as to current de-colonial thinking in South America, the Caribbean, among Native Americas and Latino/as in the US. The dialogue South-North and East-West intends to cut across hegemonic geopolitics of knowledge.

By critical reflections we also mean pursuing research that on the one hand unveils the persistent rhetoric of modernity, growth, development, happiness that hides its need to increasing poverty, growing marginalization and unhappiness for billions of people in the planet. The workshop is grounded on the belief that there is great need to bring together committed researchers, thinkers and practitioners to engage in a series of open and learned dialogues. In particular this workshop aims to promote a South-North theoretical encounter around the need to work toward decolonization of knowledge, and hence epistemic justice. On the one hand, the Western European tradition of thought has struggled to understand modernity, in particular its experiences of violence such as the holocaust, totalitarianism as well as experiences of discrimination (gender, race) and social desintegration. On the other hand, the school of decolonial thinking has fought to understand the violent experience of colonialism/modernity by looking at issues such as slavery, the destruction of nature, the imposition of the modern notions of gender, of time and space, the hegemony of western aesthetics… In between both, critical schools of thoughts emerged in South and Eastern Europe as well as in Africa, Asia and Latin America that diversify trajectories of emancipation and demand for urgent dialogues. Although, both traditions of thought are well established in their own academic circles and within their own body of literature, they have rarely been put together. It is a central tenet of this workshop that a dialogue between these two perspectives would make a contribution towards a South-North, East-West dialogue of knowledges. The workshop will follow from a summer course in which students will explore both traditions of thought. It is expected that students will also participate in the workshop.

Walter Mignolo and Rolando Vázquez

Click here to see the workshop schedule.

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