2014

Democracy, Slavery and the Decolonial Option

Middelburg Decolonial Summer Course
University College Roosevelt
16 June 2014 – 01 July 2014

Today, the idea of “democracy” that was globalized through European imperial expansions is no longer the only way to conceive and organize harmonic and convivial societies. The crisis of “western democracy” demands closer examination and invites us to seriously consider other conceptions to achieve peaceful futures. On the one hand, the seminar will show the connections between “civilization and unjustness” between “modernity and coloniality” in different domains of life. On the other, we will take seriously the movements of decolonial re-existence that are appearing across the planet.

We will show the historical connections between the transatlantic slavery and current neoliberal forms of the devaluation of life. From the start of Atlantic Slavery in the sixteen Century and the birth of a world capitalist economy centered in the West, we have witnessed the continuous growth of social unjustness. The racialization of non-European populations and its repercussion on current racism, the imposition of a colonial gender system, the increasing economic inequalities, the commodification and destruction of nature and the corporate control over water and food are tokens of the coloniality that keeps on characterizing global (un)justness.

We will pay special attention to the democratic disconnect that we are witnessing in the European “indignado/as” (Spain, Greece), North Africa and Middle Eastern “intifadas,” US and Europe “occupy,” Turkey and Brazilian “manifestations”, the uprisings in Eastern Europe, feminist and indigenous social movements in Latin America.

Sumak Kawsay and the birth of plurinational states in Latin America, Ubuntu in Africa, Confucian Constitutionalism in China, Shar’ia and Umma in the Islamic world are all co-existing options aiming at building harmonic social futures. They present alternatives to the democratic lag that characterizes the hegemonic conception of development and the neoliberal forms of governance.

Designed for advanced undergraduate and graduate students (Phd and Ma) from all disciplinary backgrounds, we will encourage participants interested in creating “working groups” that will continue decolonial research agendas after the end of the seminar. The working groups would develop “reports” and “activities” that may take the form of traditional paper, video-documentary, web-page, artistic creation, museum exhibitions, community work or other initiatives connected to the participant’s interests.

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