This monograph, originally published in English as a long article, was then translated into Spanish (the present version). It was also translated into German, French, and Swedish. The Romanian translation is under way.
Learning to Unlearn: Decolonial Reflections from Eurasia and the Americas is a complex, multisided rethinking of the epistemic matrix of Western modernity and coloniality from the position of border epistemology. Colonial and imperial differences are the two key concepts to understanding how the logic of coloniality creates ontological and epistemic exteriorities. Being at once an enactment of decolonial thinking and an attempt to define its main grounds, mechanisms, and concepts, the book shifts the politics of knowledge from “studying the other” (culture, society, economy, politics) toward “the thinking other” (the authors).
During the Renaissance, Europeans colonized time and space, inventing the historical eras Antiquity and the Middle Ages; mapping, appropriating, and exploiting the Americas; and establishing the idea that European modernity was the apogee of human history and the model for the world to emulate. Mignolo analyzes the “colonial logic” that has driven five hundred years of Western imperialism, from colonialism through neo-liberalism, and he describes resistance, from the sixteenth century onward, to the projection and violent forcing of modern European ideals onto the non-European world.
El término “Latinoamérica” sugiere que hay una América que es latina, definida por oposición a una que no lo es. En este brillante manifiesto geopolítico, Walter Mignolo retoma la idea de “latinidad” y emprende un seguimiento del concepto desde su nacimiento en una Europa en la que Francia era la potencia dominante haste la actualidad, pasando por la apropiación que de él hizo la élite criolla de América del Sur y el Caribe hispano en la segunda mitad del siglo XIX.
A partir de la actual revalorización de los pueblos aborígenes, la gran población de ascendencia africana y los cuarenta millones de personas de origen latino residentes en Estados Unidos, eclipsados tras la imagen de una Latinoamérica homogénea, el autor se pregunta qué elementos entran en juego en la supervivencia de una idea que subdivide al continente americano. Asimismo, Mignolo esplica por qué una “Unió Americana” similar a la Unión Europea es impensable hoy en día, insistiendo en la imperiosa necesidad de abandonar una idea de latinidad que est´ asociada con la mentalidad criolla-mestiza decimonónica.
The term Latin America supposes that there is an America that is Latin, which can be defined in opposition to one that is not. This geo-political manifesto revisits the idea of Latinity, charting the history of the concept from its emergence in Europe under France’s leadership, through its appropriation by the Creole élite of South America and the Spanish Caribbean in the second half of the nineteenth century, up to the present day.Reinstating the indigenous peoples, the enormous population of African descent and the 40 million Latino/as in the US that are rendered invisible by the image of a homogenous Latin America, the author asks what is at stake in the survival of an idea which subdivides the Americas. He explains why an American Union similar to the European Union is at this point unthinkable and he insists on the pressing need to leave behind an idea of Latinity which belongs to the Creole/Mestizo mentality of the nineteenth century.
“Walter Mignolo, one of America’s most eminent postcolonialists, presents a challenging new paradigm for understanding the realities of a planetary ‘coloniality of power,’ and the limits of area studies in the United States. Local History/Global Designs is one of the most important books in the historical humanities to have emerged since the end of the Cold War University. This is vintage Mignolo: packed with insights, breadth, and intellectual zeal.” Jose David Saldivar, University of California, Berkeley
This book is an extended argument on the “coloniality” of power by one of the most innovative scholars of Latin American studies. In a shrinking world where sharp dichotomies, such as East/West and developing/developed, blur and shift, Walter Mignolo points to the inadequacy of current practice in the social sciences and area studies. He introduces the crucial notion of “colonial difference” into study of the modern colonial world. He also traces the emergence of new forms of knowledge, which he calls “border thinking.”
Further, he expands the horizons of those debates already under way in postcolonial studies of Asia and Africa by employing the terms and concerns of New World scholarship. His concept of “border gnosis,” or what is known from the perspective of an empire’s borderlands, counters the tendency of occidentalist perspectives to dominate, and thus limit, understanding.
The Darker Side of the Renaissance weaves together literature, semiotics, history, historiography, cartography, and cultural theory to examine the role of language in the colonization of the New World. Exploring the many connections among writing, social organization, and political control, including how alphabetic writing is linked with the exercise of power, Walter D. Mignolo claims that European forms of literacy were at the heart of New World colonization. It has long been acknowledged that Amerindians were at a disadvantage in facing European invaders because native cultures did not employ the same kind of texts (hence “knowledge”) that the Europeans valued. Yet no one but Mignolo has so thoroughly examined either the process or the implications of conquest and destruction through language. The book continues to challenge commonplace understandings of New World history and to stimulate new colonial and postcolonial scholarship.
“Definitions of writing for the Old World are often a bad fit when applied to te recording and mnemonic systems of the Americas. This is a major point emerging from Writing without Words, a collection that balances theoretical expositions with analyses of particular exemplars. . . .Writing without Words is well-organized and original. It will be carefully studied by Mesoamericanists, and by people interested in the great intellectual enterprise of writing.” Monica Barnes, The Americas
The history of writing, or so the standard story goes, is an ascending process, evolving toward the alphabet and finally culminating in the “full writing” of recorded speech. Writing without Words challenges this orthodoxy, and with it widespread notions of literacy and dominant views of art and literature, history and geography. Asking how knowledge was encoded and preserved in Pre-Columbian and early colonial Mesoamerican cultures, the authors focus on systems of writing that did not strive to represent speech. Their work reveals the complicity of ideology in the history of literacy, and offers new insight into the history of writing.