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Uncategorized – Walter Mignolo http://waltermignolo.com Just another WordPress site Sat, 27 Sep 2014 22:02:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.2 Ukraine 2014: A Decolonial Take http://waltermignolo.com/ukraine-2014-a-decolonial-take/ http://waltermignolo.com/ukraine-2014-a-decolonial-take/#respond Tue, 18 Mar 2014 04:11:10 +0000 http://waltermignolo.com/?p=1258

      According to newsbreaks around the world, 95.5% of Crimean voted in favor of Russian annexation. The current Ukraine acting-government has lit the torch of civil war. Prime Minister Yatseniuk is quoted as saying that “the ground will burn under their feet.” The US announced to make effective and immediately sanctions against Russia.

       The EU expressed its opinion: “The referendum is illegal and illegitimate and its outcome will not be recognized,” Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and José Manuel Barroso, European Commission President, said in a joint statement on Sunday.” 

       What shouldn’t surprise anyone who has been thinking and writing about the democratic disconnect, as well as its failure, to be facing one more a clear evidence that democracy has turned into a noble discourse to advance by force the imperial interests.  On Saturday March 15, 2014, Russia vetoed a request presented at the United Nations to declare the referendum to be voted on March 16, 2014 unconstitutional and pleaded to the international community to deny its legality.

       It is true that—before the referendum–Russia had violated existing international law at the moment that Viktor Yanukovych fled the country.  The problem is that international law has been built through the centuries according to European first, and the US later, interests. That means that international law as we know it today is half of the story and it is also Eurocentered, as Carl Schmitt argued and demonstrated. Schmitt was not a radical leftist, but a German conservative Catholic. That did not prevent him from denouncing the Eurocentrism of international law. By Eurocentered Schmitt meant that international law was written down to defend European interests around the world.

      Russian government would have known what was known by many of us who do not have access to inside politics but who consult different sources of information: what was known shortly after the uprising erupted was that the political forces of the moderate and radical rights were supported by the EU and the US.

Thus Russian overt violation of international law seems to be a response to the covert violation of international law that preceded the Russian intervention. This is no longer a secret or a statement being made by radical leftists. It is already widely known and accepted, even by the NYT.

      Now, there is ample evidence that the uprising was a legitimate protest by the population–the civil society that reached the limits of Yanukovych’s bad governance cum corruption. What has not been stressed enough in everything I have  read is that the civil society was not the only force that wanted to oust Yanukovych. The moderate and the radical right too. I am not saying that the rights forces, with the support of the EU and the US, started the protests. I am saying that the protest of the politicized civil society was welcome.

      One evidence is that no one is “representing” (in the sense representation has in democracy). The acting government is in the hand of members identified as “moderate” right. (who is who). I has been also pointed out that behind the moderate there is the hand of the radical right, the one who move the economic and political strings. Even more, there is also a widespread belief, supported by convincing evidence, that what we are seeing in Ukraine is the coalition between neo-liberalism and neo-fascism

      I have been advancing, in articles, interviews and in one chapter of my latest book, that after the “end of history” a new history began: the confrontation between re-westernization and de-westernization (interview critical legal thinking). It is no longer the Cold War that is shaping the present and outlining decades to come. The difference with the Cold War was liberal capitalism vs. State communism. Today it is (neo) liberal capitalism (that is, re-westernization) vs. state capitalism. But there is more than this. The Cold War was framed in an ideological struggle, liberalism vs. socialism, that is, two sides of the same coin: the legacies of European enlightenmets.

      Instead the confrontation between re-westernization (US and the UE) and de-westernization (Russia, China members of BRICS; Indonesia and Turkey, members of the MINT) involves the racial distribution of capital and knowledge and involves also responses to humiliation infringed by Western imperial states to the rest of the world. Russia and China are two of the five members of the UN Security Council. When Russia vetoed the US’s request to declare illegal voting in the Crimea referendum China abstained. France, England and Canada voted yes. Russia has the memories and humiliation of the Cold War defeat. China has the memories and humiliation of the Opium War defeats. Both are struggling for re-emerging. As someone said, it is not the “rising of the East” but the “return of the East.” One could guess that Henry Kissinger knew this

      Nathan Gardels is the only one to my knowledge that pointed out that there is more than meets the eye in Putin’s interest in Crimea. Gardels framed his argument in terms of “post-America” and the “Clash of Civilizations” anticipated or promoted by Samuel Huntington in the mid 90s. The unrecognized or ignored fact is that, on the one hand, Russia is not Iran or Cuba, where sanctions worked effectively.

     Secondly, the unrecognized fact that there is simultaneously a decline in the trust or fear the world placed in the US leadership and the growth of confidence, particularly in long standing civilizations that were never conquered by Western power. Certainly, Russia doesn’t have the long history that China does. The formation of the Russian Czarate, and later on Empire, is parallel to the formation of the Spanish Empire: the fourth quarter of the fifteenth century. However, the strength of the Russian Czarate/Empire and that of the Soviet Union is a legacy that allows Russia to be where it is in the international arena.

      My understanding of what is at stake in Ukraine coincides, in general, with Gardels. But I have a different explanation. What we are witnessing in Ukraine are the consequences of the dispute for the control of the colonial matrix of power and the role of the small state in that dispute. We have seen it in Syria and we are witnessing it today in Ukraine and Venezuela.

     What does it mean that the colonial matrix of power is being disputed?  Briefly the following. A form of global governance emerged in the sixteenth century forced the transformation of local European monarchic/theological states in sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe. International law was a necessary creation of that period. That form of governance placed emerging imperial monarchic/theological states (Spain and Portugal first, Holland, France and England later) into a double bind: to govern the colonies and to govern themselves in relation to the colonies and to competing States avid of their own colonial expansion.

      A significant mutation of the colonial matrix took place from the end of the seventeenth century (the Glorious Revolution in England), the American Revolution (and the creation of the US of America) and the French Revolution. The monarchic/theological states began to be supplanted by the bourgeois-secular state. The immense fortunes amassed by European imperial power from the colonies, and the demands of a growing international market, created the conditions for the industrial revolution. Since then, England supplanted Spain as the largest Western empire until then. After WWII the US supplanted England. There were certainly disputes for the colonial matrix, but that disputes were family feuds. We can see its legacy today: the US and the EU have differences, but they have more commonalities than differences.

      Thus, the votes of the Security Council regarding Ukraine and the declarations of Van Rompuy and Barroso, bear witness of the cosmological solidarity across the Atlantic. Russia and China belong to different cosmologies, different among themselves, but connected by the memories of humiliations infringed by Western empires. Signs of radical changes were evident by the end of the twentieth century. Today they are obvious: Western former empires, even if we consider the history from Spain to the US going through England, as one Empire, can no longer manage and control the structure of international governance. That structure of international governance is the colonial matrix of power.

       Xi Jinping has been reported to say: “the situation in Ukraine is highly complicated and sensitive,” which” seems to be accidental, (but) has the elements of the inevitable.”  Within the analytical frame of the dispute for the colonial matrix of power, Jinping’s dictum is indeed transparent. It seems to be accidental and isolated but “has the elements of the inevitable.”  What does it mean? It means that the dispute for the control of the colonial matrix of power reached, with and in Ukraine, the point of non-return.

      The inevitable is both, the effort by US and the EU governance to maintain the management of the colonial matrix in their attempt to re-westernize the world through the neo-liberal model and the will of Russia and China (among others) of not submitting any longer to Western wills. For this simple reason, re-westernization can no longer work as westernization from the sixteenth to the end of the twentieth century.

It can work neither by liberal democracy nor by social communism, which are both expressions of Western cosmology.

       The dispute for the control of the colonial matrix is possible today because of the economic growth of states, like China and Russia (but also BRICS and MINT) who disobeyed the dictates of the IMF and the World Bank. Now, the time has arrived to disobey the White House or the European Commission. 

Ukraine is the point of no-return because it evinced the limits of democratic principles and state sovereignty. Crimea votes evinced that for Ukraine and its supporter, it is more important an abstract entity like the territory of a nation-state than the will of 95.5% of Crimean people. The EU and the US condemning Russia very well knowing that they are as responsible as Russia in the crisis of Ukraine, as it is evident by now, are making un-democratic evaluation and are undermining their own concept of state-sovereignty (which was violated by US and England when invading Iraq in 2003).

       It is also the point of no-return of small states that are at the crossroads between the political and economic interests of re- and de-westernization. The myth of democracy and state-sovereignty more or less worked while the colonial matrix was in the hands of Western Europe and the US. Today, those principles of global governance are becoming obsolete. It is loud and clear in Ukraine, not only because of Russian troops in Crimea but also because of the contradictions expressed by Barack Obama (Putin is on the wrong side of history, a sentence than Bill Clinton applied to China), John Kerry (we are no longer in the nineteenth century) and Angela Merkel (Putin questioning whether Putin is in touch with reality).

       What is coming next is difficult to say, but that a historical cycle closed is evident. It is not the end of history; it is the end of Western domination. The dispute for the control of the colonial matrix is taking place not only in the sphere of inter-state relations. It is taking place also in the emerging political society and the dispute for the control of knowledge and understanding.

       Now, there is no question that Obama and Putin are on different sides of history, which doesn’t mean that Putin is on the wrong side. Both are on the right side in their own view and both are on the wrong side in the view of the other. It doesn’t mean either that Putin is in the nineteenth century, as Kerry suggests. Kerry’s statement repeats one of the common indictments of Eurocentric racism: the denial of coevalness, a formula invented in eighteenth century Europe. As for Merkel, I would agree that Putin lost touch with “her sense of reality” for to be sure Merkel doesn’t have the property right on what constitute “the sense of reality” beyond what she thinks it is.

      It is curious, nonetheless, is that the Ukraine acting government and Western spokesman, are insisting on the nation-state sovereignty and Russia is insisted on the safety of people, Russians in Crimea. What is curious is that Ukrainian government and Western state-spokesman want to save an abstract entity, historically constituted in the nineteenth century, while Russia want to save people. Granted, both are clearly arguments to justify position of interests. The curiosity is that in this regard Russia seems to be on the right side of history putting the horses in front of the chart (interest in people) instead of maintaining the chart in front of the horses (interests in saving institutions).

        I am not arguing that Putin is “right.” I am arguing that he cannot be said to be “wrong.”  Making such a statement puts us on the way to totalitarianism. I am not advocating either cultural relativism, in the sense that everything goes. I am advocating for what is unavoidable to recognize at this point many unfolding histories: the end of Western domination put us in a world in which there is no one truth and one form of global governance. Just imagine what would be the situation now without Russia open intervention responding to the covert interventions of US and the EU? Democratic Ukraine would have not.

      To accept this radical change, would no doubt contribute to building a multi-polar politico-economic world in which pluriversality of understanding, knowing, believing, feeling and thinking would co-exist in harmony and plenitude. For this, the horse has to be placed back in front of the cart: people should matter first, and institutions shall be at the service of people and not other way round.

      The idea that future global governance as a “middle way between East and West   global version of Giddens “third way  is not going to fly. “Middle and Third” ways are hopes from the presupposition that there always one historical line and, therefore, the best compromise between two opposing pols are middle or third ways. That view of history is over. What de-westernization is bringing up is a multi-polar world and in a multi-polar world, which is the view from an-other side of history, doesn’t have room for middle ways. The West is becoming one of the poles of a multipolar world but not longer half-of any kind of “middle way.”

       Finally on sanctions. Canadian-Nishnaabeg writer, activist and singer, Leanna Simpson, makes a point in marking the distinction between Christina idea of education and First Nations (Indigenous people of Canada). Christianity education is based on prohibitions and punishments.  Nishnaabeg in nurturing, for the simple reasons that prohibitions and punishment encourages in a child violation of the prohibitions and revenge to the punishment. US implementing sanctions on Russia follows the Christian way of Western education. I think it was Kissinger in the article quoted above that pointed out this is not a wise way to lead international relations at this point in time. Time has changed. The US paternal punishing of Russia is may to work in the way the US expects to do. The rest of the world is growing up and punishment doesn’ t stop the independent behavior of grown up, children of states.

           PS: After reading this posting Francisco Carballo reminded me of a conversation we have had for some time. It is not uncommon that well mean readers would interpret that i am “favoring” de-westernization over de-coloniality. Aware of such interpretation, i titled this posting “a decolonial take.” I think that part of the misunderstanding may come from forgetting the meaning of “imperial difference.” Imperial difference is a type of racialization of people, regions, languages, nationalities that were never colonized by the West, like Russia and China. Russia and China have learned that to be independent from Western dictates  they had to embrace “capitalism.” So in this regard, there is no qualitative difference between the West Europe, the US, Eurasia and East Asia. The difference is politica– who call the shots, so to speak. De-westernization is just that: the confidence and decision power to not surrender to Western dictates. Small states, today, have no choice but to go one or the other way. National sovereignty becomes a rhetorical formula to hides political and economic interests. Ukraine is a telling moment of the fact that Western imperial states do not control anymore the colonial matrix, failing to install in Ukraine a government of its convenience. Western designs were disputed by de-westernization. The dispute for the control of the colonial matrix takes place in the sphere of inter-state relations. Decoloniality is not a state project (Bolivia could have been an exception, but it currently–as it all Latin American “left” oriented states–have joined de-westernization) and i am not Secretary of or Ambassador of any state. Decoloniality is a project of the emerging global political society (which includes so call social movement, re-emergence of Indigenous civilizations, artists, scholars, intellectuals, journalists, activists, warrior of the word, and  a growing number of actors confronting both re- and de-westernization. But more often than not, the confrontation is one at the time. The originality of decolonial thinking is that of starting from the entanglement of re- and de-westernization, entangled in the dispute of the colonial matrix and the differential of power in the dispute. De-westernization is contesting and delinking from the re-westernizing will to homogenize the world. Dewesternization has to be critiqued from a decolonial perspective, without forgetting that our critique to de-westernization could be applauded by re-westernized actors and institutions. And vice-versa. So the decolonial take delink from both at the same time that recognize the power differential in the dispute.

         It is that power differential that more often than not are not only overlooked by some of my readers, but for the majority of “experts” in interstate relations.




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En Guatemala, Sobre (De)Colonialidad en Ciudad de la Imaginación http://waltermignolo.com/en-guatemala-sobre-decolonialidad-entrevista-de-rosina-cazali-escobar-con-walter-mignolo/ http://waltermignolo.com/en-guatemala-sobre-decolonialidad-entrevista-de-rosina-cazali-escobar-con-walter-mignolo/#respond Mon, 30 Dec 2013 01:16:59 +0000 http://waltermignolo.com/?p=1219 Esta entrevista se realizó en ocasión de mi visita a Quetzaltenango, en Noviembre del 2013. La razón fue el Simposio organizado por Ciudad de la Imaginación.


¿Dónde y cuándo emergió el concepto decolonial?

R: Dificil precisar el dia y la hora. Pero si que el concepto comenzó a emplearse después de la segunda guerra mundial para describir las procesos de liberación en Asia y Africa. La descolonización significaba liberarse de la dependencia imperial, sobre todo en esos momentos de Francia e Inglaterra. Estados Unidos apoyaba la liberación, conforme a su filosofía de libertad. Pero la consolidación del concepto puede trazarse en la Conferencia de Bandung, del 18 al 24 de Abril de 1955. Ahí el proyecto fue: ni capitalismo ni comunismo sino descolonización. Descolonización tiene un sentido distinto al de ¨revolución¨ en la historia interna de Occidente.


¿Por qué decolonial y no postcolonial?

R: Yo preguntaría por qué ¨pos¨ y no ¨des¨ puesto que el concepto de lo descolonial antecede al de lo postcolonial. Como ves en la respuesta anterior, lo descolonial emerge en el seno mismo del a colonialidad, no ¨después.¨ Por otro lado, lo ¨poscolonial¨ depende de lo ¨posmoderno.¨ El concepto de postcolonialimo no existe sino después de la publicación del libro de Jean-Francois Lyotard, La condición posmoderna (1978). Los proyectos decolonialies no buscan un momento ¨post¨ de la colonialidad sino a ¨des¨ colonizar, esto es escapar de la unilinearidad temporal de la modernidad, de la cual tanto la postmodernidad como la poscolonialidad están todavía sujetas.


Hay un concepto que se ha establecido como clave para comprender estas teorías, ¿ a qué se refiere el término matriz colonial de poder?

R: Primero que el concepto no surge en Europa sino en el Tercer Mundo. También ¨descolonialidad¨ surgio en el Tercer Mundo, en Indonesia. Bueno no surgió ahí específicamente. Difícil poner el dedo donde y cuando. Lo que sí es indudable que la Conferencia de Bandung, de 1955, le dio a descolonialidad un sentido preciso; ni capitalismo ni comunismo sino descolonialidad. Lo cuál es ya proponer un desprendimiento. De qué?  De la matriz colonial de poder que generó el capitalismo y el comunismo. La matriz colonial de poder, cuya versión corta es ¨colonialidad¨ se refiera a una estructura conceptual de gestión que comenzó a formarse en el Atlántico, en los siglos XVI y XVII, cuando los estados monárquicos del Atlántico Europeo (la península Ibérica, Francia, Holanda e Inglaterra) se disputaron la conquista y colonización de las Américas y el Caribe. Como todo era nuevo, necesitaron ir configurando una forma de gestión económica, política, epistemológica, subjetiva (género, sexualidad, racialización de las etnicidades) que legitimara la educación, la trata de esclavos, la expropiación de tierras, la destrucción de las civilizaciones milenarias reemplazadas por la barbarie Europeo-Cristiana. Todo ello bajo la retórica de la salvación. Debajo, de esta retórica, la destrucción. La matriz colonial de poder nos gobierna todavía hoy. Solo hace falta prestar atención a las noticias y mirar a nuestro alrededor.


¿Es ahí donde subyace la lógica de la colonialidad?

R: Exactamente. La matriz tiene dos caras. Una visible y dicharachera: la retórica de la modernidad. Ella nos habla de salvación, progreso, desarrollo, democracia, felicidad, poder adquisitivo, consumo de nuevas tecnologías, etc. La otra invisible: la lógica de colonialidad. Ella se articula en el racismo y el patriarcado y, a partir de aquí, justifica la explotación, dominación, humillación, despojo, ninguneo y arrogancia.


¿Qué significa la herida colonial?

R: La herida colonial o las heridas coloniales son las consecuencias del racismo y el patriarcado. Racismo y patriarcado son estructuras de conocimiento (genoseológicas o epistemológicas). No son ontologías, es decir, ¨entidades¨.  Racismo y patriarcado consiste en que algunos actores e instituciones, armados-as de categorías de conocimiento, determinan que determinadas personas son inferiores ¨racial o étnicamente¨ y también son inferiores tanto por su género (femenino-masculino) como por sus preferencias sexuales (queer, lesbiana, homosexual, gay). Notemos que hombre-mujer son categorías gnoseológicas, no ontológicas. Hombre y mujer sólo existen en la estructura gnoseológica del Cristianismo (creación del mundo, Adán y Eva) que luego se seculariza (moral victoriana). En el Popol Vuh tal conceptualización no existe. No hay mujer y hombre, sino una energía complementaria necesaria para la generación y regeneración de la vida.  En la medida en que Occidente se expande,  sus formas jerárquicas de conocimiento se imponen, genera heridas coloniales a diestra y a siniestra. Pues la herida colonial es ambas a la vez, racial y patriarcal. Por esa razón el ¨feminismo blanco¨ tiene una raíz y una razón distinta al ¨feminismo descolonial.¨


El pensamiento descolonial hace una crítica permanente al proyecto de la modernidad. La crítica admite que no hay modernidad sin colonialidad, ¿cómo explicar esa paradoja? ¿Son dos caras de una misma moneda?

R: Efectivamente, son dos caras de una misma moneda. Como lo acabo de decir en las respuestas anteriores la modernidad presupone la colonialidad. Por eso escribimos modernidad/colonialidad. En el Marxismo se habla de contradicciones del capitalismo. Nosotros, que no somos Marxistas sino descoloniales, decimos: pues no, no hay contradicción alguna, la modernidad presupone la colonialidad, el capitalismo presupone la explotación del trabajo, de otra manera no puede haber capitalismo. Pero la matriz colonial de poder es mucho más amplia que la idea de capitalismo. Le economía es un aspecto de la matriz.


En ese sentido, en tu excepcional obra La idea de América expones cómo el continente, nuestros países, no han podido separarse de la colonialidad entendida como modernidad. ¿Esto quiere decir que la lógica de modernización aplicada por los criollos en la época de la colonia sigue vigente en términos de expoliar o apropiarse de riquezas, mantener las formas y construcciones de racismo y clases?

R: Es que no es posible separarse de la colonialidad mientras se adhiere al proyecto de modernidad. La colonialidad se articuló durante la colonia. Los criollos que se independizaron de España y Portugal, formaron estados nacionales dependientes de Inglaterra y Francia, principalmente. En algunos casos de Holanda (Suriname). Indigenas y Afro-descendientes continuaron bajo el yugo de los criollos que se independizaron de los peninsulares y se entregaron a los beneficios del capital internacional. Es el ¨colonialismo interno¨ del que hablaron los mexicanos Pablo Gonzáles Casanova y Rodolfo Stavenhaguen en los 70. Todo eso sigue vigente, de maneras remozadas y diferentes en los estados de la Alianza del Pacífico y los estados agrupados en UNASUR.


Cuando hablamos de pensamiento descolonial hablamos de una opción y no de una misión. Ha quedado claro. Pero, ¿qué excesos o peligros corren estas teorías al ser de las pocas formas de pensamiento provenientes del Tercer Mundo? ¿Qué críticas o autocríticas se han formulado sobre lo descolonial?

R: Excesos? Los excesos fueron los excesos de los estados independientes tanto en América Latina, como en Asia como en África. Las recientes ¨intifadas¨ en el Norte de África responden a los excesos de la descolonización que consistió en tomar posesión del gobierno sin modificar las estructuras básicas de la subjetividad y del conocimiento. En América Latina ocurrió lo mismo después de las independencias. En este sentido, los excesos de los procesos de descolonización son semejantes a los excesos de la democracia.

El ¨pensamiento descolonial¨ por el contrario no es un pensamiento estatal, sino de la sociedad política. Peligro? Los peligros de todo pensamiento disidente. Las estructuras de poder del conocimiento (universidades, editoriales, media) tratarán de reprimirlo en la medida de lo posible.  Por otra parte, si hay ¨peligro¨ en el pensamiento descolonial es porque es una opción expuesta a los mimos ¨peligros¨ que las opciones democráticas, desarrollistas, cristianas, musulmanas, etc. Estamos en una guerra de opciones, todas ellas corren peligros. Algunas tienen mayor poder de decisión y de acción que otras.


 ¿Cómo opera la idea de la “desobediencia epistemológica” en todo esto?

R: Desprenderse de la matriz significa ¨pensar una manera otra¨ como lo decimos en general. Para pensar de una manera otra es necesario desobedecer tanto las normas disciplinarias (ciencias sociales, humanas, naturales, escuelas profesionales). Esto lo practica dia a dia y con fuera el pensamiento descolonial de los Pueblos Originarios, desde los Mapuches en Chile hasta la Primeras Naciones en Canadá. Esto es lo que hicieron China y Singapur: practicaron desobediencia epistémica económico-política y se desprendieron de las ¨reglas¨ del Fondo Monetario y del Banco Mundial. Desobediencia epistemológica significa cambiar los términos de la conversación comenzando por aceptar que las ideas de democracia y desarrollo, por ejemplo, son ficciones que benefician a quienes las defienden (modernidad) pero no a los que sufren las consecuencias (colonialidad). Para desprenderse de estas ficciones hay que crear otras ficciones que favorezcan a quienes las crean. De ahí la potencia que tiene hoy el pensamiento descolonial indígena afincado sobre experiencias de vida y formas otras de pensamiento. Entrelazados ambas, pero la experiencia de Jacques de Europa no es la misma que la de Pedro en los Andes o en el Sur de México y Guatemala, cuyas memorias se hunden en la civilizaición Maya y Andina y no en la Greco-Romana.


Por cierto, tu visita a Guatemala se realizó en el marco del Festival del Absurdo y se dio preeminencia al arte. Digamos, dos horizontes poco frecuentes para el mundo académico local. ¿Qué te sorprendió de esta experiencia y formas de ser desobedientes? ¿Reconociste algunas ideas, teorías o gestos decoloniales en las inquietudes de los participantes?

R: Muy interesante visita, desde ya. No sólo por ser mi primera visita a Guatemala y de residir en la hospitalidad de la Casa San Bartolomé, y por el evento claro está. Vi tres trayectorias en el evento. Las trayectorias se identifican por lo que expresan los participantes, aunque no se puede identificar un participante con una trayectoria. Una es la trayectoria iniciada por el proyecto ¨Absurdo.¨ Curiosamente, cuando decidí estudiar filosofía fue al leer, a mis 15 años, El Mito de Sísifo, del Argelino residente en París, Albert Camus. Para Camus, inmigrante de un país colonial al corazón del imperio, el problema filosófico fundamental era si la vida vale o no la pena de ser vivida. De ahí su filosofía del absurdo: frente a la glorificación del individuo y la vida en el capitalismo guerrero (estaba escribiendo esto en la segunda hecatombe de la civilización occidental, llamada Segunda Guerra Mundial—es decir, los estados imperiales europeos, más Rusia, más Japón y Estados Unidos que habían entrado en la contienda global al final del siglo XIX. El resto del mundo, es decir, 90% del mundo no tuvo nada que ver en la segunda ¨guerra mundial.¨

El ¨Absurdo¨ en Guatemala surge–a mi manera de ver–de la colonialidad, esto es, del absurdo de la retórica de la modernidad que esconde la lógica de la colonialidad. Ahí esta primera trayectoria dialoga con la segunda, la opción descolonial que, por otras vías, llega a conclusiones semejantes. Esta versión de lo descolonial es la que surge de los y las mestizas e inmigrantes, es decir, la versión de los y las descendientes de Europeos. El ¨absurdo¨ pone de relieve algo semejante a lo que pone de relieve ¨la analítica de la colonialidad:¨ en las ex colonias la vida no vale la pena de ser vivida bajo la opresión patriarcal y racial y todas sus consecuencias (humillación, explotación, arrogancia, expropiación, violencia, etc.). La tercera trayectoria es la que trajeron los pensadores, artistas y activistas indígneas: esta es el pensamiento descolonial que proviene de una doble fuente: la humillación de la modernidad y el orgullo de los legados de las grandes civilizaciones Mayas en este caso, pero también Azteca. El encuentro de estas tres trayectorias


El mercado, el llamado “mainstream” del arte son dos matrices de poder que condicionan la forma de percibir y entender la producción artística, para quién es el arte y ese tipo de cosas. ¿Cómo liberar ese horizonte restringido a tradiciones y capitales de valor?

R: Si, así es, pero no vale la pena tratar de influir en ellas. Es como si quisiéramos influir en las reuniones de Davos o en las de los G5 o G20 o en CNN o en BBC. Esas son cuestiones que se dirimen en los proyectos de re-occidentalización (occidente tratando de mantener su control del mundo) y la desoccidentalización (China, Rusia, los BRICS desobedeciendo epistemológicamente (es decir, en la epistemología de las relaciones internacionales) esos mandatos).  Esto es a lo que apuntan las estéticas descoloniales. Que quieren los artistas descoloniales? No quieren ser reconocidos en esos circuitos, ni lo serán. Los artistas y activistas descoloniales desobedecen esas reglas, igual que las reglas del ¨buen gusto estético.¨ Los artistas descoloniales apuntan la denuncia de esas ficciones y crean otros términos de la conversación que van hacia la cura o la sanación de las heridas coloniales y hacia la construcción del amor descolonial. No hay amor en el mercado: hay odio, arrogancia, competencia.


¿Te parece significativo que en el proceso de descolonizar las estéticas y liberar la ahestesis podemos desarrollar, sin cargas prejuiciosas, conceptos como “sanar la herida colonial”?

R: Pues para ese lado iba mi respuesta anterior. No se si desarrollar. Yo diría construir. Sanando en la construcción de relaciones y espacios que nos conformen, que nos enorgullezcan y que no nos limiten humillados antes las arrogancias de reglas patriarcales, racistas y de estética moderna y postmoderna, de Kant a Ranciere.  De eso se trata, de las curas de las heridas coloniales, de la sanación a todos los niveles, y el arte es uno de ellos. Para los pensadores y pensadoras de las Primeras Naciones en Canadá, story telling, contar historias es su manera de teorizar, y teorizar contando historias es su manera de resurgir, de vivificar sus memorias no para volver a ser lo que eran antes de que sufrieran la humillación y la herida colonial. Sino la de afirmarse en su orgullo, coexistiendo y superponiéndose a la retorica de la modernidad que quiere asimilarlos/las al mismo tiempo que quitarle sus tierras (lógica de la colonialidad) en nombre del progreso!!!.

En todo encuentro siempre se produce un trueque. Después de tu estancia en Guatemala y el simposio, dejas una serie de conocimientos y tu te vas con el honroso título de “Tata Mingo”, según Benvenuto Chavajay. ¿Qué otras ideas, dilemas y expectativas de aprendizaje te llevas de este país?

R: Lo de ¨Tata Mingo¨ me enorgullece. Patrice Naiambana, actor migrante de Sierra Leone a Londres, actor de la Shakespeare Royal Company, activista que tiene su propio proyecto (Tribal Soul) me designó su ¨tio¨.  ¨Tío¨ tiene una connotación semejante. Pues, eso no es poco, sobre todo porque es un reconocimiento no-académico, un reconocimiento del con-vivir, un reconocimiento del amor descolonial diría. Y que, curiosamente, no proviene de indígenas Europeos sino de indígenas de África y de América Central. Pues, no es poco lo que saqué del trueque!!

Además, todo lo que estoy diciendo aquí no lo podría haber dicho sin haber pasado tres días enteros en Quetzaltenango, en el CELA, y cinco días contando los dos de viajes, el del ansia de la llegada, y el de la reflexión de la partida.

Finalmente, el haber podido con-vivir con ustedes y sus maneras de morar en las memorias y las consecuencias de 30 y tantos años de guerra, ¨la lógica cultural de la tardía colonialidad¨, para decirlo parafraseando a Fred Jameson y mostrando  lo que el no vió: que la lógica de la tardía modernidad y del tardío capitalismo es, en verdad, la lógica de la tardía colonialidad. Colonialidad que en Europa generó el Nazismo, el Franquismo y el Fascismo y en América del Sur/Central y África generó dictadores de toda laya. La herida colonial se manifiesta en el racismo y el patriarcado y se expresa en los totalitarismos, las dictaduras y las guerras cuyas victimas son vidas desechables: aquellas que no tienen valor para los proyectos patriarcales y racistas que subyacen a los estados y a los proyectos de crecimiento económico.


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Tonight in Buenos Aires I Saw a Black Man http://waltermignolo.com/tonight-in-buenos-aires-i-saw-a-black-man/ http://waltermignolo.com/tonight-in-buenos-aires-i-saw-a-black-man/#comments Sun, 29 Dec 2013 14:02:49 +0000 http://waltermignolo.com/?p=1197 I pasted this story in FB. Then i realized that one of the proper names was wrongly spelled. So i deleted, corrected the original (apparently you cannot edit directly in FB) and pasted again. It so happened that the new pasting reproduced the text without paragraphs. I tried several times. Failed. So i am posting it here, and then i will post the link in face book. Technology, as people say, is wonderful to save time.


Tonight in Buenos Aires I saw a Black Man. About 45, good looking, dressed in a T-Shirt, dark blue with orange inscriptions. I couldn’t read. He was about 10 meters from my table. It was a round table. There were five. There was him, plus three women (one of the women older than the other two) and one man, they were all whites, Argentine white of course.  That is, off-white. It was at a restaurant, dinner time, around 10,30 pm.

Why I was surprised to see him here? For those of you who know Buenos Aires, this restaurant is in the corner of Rio Bamba and Arenales, Barrio Norte, to be more precise. Barrio Norte and Recoleta blend in my sense of the city. But you can feel the difference.

For those of you not familiar with Buenos Aires, I am talking about the zone that goes from Avda 9 de Julio to Pueyrredon, running South-North and Santa Fe and Avda Libertador running East-West. That is more or less where Barrio Norte and Recoleta are. Barrio Note is “tres bien”. Recoleta “high chick.” This restaurant was in Barrio Norte.

High middle class, good looking people casually dressed and high casual too. Women in the sixties that try to look in the fifties and, believe me, they do; some with their natural blond hairs, some with nice wigs. Men look distinguished even if there are casual. Good haircut of their white hair, which I am envious they still have.

You do not see tourists in these kinds of restaurants. Or if you do, it is either because they have friends in the vicinity, they got lost and found the restaurant, or they were walking by, hungry, and saw these friendly looking restaurant with nice friendly people chatting and eating.

So, what was the black guy doing here? There was a round table, i already mentioned. I was facing him. The white guy was with his back to me. But when I left I walked slowly and took a pick through the window from outside. He was obviously the husband of one of the three women. The other two women were either their daughters or a daughter and a friend.

The black guy was following the conversation and smiling but he was mainly paying attention to a kid in his of her “cochecito” (I forgot the English word for that). So that he was having a double communication, listening to the four whites on the table and having a better communication with the kid, to whom he smiled, chatted and made faces.

I wonder what was his role. He was obviously not an enslaved African; or a Brazilian or Caribbean servant. He did not look like one and he did not act as one. However, he was like listening but not engaged in the conversation. And the other four apparently were having a conversation among themselves. At some point he picket up the kid (three moths old, let’s say) and took him/her into his arm.

The kid was white, Argentinian white, of course. But the Black guy acted and his action he looked like the father. If that was the case, most likely one of the two women in the forties, one of them was his wife. But apparently, in Argentina, if you marry a white-woman from this area and you are a black man, you have to surrender.

During my speculations over dinner, I thought of Artwell Cain, Quinsy Gario, Rolando Vazquez, Patrice Naiambana, Robbie Shilliam, Teresa Maria Diaz Nerio, Patricia Kaersenhout, Jeannete Elhers and Alanna Lockward, friends and decolonial camarades I see them at least once a year in The Netherlands, Germany, England and Denmark, and remain in Internet contact through the year and over the years.

Finally, I will not leave you with the impression that I believe that there is no Black in Buenos Aires. There was a time where people asked what happened with the Black people who were here in the nineteenth century, and were vey well documented. At the time of Juan Manuel de Rosas, there were plenty. Not longer.

It is to the population of African descent that we owe the tango. And recently, they have made themselves very visible in different areas of the city. But in this area, from 9 de Julio to Pueyrredon and from Santa Fé to Avenida Libertador, it is very rare to see a Black person. That is why I was surprised, i guess.



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On Pluriversality http://waltermignolo.com/on-pluriversality/ http://waltermignolo.com/on-pluriversality/#respond Sun, 20 Oct 2013 14:52:20 +0000 http://waltermignolo.com/?p=1133 The piece below was written in rsponse to a question formulated by Arturo Escobar, Marisol de la Cadena and Mario Blaser. Marisol, Mario and Arturo are starting a project investigating the various uses of the concept of ¨pluriverse.¨ They asked me how I stumbled into the concept and how I  used and use  it. In responding to them i ended up writing a sort of auto-biographic op-ed on pluriversality.

Here it is:

      The first time I used the concept of pluriverse was in a series of conferences between 1996 and 1998 , which was finally published in 2000 in Binghamton REVIEW, the journal of the Fernand Braudel Center , in the title of ¨The Zapatista´s Theoretical Revolution. Its consequences historical, political and epistemological.” It appeared as a chapter  slightly revised, in The Darker Side of Western Modenrnity, 2011. Which means that during the 14/5 years span  the concept of pluriversality was used in many instances of my work. I heard about it during the early years of the Zapatista’s uprising. Franz Hinkelammert and Enrique Dussel were using the term and it fitted perfectly well perfectly well with the idea of  “pluritopic hermeneutics” I borrowed from Raymundo Pannikar and became a crucial concept in The Darker Side of the Renaissance. (1995 ).
      Hermeneutics, in Western genealogy of thoughts, names a type of reflection on meaning and interpretation within one cosmology, Western cosmology. When you have to deal with two or more cosmologies, as i did in The Darker Side of the Renaissance, you need a pluritopic hermeneutics. Why? Because you are dealing with a pluriverse of meaning and not onli with a universe of meaning. Pluriversality became my key arguments to call into question the concept of universality, so dear to Western cosmology. How so? Western epistemology and hermeneutics  (meaning Greek and Latin languages translated into the six modern European and imperial languages) managed universalize its own concept of universality dismissing the fact that  all known civilizations are founded on the universality of his own cosmology. 
       There is no reason to believe that the Bible is universal and the Popol Vuh is not. The universalization of universality in the West was part of its imperial project .So then a key idea in  Local Histories / Global Designs (2000/2012) was ¨ pluriversality as a universal project.”  That is the universal can only be pluriversal, which also matched the Zapatista’s idea of a world in which many world would coexist.  We, in the planet, had arrived at the end of the era of abstract universals, that is of one universal universality. 
     Pluriversality is not cultural relativism, but entanglement of several cosmologies connected today in a power differential. That power differential is the logic of coloniality covered up by the rhetorical narrative of modernity. Modernity is a fiction that carries in it the seed of Western pretense to universality.Expanding on that line of reasoning, it was necessary to introduce a concept that capture the “/” of modernity/coloniality, that is, the “/” of the entanglement and power differential. And that concept was rendered as “border thinking, border epistemology, border gnosis.”
     If a pluriverse is not a world of independent units (cultural relativism) but a world entangled through and by the colonial matrix of power, then, it a way of thinking and understanding that dwells in the entanglement, in the borders, is needed. So the point is not to “study” the borders, very fashionable today, while at the same time “dwelling” in a territorial epistemology, would imply that you accept a pluriverse some place out there that you “observe” from some place else outside the pluriverse.
      To do so it is necessary to maintain the territoriality of the disciplines grounded on the imperial epistemology of modernity. Thinking pluritopically means, instead, to dwell in the border. Dwelling in the border is not border-crossing, even less looking and studying the borders from the territorial gaze of the disciplines. Today “border study” became fashionable, even in Europe. Scholars studying borders are in general not dwelling in them. Who dwell in the border are the migrants from Africa, West Asia and Latin America, mainly. That’s what I learned from Anzaldúa. Chicanos and Chiacanas are migrants and queers, migrants or not, are always dwelling in the border.
      I think the impact that Local Histories / Global Designs was writing in inhabiting the border not just observing and describing it. I revealed in the preface to the second edition (2012) that the argument was a rewriting of Hegel’s philosophy of history inhabiting the border. So that border epistemology became the way, as in Buddhism, or the method, as in Western sciences, social or not, of decolonial thinking and doing.  A key point to move away from the trap that distinguishes theory from praxis. Reflexive praxis is, instead, the motu at Amawtay Wasi. Why, because the very education project is built on border epistemology. The overall world-sense is Indigenous and Andean cosmology, not rejecting Indigenous European cosmology but em-bodied it in Andean cosmology.
      Border thinking is why take the effort to combine the body with writing, writing with the body and not just in the body, combine the heart with the mind, senti-pensar (feeling-thinking) as they say in Ecuador .In the In the Darker Side of Western Modernity i returned to the idea of pluriversality connecting it with the idea of multiverse in Humberto Maturana’s epistemology. The multiverse is for Maturana a world of truth in parenthesis while the universe is a world built on truth without parenthesis. Uni-verality is always imperial and war-driven. Pluri and multi verses and convivial, dialogical or plurilogical. Now pluri- and multi-verses exists independent of the state and the corporations and it is the work of the emerging global political society, e.g., the sector of society organizing themselves around specific projects once they/we realize that neither the state nor the corporations have room for multi- or pluriverses.
        While “multi and pluriverses” characterizes the making of the global political society, in the realm of the state and the corporations the vocabulary is that of “multipolar world.”  The multi-polar world of today has been opened up by the economic growth and political confidence of China’s inter-state politics, together with the BRICS and the growing economies and politics of Indonesia and Turkey, the Latin American states in Mercosur following the leadership of Brazil, member of BRICS countries. When Vladimir Putin “stole” Barack Obama menace of invading Syria, it was evident that the unipolar world that made possible the invasion of Iraq is not longer in place. And it seems obvious also that Putin’s chess move was possible because of the support of BRICS alliance of which he is the current chair. Thus, I would like to use pluriverse in the sphere of decolonial projects coming from the global political society (desracializing and depatriarchalizing projects, food sovereignity, economic organization of reciprocity and definancializaiton of money, decolonization of knowledge and of being, decolonization of religion to liberate spirituality, decolonization of aesthetics to liberate aesthesis, etc., etc., etc.) and multi-polarity in the sphere of politico-economic dewesternization, lead states projects.
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Decolonial Voice Lending – Interview http://waltermignolo.com/decolonial-voice-lending-interview/ http://waltermignolo.com/decolonial-voice-lending-interview/#respond Sat, 05 Oct 2013 03:49:44 +0000 http://waltermignolo.com/?p=1119

“Filmed entirely in Middelburg, Netherlands, this interview explores the dynamic concepts and pluriversal themes associated with the concept of Decoloniality, in an attempt to fully understand this very important analysis of Western Civilization. Dr. Walter Mignolo, of Duke University, shares his personal history and the deep meanings and applications from decolonial thought. Voice Lending is brought in as an intersecting idea, which draws on decoloniality’s social advocacy roots. With a special appearance from African Performing Artist Patrice Naiambana, a decolonial practitioner, this film asks poignant questions in an attempt to familiarize new readers and viewers to decolonial history, terms, and ways in which all of us can make practical applications that will lead to less dehumanization and better decolonial options.”

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How Dewesternizing Discourse Works http://waltermignolo.com/how-dewesternizing-discourse-works/ http://waltermignolo.com/how-dewesternizing-discourse-works/#respond Sat, 20 Jul 2013 19:48:15 +0000 http://waltermignolo.com/?p=976 On Friday, July 9th, i was listening Diane Rhem Show´s in the radio. The topic Edward Snowden and declarations made by Vladimir Putin to the journalist. According to one of the person participating in the dialogue, Putin made two contradictory statements.

One of them has been widely distributed and occupies many of the news title. Putin stressed that the Edward Snowden case shall not damage the bilateral relations between Russia and the US. On the other hand, he was also quoted as saying:

Speaking to journalists in the Siberian city of Chita, Mr. Putin could not deny himself the pleasure of taking a dig at Washington’s intrusive support for human rights in other countries. “Human rights activity has its downside for those who engage it. It can be quite comfortable when pursued under the tutelage of the U.S. and with its financial, information [and] political support, when somebody wants to criticise the U.S., he may have problems as the incidentw ith the Bolivian President’s plane has shown (http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/putin-defends-decision-on-asylum/article4923928.ece)-

I have read these two statement first in El Pais, two days before the show. I was surprised to hear that one of the participants considered those two statements contradictory. I thought that they were clearly complementary in the politics of dewesternization. That is:

–The first statement clearly state that international relations are very important and that Edward Snowden´s case, which is very important and has to be deal with carefully if nothing else because there is a human life in question. However, to confronting this issue shall take into account, according to Putin, the priority of not damaging international relations between the two states;

–The second statement makes clear that in spite of that, Russia has its own standards and will not accept any instructions given by the US of how they have to proceed in this case. The second statement, as the journalist of El Pais observer, is an ironic one. However, it is a true expressed with irony.

This is a good example of how dewesternization in the political sphere works. Capitalist economy is not questioned. Russia is no longer a communist state. However, political decisions are multi-polar, not longer uni-polar. George W Bush was perhaps the last president of the US that was managed to make a unipolar decision when invading Iraq. But those days seem to be long gone.


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