For a long time scholars in the social sciences and the humanities, journalist, artists and curators talked about “modernity.” They found also that their modernity could be expanded and stretched in time (post), in space (peripheral, alternative), hierarchically (subaltern) and later to run parallel to the French version of the World Social Forum: alter-mondisme became alter-modernité. None of the defenders and critics of modernity paid attention to “coloniality”, the darker side of Western modernity and all its branches. Modernity and its variants were and still are half of the story. More specifically, a single story with variations.
Nigerian story teller (and decolonial thinker and writer) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie delivered a well crafted 19 minutes lecture on “the dangers of a single story.” If you want not only to understand but to internalize how Western modernity (a single story and its variations) manages to disqualify and rank people, how patriarchy works, how the single story of “capitalism” and of “democracy” as the only alternative, you will have it all in Adichie’s lecture. She is not talking openly about capitalism and democracy, but she is unveiling in each anecdote how the rhetoric of modernity works, and how the logic of coloniality cannot longer be disguised. Decolonial thinking and doing at all levels of the social sphere is what the world needs since “modernity” (and all its “post”) reached the end of the road. It will remain for a while at the end of the road, but the venues toward the future cannot longer be delivered by the promises of “modernity.” There is of course a lot of work to be done. Fortunately, there are growing numbers of people around the world doing it.
The workshop on ¨Global Coloniality and/in the ´Asian Century,´¨ is a small contribution toward decolonial futures beyond Western modernity. It is also the third of a series of events that started with a workshop during the first week of June of 2011 (“Coloniality and Decolonial Thinking”), and it was followed up by a round-table in March of 2012. This round-table on “From Global Colonialism to Global Coloniality” was the seed of the work on “Global Coloniality in the ‘ Asian Century’.”
The title is ambiguous. It could be “in” as well as “and.” In neither case, as it is stated in the description below, it is asserted or even imagined that the “Asian Century” would be the century that replaces the “Western Centuries.” It means that coloniality is all over and that, consequently, decoloniality it is not a task of modernity, another “new” idea that Europe and the US is exporting to the world. “Decolonialtiy” cannot be an imperial project neither from the West nor from the non-West. Decoloniality is a collective, enterprise of the emerging global political society and the politization of the civil society. The workshop that gathers scholars and activists from different institutions in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Singapore is on the one hand a continuation of a project that started a year ago at the Advanced Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Research at the City University of Hong Kong, and on the other hand a contribution to inscribe the decolonial option toward building non-imperial futures.
“One of the most enduring myths of the 20th century is that the dissolution of colonial administrations has resulted in decolonization on a global scale. This belief has led to yet another myth—that of a “postcolonial world.” In spite of the fact that numerous colonial administrations have disappeared, dominant colonial forms remain, forms which were produced by cultures and structures within the modern/colonial capitalist world-system. In short, colonialism may have ended but not coloniality. Based on this, an emerging trend within Social Sciences and Humanities research has been a shift away from the analysis of global colonialism to global coloniality, which allows an understanding of “colonial situations” and “coloniality without colonies” in the present era.
Appearing in tandem with the staggering growth of the Asian economies are numerous contemporary discourses about the “Asian Century.” However, this “Asian Century” should be understood as “the return” rather than “the rise” of Asia. At the same time, it is vital to note that this “return” should not be viewed as Asia now replacing 20th century Western forms of hegemony. It is not a race for control, but rather a move towards a more balanced world that is no longer based on unilateral decisions with immediately negative consequences for percentages of the population. Rethinking global coloniality within the looming “Asian Century” is both challenging and necessary, as it allows re-conceptions of the past in our present and the implementation of global futures beyond coloniality.”