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Decolonial – 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 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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TERTULIA SOBRE PENSAMIENTO DESCOLONIAL Y ECONOMIA SIN DINERO http://waltermignolo.com/tertulia-sobre-pensamiento-descolonial-y-economia-sin-dinero/ http://waltermignolo.com/tertulia-sobre-pensamiento-descolonial-y-economia-sin-dinero/#respond Mon, 17 Dec 2012 23:37:28 +0000 http://waltermignolo.com/?p=643 Walter Mignolo (Universidad Duke) y Cecilia Hecht (Bioecon TV) invitan a una tertulia sobre Pensamiento Descolonial y Economía sin Dinero.
Miércoles 26 de Diciembre, de 18 a 20 horas, en El Gato Negro, Avda Corrientes al 1669.
La tertulia estará dedicada a conversar y generar ideas que intenten compaginar un proyecto como BieconTV con un proyecto como Pensamiento Descolonial. Explorar las posibilidades de pensar descolonialmente los media y de pensar mediáticamente lo descolonial. En ambos caso se trata primero de explorar cómo opera la colonialidad en los medios y cómo opera la colonialidad en el conocimiento. El aspecto epistemológico de la tecnología y el aspecto tecnológico de la epistemología nos pueden abrir caminos para descolonizar ambos, la tecnología  y la epistemologia.
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COLONIALITY: THE PAST AND PRESENT OF GLOBAL UNJUSTICE http://waltermignolo.com/coloniality-the-past-and-present-of-global-unjustice/ http://waltermignolo.com/coloniality-the-past-and-present-of-global-unjustice/#comments Wed, 21 Nov 2012 16:22:11 +0000 http://waltermignolo.com/?p=626 The First Istanbul World Forum on Justice was organized by the Primer Minister Office of Public Diplomacy and SETA Foundation. Two intense days (October 13 and 14), hosted about 150 invited speakers plus a significant number of local audience congregated at the Istanbul Congress Center. The topics, well selected, touched on the wide spectrum of global un-justices and pushed forward visions for enacting global justice. Some of the topics of the conference were “Justice and Politics”, “Justice and Economy”, “Justice and Religion” “Justice and Global Order”, “Turkey in World Politics and the Question of Justice,” “Justice, Art and Media,” etc. I participated in the panel on “Just Memory.”  The panel was described as follows:

Victorious states have used history as an instrument to advance their narratives, thereby constructing a one-dimensional historical memory. In the face of the radical changes that we have recently been witnessing, the common memory needs to be reconstructed on just foundations.

Some of the questions asked beforehand to the panelist where the followings:

Can history be re-interpreted irrespective of ideological and nation-states biases?

What have been the consequences of reading the Ottoman-European encounters through the one dimensional lenses of “us” vrs “them”?

How do Europe, Asia, Latin America and the USA read and interpret their histories? And how are other nations/regions in these readings (Notice that the USA is alined with continents and subcontinents, which is an example of how coloniality works on the unconscious naturalizing the coloniality of knowledge)

Is it possible to clear the understanding of history in the political, ideological, and regional effects and to construct a just memory?

My presentation (a shorter version of what i transcribe here) addressed the last question from a theoretical, epistemic and political platform that emerged in “Latin” America, known as modernity/coloniality/decoloniality paradigm or conceptual frame. This conceptual frame did not originate in Europe or in the US. It is indeed one case  of “just theoretical memories” for we are living a global period in which neither Europe nor the US have the monopoly of philosophical and theoretical thinking in all the areas of human experiences and daily life.

The main point of my presentation was that in order to enact global justice we need to know the logic that engenders and perpetrate unjustice. It is necessary but not sufficient to deal with particular cases. However, if the deep structure of global unjustice in the modern/colonial world is not addressed, justice would be difficult to be enacted effectively. My thesis was and is that the source of global unjustice shall be found in the logic of global coloniality, the logic upon which the idea of modernity has been built and maintained.

I began by recognizing–in this respect–the relevance of the First Istanbul World Forum, next to the World Public Forum and the World Social Forum. Each of them is anchored in their particular local memories and all of them are contributing to building the polycentric world of the future. All of them, furthermore, are multiplying the options toward global futures beyond Davos Economics and Davos University. These Fora are not “alternatives” to Davos: they are instead multiplying the options and preventing the dangers of a single story. Polycentricism doesn’t mean only decentering the control of economic regulations and unilateral political decisions but it means, above all, the closing of a five hundred year period of the formation and domination of Western civilization.

My first point on the topic of the panel was to stress the need to know how and why un-just acts and decisions take place, what is its logic, what are the beliefs, the actors and the institutions where un-justice originates.  It is necessary of course but hardly sufficient to concentrate and amend, when possible, singular acts or situations where injustice has been committed. But we need to have a better understanding of the logic that allows for un-justice to be perpetuated. My suggestion is that research to understand the past and present of global un-justice is as necessary as research devoted to progress, development and growth. Progress, development and growth are key words of the rhetoric of modernity. But more often than not, these words hide the logic of coloniality, the logic that produce and reproduce un-justices covered up by the illusory promises of the rhetoric of modernity anchored today in progress, development, growth and innovation.

The panel on “Justice and History/Just Memories” addressed fundamental questions for building polycentric, diverse, harmonious and decolonial (that is, non-imperial) global futures. In a pluriversal and diverse world, Memories have to be diverse and cannot be controlled by a generous Global and Universal History “including” them. “Inclusion” is always already an un-just word. For who has the right to include whom? Tariq Ramadan said it clearly and loudly in Vienna when he stated that “inclusion” is a word of the past and that Muslim do not want to be “included” in Europe but to cooperate in building a pluriversal European future. “Cooperation” not “inclusion” is the word of the present toward just, equitable and harmonious future. [1]

For, one of the sites in which abstract universals have been effective was in the role Western History (as a discipline) played in the control of Global Memories. Global Memories exceed by far what the discipline of History can do. However, it is often assumed that what is written in a Historical narrative what can and should be remembered. History has contributed to create the conditions and to perpetuate the results of global epistemic un-justice. “Justice” in this case doesn’t mean to correct singular instances but to understand the epistemic regulation that legitimize the discipline of History to colonize Memories. Thus, the first step would be to decolonize History in order to liberate Memories. Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie has made this point loud and clear in her celebrate 20 minutes talk on “The Danger of a Single Story.”  [2]

Hegemony, in a polycentric world, would require of pluriversality to a universal principle–an apparent contradiction that deserves careful attention. If the principle of pluri-versality is uni-versaly (that is, globally) assumed, then dialogues and alliances of civilizations—instead of competitions between imperial nation-states and dependency of small nation-states—would be “natural” to cooperate instead of competing in international relations. The goals, in a polycentric and pluri-versal world order would be to administer scarcity rather than promote development and to promote harmony instead of competing for natural resources and growth; the philosophy guiding such global plan would be cooperation rather than competition, harmony instead of war. Progressive historians are instrumental in illuminating what has been obscured by conservative and imperial histories. But History is extremely limited in relation to the richness of the world and the communities for whom Memories is not an academic discipline but a way of being in the world, of building, maintaining and transmitting identity and consolidating identities that imperial histories taught them to despise. Oral traditions and transmissions, art and literature and communal way of living are sites of living Memories that cannot be controlled by the discipline of History. Memories, as I said, exceed History. Memories have been silenced by hegemony Histories. To decolonize History means to liberate Memories an to correct epistemic un-justices. [3]

My second point was—following up on what I just said–to push further the distinction between History and Memories to understand the un-justice in History and the need to decolonize imperial history to liberate colonized Memories.  The word “history” refers to past events as well as to the discipline that study, organize and interpret past events. Here I am using “history” in the second sense, that is, “history” as a discipline in the scholarly spectrum of the social sciences and the humanities. History then is one particular way to deal with the past. Memories are much larger than History and do not require the discipline to manifest themselves. As I said oral communication, what is called “folklore” and what is called “art and literature”, are all effective and powerful means to bring the past into the present and to project possible futures. Memories are embedded in living organisms, be this organism, plants or animals, to make a long story short. To live is to remember and to remember is to live. How does this principle affect the question of Justice and History?

There is a significant bibliography on the etymology and meaning of the word “justice,” from Latin justitia. The fact that we do not have the same amount of analysis and information about equivalent words in Ancient China, in Islam and among the Mayas and Aztecs (to name just a few examples), makes us believe that Latin justitia translated into modern European imperial languages (“Justice” in English, “Justice” in French, “Justicia” in Spanish), shall be the universal concept we have to deal with. However, the examples just make clear that Western “justice” belongs to one memory, the memory of European people, languages and institutions. Latin “justice” is irrelevant in Nahuatl or Chinese, Hindi or Bambara, Arabic and Russian. Just to give you an example: the investigations being carried on by Aymara scholars and intellectuals in Bolivia on the on justice and the law of the Ayllu. [4]

The claim I am making is grounded at the moment in which the discipline of History turned into a tool to disavow Memories. The well-known Eric Wolff’s formula “people without history” summarizes what I am arguing. First, there are indeed many people who do not have “history” as a discipline, since History is a Western concept and practice;[5] but there is no community without Memories. The coloniality of knowledge however managed to make us belief that, as Wolff has argued, that there are people without history and people without history are inferior human beings that nee to be civilized. Such arguments served well–past five hundred years–to legitimate any and every process of appropriation, expropriation and exploitation. The fact that History is a Western concept and practice doesn’t mean that Western Civilization was the only civilization able to keep record of the past. Every known culture and civilization came up with a technology for recording the past, starting from just plain oral Memory and going through inscriptions on stones or in knotted strings, like in the Kipus among the ancient Incas in the South American Andes.

In a nutshell, the point I was arguing: History in the European Renaissance was a fundamental tool to colonize Memories of non-European people, cultures and civilizations. [6] It started in the New World, and continued in Asia and Africa during the expansion of French and British imperialism. Philology since the late eighteenth century complemented the task of History in disavowing non-European memories and, from the early nineteenth century on, Anthropology came into the picture to further erase from their sources and appropriate for the disciplines, Memories in non-European geo-historical formations.

The logic of coloniality is the historical foundation of global un-justice in the modern/colonial world, whose consequences are being addressed in this Forum and similar one like the World Public Forum on the Dialogue of Civilization an the World Social Forum. The difficulties in addressing the logic of coloniality and the making and reproduction of un-justices, is that it is hidden under the rhetoric of modernity. And the rhetoric of modernity is always promising us a better world, making claim about social justice and ethical behavior. However, since today the rhetoric of modernity is based on the belief that salvation and happiness is based on economic growth and a large middle class of consumers, the devastating consequences of open pit mining in Africa and South America are hidden and silenced below the triumphal noise of iPods and cell phones that cannot be produced without mining and its devastating consequences for the people and Memories of the people and the places.

To deal with History and Justice means to deal with epistemic un-justices that have been committed since the historical inception of the modern/colonial world during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when the Mediterranean was displaced by the Atlantic and Christian Theology became the overarching frame for the control of knowledge and subjectivity. Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nations and Suleiman the Magnificent were contemporary rulers of two powerful socio-economic and cultural formations, the Ottoman Sultanate and the Holy Roman Empire. Since then, the Ottoman Sultanate began to be ruled out, until its demise, by the growing economic, politic and epistemic power of Western civilization. An epistemic un-justice that began to be corrected today within the First Istanbul World Forum is a sign of the redressing historical un-justices and building truly democratic futures. Futures in which the word “democracy” indicates a point of arrival through many roads built on local Memories and local knowledge rather than through one road whose traffic is directed from above.

My third point was an illustration of how the power of collective Memories superseded academic history in Ecuador and also in Bolivia. Aymara, Quechua and Quichua intellectuals in both countries made their voice and that of the communities heard in the re-writing of the constitution of both countries in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Both constitutions declare that Bolivia and Ecuador are pluri-national states. The concept of “pluri-national” state did not come from the Memories of the population of European descent in both countries, who have been in control of the government, the economy and education since independence from Spain in early nineteenth century. It was not History that kept Indigenous Memories alive. History in South America is written in Spanish. In the Andes, Memories survive in Aymara, Quechua and Quichua mainly. Furthermore, a Historian of Ecuadorian or Bolivian nationality of Spanish descent who learns Aymara or Quichua because of his or her profession, do not carry with him or her the memories imbedded in the language and the bodies of Quichua-Aymara speakers. The official Historian could “include” Indigenous memories as a theme, but cannot dwell in Memories that are not his or hers. The concept of pluri-national state emerged from Indigenous Memories who have been always aware that in modern/colonial nation states the correspondence between one state and one ethno-class is unsustainable. There are many nations in Bolivia and Ecuador, not only the nation of people of European descent. And that embedded knowledge provides the ground for an advocacy that could be supported by non-Indigenous historians but that cannot be replaced or even worst “represented” by official historical narrative in Spanish including Aymara and Quechua speakers’ Memories.

A similar analysis could be carried on with Sumak Kawsay (in Quichua) and Sumaq Quamaña (in Aymara). The concept is generally translated as “buen vivir” (good living), which is confusing because it could be interpreted in a bourgeois sense of having more, earning more, buying more, living better than your neighbor, etc. A better translation would be “to live in harmony and in plenitude” which is totally different to a concept of good life based on the materiality of possessions. Such a concept comes from Indigenous Memories and philosophy. The un-justice was that Indigenous ways of life were repressed because it did not conform to the ideas of progress and modernity, understood as economic wealth and forced life style. History, official History in Bolivia and Ecuador, silenced Indigenous Memories. But even if now a progressive historian wants to “include” them in the history of the nation, it is too late, for Indigenous intellectuals are strong enough now to make their voice heard and to reject the bourgeois generosity of “inclusion.” Inclusion is a word of the past, as Ramadan argued; cooperation is the word of the present and the future. This is an epistemic historical unjustice in the process of being corrected. When “inclusion” is no longer accepted by those who are supposed to be included, historical un-justice began to be corrected and universal History reduced to size: there is no longer room for one generous Global or Universal History that will include the excluded for, those who include try to maintain a privilege that the excluded are no longer willing to grant.

Last but not least, Sumak Kawsay has been a fundamental concept to show that development is unsustainable. [7] To live in plenitude and in harmony means to live in plenitude and harmony with the planet, with the plants, with the animals, with the rivers, with the fields. Development instead presupposed that all beyond an unjust and limited concept of “humanity” is “nature” and that “nature” is there to be exploited by “men” to his own benefit. It is in indigenous Memories and philosophy, and not in the discipline of history, where the force of these concepts and the advocacy that they generate reached a point of no-return.

In sum, History as a discipline has been a tool to colonize non-Western Memories, an epistemic un-justice that shall and is being corrected by Historians as well as by the enactment of Memories silenced by official Histories (as Trouillot have argued). However, History could be also a tool to correct the disciplinary silencing of the past. That would be a question of History and Justice within the discipline itself. However, beyond the discipline, there is the wide range of Memories that are finding today their place in the global unfolding and changing world order. Memories are the foundation of political visions and decisions. If the First Istanbul World Forum focused on the issue of “Justice” one could surmise that the problem of (un) Justice is embedded in the very Memories of Istanbul and Turkey’s in the global order from the Ottoman Sultanate to the nation-state built upon the ruins of the Sultanate to, I would surmise, a rebuilding of Turkey future by retrieving the memories that Western as well as nation-state historian tended to demise.

[1] ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7GAAGFo2Eo&feature=relmfu

[2] ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg

[3] Haitian anthropologists Michel-Rolph Trouillot has strongly argued this point in his celebrated book, Power and the Production of History (1995).

[4] Marcelo Fernandez Osco, “La ley del Ayllu: Justicia de Acuerdo”, 2008, http://www.scribd.com/doc/83744285/Fernandez-Osco-2001-La-ley-del-ayllu-justicia-de-acuerdos. “Ayllu” is the basic cell of social organization in Inca Civilization. It is equivalent to the Greek oykos. The Ayllu is well and alive today not because of work of Historians, who silenced its importance, but because of the Memories of Aymara and Quechua communities.

[5] Eric Woolf , Europe and the People Without History, Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1982. Walter D Mignolo, “When Speaking was not Good Enough. Illiterates, Barbarians, Savages and Cannibals”, 1992, http://books.google.com/books?id=3QuXJtkhhKcC&pg=PA312&lpg=PA312&dq=mignolo,+when+speaking+was+not+good+enough&source=bl&ots=9fJ_kPZvD4&sig=kDue_djxIsxfX6Zm7Z6xp8MHuds&hl=es&sa=X&ei=RYKEULq0LZHc8ATWzoHwBA&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=mignolo%2C%20when%20speaking%20was%20not%20good%20enough&f=false:

[6] Walter D. Mignolo “On the Colonization of Amerindian Languages and Memories”, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 1992, http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=4418392;

[7] Hernández Sánchez, Maribel: “Sumak Kawsay, Sumaq Kamaña. The Challenge of Learning from the South¨, 2009,  http://rua.ua.es/dspace/handle/10045/13394


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DISPATCHES FROM HONG KONG 5: DOUBTFUL POSTCOLONIAL/DECOLONIAL SCHOLARSHIP http://waltermignolo.com/dispatches-from-hong-kong-5-doubtful-postcolonialdecolonial-scholarship/ http://waltermignolo.com/dispatches-from-hong-kong-5-doubtful-postcolonialdecolonial-scholarship/#respond Sat, 23 Jun 2012 06:08:16 +0000 http://waltermignolo.com/?p=479 A book by Margaret Kohn and Keally McBride titled Political Theories of Decolonization. Postcolonialism and the Problems of Foundations (Oxford University Press, 2011), was recommended to me. I began to read it with great interest, because of the topic, and soon realized that due attention has been given to recent theoretical unfolding in decolonial thinking in Latin America (i mean, theories by people like me, of European descent). I was pleasantly surprised for it is not a common practice among Northern scholars writing in English, to pay attention to theoretical thinking written in Spanish or by Latin American authors writing in English.  Now, the good news shall not be celebrated without noticing what is missing.  Aymaras and Quechuas and Quichuas, mainly in the Andes, of which a significant amount of thinking and writing exists. I mentioned this not as a critique, for it is difficult to cover all, but to inform the reader that there is also accessible bibliography in English  to get that missing part of the story. And Afro-Caribbean thinkers have also a long lasting history of decolonial thinking and predates and questions the Eurocentered concept of “postcolonialism.”

The book is indeed useful in that it enlarges the scope of colonial legacies and global responses to it. It doesn’t distinguish properly, however, postcolonialism from decolonization, and this is indeed one serious charge we can make to the book.

However, what really caught my attention and made me doubt of its scholastic rigor  (and even of Oxford University Press academic responsibilities), is how the authors messed up the part on Latin America.  And I wonder now if the same did not happen in other chapters.  To give you an idea: when you go to the bibliography, you will find out that many of my significant works on the topic has been attributed to Eduardo Mendieta!! Eduardo and I have indeed many common interests, we have collaborated in several projects, and he has written a wonderful blurb for The Idea of Latin America. The blurb is indeed so well crafted that the authors of Political Theories attributed the book to the author of the blurb. Now, how seriously can you take what they have written about “Latin” America’s decolonial thinking.

I suspect that the authors of this book would have never attributed a work by Gyan Prakash to, say, Partha Chaterjee; or a work by Michel Foucault to Jacques Derrida: these authors are serious matter; you have to pay attention to them. But authors writing in Spanish or writing in English but “thinking in Latin American” (and I mean what I wrote: I neither mean “thinking about Latin America,” nor I mean “thinking in Latin America”). What I suspect is that there is an unconscious epistemic racism (meaning that less serious attention is paid, less cash-value being attributed) in the authors of this book that disregard and devalue certain theoretical thinking in certain regions and in certain languages–in this case that written in Spanish by Latin American authors.  Unacceptable errors have been committed and not corrected in the final proofs, or less value is attributed to theoretical contributions to people whose language is Spanish. However, this is not an isolated example. A similar case has been reported a couple of years ago.

My interest in calling attention to this issue is related to what I have been writing and talking about in several recent posting, in this blog, and in several interviews and op-eds published in the Advanced Institute of Cross Disciplinary Studies, World Public Forum and Critical Legal Thinking. It is related to the global shift in politics, economics, religions, aesthetics and epistemology. All of these combined are generating a radical shift in the geography if feeling, sensing, believing and thinking. The end of Western domination, from the right and the left, in economy and politics, in knowing (epistemology, hermeneutics) and sensing (aiesthesis, aesthetics), is under way. And in the process are indirectly making evident that the interest of major publishing houses, including university presses like Oxford, are more interesting in making profit than in the seriousness of ideas and arguments being packaged in their books.

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FROM BOGOTA Y BERLIN: ESTÉTICAS DESCOLONIALES AND BE.BOP 2012. CATÁLOGOS http://waltermignolo.com/from-bogota-y-berlin-esteticas-descoloniales-and-be-bop-2012-catalogos/ http://waltermignolo.com/from-bogota-y-berlin-esteticas-descoloniales-and-be-bop-2012-catalogos/#respond Thu, 14 Jun 2012 23:08:14 +0000 http://waltermignolo.com/?p=446

Alanna, Walter, Simmi and Teresa: at the end of a marvelous event.

Be.Bop 2012. Black Europe Body-Politics, Berlin,  was the third event in the series of Decolonial Aesthetics exhibits and workshops. The first took place in Bogota in November of 2010 (catalog is available on line, Estéticas Descoloniales, Bogotá). The second at Duke in May of 2011. The third one in Berlin in May of 2012. In May of 2012, two panes were delivered at the Havana Biennial. Pedro Lasch is organizing an event “Five Days of Decolonial Aesthetics” for Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (July 2012).

The catalog contains short articles and statements by the participants, plus some illustrations of the screening. The success of this event secured already the follow up, same place, same time next year: Be.Bop 2013

Transdisciplinary Roundtable and Screening
A Project of ArtLabour Archives In collaboration with Allianz Kulturstiftung and Ballhaus Naunynstrasse

Alanna Lockward, Curator

José Manuel Barreto (England) / Manuela Boatca (Germany) / Artwell Cain (Holland) / Teresa María Díaz Nerio (Holland) / Gabriele Dietze (Germany) / Simmi Dullay (South Africa) / Elvira Dyangani Ossé (Spain) /Jeannette Ehlers (Denmark) / Fatima El Tayeb (Germany) / Heide Fehrenbach (USA) / Quinsy Gario (Holland )/ Ylva Habel (Sweden) / Ulrike Hamann (Germany) /Grada Kilomba (Germany) / William Kentridge (South Africa) / Michael Küppers-Adebisi (Germany) / Rozena Maart (South Africa) / Tracey Moffatt (Australia) / IngridMwangiRobertHutter (Germany) / David Olusoga (England) / Minna Salami (England) /Robbie Shilliam (England) / Sumugan Sivanesan (Australia) / Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (Germany) / Robert A. Stemmle † /    Emeka Udemba (Germany) Rolando Vázquez (Holland)

Walter Mignolo, Advisor

BE.BOP 2012- BLACK EUROPE BODY POLITICS is an international screening program and transdisciplinary roundtable centered on Black European citizenship in connection to recent moving image and performative practices. It took place at The Ballhaus Naunynstrasse, a translocal theatre space which serves as point of arrival for artists from (post) migrant communities and beyond, founded in 2008 by Shermin Langhoff with the support of Fatih Akin.

The framework of this meeting was circumscribed within decolonial theories which expose how the idea of citizenship is linked to current racializing configurations and hence with the limits of humanity. In that sense, the racial hierarchy of human existence, originating in the Renaissance and prescribed legally during the Enlightenment, established current (white-male-heteronormative-Christian-Western) European notions of who is Human and who is lower in that hierarchy, thereby designating citizenship, one of the most important legacies of modernity. The time-based positions discussed at this meeting were selected because they contest (racializing) fantasies on European citizenship.

By means of analyzing these narratives of re-existence, BE.BOP 2012 aimed at facilitating a long-term exchange between specialists in disciplines unrelated to visual arts and time-based art practitioners of different contexts of the Black European Diaspora. It successfully created multiple dialogues across the fields of history, legal studies, theatre, art and political activism.

This meeting was motivated and theoretically embedded to Decolonial Aesthetics and more specifically to Decolonial Diasporic Aesthetics, a term coined by curator, Alanna Lockward. In the spirit of the transformative and liberating qualities of performance art, this event was free and open to the public.


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DISPATCHES FROM HONG KONG 4: LEARNING TO UNLEARN: DECOLONIAL REFLECTIONS FROM EURASIA AND THE AMERICAS http://waltermignolo.com/learning-to-unlearn-decolonial-reflections-from-eurasia-and-the-americas/ http://waltermignolo.com/learning-to-unlearn-decolonial-reflections-from-eurasia-and-the-americas/#respond Thu, 14 Jun 2012 15:00:12 +0000 http://waltermignolo.com/?p=432 Ohio University Press just released the book i have co-authored with Madina Tlostanova. The arguments advanced here complement Madina’s explorations on Gender Epistemologies in the Eurasian Borderlands (2010). For my part, this book is a bridge between Local Histories/Global Designs. Coloniality, Subaltern Knoweldges and Border Thinking (2000, the second edition with a new Preface will be released in September of 2012) and the most recent The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options (2012).

Learning to Unlearn

Decolonial Reflections from Eurasia and the Americas

Madina V. Tlostanova and Walter D. Mignolo

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).

Addressing areas as diverse as the philosophy of higher education, gender, citizenship, human rights, and indigenous agency, and providing fascinating and little-known examples of decolonial thinking, education, and art, Madina V. Tlostanova and Walter D. Mignolo deconstruct the modern architecture of knowledge—its production and distribution as manifested in the corporate university. In addition, the authors dwell on and define the echoing global decolonial sensibilities as expressed in the Americas and in peripheral Eurasia.

The book is an important addition to the emerging transoceanic inquiries that introduce decolonial thought and non-Western border epistemologies not only to update or transform disciplines but also to act and think decolonially in the global futures to come.

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DISPATCHES FROM HONG KONG 3: CORRUPTION AND THE MYTHS OF DEMOCRATIC AND AUTHORITARIAN STATES http://waltermignolo.com/dispatches-from-hong-kong-3-corruption-and-the-myths-of-democratic-and-authoritarian-states/ http://waltermignolo.com/dispatches-from-hong-kong-3-corruption-and-the-myths-of-democratic-and-authoritarian-states/#respond Wed, 06 Jun 2012 14:24:52 +0000 http://waltermignolo.com/?p=388 In a previous posting I advanced a general reflection on democratic and authoritarian states. Here is the first of various examples I shall post in the future to reflect on the “myths” at hand. For the argument that follows—and to dispel the myths of democratic, socialists and authoritarian states, it should be kept in mind that “authoritarian” states are not “totalitarian” and that “democratic” and “socialist” states could be either authoritarian (where two political parties control a country and elections have a “free flavor” while indeed are manipulated by the media, the corporations and the elite that maintains the “democratic” system) or turn into totalitarian states (Hitler, Stalin). Furthermore, the rest of the world beyond Europe “receive” the form-state that emerge in the local history of Europe and was imposed/accepted over the form-government that they had before. Whether the form-state was imposed by European (or today by the US) or accepted by local administrators beyond Europe, doesn’t change the fact that the form-state is not a natural unfolding in non-European local histories.

I will be exploring several examples one at a time, to uncouple means and ends. What many of us want is a future society in which justice and equity, solidarity and collaboration, individual sovereignty (no individual has the right to oppress or exploit another individual) are the roads to the future. To reach that goal we are told that either democracy or socialism are the solutions. The problem is that both concepts respond to the ideals and social horizon of the European Enlightenment. They are regional and limited, not universals. There are other means  by which to walk social horizons of justice and equity. The communal, social organizations that Western modernity ruled out, are today offering other ways of being and thinking.  Uncoupling democracy and socialism, as means, from just and equitable society as goal, is of the essence. Today, both democracy and socialism serve well the rhetoric of Western imperialism. They have the right to exist, but reduced to size and co-existing with other means to noble goals.

China, the US and Western Europe (Germany, France, England, Italy, Spain) have several common problems. Not problems in common, but common problems. One of them is high profiled corruption, in the States and the Corporations. From Enron to Wall Street  in the US, to Bankia in Madrid, from Germany politicians to mainland China  and in Hong Kong, corruption is a common “practice.”The extreme case, however, is when corruption arrives to the Presidente Consejo General del Poder Judicial y del Tribunal Supremo, in Spain. Briefly, you can do a Google search entering “Corruption” + “Country Name” and you will have plenty. Let me add a Latin American country to this short list, Brazil. Not the only one, for sure, you can test it your self doing the Google search I suggested.

How is it that still, we, the political and civil society of all these places accept to elect corrupt representatives at all levels of the economic and political system? Shall we trust the Institutions within the same system that are vigilant, chase and punish the delinquent? Or shall we work seriously toward a social horizon where there is no place for corruption because the horizon of life is not driven by the will to have more in order to be successful? Can we imagine a society in which rewards is not based on having more, a society that doesn’t push toward have more to enjoy more, at the cost of the tax payers? At this point, neither democracy nor authoritarian states based on capitalist economy seem to be able to stop corruption. The problem then is laying some place else.

Like in any of the Western countries just mentioned, China is displaying significant cases of corruption within the state and in business.  A common problem to East and West! No need to multiply the examples, you get the idea: the “developed” world and the largest “emerging economies” are increasing the cases of corruptions in corporations and the State. Corruption makes the distinction between democratic and authoritarian states irrelevant.

In Spain, the case of Bankia (more complicated for the interlinks between the state and financial capital), it is no less indicative of the myths of democratic states. I will not mention Russia between 1989 and 1990, approximately,  because the application of the “shock doctrine” to Russia is very well know. But I will mention that the European Union for the simple reason that the very formation of Europe was based on the “rescue” of democracy  from Ancient Greece and relocated in modern times. Now Greece (the cradle of Western Civilization) is in a shamble and the European Union in financial and moral collapse.

Is corruption a problem? Or it is a sign that hides where the real problem lies and what the real problem is? “Problems” were supposed to happen beyond the core of Europe and the US who offered solutions. Now, Europe and the US have become part of the “problem” rather than offering solutions.

I did not conduct a scholarly or scientific “research” on the psychology of corruption, on what drives corruption, but I have been observing through daily life, specialized magazines that you find in airport lounges, in the corners of the Art Fair in Hong Kong, in the office of any Luxury Property company, or just walking on classic urban centers in New York, Paris, London, Barcelona or Roma as well as through the financial centers of newly splendorous (truly) cities like Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai, Qatar or Hong Kong, you realize that a lot of money is needed to live a life of marina yachting, private jets, private meetings with Armani’s fashion designers, the traditional top list of restaurants and hotels in Paris or London, an ancient villa in Italy or luxury properties in the Indian Ocean or Mediterranean islands, in Thailand or in the new development in Vietnam. And more. There is much more that a salary could allow.

If you are not savvy enough to make a lot of money “legally”, through investment or the stock market, and you cannot escape those temptations that are fashioned “for people like you”, well, you have to find some way to get the money you need for that dream life that you see in photos, hear in conversations, shared information. And of course, you cannot afford to be “less” to someone you know and who have and did things you would like to have and do. Democratic and authoritarian States have a common cause: to fight against corruption. Democratic and authoritarian States share the same conditions that promote corruption: a society built on the economy of “more” which is at the same time an economy of distinction for “having more” and “doing more;” an economy where LP (luxury property) of any kind is one of the movers of corruption. Corruption doesn’t happen because people are “naturally bad”, but because current economic structure and fantasies (visual images and narratives that entice “spending to obtain”) that promote economic structures, create the conditions for corruption.

Democratic and authoritarian states cannot stop corruption by “vigilance.” Corruption is not something you end by spying on and persecuting the corrupt. If a solution is really what democratic and authoritarian States are looking for at this point, the social horizon of expectations has to be changed. And that change requires a move from ‘an economy of more” to a political theory of service and a political economy of administering scarcity, scarce growth, rather than promoting development for the benefits of the few. Well, I was asked, how would you compensate people that deserve to be recognized for their intelligence, effort, etc? Well, I said, why do compensation and distinction have to come in the form of money and wealth?

Compensation and distinction are necessary, people need to be recognized for what they do, and left alone to do what they want to do without forcing others to serve their purpose. But compensation and distinction shall not be based on money. A friend, Enrique, told me in the train from Shanghai to Beijing, while walking to the restaurant wagon and realizing that in the train there is super-first, first and second class” “you see, class distinction cannot be eliminated.” Correct. The question is that now seating in one of the three classes is based on money, the distinction is money-based. It shouldn’t be like that. In a society whose horizon of expectations are not based on growth, development, progress understood as growth and wealth, merit and compensation shall have its place, but not based on money.

If the goals toward global futures are to work toward a just, equitable society of mutual respect, the goals could not be either democracy or socialism. Democracy and socialism are two means to achieve these goals (just, equitable society, mutual respect, where no human being exploits and devalue other human beings), but they cannot be goals and by no means the only “means.” We should uncouple means and goals and to seriously  think about whether democracy or socialism are the “best” just and equitable social formation. Because democracy and socialism fail to deliver what they promise, we have authoritarian States like China or Singapore trying to deliver in a different form what democracy and socialism couldn’t deliver. We all have a lot of work to do free ourselves from the myths of democratic, socialist and authoritarian states. We should not keep on confusing means (democracy and socialism) with ends; and understand that if authoritarian states is not what we want, presently are offering an interesting corrective to the dangers of a single story, global single story of either democracy or socialism for all, for the 7 billion people on the planet. Which is not what we want either.


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LA DESOCCIDENTALIZACIÓN ES IRREVERSIBLE: LA RENACIONALIZACIÓN DE REPSOL-YPF http://waltermignolo.com/la-desoccidentalizacion-es-irreversible-la-renacionalizacion-de-repsol-ypf/ http://waltermignolo.com/la-desoccidentalizacion-es-irreversible-la-renacionalizacion-de-repsol-ypf/#comments Tue, 17 Apr 2012 04:48:38 +0000 http://waltermignolo.com/?p=302 El gobierno español anuncia ¨represalias contundentes¨ al gobierno argentino por la nacionalizacion de REPSOL-YPF. Estados Unidos apoya a España y se comporta de acuerdo a hábitos paternalistas. Es dificil para los padres comprender que los chicos crecen. Aunque el tono indica el reconocimiento de que la desoccidentalización es irreversible.

Además de informar sobre las represalias, la prensa española subraya también que la expropiacion de REPSOL-YPF ha dejado intacto el  25% de las acciones que pertenecen al grupo Petersen, de la familia Eskenazi, socios introducidos en el 2008 por el entonces presidente Nestor Kirchner. Señala también un articulo en El Pais, de Espana, que fueron los Kirchner mismos quienes diez años antes, en 1998, apoyaron la compra de YPF por REPSOL.

Por su parte, la Presidenta Cristina Kirchner puso de relieve que es la primera vez que Argentina tiene que importar petróleo. Las razones recayeron sobre  la ineficacia administrativa de REPSOL. La situación apuntada por Cristina Kirchner  nos recuerda un caso paralelo en el Sultanato Otomano a principios del siglo XIX : por primera vez el Sultanato comenzó a importar café desde Inglaterra mientras que, hasta entonces, habia sido el Sultanato que exportaba café a Inglaterra. Los otomanos tomaron medidas erroneas : reforzaron el ejército en lugar de confrontar las politicas economicas. El tiempo de la desoccidentalización está ya en marcha y consiste en desprenderse de los lazos imperiales en decisiones políticas que afectan la economía.

El caso YPF-REPSOL es un caso ejemplar en los procesos de desoccidentalizacion que comenzaron quizas con la decision de Deng Xiaoping de transformar la revolucion cultural de Mao Zedong en economia de mercado. Esto es, de confrontar el capitalismo controlado por Occiddente y hacer que el gobierno de China tomara las riendas de la politica economica, desobedeciendo las reglas que para el desarollo tenían escritas el FMI y el BM. Proceso semejante fue el de Lee Kwan-yew, primer ministro de Singapore, quien siguio una politica paralela : capitalismo si, pero lo manejamos nosotros. Este « nosotros » es complejo pero, en general, es un « nosotros »de  nacionalizacon frente a una « nosotros » escondido bajo la retorica anti-nacionalista de la globalizacion.

En Argentina, el caso es tambien ejemplar por la inversión del proceso de privatizacion que comenzó con Menem-Cavallo a principios de los 90. En ese momento, las luces del triunfo neoliberal encandilaban. Las empresas nacionales, sin incentivos, languidecian, daban en realidad pérdidas. En cambio, la privatizacion, que traia la competencia a primer plano, pondria los ferrocarriles y la producción petrolifera por las nubes, y navegarian asi en los cielos de la globalizacion. Esa era la renovada retórica de la modernidad. Pero como sabemos, la colonialidad es constitutiva de la modernidad.  Los desastres de la privatizacion y del proyecto neoliberal son notables y notados no sólo en Argentina (el reciente accidente ferroviario), sino en Alemania. Vaya y pregunte Vd a los Alemanes que pasó que los ferrocarriles andan tan pesimos ahora ? Es que antes pertenecian al estado,  le van a comentar, y ahora a empresas privadas.  La privatizacion fue un error necesario, que ahora es necesario corregir. La desoccidentalización, irreversible, describe distintas maneras de desprendimiento político en la toma de decisiones económicas.

La diferencia entre la des-nacionalizacion de ayer y la consecuente privatizacion de principios de los 90  con  la re-nacinalizacion y des-privatizacion actual, es la diferencia entre el mal paso y la corrección de ese mal paso, pero con la experiencia del mal paso dado.  En aquel entonces,  la creencia en el fin de la historia; la fé en la marcha indefinida del progreso y el triunfo eterno de la modernizacion y el neoliberalismo, fueron las consecuencias de un acto de magia que encandiló a muchos. Veinte años despues, la toma de conciencia del subterfugio es irreversible. La diferencia es sin embargo, radical : los procesos de re-nacionalizacion, hoy, ya no estan ligados a fundamentalismos ideológicos del estado, sino a los procesos irreversibles de desoccidentalizacion política en decisiones económicas. La desoccidentalizacion tiene dos caracteristicas basicas : a) economia capitalista y b) ya no manejada por los legados del colonialismo, es decir, por la lógica unilateral de la colonialidad.

Esta es la politica claramente adoptada por los BRICS en la Cuarta Cumbre que tuvo lugar en Delhi a finales de Abril. Las decisiones en política internacional ya no serán unilaterales, lo cual significa que estamos ya en un mundo de colonialidad económica (capitalista en el vocabulario de liberales y marxistas) y de policentricidad política y epistémica. Además, la desoccidentalización torna la distinción entre Derecha e Izquierda (herencia tradicional de la modernidad) en obsoleta. La desoccidentalizaión es un movimiento de Izquierda en la medida en que confronta y se desprende de la hegemonía y dominancia construida y manejada durante cinco siglos por monarquías y estados seculares nacionales de Europe occidental y Estados Unidos. Pero también se puede decir que es un movimiento de Derecha porque no cuestiona la colonialidad económica, aquello que liberales y marxistas llaman ¨capitalismo¨, concepto que, por las mismas razones, va perdiendo su relevancia.

No obstante, tampoco es de Derecha por que la Derecha serían en este momento los procesos de re-occidentalización, los cuales son antagónicos a los de desoccidentalización. De ahí la reacciòn de España. Sin embargo, las cosas se han mezclado puesto que estados nacionales con historias coloniales pueden optar por ligarse a, en vez de desprenderse de,  la re-occidentalización.  La VI Cumbre de las Américas en  Cartagena, recientemente concluida, fue auspiciada por el Presidente de Colombia, José Manuel Santos, e inaugurada por el presidente de Estados Unidos, Barack Obama. Colombia y Chile han optado por la re-occidentalización. Brazil (como miembro del BRICS), Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela apuntan decididamente hacia la des-occidentalización.

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NEW STUFF: OP-EDS AND INTERVIEWS http://waltermignolo.com/new-stuff/ http://waltermignolo.com/new-stuff/#comments Sun, 25 Mar 2012 08:00:47 +0000 http://waltermignolo.com/?p=258 Click on “New Stuff” to go directly to the links.

For several reasons i have been running short of time to keep a regular posting

in the blog.I have instead writing op-eds and interviews for different venues.

I provide the links here:


1) An op-ed in Spanish, publish in Pagina 12



2) A longer version was published in Italian and English,




3) An interview about the current world order was published by the Advanced

Institute for Cross Disciplinary Studies of the City University of Hong Kong,



4) It was reprinted in Critical Legal Studies,



I will keep on adding similar posting and interviews, for the time being.
Thanks for checking on this blog!
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Slavery, the Holocaust and the Challenge of Global Justice http://waltermignolo.com/slavery-the-holocaust-and-the-challenge-of-global-justice/ http://waltermignolo.com/slavery-the-holocaust-and-the-challenge-of-global-justice/#respond Mon, 19 Apr 2010 01:41:58 +0000 http://waltermignolo.com/2010/04/18/slavery-the-holocaust-and-the-challenge-of-global-justice/ A Summer School in Middleburg, Holland, co-directed by Walter Mignolo and Rolando Vazquez


followed up by a workshop on Critical and Decolonial Dialogues


Both the Seminar and the Workshop are based on a basic assumptions: There are two kind of critics to modernity. One is internal to Europe, from the Frankfurt School to post-modernity. The second kind emerged in the borders of Euro/American imperial expansion and interference with the non-Euro American world. We label “critical” de first kind and “decolonial” the second, which doesn’t mean that the decolonial is not critical. It means that is critical from the exteriority of the West. That is, a critique from the “outside” invented by Western epistemology to legitimize itself as the “inside” and the point of reference to make the will turn around.

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