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“The South of the North and the West of the East”: A Decolonial Lens

Lecturer: Valery Arrows

Originally Taught: Summer School 2023

The ancient Graeco-Roman philosophy, art and science, Mediaeval Times, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment are all complex cultural movements – and these mighty ancestors of our Western intellectual tradition flourished alongside the violent and expansive practice of colonisation, including invasion and cruel termination of any resistance and incompatible ways of life. The depth of agony borne by these conquests of land and water, people and resources is inconceivable and ongoing. Thus “colonial wounds” are entrenched in our everyday lives, and guide us in both subtle and significant ways.

This course brings your attention to the decolonial movement that has blossomed in our century. The recent research emerging from the deep continuous struggle has already impacted a multiplicity of disciplines, ranging from philosophy and literature to anthropology and psycho-analysis. Originally, decoloniality attacks the epistemological and normative paradigms deemed authoritative throughout Western culture. Humanity, universal science, disembodied mind, detachment, high art, private property, productivity, anthropocentrism, cosmopolitanism, autonomy, industry, systematicity and racial capitalism – these and many other dogmatisms and superstructures have buried potent forms of non-eurocentric and indigenous wisdom. In recent years, however, decolonial thinking has also influenced modern African, Asian, Middle East and Australian Aboriginal studies, resulting in the publication of a series of provocative papers that expose colonial forces and patterns in areas as diverse as sexuality studies, politics, agriculture and fashion. This course offers an introduction to the foundational decolonial motives and explores several promising trajectories in an attempt to deshape our self-understanding and foster living, relational thoughts and praxis.

1. The darker side of knowledge

  • Walter Mignolo. The Darker Side of the Renaissance (University of Michigan Press, 2003)
  • — The Darker Side of Western Modernity (University of Duke Press, 2011) Paul C. Taylor (ed). The Philosophy of Race vol. 1 (Routledge, 2012)

2. Dislocated consciousness in resistance

  • Frantz Fanon. Black Skin, White Masks (Grove Press, 2007/1952) Albert Camus. Algerian Chronicles (HUP, 2014)
  • Dylan Rodriguez. White Reconstruction (Fordham University Press, 2021)

3.1 Decolonising politics

  • Robbie Shilliam. Decolonising Politics (Polity, 2021) Maya Ramnath. Decolonising Anarchism (AK Press, 2012)
  • Hong An Truong, Nayoung Aimee Kwon & Guo-Juin Hong. “What/Where is ‘Decolonial Asia’?”, Social Text (Duke University Press, 2013)

3.2 Decolonising feminism

  • Maria Lugones. “Toward a Decolonial Feminism”, Hypatia vol. 25: 745-759 (2010) Breny Mendoza.“Coloniality of Gender and Power: from Postcoloniality to Decoloniality”, in Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory (OUP, 2015)
  • Francoise Verges. A Decolonial Feminism (Pluto Press, 2021)

4.1 Home: decolonising sex, family and parenthood

  • Jarrod Hayes (ed). Decolonising Sex and Sexuality, a special issue of Journal of Middle East Women Studies (Duke University Press, 2018)
  • Tanya Pace-Crosschild. “Decolonising childrearing and challenging patriarchal nuclear family through indigenous knowledges”, in Feminism and the Politics of Childhood (UCL Press, 2018)
  • Chloe Ray. “On Birth and Being”, in A Decolonial Manual (punctum books, 2023)

4.2 Decolonising art, aesthetics and being

  • Ruth Sonderegger & Ines Kleesattel. “Aesthetics and Politics”, in Aesthetic Theory and Practice (Rebus Press, 2021)
  • Paul C. Taylor. Black is Beautiful: A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics (Blackwell, 2016) Elizabeth Burns Coleman. “Engaging with Indegenous Art Aesthetically”, in Aesthetic Theory and Practice (Rebus Press, 2021)
  • Walter Mignolo & Rolando Vazquez. “Decolonial AestheSis: Colonial Wounds/Decolonial Healings”, Social Text (Duke University Press, 2013)

5. Terra Nullius: decolonising education and nature

  • Achille Mbembe. “Decolonising the university: new directions”, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education vol. 15: 29-45 (2017)
  • Fred Moten and Stefano Harney. The Undercommons: fugitive planning and black study (Minor Compositions, 2013)
  • Arlo Kempf and George Dei. Anti-Colonialism and Education: the politics of resistance (Brill, 2006)
  • Ravi Arvindt Palat. “Beyond Orientalism: Decolonising Asian Studies”, Development and Society vol. 29: 105-135 (2000)
  • Shose Kessi, Zoe Marks & Elelwani Ramugondo. “Decolonising African Studies”, Critical African Studies vol. 12: 272-282 (2020)
  • Cyrus Schayegh & Yoav Di-Capua. “Why Decolonisation?”, International Journal of Middle East Studies vol. 52: 137-145 (2020)
  • T.J. Demos. Decolonising Nature (MIT Press, 2016)