Voicing Decoloniality

by Sayan Dey

As the physically visible empires of colonialism receded, the metaphysical, invisible empires of coloniality gradually came to the forefront and ideally replaced their predecessors. With the ‘official’ end of colonialism by the end of 20th century, across the Global South and Far East, the colonial subjects (mis)interpreted it as the ultimate end of Euro-centric (or widely West-centric) dominations and the appropriate moment for recuperating their degenerated systems of traditional knowledge production.

With the passage of time, it has been realized that colonialism didn’t wither away, but it only transformed itself into more acceptable, justified, diverse and authentic forms which the decolonial critiques identify as ‘global modernity/coloniality.’ The global modernity/coloniality program is a postmodern gargantuan project that virtually transports individuals into a fairyland of pseudo-promises, happiness and perfection, guarded by the unquestionable ethics of Westcentrism.

The “ethics” of Westcentrism

Though it is a postcolonial phenomenon, its genesis could be traced back to the colonial times. The colonizers very well knew that their empires are not everlasting; therefore, both physically and psychologically, they seduced and coerced the natives over different segments of time and space and schooled them in their ideologies. This generated a global community of colonial spokespersons (or, rather, colonial puppets) who, along with their successors, have created a well-entrenched class of policy makers to sustain a neo-colonized world. They have distributed themselves across diverse existential disciplines of the living civilization and have continued to mimic the West through their behavioral patterns, fashion, food cultures, eating habits, academics, politics, developmental policies, etc. The socio-political hierarchies and the fragmentations, which evolved during colonialism, have further widened and have been weaving their web of universal domination in a very systematic and logical manner. Therefore, Spain and Portugal used the civilizing logic to dominate and uproot the natives of the Americas, and later on the Dutch, French, British, Germans and the Belgians followed into their footsteps and practiced a more dehumanized pattern of colonialism under the logic of scientific advancements. The same could be seen in case of South Asia, South-East Asia and Australia.

In dire need of counter-logic

In the contemporary times, the United States (US) and the United Kingdom implement the logic of global security and humanitarian values to intervene into the internal socio- political affairs of Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Egypt, and kill innumerable civilians. The US also delivers the logic of national development and citizen welfare through their Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project and uproots the native tribal communities. The still colonially structured governing bodies of South Africa criminalize the starving labour class in order to avoid any form of threat to their corruptive and discriminating form of governance. The colonially influenced upper class elites in India continue to dominate and exploit the individuals of lower class and castes through the logic of socio-political welfare. These activities, altogether, generated a dire need of counter-logic – the logic of decoloniality, which occupies the central theme of this book. It not only interrogates the theoretical premise of post-coloniality but also explores the diverse ways of unlearning the universal, Westcentric, hetero- normative, epistemological frameworks and of re-creating diverse, pluriversal and traditional hermeneutical  possibilities.

This text is part of the introduction of “Different Spaces, Different Voices: A Rendezvous with Decoloniality”  The volume, edited by Sayan Dey, comprises of interviews from from various decolonial researchers and academicians across the world. In conversation with Sayan Dey they reflect on two crucial aspects – the differences between the concepts of postcoloniality and decoloniality, and the multifarious forms of decolonial thinking and doing that are taking place in the contemporary era. Contributors include: Walter Mignolo, Michel DeGraff, Femi Osofisan, Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Epifania Amoo-Adare and others.

Sayan Dey is writer and a multi-disciplinary thinker currently working as an Assistant Professor in Amity Law School, Amity University, Noida. He is part of the Convivial Thinking Collective. 

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