Recently I read about the “Anthropocene”, which describes a new stage in human history where the driving force for environmental changes is understood to be human activity. Climate change is explained in human and social interference with nature – more specifically in the human and social appropriation of, and intervention in, nature and natural reproduction cycles.
When thinking about international solidarity from a perspective in the Global North, contemporary struggles or revolutionary movements in the Global South of stateless groups like the ones of the Zapatistas, the Kurds, or the Palestinians come to our mind. Going back to the 20th century, we might connect international solidarity with socialist and national liberation movements of the Tricont from Cuba and Nicaragua, over Algeria and Angola, to Vietnam. But the historical struggle of the Indigenous Mapuche for autonomy, self-determination and territory in today’s Chile and Argentina do not play a major role as a frame of reference.
This is the transcript of Lata’s spoken word contribution. You can listen to it, or read on.
Tackling the question of whose ideas count is central to efforts to decolonise knowledge. Participatory methodologies then are, at least in theory, one way to address concerns that some ideas and the people with whom they are associated, might matter more than others. So widening participation to include more diverse people and views makes intuitive sense. The hope is that this will lead, at least partially, to counting the knowledge and ideas of more people. Surely, this is a good thing. In my short piece here, I’d like to unpack a participatory research process to consider not just which ideas count, but who gets to express them and how they need to express those ideas in order for them to be counted.
Any traditional wisdom, be it Vedic, Aztec, Buddhist, Sufi, etc., while withstanding their key differences, seem to converge in a message, i.e., all of us are different from each other and from mother nature; yet one with each other and with her in the same instance. By definition, a paradox is a a statement or proposition which, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems logically unacceptable or self-contradictory. The paradox is at full play around us. In our own little worlds, we want to support climate change while enjoying the “luxuries” of a comfortable life that comes at the expense of injustice done to the environment. We detest war but trade with those waging them even when we know that territorial claims of the past century produced nothing but unprecedented scale of violence, and we witness yet another unfolding of war on the horizons. Though the current injustice received justified media coverage, we see many such wars happening in many parts of the world that go unnoticed as they don’t produce the click bits of a scale of the current crisis happening in Ukraine.
Before I share some observations on how I feel ‘decolonising’ is coopted in academia, I want to start by situating the position from which I am arguing. I am a white, well-educated, middle-class, able-bodied woman living in Germany and working in a Western university. Inevitably, my approach to decolonisation is shaped by this positionality. Also, when I talk of ‘we’, I think of people holding similar privileges like myself, living and working in similar spaces, especially in institutions of Higher Education (HE) in the global North.
It is difficult to find words of solidarity that do not sound shallow and are not a mere lip service to express our horror and empathy at the suffering of the Ukrainian people in face of Russian invasion. For some practical suggestions on showing solidarity we would like to point you to Olga Burluyk’s list here.
At the same time as we sit glued to TV and smart phone screens to follow news from Ukraine, we are also reminded not only of the fragility of peace but of the erasure of a wide range of ongoing conflicts that are sadly so much a part of ‘normality’, rather than the exception to our collective existence, that they don’t even make it to the news headlines.
I teach philosophy at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi. My teaching reflects my training, which is in the Western philosophical tradition: I teach PhD seminars on Plato and Rawls, while Bentham and Mill often figure in my undergraduate courses.
What does it mean to teach these canonical figures of the Western philosophical tradition to students in India? I have often asked myself this question. Similar questions are now being asked by philosophers situated in the West: Anglophone philosophy, at least in the analytic tradition, seems to have arrived at a late moment of post-colonial reckoning.
Background: Since the global outbreak of COVID-19 on December 2019, there have been 271.963.258 confirmed cases, including 5.331.019 deaths, reported to World Health Organisation (WHO, 2021). To address the ongoing challenges of the global pandemic, various governments and non-governmental organisations agreed to continue and strengthen cooperation to address the devastating ripple effects of the COVID-19 (Amaya, 2021). Despite these efforts, the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic have posed unprecedented challenges, especially to the poorest, most vulnerable, and marginalized groups. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected racial, ethnic minority, and marginalized groups (Tai et. Al, 2020). According to recent studies, the poorest, most vulnerable, and marginalized groups are left far behind (IFRC, 2021; Economic Policy Institute, 2020).