Netherlands, Middelburg

The New World (Dis) Order and the Challenge of Social Justice: Ethics and the Decolonial Option

when 9 July 2012 - 23 July 2012
duration 2 weeks
credits 6 ECTS
fee EUR 550

The course 'The New World (Dis) Order and the Challenge of Social Justice: Ethics and the Decolonial Option' is set against the backdrop of the crisis of the societies of profit run by the neoliberal agenda and the call for the liberation of human relationships. The series of social uprising (from Tunisia and Egypt to Wall Street) that has taken place in 2011 calls for a critical rethinking and re-orientation of democracy and development, of gender and ecology.

People are saying “No” to the neoliberal 'common sense', to the unlimited power of the financial markets and to the naturalization of inequality. There is a global consensus about the failure of the Washington Consensus and the Neoliberal Doctrine. The global south and now the global north has suffered the consequences at all levels and everywhere. The human cost of the societies of profit is bringing at the forefront the question of ethics and of social justice.

To help students to imagine convivial futures, the seminar will introduce the colonial matrix of power as a way to understand the set of complex interrelations from the market and the state to gender and racism; from knowledge and subjectivity to the transformation of nature into natural resources; from human creativity to its institutional esthetics management. This understanding opens prospective visions that look for an ethics of a life in plenitude instead of a life of competition, individualism and war.

The course will thus introduce the decolonial option as a way to imagine alternatives stepping on a solid critique of the modern/colonial social order. The decolonial option is not the only answer but an option that seeks to enter in dialogue with other alternatives that are seeking to overcome the dominant mentality of the neoliberal 'common sense'. The past and the present have shown us that the future could not be imagine as the work of only one and totalitarian option that will be good for the entire humanity and life in the planet.

Following up on the success of the 2010 and 2011 editions, this year the Middelburg Decolonial Summer School focus on the dispensability of life, the coloniality of gender (patriarchy) and ethnicity (racism), the coloniality of aesthetics and the unsustainable distinction between nature and culture. Economic and social equalities and parities are becoming central issues in the quest for global justice. Students will have the opportunity to think decolonially by being able to understand how the colonial matrix of power works and apply their reflections to illuminate the articulations of inequality, destitution and domination around gender, economy, aesthetics, racialization, nature and culture. Our aim is at once historical and theoretical. Historically, we will show when, how and why the dominant concepts of “gender, nature and culture” became pillars of the imaginary of modernity and Western Civilization since the European Renaissance. We will see what were and are their consequences for decolonization of knowing, being, and sensing and for global economic and social justice.

Course leader

Walter Mignolo and Rolando Vázquez

Target group

The course is open for graduate and advanced undergraduate students. Since the course is concerned with contemporary critical and decolonial debates around global justice and issues such as global capitalism, race, gender, nature, knowledge and aesthetics some general interest in those areas will be welcome. Participants will be selected on the basis of a) an application letter describing their motivation and areas of interest, and b) proof of writing skills, e.g. an existing essay or article (to be submitted through your account).

Course aim

The course begins by inviting students to identify the key challenges to social justice that have come to visibility through social protest.

By focusing on the different domains of the colonial matrix of power (knowledge, subjectivity, gender, sexuality, racialization, exploitation of natural resources, state politics) we will be able to theoretically explore the rhetoric of modernity (progress, civilization, economic growth, social order and happiness) and the logic of coloniality (the consequences and the costs in terms of live and diversity). The future of the species will rest on the critical potential of the active participation of local and globally interconnected civil societies to imagine and enact global social orders that will overcome the present world (dis) order. Ethics becomes the foundation of a future in which economy and state politics shall be put at the service of justice and a convivial life.

Students are expected to have done some preparatory reading before the start of the course.

Credits info

Certificate of Attendance

Fee info

EUR 550: Course + course materials


Utrecht Summer School doesn't offer scholarships for this course.

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