Netherlands, Middelburg

Slavery: The Past and Present of Social (Un)Justice. Introducing the Decolonial Option

when 24 June 2013 - 9 July 2013
duration 3 weeks
credits 6 ECTS
fee EUR 675

Slavery remains as the most telling event and process in the formation of Western Civilization and the modern/colonial world in the Atlantic, from the XVI to early XIX centuries. An aberration upon which Western modernity built its economic foundations at the same time that managed to “normalize” the dispensability of human lives. Dispensable where lives of people considered lesser human and subjected to be enslaved and dispensed with when they were no longer necessary. Slavery was not only a set of processes and events. It was, above all, the consequence of a frame of knowledge that established a hierarchy of human beings. That frame of knowledge was and is what today we know as “racism.” Slavery was deeply rooted in epistemic un-justice.
The fourth edition of the Middelburg Decolonial Summer School focus on " Slavery: The Past and Present of Social (Un) Justice." It is designed to investigate the logic and presupposition of Global Un-justice in the modern/colonial world, from 1500 to 2000. The seminar takes place in Middelburg, a key city of the Dutch slave trade and it is set against the backdrop of the 150 anniversary of the abolition of slavery in The Netherlands.
The 'Decolonial Option' aims to open new perspectives for understanding global (un) justice as well as to overcome them in the process of imagining and building just and convivial futures. If coloniality, as unfolded in the collective project "modernity/coloniality", is the logic behind social un-justices, it remains hidden under the rhetoric of modernity, Decoloniality shall be—therefore—the process of disclosing and undoing coloniality to promote and contribute to enact social justice. Global un-justices operates at all levels of the socio-economic and cultural spectrum, from economy to politics, from religion to aesthetics, from gender and sexuality to ethnicity and racism, and above all, in the control of knowledge.
The Decolonial Summer Seminar will take advantage of what Middleburg has to offer to understand the history of slavery and its connection to the formation of Western power. Building on the local history of Middelburg, we will theoretically explore the nature and consequences of slavery and we will draw the continuities between the colonial past and current forms of social un-justice around the world. We will pay special attention to emerging project, parallel to the project modernity/coloniality/decoloniality who are working toward overcoming the legacies of the South-North divide. If the colonial matrix of power encompasses several domains (economy, politics, gender, cosmology, aesthetics, racialization), the task of overcoming coloniality requires of many people in many areas of knowing and doing. Activists, artists, scholars, journalists will, among others, contribute to the goals of the 4th edition of the Decolonial Summer School at Middleburg.

Course leader

dr. W. Mignolo and dr. R. Vazquez

Target group

The course is open for graduate (Ma or Phd) 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 uploaded through your account).

The Summer School will be limited to 25 students to ensure that each students has close contact with instructors and TA as well as have ample time for participation in class discussions.

Course aim

The participants will:
- Get acquainted with the major debates in critical and decolonial thinking, particularly on around race, gender and culture,
- Understand the decolonial option in light of the synergies and divergences between 'global north' and 'global south' perspectives,
- Reflect on key issues of global justice,
- Learn to situate knowledge in relation to local and global histories and
- Develop their ability to produce critical and committed research in the Social Sciences and the Humanities.

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

Credits info

Certificate of Attendance

Fee info

EUR 675: Course + course materials

Housing can be booked on request. The prices range from € 140 – € 160 per week depending on the type of accommodation. If you wish to make use of UCR housing, please send an email to

Applications will be considered in the 2nd week of May by the selection committee chaired by dr. Vazquez. Applicants will be informed of the outcome before Monday 13 May 2013.


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

Register for this course
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