Netherlands, Middelburg

What Does it Mean to 'Decolonize'? Introducing the Decolonial Option

when 15 June 2016 - 1 July 2016
language English
duration 3 weeks
credits 6 ECTS
fee EUR 845

This summer course will address both the theoretical and vivencial/experiential aspects required to decolonize. Decoloniality will be construed as processes of delinking from modernity and coloniality. The course will draw on concrete examples of decolonial processes happening in social movements, communities, and at institutions, e.g. museums and universities. Students will be encouraged to examine their own location in the colonial matrix and how they can understand the decolonial option. Next to the academics, the summer school provides an excellent opportunity to meet and exchange dialogue with like-minded and critical thinkers in the field of decolonialty.

The term 'decolonial' is increasingly used as an expression in blogs and conferences, such as "decolonizing Europe" or "decolonizing X, Z or Y". There are also expressions such as "decolonizing knowledge" or "decolonizing the university". In this summer course we ask, what it means, concretely and practically to decolonize. What is required to accomplish the decolonization that the expression promises?

In the summer course we will construe decoloniality as processes of delinking. But delinking from what?
- From coloniality of power and the promises of modernity;
- From the rhetoric of progress and wellbeing by means of acquiring and competing to be the best;
- From losing ourselves in the world of objects and images.
In short, decoloniality is a process of delinking from the dual constructs of modernity and coloniality.
To that end, the decolonial option is a way of entering the process of delinking:
The decolonial option implies:
a) A revisiting of the formation of the modern/colonial order, by introducing another option, the decolonial option, to the understanding of the historical and geographical origins of our troubled present;
b) The identification of decolonial trajectories at work around the world and at different domains of the colonial matrix of power;
c) The recognition of processes of re-emergence and re-existence that are configuring decolonial horizons;
d) The need of border thinking (border gnosis) that emerges from the experiences of dwelling in the border and leads to processes of re-emergence and re-existence configuring decolonial horizons.

The course will draw on concrete examples of decolonial processes happening in social movements, in epistemic communities, and at institutions like the university and the museum.

At a personal level the students will be encouraged to examine their own location in the colonial matrix of power and, consequently, how they can understand the decolonial option as a way to delink from coloniality, as seen from their own positionality. Furthermore, how could each participant finds their own way to carry on decolonial processes grounded in personal experiences and local histories.

The decolonial option doesn't offer a global blueprint that pretends to be good for the almost 8 billion people on the planet. It maps the decolonial as an option and leaves the door open to be enacted by emergent decolonial processes. The decolonial option encourages pluriversality and rejects universality; it comes to light and materializes when the collective and diverse construction of pluriversality—in doing and thinking, sensing and believing—is embodied in decolonial actors and institutional agencies.

Course leader

Rolando Vazquez

Target group

Designed for graduate students (Ph.D. and M.A.) from all disciplinary backgrounds, we will encourage participants interested in creating “working groups” that will continue decolonial research agendas after the end of the seminar. The working groups would develop “reports” and “activities” that may take the form of traditional paper, video-documentary, web-page, artistic creation, museum exhibitions, community work or other initiatives connected to the participant’s interests. The course is also open to interested advanced undegraduate students. (Students from the University College Roosevelt can obtain full credits with the writing of a final research paper).

Course aim

The course will make the students acquainted with the most current debates around the decolonial critical thought, in particular in relation to the construction of alternative futures. It also aims at articulating research groups and networks that would complete the summer course with concrete agendas for producing original and collaborative projects aimed at enriching and furthering the scope of the decolonial debate.

Credits info

Certificate of Attendance

Fee info

EUR 845: Course + course materials
EUR 1270: Course + course materials + housing


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

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