Summer Seminar: Decolonizing Knowledge: Postcolonial Studies, Decolonial Horizons

Decolonizing knowledge

Decolonizing knowledge

The Center of Study and Investigation for Global Dialogues is organizing a Summer Seminar in Tarragona called “Decolonizing Knowledge”.  Throughout the seminar a historical overview of Western intellectual and educational history since the Renaissance will be provided and the moments of imperial/colonial relations of Europe and the US with the rest of the world will be identified. Here below you’ll find general information about the summer school, the centre DIÀLEG GLOBAL (Center of Study and Investigation for Global Dialogues) which organises the seminar and the course description. For more information of the program structure and objectives, on who should apply, application form and tuition fees click here

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Center of Study and Investigation for Global Dialogues

Decolonizing Knowledge: Postcolonial Studies, Decolonial Horizons

A summer school in Tarragona, Spain
July 8 – July 22, 2009

“Decolonizing Knowledge” is a Summer Seminar in Tarragona which is part of a larger intellectual and political initiative generally referred to as the “modernity/(de)coloniality research project.” A basic assumption of the project takes knowledge-making, since the European Renaissance, as a fundamental aspect of “coloniality” – the mission of saving the world by imposing an ideal model of society, of economy and of being. “Decolonizing knowledge” becomes, then, a task and a process of emancipation from assumed principles of knowledge and understanding of how the world is and should be.

The international Summer School, “Decolonizing Knowledges,” is an undertaking that aims at enlarging the scope of the conversation (analysis and investigation) of the hidden agenda of modernity (that is, coloniality) in the sphere of knowledge and higher education. Who is producing knowledge? What institutions and disciplines legitimize it? What is knowledge for, who benefits from it? Decolonizing knowledge and de-colonial thinking starts by asking basic questions about the knowledge-making itself.

About the Center

DIÀLEG GLOBAL (Center of Study and Investigation for Global Dialogues) is a non-profit and non-governmental organization promoting research, knowledge-making, education (through seminars, workshops, exhibits, round-tables discussions, publications and video-making) and public policy to invent and work toward non-competitive horizons of life, of socio-economic organization and international relations. Non-profit and non-governmental organizations emerge within the civil and political society to address issues that are not supported or attended by government and corporations. Their function is crucial in building futures that are beyond the regulations of the States or the need of the Corporations. In order for the civil and political society to become relevant actors in social transformation and pointing out to the limits of corporate values and state regulation, it is necessary to create institutions knowledge-making not at the service of the state or the corporations but to the benefit of the civil society.

For further inquiries and information, please send e-mail to DecolonialKnowledge@gmail.com.

Course Description

This course is offered through the Center of Study and Investigation for Global Dialogues, in Tarragona, Spain, in collaboration with Berkeley Study Abroad Program and Duke Center for Global Studies.

Our summer institute will question basic assumptions engrained in the idea of modernity, progress and development and will encourage thinking and living in search of non-corporate social and human values.

The increasing tendency of higher education to embrace corporate values and to train experts, is carried out under the assumption that better and more is the only viable horizon for the future of the human species and life in the planet. Recently, for example, a new graduate program to train experts to detect fashionable tendencies in the consumer society has been offered at several private European universities. While such doctorate program will train efficient experts to increase consumption and therefore production of fashionable commodities, and finally increase the profit of the corporations and the stock market, it won’t do much to improve inequities within regional and global society. Corporate values embrace the heart of modernity, progress and development. Our summer institute will question basic assumptions engrained in the idea of modernity, progress and development and will encourage thinking and living in search of non-corporate social and human values. Doubts about such horizons are growing within academic environment as well as in the public sphere at large. Doubts are not only expressed in critical comments and arguments with regard to the god-like figure of the expert, but are also generating distinct horizons of knowledge and understanding that the seminar will address as “decolonial horizon”.

We will arrive to this point by following three complementary and interrelated routes: a) addressing a set of crucial questions; b) locating “decolonial horizons” in contemporary debates about interdisciplinarity, the crisis of area studies and the limits of development; c) addressing the disorientation of science and technology (cfr., biotechnology and the pursuit of happiness) at the service of the market through the fictions of progress and development.

Throughout the seminar we will provide a historical overview of Western intellectual and educational history since the Renaissance and identify the moments of imperial/colonial relations of Europe and the US with the rest of the world. Identifying the historical and geographical moments in which the west entered in contact with other cultures and civilizations would allow us to locate diverse decolonial horizons (in the Americas and the Caribbean, in Africa, in the Muslim Middle East and in Eurasia). We will link de-colonial horizons with the task of devising research projects and educational transformations required by a growing international and political society beyond the market and the state.

The basic questions are:

  • Who produces and transmits knowledge and understanding?
  • When, where and how the knowledge is produced?
  • Why is knowledge and understanding produced if both knowledge and understanding are basic cognitive functions of life itself?
  • What institutions support production of knowledge and understanding and why knowledge and understanding that are not supported by institution are not validated as institutional knowledge and understanding?

De-colonizing knowledge means then to call into question the principles that sustain current dominant knowledge, understanding and expectation of what society should be like and how social subjects should behave, what kind of knowledge is accepted as relevant, what applications receive grants or fellowship, what knowledge and understanding is encouraged and what is devalued, silenced or simply not supported. De-colonizing knowledge means to open up horizons and visions that are generally denied by mainstream academia and media.

In the first week we will focus on the formation and transformation of Western philosophy of knowledge and the philosophy of education. And we will parallel this with the trajectory of Islamic philosophy and philosophy of education in contact with Western models and ideals.

In the second week, the focus will shift to the history of philosophy and education from the Russian empire to the Soviet Union and its colonies. It will be paralleled with the history of Indigenous philosophy and knowledges since the European invasion of the Americas (by Spain, Portugal, France, Holland and England) and the double traditions of philosophy and education in Africa and in the Americas (particularly in South America and the Caribbean).

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