Walter D Mignolo
- 125B Friedl Building
- Campus Box 90670
Academic Director and Co-Founder, Duke in the Andes/Duke en la America Andina
Director, Center for Global Studies and the Humanities
The constitution and transformation of the modern/colonial world. The de-colonial option as ethical, political and epistemic modes of re-existence. Decolonizing aesthetics and religion to liberate subjectiviy and spirituality
The previous categories (Comparative Philosophy, etc.) do not reflect exactly my work. But that is what happened when you have to define yourself according to some else categories. They are institutional categories that do not allow for creativity and force you into the box-cage of orthodox scholarship. My work (thinking, writing, researching, teaching, networking) in the past five years (of which I do not foresee its closing yet), has been based, first, on the premise that “research” cannot be an isolated category of intellectual labor.
This part was deleted----And secondly has been devoted to unveil the logic of coloniality (a logic of oppression, of expendability of life—“human and nature”-- hidden under the Salvationist rhetoric of modernity. Consequently, my work has been aiming and will continue to aim, to de-colonial projects going on around the world, moving away and disengaging from the belief in that history is one, although it admits diversity of interpretations. There interpretation however than have been silenced and histories that have been discarded by the pervasive work of the coloniality of power, of knowledge and of being. What is going on in South America, in the re-emergent Chicano/Latino/as social movement in the U.S., and around the world are some of the signs of a global and massive shift in the geo- and body-politics of thinking.
My work (that is, my thinking), has been oriented and focused on the dangerous celebration of expertise an excellence to the expense of experience, consciousness and thinking (critical for some, de-colonial for others). My concern has been and continued to be that expertise and excellence drives us to a managerial concept and practice of democracy; while experience, consciousness (double consciousness like in Du Bois; mestiza consciousness like in Anzaldúa; the consciousness awakening of Rigoberta Menchú (y así me nació la conciencia); the radical mestizo consciousness Rodolfo Kush, and Argentine philosopher of German descent) are the necessary orientation for a de-colonial shift toward a future of dialogue toward pluri-versality, rather than the monologue toward uni-versality. My latest manuscript, I Am Where I Think: Globalization, Epistemic Disobedience and the De-colonial Option (forthcoming, Duke University Press). Once we realize that “I think, therefore I am” took us (all of us, in the planet) to believe that thinking prevails over existence, experience, consciousness, is just a principle that benefits some and damages many, we learn also that the future couldn’t be imagined and thought out from the legacy of European philosophical and scientific legacies. It is necessary then to take seriously “the geo-politics” and the “body politics of thinking”, that is of places and people who were declared inept to think and to govern by themselves (bodies of color, primitive, barbarians, and places beyond the last stage of history---third world, underdeveloped nations, emergent economies, etc.). This manuscript closes a cycle that started with The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality and Colonization (1995), and continued with Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knoweldges and Border Thinking (2000).
In the next five to ten years, my work will follow to diverse by complimentary path: I have already began to think and write on a trade-book titled Globalization and the Beautiful Life: Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic. Las Terrenas, a small town basically of people from African-descent, with a significant population of Haitian immigrants, is being surrounded by an increasing tourism of European provenance (US prefer Punta Cana), will allow me to look at globalization from the receiving end. Real state business, exploitation of labor, professional prostitution, racism, colonial memories and imperial realities, all combine to make of Las Terrenas one single place to understand the imperial/colonial histories of the Americas and the “beautiful life” that globalization makes possible.
The second path, that I have already also started, is the writing of op-eds. The historical processes that we are witnessing in South America (a consequence of the consequences and the beautiful life of neo-liberal globalization since Augusto Pinochet, that pick up in the nineties and collapsed at the beginning of the 21st centuries), are just at the beginning. The debates around Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales, Rafael Correa (to name just the government that are breaking new ground in political theory and political economy, and that are making concrete the possibilities of decolonial options), are already heated and will continue to be. There is, at the same time, a notable disorientation among the general public on what is going on. “Turn to the left” has been the most common expression, and the most clear example that neither the traditional right nor the traditional left (or Marxist persuasion) are at a lost to understand something that is beyond their historical experiences. Here too, expertise is proven limited to understand, from outside and from above, a history that (like the missionaries of the sixteenth centuries), is totally alien to their own experience.