LONG READ: An immanent critique of decolonisation projects

by Sunny Dhillon

The contemporary neoliberal university in the UK is necessarily unable to enact decolonisation. What the university may do, however, is cultivate an intellectual environment ripe to discuss the ongoing pervasiveness of colonialism. In other words, instead of ten point plans or toolkits to award ‘decoloniality’ scores to be highlighted in ‘inclusive’ marketing campaigns to attract historically underrepresented groups, staff and students ought to undertake a relentless critique of the contemporary university apparatus. Such a critique of existing social issues must be immanent, as opposed to transcendent. I argue that an immanent critique can be helpfully guided by the negative dialectics of the late Critical Theorist, Theodor W. Adorno.

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To give (up) and to learn: #BenderaPutih as an education in solidarity

by Aizuddin Mohamed Anuar

A strange dream infects and distorts reality:

The former Abah publicly announces that he is overcome by watery defecations, embarrassed to employ the vernacular term—cirit-birit. We will plunder your solidarity and mask it as ours. Mother Superior questions the jealousy of her subjects. The banker, a gold spoon in his mouth, underplays ghosts of economic woes. Tear down the forests, uproot the natives. Beneath their feet lie our riches! Politikus rush to offer a contingent, helping hand after fraternising with pungent fruit. Pose for the camera; perform your gratitude for the rats. Tranquilo. Raise me unto the heaven of public opinion as I do exactly what I am overpaid to do. Junior healers live on borrowed time. There’s something about baguettes and croissants in the bourgeois heart of darkness. The police state creeps in, hangs thick in the road, muffling the sounds of struggle. Feminine excess takes the form of a “glow-up” as power revels in a new, hollow image. Sell your faith in the markets. Pray the pain away. Gatopardismo. You are told it is all in your head because we are one big happy family…

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On Coloniality/Decoloniality in Knowledge Production and Societies

by Henning Melber

Social organisations tend to be based on asymmetric power relations – almost always, almost everywhere. Inequality characterises interaction both inside and in between societies. Class-based hierarchies, peppered by gender imbalances, sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia and many other forms of discrimination are the order of the day, both nationally as well as internationally. Colonial power structures and mindsets – understood as a hierarchical system imposing normative values which exclude and discriminate – remain almost always an integral part of any form of social reproduction, even when we believe that colonialism as a system in which foreign powers occupy and execute rule over other territories and people, is a matter of the past. Following such broad understanding, social reproduction tends to inherently maintain colonial structures, and individuals remain colonised subjects.

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Towards a decolonial EU response to global deforestation

by Elke Verhaeghe

This contribution is part of a blog series seeking to explore how postdevelopment approaches can inform, infuse and potentially transform the study of EU (development) policies and relationships with the Global South.

Under the impetus of the Green New Deal for Europe and intensive NGO advocacy, the EU is currently developing several new policies to counter ‘EU-driven deforestation’ resulting from the production and consumption of products like cocoa, soy or beef. In doing so, the EU is recognising its position as one of the of the world’s largest consumers of natural resources and land-consuming agricultural products. In this blog I argue that these policies have to consider colonial dynamics of resource extraction and land use and offer venues for addressing environmental harm. To do so, they should not just consider the impact of Europe’s consumption on forest cover, but also the background of domination against which production, consumption and land conversion take place.

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Living between two worlds

by Megha Kashyap

It took me a while to pen down these thoughts. Thoughts that otherwise would have just found some space in the corners of my journal. It took me great courage to write these thoughts out openly and and place them in front of my readers. I feel the need to do this because most often we are invisible minds behind the academic work that we produce. Our lived realities greatly influence our work but very rarely do we put out our reflections to the world. There are myriad reasons for this.

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Why Positionalities Matter and What They Have to do with Knowledge Production

by Julia Schöneberg, Arda Bilgen and Aftab Nasir

Coming from three different educational, geographical, and class backgrounds, the three of us met for the first time in a research institute in Germany. Together with a group of international colleagues, we were eager to be trained in Development Studies and pursue a PhD degree. In reminiscing about this journey many years later, we shared the struggles and challenges we experienced during our so-called ‘fieldwork’ stays in very different geographies and realised that there was a blatant gap not only in the way we approached our research, but also in the way we were trained: a lack of confrontation with the centrality of power and positionality in ‘development’ research (or any kind of research for that matter) – and a disregard of the colonial legacy in the way knowledge is created and considered legitimate.

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Looking at the UNDP with different eyes

by Juan Telleria

I really like these moments when you find a new idea that catches your attention and changes the way you used to understand something. You are reading a text or listening to something and suddenly you think ‘Oh… I never thought about this issue in this way!’ For a few seconds, your mind wanders and tries to understand the novel perspective opened up by the new idea. Then, you realise that your understanding of the world has changed (at least a little) and now you look at it with different eyes. I like these moments so much that I’ve become addicted to them. Probably, that is why many years ago I decided to start my PhD in Philosophy, and nowadays I publish my findings aiming to share these moments with other open-minded people.

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