Amy Sherald, Welfare Queen (2012)

What is Decolonization?

Louie’s Trophy House
629 Walbridge St.
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Recent calls to decolonize things have extended to seemingly every aspect of our lives. From decolonizing museums and places, to decolonizing love, sexuality, and gender, food and diet, health and the body, or even our notions of time and space—the language and impetus of decolonization seems to be everywhere. Yet, as Indigenous scholars Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang caution, decolonization is not a metaphor. Rather, it is an actual historical process that results in a radical political shift in terms of social power and institutions. The emergence of former European colonies as independent nation-states inaugurated both a new era of freedom for formerly colonized peoples and new panoramas of violent post-colonial conflict and trauma. Formerly colonized peoples and anti-colonial movements have had to contend with the searing reality that post-colonial states and institutions often reproduce colonial power relations with equal violence, while re-inscribing colonial epistemologies and modes of relationality among their populations. This realization of colonialism’s deep impact marks the need for decolonization as an effort to shed the traces of empire and domination from our minds, identities, communities, and cultural practices. But what does decolonization actually mean? And even if it has many meanings, how can it be put into practice? What makes something decolonized or decolonial?

In this course students will have the opportunity to reflect collectively on the meanings and enactments of decolonization. Students will engage with a range of readings and other materials in order to think about what comes after the post-colonial moment. We’ll read key thinkers in the anti-colonial and de-colonial tradition, including Frantz Fanon, Albert Memmi, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Walter Mignolo, Sylvia Wynter, Cheryl Clarke, Gloria Anzaldua, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, and Maria Lugones, as well as some contemporary articulations of the imperative to decolonize in order to try to elucidate how decolonization is or might still be possible today.

Course Schedule

Thursday, 6:00-9:00pm
July 05 — July 26, 2018
4 weeks