- Decolonizing Collective Action
Over the last decade, new forms of collective social and political action have come into view: the Arab Spring in 2010, Occupy Wall Street in 2011, the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Turkey, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, to name just a few. Multiple social movements in Latin America, following the tradition that became visible in the 1960s with liberation theology, are reemerging to claim a form of self-government without a State, or a right to land understood as territory vis-à-vis the traditional conception of property, or even a form of state beyond the inherited Western notions of nation and sovereignty. The myriad efforts to consolidate collective struggles reveal the heterogeneous yet consistent power of resistance vis-à-vis a globalized neoliberal reason and its descent into fascism. Alongside these new forms of collective action, new forms of thought arise to urgently delineate the future not as an unstoppable juggernaut, but as a contested space of action and resistance. In those visions of the future, collective action and organization play a pivotal role by creating transnational networks of solidarity.
The delineation of the future in these terms begins by confronting the expectations and anxieties of the current moment. It simultaneously elicits and demands new frameworks that allow for a rethinking of time itself. From that perspective, new modes of collective action subvert the relationship between the past, the present, and possible futures. Indeed, these collectivities call for a different future while simultaneously disrupting the present and drawing on influences from the past, making the past speak to us to forge what Édouard Glissant described as "a prophetic vision of the past," while allowing the future to become the site of the production of another, contested, form of history. In short, these new forms of collective action introduce new regimes of temporality. [End Page 4]
This special issue of Diacritics—"Collective Temporalities: Decolonial Perspectives"—draws a cultural map of how collective action disrupts the established order while shaping possible futures and new horizons of expectation. Our invitation to the authors was to theorize the possible connections between collective action and new regimes of temporality from a decolonial perspective. The cartography of hopes and desires that results from this challenge delineates a different conception of the political character of action, while reinterpreting the role that time plays in the very conception of the political as collectivity and collectivity as a political choice. As the reader will see, the authors have largely chosen to address Latin America as a privileged site of their explorations of the time of the political. This should not be surprising, given how deeply ingrained in the histories of Latin America are the consequences of the ideology of progress imposed from the global North. As Miguel Gualdrón Ramírez suggests, writing about José Martí, "a notion of shared collectivity" comes "perhaps from a shared experience of domination."1 And yet, the authors raise questions and explore perspectives that are by no means limited to Latin America. The contributors open broader transnational discussions concerning structures of domination, combative identities, and histories of debt. They highlight theoretical and practical points of contact between the temporalities of collective movements in Ferguson, Colombia, Oakland, Puerto Rico, the US-Mexico border, among other geographies. This transnational network urges us to reckon with experiences of collective mobilization as the very basis to create new approaches to time.
To assemble six interventions on collective temporalities means to raise a number of questions: How can one account for a future shared among a collectivity? What futures and what collectives are at stake? What conceptual tools are needed to imagine those futures? In answering these questions, the authors reject the assumption that there is one future or one collective. Their responses reveal numerous possible ways to think about temporalities, and in so doing, they insist upon the fluid character of popular assemblages.
We have organized the volume to proceed from theoretical accounts of decolonial temporalities to geopolitical case studies and finally to close with a critical reflection on the very conception of the collective at the heart...