- On Decoloniality. Concepts, Analytics, Praxis by Walter D. Mignolo and Catherine E. Walsh
On Decoloniality. Concepts, Analytics, Praxis is the inaugural volume in a new series edited by Walter D. Mignolo and Catherine E. Walsh. One of the chief goals of this co-authored volume is to interconnect a diverse array of perspectives on coloniality and decolonial thought/praxis taking place in the matrix of different local histories. It is thus not a project that aspires to the establishment of new universals in matters of methods, presuppositions or desired outcomes. To the contrary, its emphasis is on the local. This inaugural volume, for instance, features lengthy discussions of decolonial praxes in present day Ecuador, a locale which both authors have studied at the micro level on a first-hand basis. Nevertheless, the reach of the conceptual and analytic discussions is global for they are designed to engage with decolonial practices in the Caribbean, South Asia and South Africa, to mention just a few places beyond South and North America.
Although divided into two distinct parts authored under individual signatures, this is a book, which like a piano concert for two hands, displays a high degree of interplay and collaboration between Mignolo and Walsh. Both the organization and the specific characteristics of each chapter show that this is a book that has been many years in the making and that Mignolo and Walsh have sustained a critical dialogue on the matter for a very long time. This deep interchange affords the book coherence, focus and clarity of purpose. It is important to note that the discussions of concepts and analytics more often than not dovetails well with the presentation of praxes as each scholar seeks to infuse his/her discussion with the analysis developed by the other.
In the “Introduction”, Walsh and Mignolo make several disclaimers with regard to what readers can expect of a book on concepts, analytics and praxes on/of decolonial thinking and doing. The authors inform the reader that the book does not propose a “new abstract universal” (their emphasis). It does not explore, delve into or offer global answers. With an analytics emerging from the local, and in this case from the local ancient and renovated Andean traditions of reciprocity, complementarity and proportionality, the conceptualization of decoloniality here is based on the Andean overarching concept and practice of relationality. Perhaps this claim to thinking and doing in terms of an overall relationality is the greatest challenge of the book for those scholars and doers attempting to think decolonially from their own praxes, that is to say to try and move beyond the binary of Western thought. Relationality is not something that can be added or something that can also be taken into consideration in an acritical opening to all presentations of “otherness” or difference. It is not a new ingredient in the soup. It is not a new human right either. It is a radical proposition that will require much revamping in thinking and designing projects for research or for doing.
Relationality demands a complete overhauling of thinking for it is always already about a dynamic relationship in which exchange between complimentary [End Page 512] opposites never rests. The model of the quadripartite conceptualization of the Pachamama is a best example of this dynamic complimentary relation of opposites. With a relational approach in mind, the authors hope to set the ground for conversation and from there build understandings that both cross and dynamize different geopolitical colonial situations in order to contest the totalizing claims and political epistemic violence of modernity in all its expressions from the right to the left of the political spectrum.
The authors are careful to point out that relationality does not imply anything like multiculturalism nor does it stand for an open-ended inclusion of all concepts and praxes. Relationality as a concept that devolves on the complementarity of opposites, offers its own regulatory system centered on the complimentary relations of all living organisms, not just the human order of things. Drawing from contemporary Andean Indigenous thinkers, the...