A Conversation on Decolonial Praxis with Dr Javier Pereda
Dr Javier Pereda is a lecturer in the School of Art and Design whose research interests are deeply linked to heritage and culture with a focus on Digital Humanities, Human Information Interaction and Visualisation as well as decolonisation in the cultural heritage sector. He is currently the co-investigator for the ‘Unlocking the Colonial Archive: Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for Indigenous and Spanish American Historical Collections’, a joint project between the UK and the US (AHRC/NEH). He is also a PhD co-supervisor for the ESRC-CASE combined MA/Doctoral Award: ‘Museums, Big Data and the Violence of Empire’.
“Decoloniality focuses on bringing to light different perspectives that can help to displace Western rationality as the only framework of thinking, being and engaging with the world”
How is decoloniality relevant to academics and students across the university?
Decoloniality focuses on bringing to light different perspectives that can help to displace Western rationality as the only framework of thinking, being and engaging with the world. It should challenge us to think alongside subaltern groups and not about them, to avoid engaging with decolonial theory and decolonisation as a process where minorities, subaltern groups, genders and races are used as objects of study (Mignolo and Walsh, 2018).
What role have universities played in this?
Through decolonisation, the call for action is founded on a revival or acknowledgement of the role that universities and institutions as centres of education and training, have upon imposing Western systems of power on the world (biopolitical epistemology, see Burchell, Davidson, & Foucault, 2008), as well as an urgent recognition of how diverse cultures and societies understand the world, ecosystems, humans, and how the universe operates (cosmovision of the World). That said, despite that there are current spaces of decolonisation and approaches to decolonising our current hegemonic epistemologies, European and the United States academic institutions keep on promoting and basing their metrics on settler colonialism, capitalism and neoliberalism and imposing values of heteropatriarchy, thus promoting colonialism.
What can we do? [It] is not limited to listing authors…
Decolonisation calls for the reexistence of the mechanisms of racialisation, exclusion, and marginalisation, thus confronting biopolitics of power that creates the commodification of nature and human capital and education (Alban and Rosero, 2016; Mignolo and Walsh, 2018). The objective is not limited to listing authors that explain what decolonisation is, or the theories behind decolonisation, but rather showcase how decolonisation can take place, or in many cases, how to highlight the challenges and difficulties behind the decolonisation of diverse fields (Anzaldúa, 2015).
The objective is... to… showcase how decolonisation can take place… to highlight the challenges and difficulties behind the decolonisation of diverse fields
Decoloniality needs to contextualise how theoretical approaches take place in diverse contexts, and amongst other individuals, as well as the practice, methods, projects, and experiments that engage, confront, build, or enable decolonial approaches. This inter-human interaction can be defined as praxis or in this case the decolonial-praxis* (Mignolo and Walsh, 2018; Dussel, 2014).
Albán, A. and Rosero, J.R., 2016. Colonialidad de la naturaleza: ¿Imposición tecnológica y usurpación epistémica? Interculturalidad, desarrollo y re-existencia. Nómadas (Col), (45), pp.27-41.
Anzaldúa, G., 2015. Light in the dark/Luz en lo oscuro: Rewriting identity, spirituality, reality. Duke University Press.
Burchell, G., Davidson, A., & Foucault, M., 2008. The birth of biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–1979: New York, NY: Springer.
Dussel, E., 2014. 16 - Tesis de economía política. Una interpretación filosófica. México DF, Siglo XXI.
Mignolo, W.D. and Walsh, C.E., 2018. On decoloniality: Concepts, analytics, praxis. Duke University Press.