Decoloniality and sense of the production of social knowledge

There is an open criticism towards the social sciences with an extractive character, which only see in the subjects "means" to obtain information that is "useful" to the production of knowledge.

06/09/2021
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For several years, decolonial proposals have been developed that, from different disciplines and conceptual articulations in different parts of the world, have investigated in the present and past diverse social orders in different countries and regions under dynamics of exploitation, and characterized by linked power relations and heirs of the colonial systems of power and domination (mainly European).

 

Within this broad universe, some of the groups of academics and university scholars who have worked on decoloniality, although they have achieved an analytical and conceptual depth in the approach to coloniality and power in the production of subalternized contexts and subjects, have had very little impact of their work outside the university cloisters and texts, and have remained strongly anchored in the "ivory tower" of certain academies (from the South and especially from the global North).

 

However, there are also other groups with other perspectives that, while still having one foot in the academy, have also engaged in the confrontation and criticism of concrete / contextualized colonial and postcolonial power relations, and have done this through accompaniment of various social subjects in subordinate relationships with different groups and institutions of political and economic power in different countries and regions.

 

Such is the case of the work Decolonizing ethnography: undocumented immigrants and new directions in social science of 2019 and its authors Carolina Alonso Bejarano, Lucía López Juárez, Mirian Mijangos García and Daniel Goldstein. This work suggests a series of very interesting lines and reflections for thinking and exercising decoloniality politically.

 

  1. The first of them is the openly political position that academic work with a decolonial perspective aims to be done with, for and for the benefit of the subjects with whom one works. And this, in addition to a context of mutual respect (with recognition and appreciation), and within the deliberate framework of understanding of explicitly trying to change (to some extent and according to the possibilities of those involved) the subordination relationships in which are these subjects (people) with whom you work.
  2. On the other hand, it is openly recognized that one works with subjects, and not with "neutral" and "impartial" "objects". But also, in the understanding that it is they who are inserted and are the protagonists of the processes that are addressed. For this reason, these subjects with whom we collaborate are also and openly co-producers of the ethnographic data (records) and of the theoretical reflections of the social process addressed.
  3. In this sense, there is an open criticism towards the social sciences with an extractive character, which only see in the subjects "means" to obtain information that is "useful" to the production of knowledge mainly for circles, groups and specialized publications of the academy (frequently dissociated from the contexts they study and delineated by the principles of the universities of the hegemonic countries and the type / model of "social sciences" of the "global North").
  4. In this way, it is about producing knowledge in collaboration and consensus with social subjects that fosters practices, knowledge and links that contribute to generating processes of "decolonization", with the deliberate and political purpose of benefiting and contributing to increasing autonomy of these subjects. The idea is to move towards a social and political change of the unequal and subordinate power relations in which the social orders where they move and the social subjects and institutions with whom they exist; and this with the clear and full protagonism of these subjects, in an exercise of mutual recognition and appreciation.

 

In memory of Cristóbal Castillo, who, from his teaching work and his particular way of seeing life, made of education and knowledge processes of social change to make this world a more inclusive place….

 

References

 

Decolonizing ethnography: undocumented immigrants and new directions in social science (2019), Carolina Alonso Bejarano, Lucía López Juárez Mirian Mijangos García and Daniel Goldstein. Published by Duke University Press.

 

Two perspectives on decolonizing anthropology (2020). Hussein Masimbi and Paula Uimonene. In Anthropology book forum.

 

 

 

https://www.alainet.org/es/node/213678
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