Rethinking Epistemologies



July 2014, Coimbra


Postcolonial and decolonial arguments have been most successful in their challenge to the insularity of historical narratives and historiographical traditions emanating from Europe. This has been particularly so in the context of demonstrating the parochial character of arguments about the endogenous European origins of modernity in favour of arguments that suggest the necessity of considering the emergence of the modern world in the broader histories of colonialism, empire, enslavement, and dispossession. The argument of this paper is that any transformation of understandings requires a reconstruction ‘backwards’ of our historical accounts of modernity, as well as ‘forwards’ in terms of constructing a social science adequate for our global (postcolonial) age. Postcolonialism and decoloniality are only made necessary as a consequence of the depredations of colonialism, but in their intellectual resistance to associated forms of epistemological dominance they offer more than simple opposition. They offer the possibility of a new geopolitics of knowledge.

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