Education and colonization

José Clemente Orozco (1883–1949), On the Road, 1929.
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By DIEGO DOS SANTOS REIS*

Decolonization only happens, effectively, in line with struggles for land, anti-discrimination struggles and for the epistemic territories situated

There is an ongoing movement propagated by certain Brazilian intellectuals that, although not surprising, does not fail to cause strangeness. From time to time, in classes and on social media walls, inflammatory or jocular speeches emerge, taking a frontal position against the “trend”, the “fashion” or the “stubbornness” of(s)colonial, its practices, concepts and interventions. This at a time of vertiginous escalation of conservatism and democratic ebbs that, without restraint, gain body and space in academia, departments and classrooms.

I say without surprise, as these thinkers supposedly “engaged” with the production of so-called scientific knowledge in Brazil, not infrequently, fall into the same theoretical pitfalls that they think they denounce. Even though they recognize their places of privilege and the social, sexual, gender and racial markers that cross them, they assume that the public recognition of such crossings is enough to affirm their organic link to popular struggles and the social and racial groups they speak of, but with whom they rarely speak.

It is curious how this consideration, covered by the contours of criticism – with quotation marks –, not infrequently, reaffirms the same premises that social movements have long denounced as bases for sustaining the exclusions that offer the academy the ideal conditions for maintaining its status quo. The strange thing is that, on the other hand, certain assumptions in relation to de(s)colonial perspectives, made privileged antagonists of other theories, or merely academic “imposture”, start to circulate as “truth”, precisely at the moment when the places of privilege are more pointedly questioned by them.

It is not a matter of shielding de(s)colonial perspectives from a series of criticisms that need and should be addressed to them, as to any other perspectives of analysis and intervention in reality, indicating its limits, possibilities and contradictions. Rather, what can be traced in the “Facebookian” base criticism, which swarms in posts instagrammable, it is a certain desire for “viralization” that is very far from the debate of ideas or the intransigent defense of racial/sexual equity that the detractors swear to take shape in their daily practices, beyond the de(s)colonial .

They affirm themselves, in advance, as anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-classist, anti-capacitalist and even understand the importance of these debates in the academy, in schools and in scientific research. They reiterate, however, that the “de(s)colonial fad”, in addition to not coping with Latin American structural inequalities, is produced, especially, by intellectuals whose academic activity is situated in the geopolitical place that is the target of their criticism. more fierce. Now, it is clear that a theoretical-practical perspective, despite its commitment to political-epistemic renegotiations and the refusal of the current racial/sexual contract, is not, by itself, capable of redeeming and solving the world's problems.

Above all, when it comes to issues deeply rooted in dissymmetries and excluding social practices historically produced by the capitalist system and its rationale of racist, classist, sexist – and colonial – government. The great theories imported from overseas also do not solve problems that they themselves often engendered in the cracked mirror of Modernity, which never reflected the image of someone who was proscribed from the circle of humanity, deprived of human rights to be assured.

In addition to the conceptions and considerations of the Modernity/Coloniality group, whose contributions and perspectives are far from being homogeneous or equivalent, it is interesting to highlight how the concept itself expanded the boundaries and walls of academia, reverberating in the cry and writing of collective subjects and movements social. The de(s)colonial perspectives, in the various academic fields, implode monocultural landholdings and make explicit disputes that, in terms of decolonization, reveal the racial, sexual, religious, epistemic, political and cultural criticisms carried out for a long time by civil society movements organized, but epistemically disqualified due to the absence – again, with many quotation marks – of theoretical “grounding” in the academy.

Argument of absence, it is well known, that has the consent of whiteness and cisheteronormative patriarchy, which circulate freely in the academic universe with its naturalized and hegemonic beliefs, covered by the myth of scientific objectivity, universality and neutrality. The struggles for epistemic decolonization, the confrontation with racism and sexism and institutional violence, evidently, are not novelties created by the de(s)colonial. Nor can there be decolonization, in fact, without the protagonism of social movements, collectives and subjects who have never ceased to question the Eurocentric, elitist and exclusionary foundations on which the white castle of Brazilian academia is built.

The criticism that circulates about the de(s)colonial, however, operates, in the field of production and dissemination of knowledge, a false dichotomy – and that certainly does not differ from the reductive binarism that serves as the mainstay of Modernity/Coloniality itself. De(s)coloniality is not in opposition to social movements, collectives and the concrete reality of each territory's ground, without which it would fall back into the abstract universality it criticizes. On the contrary, decolonization only happens, effectively, in line with struggles for land, anti-discrimination struggles and for situated epistemic territories.

These, historically, have excluded racialized and gendered people from their spaces, especially institutional spaces, based on a hierarchical and classificatory referential matrix. Therefore, it is surprising that the people involved – at least publicly in the great network – in the fight against inferiorizing inequalities reiterate the assumptions that, without interruption, are mobilized to invalidate, make invisible and delegitimize the lives they claim to care about. Far from being a mere academic debate, without untying the epistemic production of the different ways of being in the world, what is most interesting in the (s)colonial perspective may be the possibilities and the paths opened in the intersection of theories, experiences and practices that already promoted, even before the constitution of this field of study, tensions in relation to the hegemonic culture and education, problematizing, for example, “Europocentrism”, the slave-owning patriarchy and the “cultural whitening”, which, from top to bottom, below, continue to mark – with iron – the imaginaries, repertoires, curricula and practices of Brazilian education.

Decolonization, in this context, is not an academic fad. It is an imperative and a practice created in the daily struggles and confrontations of those who stubbornly insist on refusing the current contracts. These are the ones who, whole-heartedly and boldly, claim that, out of fashion, only the old ethnocentric and discriminatory behaviors that lay bare, in the “discourse blunders”, as the philosopher Lélia Gonzalez would say, the limits of the “allies /to the". The king is naked.

*Diego dos Santos Reis He is a professor at the department of Fundamentals of Education at UFPB and at the Graduate Program Humanities, Rights and Other Legitimacies at USP.

 

 

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