Walter Mignolo begins his critical re-reading of the history of modernity with a bold hypothesis: the hidden agenda behind the Renaissance and the civilising narrative of the Enlightenment was not humanism but coloniality. The ‘colonial matrix’ is not an accidental by-product of modernity, but the epistemic foundation of capitalism and of its global expansion. This complicity between modern knowledge and regime of power implies an insurmountable political rupture in the universalist project of Western modernity and justifies the urgency of epistemic disobedience. Although for 500 years colonialty had been created, managed, and transformed from Europe, the imperial states of the North Atlantic and the United States, after the Bandung Conference in 1955 two counter-projects –which were both complementary and opposite– called into question the legitimacy of the promises of the rhetoric of modernity. On one hand, the arguments in favour of ‘dewesternalization’ grew stronger in East and South East Asia, and on the other, ‘decolonisation’ began to dismantle racial and patriarchal reason and its differential logic of progress. What is the role of cultural institutions in the narrative of colonial modernity? Can the museum be a place for the decolonisation of knowledge and of sensibility, or is it still a site of regulation and control of the production of meaning and of subjectivity?



2,3 AND 4 JUNE AT 6 pm

Coloniality, the Darker Side of Modernity
Monday 2 June 2014 at 6 pm

The first lecture examines how the 'colonial matrix of power' has been imposed and managed over the past 500 years, and also looks at moments of de-colonial insurgency that are dotted throughout the process, in tension. The architecture of the colonial matrix is organised around a twofold rhetoric: on one hand, the theological discourse of the promise of heaven preaches salvation, while on the other, a secular narrative of progress and development identifies physical well-being and happiness. This double mechanism manages and regulates the economy, politics and subjectivity in all its spheres: gender, sexuality, ethnicity, spirituality and sensibility. From the sixteenth century, critical reactions to these practices and discourses already suggested two broad trends: ‘anti-’ (rebellions against invasion and domination) and ‘de-’ (theoretical-narrative activities that decolonise the rhetoric of modernity). Two case studies: Guamán Poma de Ayala, at the turn of the seventeenth century, in the Viceroyalty of Peru; and Ottobah Cugoano, in the eighteenth century, in Africa, Jamaica and London. Decoloniality arises in coloniality itself. There is no need to wait for the ‘post-’.

Decoloniality and Dewesternization: the Racial Distribution of Capital and Knowledge
Tuesday 3 June 2014, at 6 pm

The second lecture offers an overview of critical reactions to colonial modernity after the Bandung Conference. Dewesternizing projects are partly linked to the recent economic boom in East Asia and the Gulf Emirates. This session draws distinctions between inter-state and inter-corporation relations, the politicisation of the civil society –indigenous uprisings in Ecuador and Bolivia in the early twenty-first century that overthrew various presidents, the Intifadas in North Africa and the Middle East, the indignados in Greece, Italy and Spain, Occupy, Gezi Park in Turkey, Venezuela 2014, Ukraine, Thailand– and the emerging global political society.

Museums, Arts, Exhibitions, Biennials… In the Colonial Horizon of Modernity: The Racial Distribution of Sensing and Understanding
Wednesday 4 June 2014, at 6 pm

While the first two lectures looked at the political and economic aspects of coloniality, the third focuses on the links between politics and aesthetics/aesthesis, between the colonial matrix and the realm of sensibility and affects in their different manifestations (art, spirituality, etc.) We will explore the emergence of global political society in ‘art’, that is, in the realm of ‘making’ as in Borges’ ‘The Maker’ or Maturana’s ‘self-making’ (autopoiesis). This session will begin with an overview of the re-emergence of epistemic politics –from Vía Campesina and Zapatismo to the international feminist movement, ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association), the manifestos of the First Nations of Canada and the misnamed ‘Native’ Americans– before moving on to explore decolonial and dewesternizing cultural politics –museums, biennials, exhibitions–.

Walter Mignolo (1941, Córdoba, Argentina) is a semiotitian and a has been Professor of Literature at Duke University in Durham, United States, since 1993. He holds a Doctorate from the École des hautes etudes in Paris, and has taught at the universities of Toulouse, Indiana and Michigan. He has published extensively on semiotics and literary theory, and has explored concepts such as global coloniality, the geopolitics of knowledge and trans-modernity. Among his most important contributions has been the production of categories of analysis such as ‘colonial difference’, ‘border thinking’, ‘the coloniality of being’, and the idea of the ‘Western hemisphere/Northern Atlantic’. He is Director of the Franklin Institute for Interdisciplinary and International studies and of Duke’s programme in the Andes.

- Historias locales / diseños globales. Colonialidad, conocimientos subalternos y pensamiento fronterizo. Madrid: Akal, 2003.
- La idea de América Latina. La herida colonial y la opción decolonial. Barcelona: Gedisa, 2007.
- Desobediencia epistémica. Retórica de la modernidad, lógica de la colonialidad y gramática de la descolonialidad, Ediciones del signo, 2010.
- ‘Coloniality: The Dark Side of Modernity’, Modernologies. Contemporary Artists Researching Modernity and Modernism. Barcelona: MACBA, 2009 (exh. cat.)

- QP30 "'Activar los archivos, descentralizar a las musas' de Walter Mignolo
- 'Coloniality: The Dark Side of Modernity', Modernologies. Contemporary Artists Researching Modernity and Modernism. Barcelona: MACBA, 2009 [cat. exp.]:
- 'La opción descolonial', Letral, núm. 1 (2008):
- El lado oscuro del Renacimiento, Durham: Duke University, 2009:
- 'Epistemic Disobedience, Independent Thought and De-colonial Freedom', Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 26 (7-8, 2009):
- 'Desobediencia Epistémica (II), Pensamiento Independiente y Libertad
De-Colonial', Otros logos. Revista de estudios críticos, núm. 1 (2010):
- 'Geopolitics of Sensing and Knowing. On (De)Coloniality, Border Thinking, and Epistemic Disobedience', (septiembre de 2011):
- 'Neither Capitalism nor Communism, but Decolonization: Interview with Walter Mignolo. Part I', Critical Legal Thinking (marzo de 2012):
- 'Delinking, Decoloniality & Dewesternization: Interview with Walter Mignolo. Part II', Critical Legal Thinking (mayo de 2012):
- Various Authors: 'Decolonial AestheSis', Social Text. Periscope (julio de 2013):
- 'Re-Emerging, Decentering and Delinking. Shifting the Geographies of Sensing, Believing and Knowing', Ibraaz (mayo de 2013):
- 'Sensing Otherwise. A Story of an Exhibition', Ibraaz (septiembre de 2013):

MACBA Public Programs
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