Aníbal Quijano first coined the concept of modernity/coloniality, which was later developed by Walter Mignolo. These concepts of modernity and coloniality are referred to as two sides of the same coin, seemingly different but one cannot exist without the other. This relationship between the two is how we’ve understood and been taught much of the world’s history.
Today, I am writing from Saudi Arabia from my dad’s office. I have seen my dad’s office in two main forms throughout my life: The Hallway Library and The Tiled Office. Maybe I’ll get into dissecting these at a later date.
This week we discussed the different meanings of ‘decolonization’. Like many modern terms today, the definition changes depending on the context of the discussion. This was explained through two different senses: decolonization as event (event as in its historical context) and decolonization as theory. Here are my in-class notes on the two:
Decolonization as Event
- interesting note: under Muslim rule, Spanish society greatly changed
- remember when analyzing colonization: don’t only look at the facts, look at the change; what was the nature of the time/event? what was the intent of the colonization? how did it/they change?
- 16th century concept of race emerges
- Encomienda: ___ (becomes the Hacienda system in the 18th century)
- the caste system: your place in society was decided from your parentage and your parentage was decided by your race
- British Colonialism
- kabul — lahore: largest amounts of opium and coccaine is STILL grown there
- thailand was the only asian country to miss/resist british colonialism (whoa!!) because they had a very strong rule and community
- how did the british change india?
- colonization of the mind-these people became the modern day elites of india/pakistan/etc
- took indian history, rewrote it, and taught it back to indians
- the first country to free themselves from the europeans was Haiti
- history of the american colonization = very violent; history of british colonization = a little more peaceful, more protests than physical violence
Decolonization as Theory
- Philosopher Frantz Fanon: became a part of the algerian liberation movement; some of the books he wrote are some of the first books that describe experiencing racism; “violence frees from violence”
- Edward Said: part of the liberation of Palestine
- Orientalism: cultural appropriation is a facet of orientalism
- Scholar Dipesh Chakraborty: why is western readings/history read and studied as universal, but if i want to talk about pakistan it has to be a pakistani author and pakistani theory (for example)
- Settler colonialism is eliminative — not just about taking over
- Development theory is essentially like gaslighting
- how does one know something?
- how does one gain knowledge?
- Is design a western “invention”?
Decolonization means different things to different parts of the world; the history of colonialism is different to different parts of the world; the way in which it happened was different; the outcomes of colonization/decolonization differ. To unpack this, Ansari gave two major examples of colonialism: the United States and India. Each form of colonization happened differently for different reasons, some based on purely land ownership and some based on culture and resources. Whereas the United States was created by physically taking over Native Americans' land by replacing the natives (remember settler-colonialism = eliminative), the British kept Indian natives on their land but took control over everything, including their resources. So, colonization, and decolonization, in turn, mean something different in both these places. How we choose to approach decolonial issues, whether as an event or as a theory, also matters here.
Other thoughts I’d like to come back to:
Looking around my dad's Tiled Office, I see some of my paintings from middle and high school sitting at the very top of his book shelved, leaving about 10 inches of space from the ceiling. It’s quite interesting to see the differences between what I created back then to what I created when I officially moved to the States in college to what I create now (post-grad, still in the States).
I’d never even gone to a museum in Riyadh while growing up. I remember most, if not all, of the work we studied, was through a western lens. Then, landing in the States, I remember immersing myself in stereotypical Pakistani/South Asian diasporic art.