Organizers/PresentersNaiara Müssnich Rotta Gomes de Assunção (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul)
Juan Felipe Miranda Medina (Universidad Nacional de San Agustín de Arequipa)
Cinthia Carolina Duran Larrea (Choremundus – Masters in Dance Knowledge, Heritage and Practice)
Jorge Poveda Yánez (Embodying Reconciliation / MULTILOGOS)
Maria José Bejarano (Proyecto Colibrí)
ModeratorJorge Poveda Yanez
Notes for a Practical Concept of (De)coloniality in the Context of Music and Dance Practice
The increased use of the term "decolonization" poses a challenge to ground its meaning both as a concept and as a practice. To advance these discussions in the context of the ICTM Dialogues, in this session we bring forward the concepts of coloniality, decoloniality and praxis, as proposed and developed by Latin American thinkers (Grosfoguel, 2007; Lugones, 2010; Mignolo & Walsh, 2018; Quijano, 2000).
We agree that coloniality refers to the continuity of colonial forms of domination after the end of colonial administrations, produced by colonial structures persistent in the modern/colonial capitalist/patriarchal world-system (Grosfogel, 2007: 219-220). Since colonialism is over while coloniality is pervasive, decolonizing is not about "undoing colonization" but about overcoming the structures of coloniality. To take steps forward in this direction, we highlight the importance of changing: (1) the way we view and interact with each other, (2) the material conditions of life and of knowledge production of marginalized peoples in the coloniality matrix, (3) and the material/epistemic/political structural forms of violence and marginalization.
To tackle the praxis-related dimension of the decolonial endeavour, we explore the resonances and interconnections between Aristotle (Balaban, 1990), Paulo Freire (1970) and Afro-Peruvian choreographer and thinker Victoria Santa Cruz (2019/2004). Contrary to goal-oriented productive activity, praxis is not efficiency-driven but rather allows for a sustained quality of experience. Freire’s use of praxis links it directly with decolonization, in that praxis is reflection and action of humans upon the world in order to transform it. The transformative action that implements praxis is precise, timely, and responsive to its context.
Both decoloniality and praxis call into question Western paradigms of knowledge. As case studies we propose the carnival in Brazil, where political bodies sing “joy and resistance!” deploying dance and play as tools for social transformation, standing for feminist, LGBTQ+ and anti-racist causes. In a similar manner, the reinterpretation of the poem of Victoria Santa Cruz “Me Gritaron Negra” [They yelled “Black” at me] by Afro-Peruvian women today is another example of semiotic resistance and renewed construction of the Afro-Peruvian identity.
Finally, we challenge the researcher-participant hierarchy and aim at having “participants” as co-authors. We propose understanding Foucault and any other Western perspective from the concepts that Indigenous people operate with, rather than the other way around. In this sense, we resist privileging the rational over bodily experience in our engagement with ideas around decolonization. Instead, we foreground the quotidian as a substance worthy of observation: where in my body do I feel the colonial wound when I’m not being taken seriously because I speak English with an accent, or when I receive less attention at a gay bar because I am not white?
We believe in a decolonial theory that leads to the construction of a pluriverse where diverse forms of being and experiencing the world are not only welcomed but considered epistemologically relevant for an integrated and, always, a positioned process of cross-sectional knowledge-making that is as political as it is embodied.
Apuntes Para un Concepto Práctico de la (De)colonialidad en el Contexto de los Estudios de la Danza y la Música
El uso cada vez más frecuente de lo "decolonial" plantea un desafío para fundamentar su significado tanto a nivel de concepto como a nivel de práctica. Para avanzar en estas discusiones, presentamos los conceptos de colonialidad, decolonialidad y praxis, propuestos y desarrollados por pensadores latinoamericanos (Grosfoguel, 2007; Lugones, 2010; Mignolo & Walsh, 2018; Quijano, 2000).
Estamos de acuerdo en que la colonialidad se refiere a la continuidad de las formas coloniales de dominación después del fin de las administraciones coloniales, producida por las culturas y estructuras coloniales persistentes en el sistema-mundo moderno/colonial capitalista/patriarcal (Grosfogel, 2007: 219-220). Dado que el colonialismo ha terminado mientras que la colonialidad es omnipresente, la descolonización no se trata de "deshacer la colonización", sino de superar las estructuras de la colonialidad. Para dar pasos en esa dirección, destacamos la importancia de desafiar: (1) la forma en que nos vemos e interactuamos entre nosotras/es, (2) las condiciones materiales de vida y de producción de conocimiento de los pueblos marginados en la matriz de la colonialidad, (3) las formas materiales/epistémicas/políticas estructurales de la violencia y la marginación.
Para abordar la dimensión de la praxis del impulso decolonial, exploramos las resonancias e interconexiones entre Aristóteles (Balaban, 1990), Paulo Freire (1970) y la coreógrafa y pensadora afroperuana Victoria Santa Cruz (2019/2004). Al contrario de la actividad productiva orientada por objetivos, la praxis no está impulsada por la eficiencia, sino que permite una calidad de experiencia sostenida. El uso que hace Freire de la praxis la vincula directamente con la descolonización, en cuanto que la praxis es reflexión y acción de los humanos sobre el mundo para transformarlo. La acción transformadora que implementa la praxis es precisa, oportuna y sensible a su contexto.
Tanto las nociones de lo decolonial como de praxis cuestionan los paradigmas occidentales del conocimiento. Como casos de estudio proponemos el carnaval de Brasil, donde los cuerpos políticos cantan “¡alegría y resistencia!” desplegando la danza y el juego como herramientas para la transformación social, defendiendo causas feministas, LGBTQ+ y antirracistas. De manera similar, la reinterpretación del poema de Victoria Santa Cruz “Me Gritaron Negra” por parte de las mujeres afroperuanas de hoy, es otro ejemplo de resistencia semiótica y re-construcción de la identidad afroperuana.
Finalmente, debemos desafiar la jerarquía investigador-participante y aspirar a tener “participantes” como coautores. Proponemos entender a Foucault y cualquier otra perspectiva occidental desde los conceptos con los que operan los pueblos indígenas, y no al revés. En este sentido, nos resistimos a privilegiar la experiencia racional sobre la corporal en nuestro compromiso con las ideas sobre lo decolonial. En cambio, ponemos en primer plano lo cotidiano como una sustancia merecedora de observación: ¿en qué parte de mi cuerpo siento la herida colonial cuando no me toman en serio porque hablo inglés con acento, o cuando recibo menos atención en un bar gay por no ser blanco?
Creemos en una teoría decolonial que conduzca a la construcción de un pluriverso donde las diversas formas de ser/estar y experimentar el mundo no solo son bienvenidas sino consideradas epistemológicamente relevantes para la construcción de conocimientos colaborativos, posicionados y corporalizados.
Decoloniality is not only a term referring to a system of thought - it is embedded within a multiverse of practices. For this reason, we recommend further reading some valuable materials raised by Latin American scholars who have based their research on the territories they inhabit, related to “originary thought” from the Andean and the Caribbean regions, to name a few.
Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui’s work on the notion of chi’xi, for instance, presents important material to reframe the way we classify reality to study it. Chi’xi refers to the notion of multiverse, thought as an ecosystem where different ways of life co-habit in dialogue and exchange. This concept questions the notion of reaching a unique knowledge which is the ultimate truth; it accommodates the possibility of multiple different perspectives existing in a complex system of thought. Interestingly, Cusicanqui’s work was transcribed only very recently, as the way she used to transmit her research was mainly oral. This brings to the table the importance of oral knowledge for reconsidering our ways of producing, analysing and spreading research results.
Following on this idea, we can suggest the work by a less known scholar Rodolfo Kusch, a German-Argentinian anthropologist who retired to the North of Argentina for years to document the “originary thought.” Kusch addresses an important distinction between Ser and Estar, two verbs that compose the verb to be, untranslatable to English language (and which, by the way, causes a lot of trouble among Spanish language students). In this context, Ser would be aligned to the search for an ultimate way of being, the quest for an ultimate essence. Estar, on the contrary, is related in Kusch’s terms to a state of being present in the moment, without expectations or a definitive state. Finally, estar siendo is proposed by Kusch as the channel for the “originary thought.” Estar siendo would be, then, a state of presence of dynamic change and flux.
Of course, we recommend revisiting the work by Boaventura de Sousa Santos, specifically his positions about cognitive justice. We agree with the author that there is no social justice until there is cognitive justice, meaning that each community can propose their ways of thinking without necessarily leading to hegemonic discourses based on a single truth. The author often refers to an empire of knowledge that favours certain intellectual frameworks over others and he questions who actually can profit from such hierarchies.
Finally, as stated throughout our presentation, we suggest the revision of practice-based research as a way of questioning the duality between body and mind. In that sense, we recommend the revision of the work by Sandoval Forero, a Mexican scholar who stands for research as a practice, that is embodied and alive, always in process, always in dialogue. We have learned the inner contradictions of decoloniality itself when it comes to defending a discourse that contrasts with the practices behind it. Most of these further materials are written in Spanish language, and although we wish there would be English translations in the near future for them, we also invite the readers to actively try to decode them in their original form, to become closer not only to the ideas contained in them but with the ideological frameworks underlying them.
This presentation is the result of one year of meetings and discussions among the presenters. As a group of Latin Americans studying and developing research in Europe, we founded a space to share our cultural and epistemological shocks while facing the experiences of displacement and estrangement in academia. It was also challenging to understand each other’s perspectives in some of these meetings, since we also come from different countries and have different academic backgrounds. However, the common ground that united us was the perception that we needed to develop a concept of “decoloniality” that made sense for us. Since we witnessed the growing importance of the concept in the discussions around us, we started to question what it meant for different groups: did it bring forward the same ideas when discussed among a group of Norwegian scholars than when raised among an Indigenous community in Brazil, threatened by powerful farmers and profitable agricultural industries? Through this presentation we tried to explore this question of embodied positionality by presenting alternatives to work with the concept of “decoloniality” in academia, without losing what, for us, is an important aspect of this process: praxis. By acting in our world, we want to transform it. By thinking about our world, we want to produce it.
Questions to Consider
Is the amplification of the decolonial discourse having a real impact in policies and structural organisation of institutions?
Does the decolonization of dance studies imply rethinking dance as an object of knowledge? That is, should we think of dance only as a practice or also as an object and/or a methodology?
What would it mean to think about, inhabit, and produce a decolonial perspective that is embodied, in the context of the production and dissemination of knowledge?