(In collaboration with The English and Foreign Languages University, Shillong Campus)

 16 June -12 July 2015


The English and Foreign Languages University (Shillong Campus)





The Forum on Contemporary Theory has been conducting an intensive Theory/Praxis Course since 2003 for the benefit of scholars across disciplines interested in new developments in Theory and application. The course includes intensive textual readings in specific areas, supported by seminars and talks on broader but related issues. The Course will be held in collaboration with the English and Foreign Languages University, Shillong during 16 June- 12 July 2015. This Course is part of the Forum’s ongoing engagement with “Global South Cultural Dialogue Project.”  The Forum, which just completed 25 years of its founding, is a member of the Consortium of the Humanities Centers and Institutes, Duke University, USA.        


The Course is organized around the following topics to be discussed in-depth by the core faculty, supported by public lectures and mini-seminars by the invited scholars.

1. The Promises and Discontents: Decolonial Options and World (Dis)Order (Faculty: Walter D. Mignolo, William H Wannamaker Professor and Director, Center for Global Studies and the Humanities, Duke University)


“Decoloniality” is a common word today in the humanities and the social sciences. Even “Decolonial Humanities” is some times used although it doesn’t have its Google’s niche yet. Granting that the use is becoming widespread, we will concentrate in one particular universe of meaning or theory if you wish, known as modernity/coloniality. The slash here means that modernity and coloniality are two sides of the same coin stich together, since its inception in the sixteenth century until to a not yet foreseeable end. Decoloniality is the third term of the equation. Since modernity/coloniality is a specific compound concept in the specific universe of meaning we will explore, it is always already a decolonial concept. You do not find the conceptualization of modernity/coloniality beyond the decolonial universe of meaning (or theory if you wish) built around modernity/coloniality. Thus, we shall now write: modernity/coloniality/decoloniality.

Coloniality is shorthand for “coloniality of power” and coloniality of power is understood as the underlying structure of Western Civilization. The world dis-order in which we all in the planet are living today is due to the fact that from 1500 to 2000 coloniality of power was built, transformed and controlled by Western imperial State. Today the control of coloniality is being disputed by politico-economic dewesternization (see below). More specifically, if the “unconscious” is a key concept in psychoanalysis and “surplus value” for marxism and “coloniality” for decolonial thinking

On the other hand, to say that decoloniality is an option it is to point out in two complementary dimensions. It means first that it is an option and not a mission. And secondly that everything else is an option.  What is everything else? To simplify issues that we will discern in more detail during the seminar, existing options are of two kinds: systems of secular ideas (liberalism, neoliberalism, Marxism, Confucianism) and system of theological beliefs (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc). Thus, decoloniality is an option that pierces and penetrates the domains of existing systems of ideas and beliefs that do not consider options themselves. However, they become options from decolonial gazes (or from a decolonial conception of the world).

Because decoloniality, in the universe of meaning I will present, is an option it cannot be converted into “decolonial studies” without reverting to what decolonialite negate: the division between knowing and the known. It could be “studied” and be an “object” for other disciplines, but decolonial thinking cannot study itself and it doesn’t belong to the disciplinary options. Being an option means that the goal is not to “study” whatever you would like to study (like “cultural studies” or “ethnic studies” or “postcolonial studies”) because it is a way of thinking, doing and being in the world. Decolonial thinking thinks coloniality of power from its inceptions all the way down. Decolonial thinking investigate coloniality of power search for path of liberation. In this sense, decolonial thinking outlet is advocacy for decolonial transformations. Decolonial research is always geared toward advocacy rather than searching for some kind of truth or some kind of change. Decoloniality did not emerge in the academy by in the politics of the Third World rather than in the academe of the First World. Decolonial thinking participates in the academe but it is not solely a scholarly enterprise.

Based on this premises the Seminar will be structured along these lines:

--From 1500 to 2000 a new civilization emerged among co-existing ones, a civilization that described itself as Western Civilization. It is the youngest and the first to impose itself over all co-existing ones. During this period Western Civilization consolidated itself and expanded all over the world. This is the period of Westernization of the World;

--Both consolidation and expansion did not go without contestation of different forms. What today we conceive as decoloniality can be traced back to the sixteenth century (Guaman Poma de Ayala) to the eighteenth (Ottobah Cugoano), to the nineteenth and twentieth (Mahatma Gandhi), the Bandung Conference, and the wealth of decolonial thinkers of the second half of the twentieth century, from Frantz Fanon to Martin Luther King, to Aimé Cesaire to Amilcar Cabral, from Angela Davis to Sylvia Wynter and Gloria Anzaldúa, from Fausto Reinaga and José Carlos Mariátegui to Steve Beko and Nelson Mandela. This cast illuminates decoloniality at large.  The particular understanding of decoloniality I will present emerged in Peru in 1990 (Anibal Qujano) and one of its antecedents was José Carlos Mariátegui, dependency theory and philosophy and theology of liberation.

---By 2000 the cycle of Westernization was beginning to close and several trajectories began to emerge out of its ruins.

--Politico-economic dewesternization (return of China, of Russia, of India, BRICS countries, and now Indonesia and Turkey). Dewesternization means that capitalism is accepted and adapted but instructions from the West of what to do, are no longer acceptable, and most likely will ever be;

--Cultural dewesternization (e.g., the politics of arts and museums in Gulf States, Singapore; dewesternizing the university in Malaysia). There are overlappings in certain aspects between dewesternization and decoloniality that will be clarified.

--Politicization of the “civil society”: indignados/as in Southern Europe, intifadas in North Africa, Taksim Gezi Park, Maidan Plaza, Hong Kong uprising.

--Emergence and affirmation of a rich and heterogenous global political society composed of hundreds and hundreds of independent organizations that they are organizing their life and delinking from the State and the corporations (e.g., the Zapatistas).

--Politico and economic (and military) re-westernization. It is the politics that was project by President Barack Obama since his discourse in Cairo in 2008 until the more recent intervention in Ukraine and return to the Middle East.

--The mutation of “decolonization” into “decoloniality.” Decolonization, during the Cold War meant the project of Natives to take over the State and send the colonizer homes. They did. It did not work well, like in North Africa, or it did work but not as expected, as in India. Decoloniality today is conceived, in the particular universe of meaning in which I will develop it, as politico, epistemic and ethnic projects (or set of projects) that are part of the emerging global political society. We do not talk just about change and transformation as if they carry in themselves the seed of peace and harmony, but of decolonial transformation. Transformation could be from the right or from the left, and some time, transformation may not be welcome. Decolonial transformations mean, therefore, to think, do, live, feel and exist in the process of delinking from coloniality of power.

2. Decolonization as a Theoretical Problem (Faculty: Simon Gikandi, Robert Schirmer Professor of English, Princeton University)


In 1958, at the height of the Algerian War of independence, the philosopher Jean Paul Sartre defined decolonization as “the most significant event of the second half of the century.” Unknown to most European intellectuals, Sartre argues, decolonization was part of a large moment for human freedom that was calling into question all established European theories of history, freedom, the idea of the human. Furthermore, decolonization constituted the space in which a philosophical critique of colonialism could be undertaken and its institutions, practices and mentalities would be confronted by their conditions of possibility and failure.  In spite of Sartre’s claims, the discourse of decolonization has not fared well in our poststructuralist or postcolonial moment. It has often been dismissed as essentialist, imprisoned in old myths of liberation and a metaphysics of being at odds with the hybridity of the present. The discourse of decolonization has also tended to be judged by what are assumed to be its practical outcome, namely the crisis of nationalism after independence and  the lived experience of a postcolonial moment defined by “the collapse of the social and political hopes that went into the anticolonial imagining and postcolonial making of national sovereignty” (David Scott). In this seminar, we will explore the possibilities and limits of the discourse of decolonization by examining it as a theoretical problem. In other words, we will seek to isolate this discourse from its practical manifestations and focus instead on its systematic thinking on core concepts such as freedom, equality, sovereignty, land and law. Each colonial situation was unique, but a core set of texts, ideas, and positions emerged from the colonial intellectuals’ critique of the European idea of Enlightenment, their reflections on the utopian possibilities of revolution, and the necessity for universal emancipation. Rather than avoid the problematic of decolonization, we will approach it as a theoretical threshold, an end and a beginning.

The seminar will start with some broad questions: What were the theoretical assumptions driving the discourse of decolonization? What was the colonized intellectuals’ contribution to the drama of human freedom from Hegel to Sartre? How did they go about imagining and conceptualizing a world “no longer and not yet” (Hannah Arendt)? How could the place of colonial violence be transformed into the ontological space of being and becoming? After addressing these foundational questions, we it will move on to a more focused set of problems. Looking closely at the debates on time, tradition, and the subject of decolonization, we will seek to understand how intellectuals sought to map out postcoloniality as the “afterness” of colonialism as a structure of thought that “introduces, points forward to, explains, and situates something that is not yet present” (Gerhard Richter). How does one read a temporality that is both an end and a beginning? How does one measure the aporiatic time of decolonization?  Finally we will turn to the theoretical legacies of decolonization in the continuing search for conceptual resources for understanding postcoloniality. Can an archeology of anti-colonial thinking provide us with modes of looking at the crisis of the present outside, or beyond, post-colonial theory? Can we return to the site of “arrested decolonization” (B. Jeyifo) and rescue from it new narratives of freedom and modes of imagining the future? Why is postcolonial theory afraid of the discourse of decolonization?

The course will address all these and other questions through a careful reading of the major texts in the discourse of decolonization. We will engage the classics: M. K. Gandhi’s thinking on decolonization as a horizon of experience, Sartre’s “Black Orpheus,” Senghor’s “Negritude and Modernism,” Cesaire’s  Discourse on Colonialism, Memmi’s The Colonizer and the Colonized, and selections from Fanon’s oeuvre. We will also read texts dealing with the afterlife of colonialism and its histories (Homi Bhabha, Gayatri Spivak, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Trinh Min Ha, and David Scott).



Study material will be made available to the participants after their registration; the participants are expected to have gone through the material before the commencement of the Course. Each participant is required to maintain a day-to-day critical account of the sessions in an academic diary which will be submitted to the director of the program at the end. In addition, each participant is required to make at least one formal presentation. Both faculty and participants are expected to stay together in the same venue for greater interaction and exchange between them.



Participation in the Course is mainly open to scholars in the humanities and social sciences, preferably those working toward research degree, but post-graduate students and post-doctoral scholars in these disciplines and scholars from the disciplines outside the humanities and social sciences interested in inter-disciplinary studies can also apply.  A 1000-word essay on why you need to take this Course should be submitted along with the application. Maximum number of participants to be selected is 20.




Each participant is required to pay a registration fee of Rs. 20,000- (Rupees twenty thousand only) to the Forum on Contemporary Theory through a bank draft drawn on a bank in Baroda. The registration fee is non-refundable. The fee will take care of his/ her board and lodging, course fee and other related expenses. The participants will not be paid by the organizers for their travel.



The last date for receiving application for participation is 15 March, 2015. The application may be sent to Director, Centre for Contemporary Theory, Baroda. Selection for participation will be made by 30 March, 2015. Selected candidates are required to send the bank draft favoring Forum on Contemporary Theory before 15 April, 2015. Course material will be mailed only after receiving the registration fee.



a.      Walter Mignolo is William H. Wannamaker Professor of Literature at Duke University and has joint appointments in Cultural Anthropology and Romance Studies. He received his Ph.D. from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Paris. Before coming to Duke in January, 1993, he taught at the Universities of Toulouse, Indiana, and Michigan. He has published extensively on semiotics and literary theory, and has in the past years been working on different aspects of the modern/colonial world and exploring concepts such as global coloniality, the geopolitics of knowledge, transmodernity, border thinking, and di/pluriversalities. His recent publications on these latter topics include: The Idea of Latin America (2005), Writing Without Words: Alternative Literacies in Mesoamerica and the Andes, co-edited with Elizabeth H. Boone (1994), and The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality, Colonization (1995) which won the Katherine Singer Kovacs prize from the Modern Languages Association. He is also author of Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges and Border Thinking(1999) and editor of Capitalismo y geopolítica del conocimiento: El eurocentrismo y la filosofía de la liberación en el debate intelectual contemporanáneo (2000) and The Americas: Loci of Enunciations and Imaginary Constructions (1994-95). His current interests include colonial expansion and nation building at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. Mignolo co-edits the web dossier, Worlds and Knowledges Otherwise. Since 2000, he has directed the Center for Global Studies and the Humanities, a research unit within the John Hope Franklin Center for International and Interdisciplinary Studies. Professor Mignolo has also been named Permanent Researcher at Large at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar in Quito, Ecuador. Recently he was been appointed Research Honorary Member of CISA (Center for Indian Studies in Africa), Witts University, Johannesburg, South Africa.

b.      Simon Gikandi is Robert Schirmer Professor of English at Princeton University and editor of the PMLA, the official journal of the Modern Languages Association of America. He was born in Kenya and graduated with a B.A [First Class Honors] in Literature from the University of Nairobi. He was a British Council Scholar at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland from which he graduated with a M.Litt. in English Studies. He has a Ph.D in English from Northwestern University. His major Fields of Research and Teaching are the Anglophone Literatures and Cultures of Africa, India, the Caribbean, and Postcolonial Britain, the “Black” Atlantic and the African Diaspora. He is also interested in the encounter between European and African languages in the modern period, literature and human rights, and writing and cultural politics. He is the author of many books and articles including Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature, Maps of Englishness: Writing Identity in the Culture of Colonialism, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o, which was a Choice Outstanding Academic title for 2004. He is the co-author of The Columbia Guide to East African Literature in English Since 1945, co-editor of The Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature, and the editor of the Routledge Encyclopedia of African Literature. His most recent book, Slavery and the Culture of Taste has won several major awards, including the James Russell Lowell Award of the Modern Languages Association of America, the Melville Herskovits Award of the African Studies Association, and the Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship. The book was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2012.



The participants are required to attend all the sessions and to stay until the end of the program in order to get the certificate of participation.



The following format may be used for the application:



Address (including telephone no. and email ID)

Institutional Affiliation

Date of Birth


Teaching Experience (indicate number of years also)

Academic Qualifications

Areas of Research and Teaching

Publications, if any

Specific Research Topics, if any

Whether registered for Research Degree?

Whether participated in any Course organized by the

Forum? If participated, when?

A brief statement (1000 words) about what you expect to

gain from the Course

Name and Addresses of two Referees





1.      Prafulla C. Kar

Director, Centre for Contemporary Theory

C-304 Siddhi Vinayak Complex

Behind Vadodara Railway Station (Alkapuri Side)

Faramji Road, Baroda – 390007

Tel: 0265-2320870




2.      Kailash C. Baral


              The English & Foreign Languages University,

              Northeast Campus,



              Mobile: 09436117351



To: Head of the Department

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