Decolonization is a process, not an end in itself. It refers to unlearning and deconstructing hegemonic knowledge systems that characterize the Western “modern” world, and instead recognizes and replenishes the plurality of alternative ways of seeing, thinking, and being in the world.

Decolonization has enormous social, economic, political, ecological and cultural implications by rethinking relationships that dismantle racial, gender, and class binaries that have been historically imposed and reinforced within Western-style development. As current events are unfolding we have seen how efforts towards decolonization have ranged from demanding for land restitution to decolonizing the university curriculums, to empowering campaigns that  remove statues of infamous colonial perpetrators in our public spaces. It is also common to hear terms as decolonization of knowledge (epistemic or epistemological decolonization), decolonizing development, or decolonizing science. Yet, the meaning of decolonization is not universally agreed upon. What does decolonization entail in theory and practice?

In the 2020 ‘Debating Development’ series, we seek out the most contentious issues in the relationship between development and decolonization. The intention is not to pinpoint a universal understanding of what decolonization is, but rather to put it into conversation with the multiple meanings it implies within specific contexts. To that end, we organize timely debates between academics, civil society actors and representatives from the development sector.

Debating Development - Reflecting on Decolonial Perspectives

13 October: Post-development and decolonial perspectives

  • Achile Mbembe, Cameroonian philosopher and political theorist. University of the Witwatersrand (South-Africa), Duke University (United States)
  • Els Hertogen, Head of NGO platform 11.11.11

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20 October: Decolonizing ecological relations

  • Diana Raquel Vela Almeida, Postdoctoral Fellow, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Geography
  • Daniel Ribeiro, Justica Ambiental/Friends of the Earth Mozambique

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27 October: A decolonial turn for development studies?

  • Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, chair in Epistemologies of the Global South, University of Bayreuth
  • Johan Bastiaensen, chair of the Institute of Development Policy (IOB), University of Antwerp

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3 November: Feminist ecologies & Coloniality of the body

  • Brigitte Baptiste, advocate of gender diversity and environmental conservation, head of EAN University, Colombia
  • Iris Verschaeve, co-chair of Furia (a Belgian feminist think tank) and staff member of Gents MilieuFront (GMF)

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10 November: Colonial spatialities and contestation in the city

  • Christina M. Jimenez, Chair of the Department of History, University of Colorado Colorado Spring (UCCS)
  • Aaron Vansintjan, Doctoral Researcher at the University of London, Birkbeck and co-editor of Uneven Earth

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17 November: A decolonial critique of state building interventions

  • Philip Lottholz, post-doctoral research Fellow at the collaborative Research Centre in the Institute of Sociology, Justus Leibig University Giessen, Germany
  • Abiosseh Davis, Global Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Manager for Interpeace

24 November: Decolonization and Military Interventions

  • Yannick Quéau, Executive Director of the Information and Research Group for Peace
  • Jean Eudes Biem, International School of Security Forces, Cameroon

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1 December: Kinderen van de dekolonisatie. The role of the diaspora in memory of the colonial past (closing debate at De Studio, organized by UCSIA. Livestreamed event in Dutch)

  • Nadia Nsayi, political scientist, author of the book "Dochter van de Dekolonisatie" and co-curator of the MAS exhibition '100 x Congo. A century of Congolese art in Antwerp'
  • Mohamed Barrie, co-founder of African Youth Organization (AYO) and co-coordinator of Black History Month Belgium
  • Performances by Seckou Ouologuem, slam poet (Antwerps stadsdichter) and hiphop artist PASI.

This event will start at 16:00.

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