Decolonial Subversions
Main Issue 2022

Biomedical Research and Global Sustainability: Throwing off the straitjacket of hierarchical thinking, making space for nomadic thinking


The biomedical paradigm, characterised by the separation of human from nature, of mind from body, and of ‘us’ from ‘them’, is encrusted with the jewels of western exploitation. Its legacy, one of many, has been to permit critical thinking to be infused with the domination of scientific knowledge over indigenous knowledge, of expert experience over patient experience, and of western knowledge over knowledge from other regions. Planetary sustainability has put us all into an uncomfortable liminal space where there is an urgent need to develop new ways of thinking to navigate the complexity and uncertainties of the Anthropocene. The decolonization/dismantling of the historically biased, epistemically rigid, hierarchical thinking that has led us to the brink of environmental collapse must re-centre a more ‘nomadic’ or ‘rhizomic’ type of thinking that works against the grain of traditional western categories and conventional methods, making breathing space for experiential person-centred, ecological wisdom to blossom. What might this look like for global health and academia? Practicing medicine using an ecological lens; a system with geographically diverse representation in the authorship of scientific literature; methodological diversity in the top journals, placing qualitative research, stories and art on an equal footing with Randomised Controlled Trials; and editorial boards composed in part of lay members. A more inclusive academe, through Cultural Safety, where works from patients, service users, indigenous community voices are published alongside and co-produced with expert/professional communities is a step in the right direction.

Keywords: Decolonization, Anthropocene, epidemiology, epistemology, evidence-based medicine, Indigenous, ecology, diversity, nomadic, medical pluralism.

Reconstituting Somalia: The false characterisation of Somalia as a failed state


This essay examines the concept of the ‘failed state’ from a theoretical and empirical perspective arguing that the false characterisation of Somalia as a failed state has severe consequences on the future of state building. The popularization of ‘failed state’ in the political lexicon has proven to be problematic when analysing states such as Somalia, as the term has inbuilt contradictions and inconsistencies that makes it worthless as a political tool for analysis yet have severe and tangible consequences on state building. This article aims to debunk the myth of ‘failed states’ from a theoretical perspective by exposing the legacy of coloniality in statehood and the role of external agents in destabilizing Somalia, drawing on Constructivist and Post-Colonial theory to do so. Domestic state building projects in Somalia are repeatedly undermined and destabilized because the label of ‘failure’ has restricted the notion of governance to conform to a Western ideal. The Somali context demonstrates that the clan, a historic entity of socio-political order, and Islam are legitimate sources of governance and security beyond the state. By exploring indigenous state building projects, with a tight focus on clannism and the Islamic Court Union (ICU) movement, Somalia proves to be an arena for competing political realities showcasing that the reality of the situation is more complex than initially thought. This article examines the implications of using the ‘failed state’ as an approach, concluding that processes of state building are Western and extremely particular, and need to actively integrate the Somali identity in processes of state building and as such how governance is conceptualized needs to be re-evaluated.

Keywords: Somalia, ‘failed state’ approach, state building, Islamic Court Union (ICU), clan, Post-Colonial theory

Book Review: Returning Southeast Asia's Past: Objects, Museums, and Restitution

It is a rare and pleasant event when a topic about which you are preparing to write enters the daily news schedule in a positive way. Just as I was devouring Returning Southeast Asia’s Past in readiness for a book review, I learned of the completion of a process initiated by Glasgow Museums to return seven objects back to India; thought to be the first such return from a UK museum to India, it brings hope that more will soon follow, and can be considered as a timely indication that attitudes towards restitution, among some UK institutions at least, may be changing...

Decolonial Subversions Reading Group II

The second online meeting of the Decolonial Subversions Reading Group took place on Friday 4th March 2022 and the attendees were (in alphabetical order): Ibtisam, Monika, Muraina and Vincenzo. Surprisingly, even though most of the participants were different, some points raised during the previous meeting were touched also on this occasion, such as the selection of sources in academia based on their validity, and the extent of their general recognition when these sources are part of non-mainstream research approaches...

Manifesto, Arabic version

بيان أساسي

تم اقتراح فكرة هذا البيان من قبل مونيكا هيرمرMonika Hirmer ، أحد المحررين المؤسسين لـتقويضات ديكولونيالية، التي شعرت أن المنصة بحاجة إلى اتجاه أكثر نشاطا جذريا. بناء على محادثات أو حوارات متعددة مع المحرر المؤسس الدكتورة رومينا إستراتي Romina Istratii، اقترحت مونيكا أولاً بيانا أطول ، والذي على الرغم من أنه يعكس على نطاق واسع دوافع وقيم كلا المحررتين، فقد تأثر بشكل كبير بنهج مونيكا الخاص في إنهاء الاستعمار. لذلك اتفقوا على صياغة بيان أكثر إيجازا من أجل تحديد المبادئ المشتركة التي ألهمت أعمال تقويضات ديكلونيالية. تم نشر بيان مونيكا الخاص في مساحة منفصلة مخصصة لاستكشاف الاتجاهات المتعددة التي قد تتخذها هذه المنصة (راجع بيان مونيكا الأصلي). نرحب بردود الفعل أو التعابير الجديدة ردا على البيان الأساسي الموضح هنا. هدفنا هو تشجيع مناقشة حيوية حول الممارسة العملية أو البراكسيس العملي لإنهاء الاستعمار في سياق هذه المنصة وخارجها، بما يتماشى مع رؤيتنا بأن عمليات تقويض ديكولونيالية تبرز كمسعى تعاوني دولي يقوده المجتمع...

Decolonial Subversions Constitution

Decolonial Subversions is an open access, multilingual and multimodal publication platform. It is a collective of individuals and collaborators who participate voluntarily in its publishing work and activities, and are motivated by a common vision...