Decolonial Subversions
Written

Foreword to Decolonial Subversions 2020





Editorial - Cross-cultural Engagements in Decolonial Times: Subverting Euro-centric Structures, Epistemologies and Ontologies





Plan S and the ‘opening up’ of scientific knowledge: A critical commentary

Abstract

Plan S is a an initiative that aims at ‘opening up’ access to scientific knowledge by ensuring immediate and cost-free (for the reader) access to scientific knowledge under specified Open Access (OA) principles. While the initiative is guided by evidently good intentions to overcome current obstacles that restrict the quick publication, dissemination and reproduction of scientific research, it is not only informed primarily by a natural sciences perspective, neglecting the humanities and social sciences, but also it does not appear to consider or address the more profound structural inequalities in knowledge production across the world. The essay aims to problematise some of these less often pronounced asymmetries in an effort to shift the attention of OA advocates to more urgent issues and to evidence the necessity for more subversive remedial strategies.

Keywords: Plan S, Open Access Publishing, global knowledge production, Euro-American

A Plan S és a tudományos tudás „hozzáférhetővé tétele”: kritikai kommentár

Absztrakt

A Plan S nevű kezdeményezés azt ígéri, hogy segít „hozzáférhetővé tenni” a tudományos tudást azáltal, hogy az olvasók számára azonnali és ingyenes hozzáférés biztosítását követeli a megfelelő Open Access elvek betartása által. Noha a kezdeményezés kétség kívül jószándékú, és célja azon jelenlegi publikációs akadályok leküzdésének segítése, melyek hátráltatják a gyors publikálást, a tudományos ismeretek terjesztését és sokszorosítását, a Plan S sajnálatos módon elsősorban a természettudományok perspektíváját veszi tekintetbe, figyelmen kívül hagyja a humán és társadalomtudományok jellegzetességeit, és egyáltalán nem foglalkozik egy sokkal alapvetőbb strukturális kérdéssel, tudniillik a tudástermelésben jelenlévő globális egyenlőtlenségekkel. Jelen esszé elsősorban ez utóbbi, általában kevéssé hangsúlyozott aszimmetriákkal foglalkozik annak érdekében, hogy az Open Accessre irányuló szinte kizárólagos figyelem helyett néhány sokkal sürgetőbb, kapcsolódó problémát is megfogalmazzunk és felhívjuk a figyelmet arra, hogy a globális tudástermelési folyamatok megreformálása érdekében sokkal alapvetőbb változásokat tartalmazó stratégiákra lenne szükség.

Kulcsszavak: Plan S, Open Access publikáció, globális tudástermelés, episztemikus egyenlőtlenségek, Euro-Amerikai sztenderdek, Angol nyelv

Cognates of ubuntu: Humanity/personhood in the Swahili philosophy of utu

Abstract

This article interrogates the humanistic foundations of African philosophy, as expressed in the philosophy of ubuntu for instance. It does this through a study of the Swahili discourse on utu (humanity, humankind, personhood). To do this, the article explores the semantics of the Swahili language and its idioms and sayings and goes on to examine how these are reflected in several genres of Swahili poetry, prose fiction, but also theoretical discussions among experts in radio broadcasts, internet blogs or in interviews reproduced in literature on Swahili philosophy. The article isolates several distinct understandings of utu: next to the "cultural" concept, developed both affirmatively and polemically across a range of genres from traditional metric poetry to popular literature and blogs, there are specific readings of the concept in ujamaa novels, in existentialist literature, and in experimental prose fiction. The article observes that one important vector of these understandings is religion; they offer divergent answers to the question of how far utu is derived from religious faith. This concern with religion is practically absent both from the discussions on ubuntu in southern African cultures and from the variations on humanistic philosophy in West Africa. Having raised the question of what makes "African humanism" different from from the conceptualizations of humanity in other regions and from other historical forms of humanism in the world, the article suggests that it is the lack of interest in the non-human world to which humanistic philosophy would respond and the absence of a "natural philosophy" as a counterpart of life focalized through humanity and theorized in human-centred terms, that characterizes the many mutations of humanism in Africa.

Keywords: ubuntu, humanism, humanity, utu, Swahili philosophy, Swahili literature

Linguistic Human Rights and Multilingual Education: Report from an Indian University

Abstract

This paper will report on the designing and teaching of Masters-level courses on multilingual education and linguistic human rights. These courses are being offered at a private, not-for-profit Indian university which has an explicit social justice agenda. The deliberately diverse student body offers unique opportunities to explore multilingualism in the classroom and in society: a July 2019 class of 46 students had between them 35 language-names! The essay first sets out the somewhat unusual background of the University. It then gives an overview of some aspects of the University’s diversity. Thereafter, we describe a few of our courses on multilingualism, their objectives, and some pedagogic strategies. The university aims to create reflective practitioners for the social sector – especially in education, development and public policy. There is therefore a discursive coherence between the various courses in the Masters programmes. Students are particularly receptive to arguments about discrimination, exclusion, equity, rights, and policies. However, while class, caste, gender and region are familiar axes of exclusion, there is much less awareness among students of the intersectionality of language as reflecting, constituting, and reproducing privilege, discrimination and exclusion. The courses on multilingual education and linguistic human rights thus build on the strengths that the programmes and the students already have. The courses then seek to go beyond, inviting students to critique existing linguistic inequalities, and devise an innovative curriculum and pedagogy. The essay ends by sketching two initiatives of the University that will help to develop critical perspectives on India’s multilingualism, and design educational and policy interventions which strengthen mother-tongue based multilingualism and contribute to the building of a just, equitable, sustainable and humane society. This paper reviews the experience of teaching these courses, and suggests some possible future directions.

Keywords: multilingual education, linguistic human rights, social justice, education, curriculum, pedagogy

Lingvaj homaj rajtoj kaj multlingva edukado: raporto de barata universitato

Resumo

Tiu ĉi eseo raportos pri la desegnado kaj instruado de magistra-nivelaj kursoj pri multlingva edukado kaj lingvaj homaj rajtoj. Oni ofertas la kursojn en privata, neprofitcela barata universitato kiu havas eksplicitan celon je socia justeco. La planite diversa studentaro donas unikan ŝancon esplori la multlingvismon en la klasĉambro kaj en la socio: en julio 2019 ekzemple, en klaso de 46 studentoj estis listo de 35 lingvonomoj! La eseo unue prezentos la iom nekutiman fonon de la universitato. Poste ĝi donos superrigardon de kelkaj aspektoj de la diverseco de la universitato. Post tio, ni priskribos kelkajn el niaj kursoj pri la multlingvismo, ĝiaj celoj, kaj ĝiaj pedagogiaj strategioj. La universitato celas prepari pensemajn laborantojn por la socia sektoro – aparte en la edukado, la socia evoluo, kaj la publika strategiaro. Pro tiu perspektivo, troviĝas cela kohereco inter la diversaj kursoj en la magistraj programoj. La studentoj estas aparte sentemaj pri argumentoj pri diskriminacio, ekskludado, egaleco, rajtoj, kaj strategiaro. Tamen, dum socia klaso, kasto, sekso, kaj regiono estas konataj aksoj de la ekskludado, ekzistas multe malpli da scio inter la studentoj pri la transkategoria naturo de la lingvo, kiel io kio respegulas, formas, kaj reproduktas privilegion, diskriminacion kaj ekskludadon. Tiel, la kursoj pri multlingva edukado kaj lingvaj homaj rajtoj uzas la komprenojn kiujn la programoj kaj la studentoj jam posedas. Plue, la kursoj instigas la studentojn kritike pensi pri ekzistantaj lingvaj neegalecoj, kaj verki novtipajn studprogramojn kaj pedagogion. La eseo finiĝas per skizoj de du iniciatoj de la universitato kiuj helpos formi kritikajn perspektivojn pri la barata multlingvismo, kaj dezajni edukajn kaj strategiarajn intervenojn kiuj fortigos gepatralingve bazitan multlingvismon kaj kontribuos al la kreado de pli justa, egaleca, daŭripova kaj homeca socio. La eseo resumas la sperton instrui tiujn ĉi kursojn, kaj sugestas kelkajn vojojn por la estonteco.

Ŝlosilvortoj: multlingva edukado, lingvaj homaj rajtoj, socia justeco, edukado, studprogramo, pedagogio.

Subalternity and Subjectivity in Sairat

Abstract

This article positions the depictions of caste in mainstream Indian cinema as cultural histories reflecting the discourse on caste relations and social inequality prevalent in contemporary India. Drawing from postcolonial theory that analyses the politics of representation, I situate how cultural representations of caste are shaped by colonial and postcolonial modes of governance and feudal landownership in India. I extend frameworks grounded in postcolonial theory to study empirical media phenomena which have relevance for future interdisciplinary studies. In that sense, this article attempts to decolonise representations of subaltern subjectivity by taking the case study of Sairat (Wild), a commercially successful film made in Marathi, a widely spoken regional language in western India. The article considers the treatment of themes of social difference related to caste in cinema and culture, that also foregrounds the need for studies of critical spectatorship of representations in mainstream Indian cinema.

Keywords: politics of representation, regional cinema, India, marginalised communities, subversion in mainstream cinema

An exploration of agency within Maroon ecological praxis: Unearthing the histories of Maroon ecology in Jamaica and Brazil from 1630 to 1780

Abstract

The intricate histories of Maroon ecology contain complex, layered histories of agency that shaped and redefined Maroon experiences. Rather than relying on one-sided colonial narratives of Maroon spatiality and ecological praxis that confine these experiences to the institution of slavery and defence against enslavement, this research goes deeper to explore agency through the ecological relations in the Maroon sites of Jamaica and Brazil from 1630 to 1780. By examining existing literature on Maroon experiences, this work seeks to re-imagine these relations by recognising Maroon ecology both in context and as a legitimate part of history. It also seeks to develop a framework that offers deeper insight into Maroon ecology, mainly through understanding the inextricable link between the environment and Maroon experiences.

Keywords: Maroon, agency, ecology, hinterland, coloniality, colonialism

A Manifesto for Decolonial Subversions

Abstract

While decolonisation has in recent years become increasingly popular in everyday and academic discourses, it has thus far failed to deliver the radical ruptures and revolutionary transformations of the world-order envisioned by anticolonial practitioners and intellectuals. In great part, this is because exploitative politico-economic relations reminiscent of imperialism are upheld under the guise of globalisation, free-market and development. This Decolonial Manifesto is a call for action to dismantle current power structures and bring about fairer and decentred processes of producing, legitimising and distributing knowledge over and above challenging western hegemony in general. While a series of pragmatic points of action directly aim to overcome the deep-rooted issues pervading academic publishing (including rotational editorship, open access publishing, multilingual written, audio and visual contributions among others), these are to be collocated within larger narratives challenging race- and class-informed marginalisations, capitalist and neoliberal market-structures, unethical patriarchal setups, ableist discourses and the relentless destruction of planet Earth. Such a project is necessarily open-ended, collaborative and disruptive, and promises subversive and enriching spaces for change.

Keywords: decolonisation, publishing, knowledge production, regimes of truth, subversion