June 13, 2024

Decoloniality And Disintegration Of Western Cognitive Empire – Rethinking Sovereignty And Territoriality In The 21st Century (Conference Program)

April 14-16, 2021

International Online Conference

Register | Donations | Bios | Abstracts |Livestream

Sponsored by The New Polis, Whitestone Publications, and Metropolitan State University of Denver in collaboration with members of the Iliff School of Theology and University of Denver communities.

The conference is free to all attendees, although donations (which can be made through Eventbrite) are welcome. Please click on “Tickets” at the top of the page at Eventbrite site for the conference. Donations will go to the Whitestone Foundation to cover incidental conference expenses. All donations beyond that amount will be donated by The Whitestone Foundation specifically to the Tink Tinker Program Endowment Fund.

In order to take part in the conference, however, you must first register. Once you register, you will automatically receive a participation link for Zoom, which will be valid for the entire conference.

An English-Spanish translator will be available for certain sessions.

We are excited about this distinctive event, and even more gratified that we have had significantly more attendees register than anticipated.   However, the high volume of registrations means that it is possible some of the sessions will exceed the carrying capacity of the Zoom system.  Because it is unlikely that everyone who signed up will attend every session, this possibility could probably apply to only some of the more popular sessions.  But if we have to restrict attendees at any given session through the Zoom registration link, we wanted to let you know that we then activate the YouTube Livestream, and you will be able to watch and post comments or questions at the following link instead:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHaPvhNA1x8Fjry-w3lrqJwPlease keep this livestream link as a backup. Thank you for your understanding, and we look forward immensely to your participation.

The conference brings together in an online webinar format scholars from around the globe to discuss what is meant by such increasingly familiar terms as “decoloniality” or “decolonization.” It will explore the relationship between these themes and issues of nationality, territoriality, and sovereignty as they concern the struggles of indigenous peoples.

As premier global theorists such as Walter Mignolo, Catherine Walsh, and Tink Tinker (all of whom will take part in the conference) have emphasized, decolonization is not simply a political and cultural matter. It is also a profound epistemic problem, insofar as it is the minds along with the lands of native peoples who have been colonized. Increasingly the 21st century has come to be marked by the slow disintegration of what Portuguese theorist Boaventura de Sousa Santos dubs the “cognitive empire” of Western thought that has been the drive epistemic force behind global neoliberalism.

Recent civil unrest in the United States occurs amid broader global conditions. Calls for the removals of statues and land acknowledgment for Indigenous Peoples have drawn public attention to the ways that colonial concepts such as “discovery” of a “new world” continue to underwrite laws and civic comportment. As challenges to civic rituals arise, many cannot always tell the difference between birth pangs and death groans of various social movements.

Mignolo has characterized at least part of the angst at work in current cultural conflicts as contemporaneous to the disintegration of expectations created by narratives of modernity as one project. With attendance to the pluriversality of the twenty-first century, we are better able to the inherent hubris of Western dialectics of freedom and subjectivity in tension with aspirations to empire. We are also able to account for a certain narcissism that attempts to put the drama of that western hubris onto a global “center stage” as it enacts erasures of its others.

The western notion of sovereignty, which has been central to the concerns of eurochristian political theology, signifies an attachment to a cognitive empire.

Thus, for European romantics, a distinction between “natural man” and “citizen” erases nature as it civilizes and domesticates it. Yet, from a perspective of decoloniality, such a dichotomy between these two characters performs only the androcentrism typical of humanism. While thinkers such as Michel Foucault have articulated tensions between ‘sovereign power’ and ‘disciplinary power’, it is also clear that Indigenous Peoples, for example, have not traditionally employed such extractive notions of either concept.

Rather, such notions were conceptually superimposed onto Indigenous Peoples, resulting in their perceived erasure through the conversion of ‘the world’ into a global capitalist economy through doctrines of discovery and domination.

As Taiaiake Alfred (Kahnawake Mohawk) among others have noted, colonial notions remain embedded in aspirations to “tribal sovereignty.” Even successful attempts at recognition, such as the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples remains, as Ward Churchill and Charmaine White Face (Lakota) have argued, dilute the legal language and make it difficult for substantive effects in relation to centuries of injustices.



All times relate to Mountain Daylight Time (Denver, Colorado, United States)

Wednesday, April 14

8:00 am. Opening remarks (Carl Raschke and Roger Green, editors of The New Polis).

8:30 am – 10:00 am. “How Do You Do It as a Lawyer? Decoloniality and the Indian Child Welfare Act”. Sheldon Spotted Elk (Northern Cheyenne) and Andy Yost,  Public Knowledge LLC.

10:00 am – 12:00 pm. “Situating Knowing as a Practice of Decolonization”. Panel, Department of Performativity Studies, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland.

  • “Knowing with Writing. Performing Far East from Eastwest” (Małgorzata Sugiera)
  • “Knowing with Stone. Decolonizing Nature from Former West” (Mateusz Chaberski)
  • “Knowing with Naturalcultural Ruins of Eastern Europe” (Ewa Bal)
  • “Knowing with the City. Decolonizing Speculative Fiction” (Mateusz Borowski)

12:00 – 1:00 pm. Lunch

1:00 – 3:00 pm. The Colonial Compromise: The Threat of the Gospel to the Indigenous Worldview (Lexington Books 2021). A panel of contributors to the book.

Tink Tinker (wazhazhe, Osage Nation); Edward Antonio, Concordia College; Miguel De La Torre, Iliff School of Theology; Ward Churchill, Lecturer and Activist; Natsu Taylor Saito, Georgia State University; Roger Green, Metropolitan State University of Denver.

3:15 pm. On Decoloniality. A panel on the book On Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, Praxis by Walter Mignolo and Catherine Walsh (Duke University Press, 2018).

Walter D. Mignolo, Duke University, United States; Catherine Walsh, Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar, Ecuador; Fernando Herrero, University of London, United Kingdom; Tink Tinker, Iliff School of Theology (Emeritus), wazhazhe, Osage Nation.

Thursday, April 15

9:00 – 10:30 am. “Reconstructing Diversal Ontologies: Unlearning as a Methodology of Decolonial Living”. Magna Mohapatra and Zunayed Ahmed Ehsan, South Asian University, New Delhi, India.

10:45 am – 12:15 pm. “Decoloniality and the Critique of Western Modernity”.

Rüdiger Lohlker, Hans Schelkshorn, Center for Religion and Transformation, University of Vienna, Austria; Achmad Munjid, Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia.

12:15 – 1:00 pm. Lunch.

1:00 – 3:00 pm. “Gender, Religion and Sovereignty within the Decolonial Turn”. Javier Orlando Aguirre, Román, Escuela de Filosofía. Universidad Industrial de Santander, Colombia; Emma Vélez, University of Illinois; Angelica Gómez, Universidad de Nariño – Universidad del Cauca; Nicolas Panotto, Universidad Arturo Pratt, Chile.

3:15 pm. “Doing Decoloniality and Reclaiming Sovereignty: Community Discussion and Activist Forums”

In his book with Catherine Walsh On Decoloniality Walter Mignolo writes that “each of us is responsible for our decolonial liberation”. This open session for all conference registrants consists in a series of breakout discussion groups on a number of specific themes pertaining to decoloniality and sovereignty. It will offer an opportunity to air ideas and strategies concerning how one “does decoloniality” and reclaims sovereignty in a concrete and pragmatic fashion. Voices of students and attendees from the community will be given priority in these sessions.

Friday, April 16

8:30 – 9:00 am. “Grounding Nationhood: Soil as a Site of Collective Memory and Decolonial Disruption”.  Rana Nazzal Hamadeh,, Ryerson University, United States.

9:00 – 9:30 am. “The Western Cognitive Empire and the Rhetoric of Colonialism – A Scottish Case Study”.  Richard Saville-Smith, University of Edinburgh.

9:30 – 10:00 am. “Musing upon the Social Construction that Became South Africa. Tshepo Mvulane Moloi, Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Study (JIAS), South Africa.

10:00 – 10:45 am. “Governance, Decommoditization and Communality:  The Ngiguas of San Marcos Tlacoyalco in Puebla, Mexico.”   Guillermo López Varela, Intercultural University in San Marcos Tlacoyalco and María Cristina Manzano-Munguía, Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities of the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico.

10:45 – 11:00 am. Break

11:00 – 11:30 am. “Intimations of Unknown Worlds”: Decolonization and the Religious Existence of Land”. Ricardo Friaz, University of Oregon, United States.

11:30 am – 12:00 pm. “Black Sentience and Unreason: Sylvia Wynter’s Critique of Foucault & Derrida. Brendon Brown, New School for Social Research, United States.

12:00 am – 12:30 pm. “Res Publica Nullius: Landscape, Language, Occupation”, Michael Paninski, Brown University, United States.

12:30 – 1:00 pm. “Strictly Come Anglo with the U.S. on Top: John Ikenberry’s Liberal Internationalism”, Fernando Herrero, University of London, United Kingdom.

1:00 – 2:00 pm. Lunch

2:00 – 2:30 pm. “Digging up Settler Roots: Epistemological Legitimacy and Land Claims. Teelin Lucero, Emory University, United States.

2:30 – 3:00 pm. “On the Glocalization of the Mesh for a More Suspicious Postcolonial Hermeneutics of Indigenous Australian Fiction
Bonaventure Muzigirwa Munganga, University of New South Wales – Sydney.

3:00 -3:30 pm. “Interstitial Witness: Refuge from Erasure in the Work of Alexis Pauline Gumbs”, Joshua Lawrence, University of Denver-Iliff School of Theology.

3:30 pm. Closing remarks.

In order to offer opportunities for attendees to peruse the literature on decoloniality prior to the conference, we have provided a pre-conference reading list.

Pre-conference Reading List

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