Decoloniality is stuck in discursive games that only abdicate elites’ responsibility—turns the AFF
Read 10 (Malcolm K., professor of linguistics and Latin American studies at Stony Brook University, “Reclaiming Reality: Walter Mignolo,” in Latin American Colonial Studies: A Marxist Critique, p 85-86)-jn
North American Hispanism in its postmodern form – roughly corresponding to "cultural studies" – is mortgaged to a philosophical irrealism that now encompasses much of what is produced within the North American academy. The unenviable task of colonialists working within Hispanism is how to reconcile that irrealism with their claim to embrace a genuinely transformative, politically progressive program. Their solution has been to promote a discursive materialism that hinges upon the notion of a performance, through which to reduce the domain of the ontological to that of the epistemological. The emphasis upon action is productive of a species of voluntarist rhetoric that, under the guise of "openness" to the "voices of the other," seeks to subordinate scientific rationality, which is seen as inherently exploitative and oppressive, to local or "border" cultures that completely escape critical interrogation. Perforce, these same colonialists have little to offer regarding what must be considered the most urgent task facing indigenous communities, namely how to reconcile the popular demand for enfranchisement, based on the preservation of multiple identities, with the necessary task of modernization. At the same time, they have much to offer a leisured elite, angered by the reality of post-colonial poverty but complicit with an imperialism that allows it (the elite) to live in what Bhaskar, with unwonted brutality, refers to as "conditions of plenty" (Bhaksar 1991b: 135). In order to sustain these and related claims, we turn in the present chapter to Walter Mignolo, whose mature work, notably The Darker Side of the Renaissance and Local Histories/Global Designs (2000), while ambitious in scope and aim – they question the very basis of European thought, with respect to its implication in colonialism – yet remains thoroughly rooted in the cultural semiotics that characterized the colonialist's earlier work.
Their theory has a reductionist approach to Latin American scholarship—turns case by re-inscribing the faulty scholarship they criticize.
Salvatore 2006 (Ricardo D., Departmento de Historia, Universidad Torcuato di Tella, PhD in Economics from UT Austin) “A Post-Occidentalist Manifesto: Review of The Idea of Latin America by Walter D. Mignolo” A Contracorriente, Fall 2006.
Mignolo’s manifesto simplifies and reduces the diverse composition and history of Latin American intellectuals and their institutions of knowledge. For, if the typical intellectual of early twentieth-century Argentina and Brazil shared similar presuppositions about race, social problems, and positivist methods, the same could not be said of Bolivian or Guatemalan intellectuals. Certainly, European institutions, theories and methods exerted much influence on the national intelligentsias of the Latin American republics, but local conditions produced an adaptation of these preconceptions and categories that generate distinct policies and intellectual projects. The same could be said about their universities, libraries, and science laboratories. These institutions translated the project of modernity locally, generating many scaled-down variations of the model principles and institutions. Only by reducing the search to a few exemplary authors, is one able to control the enormous diversity of local/native thought. But this is precisely what one should try to avoid: to place ideas, concepts, and authors into neatly separated compartments labeled “modernity” and “coloniality”.¶ The privilege attributed to certain authors who are representatives of races or peoples oppressed by centuries of colonialism (or the cognate idea that “mestizo” intellectuals working upon the “colonial wound” are truly uncovering the hidden history of “coloniality”) is a pill that is very hard to swallow. Why would the writings of a Bolivian sociologist writing in Kechua be more in tune with the needs of the oppressed than another Bolivian sociologist writing in Spanish, or for that matter, than a European sociologist writing in English or French? The possibilities are only two: either locality (language and community) gives the knower a privileged understanding over (and compassion with) a given subject; or the subject of observation and scrutiny is closed to outsiders (or speakers of another language). I do not find the idea of epistemic privilege entirely convincing. Nor do I find that a given community or locality is able to control and keep for itself its own perspective, knowledge, or categories. Local knowledge, as any other type of property, is subject to appropriation by outsiders.¶ To claim that there are some hidden truths that can only be understood from a certain position (cosmology, locality, ayllu, etc) implies that somehow the Empire has failed to “extract” these truths in the past. In my research I have found this not to be the case. During the late colonial period, New England visitors would disguise themselves as monks (and actually enter into convents) in order to know the practices of Catholics in the River Plate region. Similarly, a German anthropologist would go into the caves of the Peruvian mountains in order to denounce the stock- piling of arms by indigenous communities. Mayan archaeologists would stop at nothing to obtain Mayan texts and decode them. And so forth. My point is: the citadel of local knowledge was invaded many times over the course of history. And that is why Western knowledge became a cabinet of curiosities coming from non-Western places.
Their implication that experience validates their argument, or disproves our engagement is solipsism that reentrenches oppression—engagement is a better political strategy
David Bridges, Centre for Applied Research in Education, University of East Anglia, 2001, The Ethics of Outsider Research, Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 35, No. 3
First, it is argued that only those who have shared in, and have been part of, a particular experience can understand or can properly understand (and perhaps `properly' is particularly heavily loaded here) what it is like. You need to be a woman to understand what it is like to live as a woman; to be disabled to understand what it is like to live as a disabled person etc. Thus Charlton writes of `the innate inability of able-bodied people, regardless of fancy credentials and awards, to understand the disability experience' (Charlton, 1998, p. 128).
Charlton's choice of language here is indicative of the rhetorical character which these arguments tend to assume. This arises perhaps from the strength of feeling from which they issue, but it warns of a need for caution in their treatment and acceptance. Even if able-bodied people have this `inability' it is difficult to see in what sense it is `innate'. Are all credentials `fancy' or might some (e.g. those reflecting a sustained, humble and patient attempt to grapple with the issues) be pertinent to that ability? And does Charlton really wish to maintain that there is a single experience which is the experience of disability, whatever solidarity disabled people might feel for each other?
The understanding that any of us have of our own conditions or experience is unique and special, though recent work on personal narratives also shows that it is itself multi-layered and inconstant, i.e. that we have and can provide many different understandings even of our own lives (see, for example, Tierney, 1993). Nevertheless, our own understanding has a special status: it provides among other things a data source for others' interpretations of our actions; it stands in a unique relationship to our own experiencing; and no one else can have quite the same understanding. It is also plausible that people who share certain kinds of experience in common stand in a special position in terms of understanding those shared aspects of experience. However, once this argument is applied to such broad categories as `women' or `blacks', it has to deal with some very heterogeneous groups; the different social, personal and situational characteristics that constitute their individuality may well outweigh the shared characteristics; and there may indeed be greater barriers to mutual understanding than there are gateways.
These arguments, however, all risk a descent into solipsism: if our individual understanding is so particular, how can we have communication with or any understanding of anyone else? But, granted Wittgenstein's persuasive argument against a private language (Wittgenstein, 1963, perhaps more straightforwardly presented in Rhees, 1970), we cannot in these circumstances even describe or have any real understanding of our own condition in such an isolated world. Rather it is in talking to each other, in participating in a shared language, that we construct the conceptual apparatus that allows us to understand our own situation in relation to others, and this is a construction which involves understanding differences as well as similarities.
Besides, we have good reason to treat with some scepticism accounts provided by individuals of their own experience and by extension accounts provided by members of a particular category or community of people. We know that such accounts can be riddled with special pleading, selective memory, careless error, self-centredness, myopia, prejudice and a good deal more. A lesbian scholar illustrates some of the pressures that can bear, for example, on an insider researcher in her own community:
As an insider, the lesbian has an important sensitivity to offer, yet she is also more vulnerable than the non-lesbian researcher, both to the pressure from the heterosexual world--that her studies conform to previous works and describe lesbian reality in terms of its relationship with the outside-and to pressure from the inside, from within the lesbian community itself--that her studies mirror not the reality of that community but its self-protective ideology. (Kreiger, 1982, p. 108)
In other words, while individuals from within a community have access to a particular kind of understanding of their experience, this does not automatically attach special authority (though it might attach special interest) to their own representations of that experience. Moreover, while we might acknowledge the limitations of the understanding which someone from outside a community (or someone other than the individual who is the focus of the research) can develop, this does not entail that they cannot develop and present an understanding or that such understanding is worthless. Individuals can indeed find benefit in the understandings that others offer of their experience in, for example, a counselling relationship, or when a researcher adopts a supportive role with teachers engaged in reflection on or research into their own practice. Many have echoed the plea of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns (in `To a louse'):
O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us To see oursels as others see us!3
--even if they might have been horrified with what such power revealed to them. Russell argued that it was the function of philosophy (and why not research too?) `to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom . . .It keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect' (Russell, 1912, p. 91). `Making the familiar strange', as Stenhouse called it, often requires the assistance of someone unfamiliar with our own world who can look at our taken-for-granted experience through, precisely, the eye of a stranger. Sparkes (1994) writes very much in these terms in describing his own research, as a white, heterosexual middleaged male, into the life history of a lesbian PE teacher. He describes his own struggle with the question `is it possible for heterosexual people to undertake research into homosexual populations?' but he concludes that being a `phenomenological stranger' who asks `dumb questions' may be a useful and illuminating experience for the research subject in that they may have to return to first principles in reviewing their story. This could, of course be an elaborate piece of self-justification, but it is interesting that someone like Max Biddulph, who writes from a gay/bisexual standpoint, can quote this conclusion with apparent approval (Biddulph, 1996).
People from outside a community clearly can have an understanding of the experience of those who are inside that community. It is almost certainly a different understanding from that of the insiders. Whether it is of any value will depend among other things on the extent to which they have immersed themselves in the world of the other and portrayed it in its richness and complexity; on the empathy and imagination that they have brought to their enquiry and writing; on whether their stories are honest, responsible and critical (Barone, 1992). Nevertheless, this value will also depend on qualities derived from the researchers' externality: their capacity to relate one set of experiences to others (perhaps from their own community); their outsider perspective on the structures which surround and help to define the experience of the community; on the reactions and responses to that community of individuals and groups external to it.4
Finally, it must surely follow that if we hold that a researcher, who (to take the favourable case) seeks honestly, sensitively and with humility to understand and to represent the experience of a community to which he or she does not belong, is incapable of such understanding and representation, then how can he or she understand either that same experience as mediated through the research of someone from that community? The argument which excludes the outsider from understanding a community through the effort of their own research, a fortiori excludes the outsider from that understanding through the secondary source in the form of the effort of an insider researcher or indeed any other means. Again, the point can only be maintained by insisting that a particular (and itself ill-defined) understanding is the only kind of understanding which is worth having.
The epistemological argument (that outsiders cannot understand the experience of a community to which they do not belong) becomes an ethical argument when this is taken to entail the further proposition that they ought not therefore attempt to research that community. I hope to have shown that this argument is based on a false premise. Even if the premise were sound, however, it would not necessarily follow that researchers should be prevented or excluded from attempting to understand this experience, unless it could be shown that in so doing they would cause some harm. This is indeed part of the argument emerging from disempowered communities and it is to this that I shall now turn.
III OUTSIDERS IMPORT DAMAGING FRAMEWORKS OF UNDERSTANDING
Frequent in the literature about research into disability, women's experience, race and homosexuality is the claim that people from outside these particular communities will import into their research, for example, homophobic, sexist or racist frameworks of understanding, which damage the interests of those being researched.
In the case of research into disability it has been argued that outsider researchers carry with them assumptions that the problem of disability lies with the disabled rather than with the society which frames and defines disability. `The essential problem of recent anthropological work on culture and disability is that it perpetuates outmoded beliefs and continues to distance research from lived oppression' (Charlton, 1998, p. 27). By contrast: `a growing number of people with disabilities have developed a consciousness that transforms the notion and concept of disability from a medical condition to a political and social condition' (Charlton, 1998, p.17). Charlton goes on to criticise, for example, a publication by Ingstad and Reynolds Whyte (1995), Disability and Culture. He claims that, although it does add to our understanding of how the conceptualisation and symbolisation of disability takes place, `its language is and perspective are still lodged in the past. In the first forty pages alone we find the words suffering, lameness, interest group, incapacitated, handicapped, deformities. Notions of oppression, dominant culture, justice, human rights, political movement, and selfdetermination are conspicuously absent' (Charlton, 1998 p. 27).
Discussing the neo-colonialism of outsider research into Maori experience, Smith extends this type of claim to embrace the wider methodological and metaphysical framing of outsider research: `From an indigenous perspective Western research is more than just research that is located in a positivist tradition. It is research which brings to bear, on any study of indigenous peoples, a cultural orientation, a set of values, a different conceptualization of such things as time, space and subjectivity, different and competing theories of knowledge, highly specialized forms of language, and structures of power' (Smith, 1999, p. 42).5
This position requires, I think, some qualification. First, researchers are clearly not immune from some of the damaging and prejudicial attitudes on matters of race, sexuality, disability and gender which are found among the rest of the population, though I might hope that their training and experience might give them above-average awareness of these issues and above-average alertness to their expression in their own work. Even where such attitudes remain in researchers' consciousness, this intelligent self-awareness and social sensitivity mean on the whole that they are able to deploy sufficient self-censorship not to expose it in a damaging way. Researchers may thus remain morally culpable for their thoughts, but, at least, communities can be spared the harm of their expression. It is also a matter of some significance that researchers are more exposed than most to public criticism, not least from critics from within these disempowered communities, when such prejudices do enter and are revealed in their work. If they employ the rhetoric of, for example, anti-racist or anti-sexist conviction, they are at least in their public pronouncements exposed to the humiliation of being hoisted by their own petard. It is difficult to see the fairness in excluding all outsider researchers on the a priori supposition of universal prejudice. It is better, surely, to expose it where it is revealed and, if absolutely necessary, to debar individuals who ignore such criticism and persist in using the privilege of their research position to peddle what can then only be regarded as damaging and prejudicial propaganda. Secondly, it is plainly not the case that Western research is located exclusively (as is implied) in a positivist tradition, even if this tradition has been a dominant one. Phenomenology, ethnography, life history, even, more recently, the use of narrative fiction and poetry as forms of research representation, are all established ingredients of the educational research worlds in the UK, USA or Australasia. Contemporary research literature abounds with critiques of positivism as well as examples of its continuing expression.
I have placed much weight in these considerations on the importance of any research being exposed to criticism--most importantly, perhaps, but by no means exclusively by the people whose experience it claims to represent. This principle is not simply an ethical principle associated with the obligations that a researcher might accept towards participants in the research, but it is a fundamental feature of the processes of research and its claims to command our attention. It is precisely exposure to, modification through and survival of a process of vigorous public scrutiny that provides research with whatever authority it can claim. In contemporary ethnographic research, case-study and life-history research, for example, this expectancy of exposure to correction and criticism is one which runs right through the research process. The methodological requirement is for participants to have several opportunities to challenge any prejudices which researchers may bring with them: at the point where the terms of the research are first negotiated and they agree to participate (or not); during any conversations or interviews that take place in the course of the research; in responding to any record which is produced of the data gathering; in response to any draft or final publication. Indeed, engagement with a researcher provides any group with what is potentially a richly educative opportunity: an opportunity to open their eyes and to see things differently. It is, moreover, an opportunity which any researcher worth his or her salt will welcome.
Not all researchers or research processes will be as open as are described here to that educative opportunity, and not all participants (least of all those who are self-defining as `disempowered') will feel the confidence to take them even if they are there.