In today’s podcast Vitamin D reached out to Dr. Roberto D. Hernandez of San Diego State University to talk about the concept of decoloniality and the history of its emergence within the context of his own political formation as a Chicano activist raised in San Ysidro – blocks from the U.S.-Mexico border and the site of the busiest port of entry in the world. In what is hoped to be the first segment of a two-part discussion we touched on the post-1992 quincentenary protests of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas as a rife period for reformulating questions of colonization. Roberto talks us through the novel and radical sentiments informing the political movements of that time and how they tie in with emergent theories of European Modernity as coloniality. We also discuss Chicana/Chicano identity, the thought of Anibal Quijano, the synthesis of major third world theories into an analysis of decoloniality, and Roberto’s work on border logic and indigenous knowledge systems.
This podcast constitutes as part of Vitamin D’s commitment to introduce the concept of decoloniality to listeners who may or may not be actively studying or engaged in the politics of liberation through a colonial lens. Roberto helps us think through the differences between decolonial thought emerging out of the Latin-American context in the late 1980s and the existing schools of South Asian subaltern studies and theories of Orientalism, as well as between colonialism as a relationship between a colony and its mother nation predicated on notions of territorial sovereignty and coloniality as a globally operating logic of power. We learn that decoloniality as a novel theory of liberation of oppressed people emerges as a synthesis of existing models of liberation such as dependency theory, internal colonialism and world systems theory – all of which are defined and explained by Roberto in today’s pod. Lastly, we touch on the colonial knowledge systems that have given us, among other things, national borders and how mainstream discourses of immigrant/emigrant serve to perpetuate and further entrench the logic of borders. This latter area is what will be the topic for our second part of the conversation in the near future.
This impromptu chat was recorded on the day after Stuart Hall’s passing on Tuesday the 11th of February amidst a flurry of obituaries on the influential and much celebrated postcolonial scholar, media theorist and public intellectual. Daniel and I had planned to catch up on things over the previous weekend and so when the sad news reached us on the Monday of the 10th we were still working through the loss and what Hall had meant in our respective lives; Daniel as a Black British cultural historian who excelled as an academic in the wake of the period marked by Hall’s contributions to the western academic landscape, not least of which was the short-lived Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University directed by Hall from 1968 to1979 serving as an important intellectual guidepost; and I, as a refugee several times removed from any notion of a ‘home’ and for whom the terms transnationalism, diaspora, routes and roots have exceeded their significance as merely descriptive terms of the fugee experience and taken on existential qualities.
So this largely unstructured chat on the many legacies of Hall follows as a meditation on how his words have enabled us as individuals to broaden our ethical and political thinking in a rapidly changing world. I for one have profited immensely from his theoretical interventions to help me make sense of such loaded terms as ‘globalism’, or ‘globalisation’, or the ‘global local’, not to mention his acute critique of the neoliberal logic that would come to inform mainstream politics of the last four decades. Having been introduced to his work under Daniel’s tutelage in his Media and Cultural Studies lectures when he was based at the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation in the University of Hull this chat will also roughly cover some of Hall’s intellectual contributions with regards to media’s role in society, anti-racist rhetoric, and the institutionalisation of cultural studies, a subject of study he helped inaugurate in the 19060s.
In this first dose recorded earlier in the year, Vitamin D sat down with Media and Communication theorist, political activist and radio DJ Dr. Jared A. Ball from the I Mix What I Like podcast. Dr. Ball was gracious enough to tell us about his personal journey of politicization, his subsequent projects attempting to apply his knowledge and expertise within media to anti-colonial and freedom movements in the United States, and the nature and severity of the obstacles he has faced, and still is facing, within the established media power structure. Along the way we touched on the political and pedagogical legacies of the recently deceased Amiri Baraka and Stuart Hall, the concept of emancipatory journalism, and pondered whether ‘Media’ in general can be decolonized in 2014.