Intersectional Decoloniality: Listening to the Different ‘Others’


How is it doable to respect variations whereas additionally asking to alter and/or remodel one thing? How is it doable to outline what’s ‘colonialism’ and to create a decolonial praxis whereas additionally encompassing distinction even on the degree of epistemic politics? The significance of this downside of distinction lies on the opportunity of figuring out, being, and enacting a context-dependent multiplicity of struggles, voices, and tasks concurrently. Moreover, this question carries us in direction of an examination of what wants to alter with the intention to perceive, be, and enact extra multiplicity: What transformation does decoloniality demand with the intention to create potentialities of co-being, co-knowing, and co-enacting? As I’ve proven elsewhere  (Scauso 2021), these questions may be answered by fruitfully sustaining a dilemma or paradox, which teaches us to create a distinct type of decolonial method, enabling motion whereas additionally treasuring the reflexivity and circularity of a way more humble start line.

To interact on this dialogue, the article begins by delineating the dilemma that emerges when approaches purpose in direction of multiplicity and motion on the similar time. Second, the article describes how Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui sustains this stress by discussing Andean cosmologies and establishing a distinct type of relational method. Third, the article outlines a number of the benefits that emerge once we use a precarious and momentary method of settling the dilemma to assemble decolonial and intersectional praxis. Lastly, the conclusion brings again the questioning nature of the dilemma, which is hereby sustained as an ever-lurking supply of reflexivity and democratic dialogue.

The Drawback of Distinction as a Dilemma

On one aspect, essentialist and foundationalist discourses resembling some types of Liberalism and Marxism usually resolve the issue of distinction by establishing ontological notions of ‘humanity,’ which outline what’s undeniably ‘actual’ and universally shared by all ‘people’ (Foucault 1970; Wynter 1995; Mignolo 2000; Reinaga 2014). From these notions of a ‘human’ commonality, these approaches decide what must be defended, protected, or enacted; they validate a set of traits that then turn out to be bases of equality and foundations for complete techniques of justice. These bedrocks are sometimes used to assemble the linear temporalities that information motion in direction of futures of ‘justice’. By way of epistemological notions of connections between these realities and specific identities, discourses additionally hyperlink these concepts of equality to those that seem like closest to ‘humanity’.

Within the validation of single equalities, legitimation of specific tasks, and authorization of particular identities, these epistemic assumptions create the circumstances of chance to raise methods of figuring out, being, and enacting, organizing different types of justice, identification, and transformation as ‘mistaken,’ ‘deviant,’ ‘inferior,’ ‘barbaric,’ ‘conventional,’ ‘uncivilized,’ ‘threats,’ and so forth. (Foucault 1970; George and Campbell 1990; Seth 2010). That’s, this epistemic elevation of particular concepts constructs circumstances of chance for motion, nevertheless it additionally results in the violence that emerges when ‘different’ methods of figuring out, being, and enacting are annexed, assimilated, remodeled, erased, and/or killed. In a way, they resolve the issue of distinction by elevating and universalizing some ‘human’ traits, which then enable them to incorporate guides for actions, however this epistemic technique additionally constructs the othering tendencies that maintain colonial legacies. As I analyze elsewhere, these epistemic assumptions will not be mental productions forgotten in some dusty bookshelf; they seem in institutionalized and consequential constructions of states and civilization (Scauso 2021).

On the opposite aspect of the issue of distinction, the opportunity of encompassing extra range and renouncing essentialist foundations has led to various approaches and difficulties. As different authors level out, the unconventional renunciation of foundations and epistemic moments of validation can stop us from having the opportunity of making assertions and appearing (Habermas 1992, 2). Equally, others affirm that our liberation from the prisons of ‘humanity’ results in the very destruction of the topic (Wynter 1995, 33). As an alternative, authors resembling Foucault have emphasised the opportunity of ‘diversification’ (1972, 175) or ‘desubjugation’ (1997, 10). By renouncing foundations, and by taking discourse solely in its second of irruption, interpreters can analyze the epistemic constructions inside these formations (Foucault 1972, 127) and the number of methods by which discourses relate to one another (Foucault 1972, 160–61). The sensible implication of this research is the opportunity of desubjugation, which entails the deconstruction of the universalizing tendency that emerges from the epistemic meanings of specific formations.

Regardless of this methodological benefit of desubjugation, deconstruction will not be harmless both. In as far as the universalizing tendency of foundations seem like the issue that results in annexation and colonialism, the constant implications of post-structuralism equally demand the deconstruction of all universalizing positivities. Inside this logic, the epistemic assumptions of institutionalized tasks resembling liberal civilization, and the epistemic assumptions of Indianista critiques of colonial legacies seem like equally problematic (Scauso 2021, 166). Furthermore, renouncing foundations and strictly staying inside discourse additionally entails rejecting any type of additional discursive notion of energy, which undermines any chance of distinguishing between extra ‘institutionalized’ or highly effective discourses and different tasks (163). As a number of authors level out, this sort of post-structuralism runs a danger of abandoning the very voices that it seeks to desubjugate (Viaña, Claros, and Sarzuri-Lima 2010; Alcoreza 2014; Rivera 2015). Maybe Foucault aimed in direction of avoiding these implications when he warned us towards the generalization of deficit (1972, 118), however his method to the issue of distinction doesn’t present a strategy to decide when deconstruction must cease both (Scauso 2021, 167).

To keep away from these tendencies, quite a few decolonial authors sought to re-attach that means to one thing aside from itself, enabling a chance of distinguishing among the many ranges of domination of various discourse. For instance, Walsh and Mignolo affirm that domination has an overarching construction of coloniality, which explains and organizes different struggles and alternate options (2018, 23). To categorise a selected type of domination as overarching, Mignolo and Walsh connect this construction to specific geo-political contexts, concerning it as a extra goal construction of exploitation (2018, 146). The issue of grounding discourses specifically geo-political contexts is that it annexes the range of struggles in these ‘places’ inside a hierarchicalized and assimilating logic, which then establishes what expertise issues most and needs to be heard first (Scauso 2021, 220).

Relational Cosmologies

Many authors have analyzed this dilemma or handled it from feminist (e.g., McCall 2005; Mann 2013), queer (e.g., Weber 2016), post-colonial (e.g., Inayatullah and Blaney 2004), post-structuralist (e.g., Butler 1990), constructivist (e.g., Doty 1997), and relational lenses (e.g., Trownsell et al. 2019). In an effort to contribute to this dialogue, I purpose to study from the work of Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui (1999; 2010b; 2010a; 2012; 2015; 2018), whereas additionally including a few of my very own conclusions from earlier analysis.

Rivera discusses a relational notion of Andean cosmology. As Trownsell et al. affirm, cosmologies embody ontological assumptions concerning the nature of existence in conceptualizations of {our relationships} with the cosmos and our locations in it (Trownsell et al. 2019, 1). Nonetheless, as a substitute of defining our place within the cosmos by drawing hierarchicalized notions of a topic that’s above knowable objects, Rivera develops her method by understanding all of the contributors of relationships as equal topics in a dialogue (Rivera 2018, 90). By way of this notion, Rivera equalizes the varied types of senti-pensar that allow all topics to know, really feel, be, and enact relationships; she discusses a type of epistemological equality, which undermines the notion of a topic that’s separated from knowable objects. This sort of co-participation in relationships creates potentialities of figuring out (2015, 25), however the method strikes away from concepts of essentialized objects resembling liberal concepts of ‘humanity’ and it focuses on relationships to consider the cosmos.

On one aspect, this notion permits the interpreter to grasp the unconventional range of relationships and experiences expressed in a number of methods. Rivera affirms that this could embody not solely rationalized, written, and/or systematic methods of figuring out, but additionally extra advanced types of experiencing worlds ‘con las entrañas’ (2018, 121), which entails emotions, intuitions, ideas, arts, pictures, and different kinds of senti-pensar. Right here, Rivera is ready to co-participate as one more equal topic, decoding a plurality of meanings, weaving a number of narratives, and establishing multi-layered and dynamic maps of relationships (2015, 126).

Inside this chance of understanding multiplicity, the method permits us to maneuver past the essentialist claims of objectivity and singularity that usually lead in direction of the othering and violence of civilizing tasks. On this sense, Rivera’s method is a deep critique of objectivity that emerges from fragmented visions of society (Rivera 2015, 91). On the similar time, nonetheless, Rivera acknowledges the issue that surges when this logic is universalized as one other basis, actuality, or excellent bedrock. By assuming that co-participation is the essence of the Cosmos itself and by universalizing this epistemologically equalizing understanding of relationality, the place of the interpreter would additionally turn out to be assimilated as an equal topic whose authority to demand any change or transformation is undermined and epistemically erased. Furthermore, the generalized equalization of all relationships undermines the opportunity of making any judgement even towards the ‘colonial’ features of some relationships. This menace towards motion and categorization is mentioned by Rivera in her definition of the Khä Pacha (2015, 212). The re-essentialization of one more method may thus result in the universalization of a selected logic, notion of epistemic equality, and understanding of relationality, which may create, on this case, a paralyzing destruction of all motion. As an alternative, Rivera urges us to make use of this dilemma and threatening tendency as a distinct type of start line.

Decolonial Motion in Precarity: Professions of religion and epistemic moments

As an alternative of reaching for the ‘grasp’s instruments’ (Lorde 2018), Rivera appears to maintain the strain on the cosmological degree. The epistemic elevation of a ‘humanity’ and even broader logics of equality permits motion, however usually on the expense of ‘others.’ On the contrary, the generalized chance of renouncing foundations permits us to grasp extra distinction, nevertheless it both results in relativism or in direction of indiscriminate notions of deconstruction. As an alternative of looking for the proper and universalized reply to this dilemma by constructing one other essentialist epistemic platform such because the notion of geo-politics, Rivera’s method teaches us to maintain this dilemma as an ever-lurking and irresolvable query. In a way, she avoids the destruction of all motion and he or she goals to create a chance of decoloniality, however she additionally teaches us that this praxis emerges from the void of Khä Pacha, renouncing consolidated foundations and with out assuming fully harmless or excellent options.

To attain this purpose, Rivera constructs her second of epistemic elevation and motion as separated from the cosmos and actuality ‘on the market.’ She teaches us to assemble motion with out the vanity that emerges from assuming it as similar to unquestionable foundations. Rivera states that she makes ‘… a career of religion, which is predicated on the concept decolonization can solely be realized inside apply. This is able to be, nonetheless, a reflexive and communicative apply based within the want of recuperating a reminiscence and our personal corporality’ (2015, 28, creator’s translation ). This career of religion permits the epistemic elevation of a bounded definition of relationality and equality, which embody a constant type of decolonial motion, however, on the similar time, motion is indifferent from the essence of the Cosmos and it’s enabled solely from a way more precarious epistemic platform of validation, which finally depends on the political ‘vitality of want’ (2015, 302).

This cosmologically precarious epistemic second of elevation is centered on the ‘truth of colonialism’ (Rivera 2015, 28), which validates voices denouncing a number of sorts of othering, violence, exploitation, marginalization, and/or dying. Rivera epistemically emphasizes the ‘convergence’ of meanings. Her subject of inquiry features a chance of mapping significant ‘convergences’ and/or ‘discursive atmospheres,’ which emerge from the synthetization of texts, voices, and pictures (2015, 23–24). This chance of discovering and decoding convergences assumes that meanings embody shared components that may belong to voices past the interpreter herself. The very fact of their convergence presupposes a social second of shared meanings, which lei past the interpreter herself. Due to this fact, the opportunity of convergence grants an epistemic standing of non-arbitrariness and validity to the units of meanings which can be mapped and interpreted. Furthermore, this epistemic type of non-arbitrariness equally validates the totally different voices that weave various methods of being, figuring out, and enacting. That’s, the epistemic assumption of convergence acts as an epistemic second of validation and equality; it settles the relativity of universalized distinction and it creates a second of motion.

This chance of motion emerges insofar as we assume that convergences make various methods of figuring out, being, and enacting equally legitimate. Then, their annexation or articulation into the logic of dominant discourses that find ‘them’ as inferior, much less ‘actual,’ extra ‘conventional,’ or ‘uncivilized,’ turns into unwarranted and epistemically problematized. Their erasure turns into categorized as a second of illegitimate violence as nicely. The equality of converging meanings invalidates othering, which additionally denounces the methods by which ‘others’ are sometimes considered inferior to justify exploitation, violence, and/or dying.

One of many fruitful features of this epistemic second of elevation and definition is that it permits us to keep away from what Cho, Crenshaw, and McCall have known as ‘single axis considering’ (2013, 787). By following the a number of methods by which converging voices confront and fracture annexation, we are able to focus on how dominant discourses purpose to assemble others by totally different axes of energy resembling race, gender, class, sexuality, and so forth. Furthermore, the opportunity of listening to converging voices additionally leads us in direction of mapping the methods by which these axes may converge or cross one another. It’s on this sense that this type of decoloniality may be considered ‘intersectional’ (Crenshaw 1991; Cho, Crenshaw, and McCall 2013; Collins 2015). Every time a shared and converging voice unveils a second of annexation both from extremely institutionalized tasks of civilization or from anti-colonial moments of struggles, they fracture that assimilating tendency and create extra potentialities of distinction. Therefore, Rivera discusses the significance of indigenous and ethnic struggles in Bolivia towards colonial legacies that also impose exploiting, marginalizing, and violent experiences, however she additionally limits the scope of those actions every time gendered experiences (Rivera 2010a, 179) and ecological questions (2015, 219) lower throughout these tasks.

One other benefit of this method is that it entails a steady demand to pay attention (Rivera 2015, 270). The interpreter can analyze distinct narratives from the convergences of specific voices, establishing a map of struggles, voices, and tasks, however this map may be known as into query by different converging voices that may have been ignored, assimilated, or beforehand erased by the universalizing tendencies of different struggles. That’s, the method creates a way more round and bottom-up chance of mapping, which leads in direction of a extra reflective and context-dependent ‘ethical compass’ (Rivera 2018, 80). As a result of epistemic standing of convergences, the interpreter has to stay open to different methods of figuring out, being, and enacting that may confront but once more the universalizing tendencies of mapped struggles, brokers, and tasks.

Lastly, the epistemic notion of convergence and its constant notion of equality present a strategy to decide how a lot deconstruction is required in a selected context to assemble extra decoloniality and distinction. That’s, the epistemic standing of converging voices calls for the de-universalization of the dominant discourses that annex ‘others’ specifically contexts, however as soon as these methods of figuring out, being, and enacting lose their privilege, the method not calls for additional deconstruction. Thus, this sort of decoloniality seeks to create a ‘planetarity’ that relies on the micro-politics of confrontations (Rivera 2018, 57). Right here, Rivera explicitly goals to withstand the universality of liberal concepts of ‘globalization’ that homogenize and assimilate worlds, however she seeks to attain this purpose by making a chance of heterogeneity and distinction for a number of worlds, together with provincialized western concepts. Constantly, she seeks to assemble a chance for ‘self-poiesis’ (Rivera 2018, 84); a chance to be. On this sense, Rivera teaches us to maneuver past the logic of self and different, solely asking for the opportunity of contextualized de-universalization and desubjugation.


As a result of polysemic traits of that means, our variations of positionality, and plenty of different components, I don’t declare to ‘translate’ Rivera’s work. On the similar time, I don’t want to commit symbolic extractivism, claiming as my very own concepts which can be solely doable because of her writings. My work is just doable as a provincialized interpretation of Rivera’s writings, framed inside a family tree of Bolivian mental productions, in dialog with concepts of intersectionality, and infrequently influenced by considerations that emerge from a selected expertise of colonialisms. Past a number of the fruitful implications that unfold from the type of decolonial praxis delineated above, I analyze this method as a result of it additionally has a deeper ramification in the best way that it creates a second of epistemic settlement and situation of chance for motion.

By abandoning essentialist understandings of cosmology, this method teaches us to start from a dilemma that’s not solved by assumptions of correspondence, actuality, certainty, and perfection. As an alternative, it’s a always current query that additionally calls for motion, however at all times reminding us concerning the inevitable limitations of our provincialized epistemic constructions. Constantly, the career of religion within the equality of significant convergences avoids the specter of pure deconstruction and/or relativism, nevertheless it additionally seems to be cosmologically equal, which signifies that its personal epistemic elevation doesn’t emerge as a direct consequence of the ‘nature’ or ‘essence’ of a Cosmos.

This questioning and equalizing notion of cosmology fruitfully sustains the dilemma of distinction and praxis, asking us to behave with humility and reflexivity. Moreover, the cosmological equivalence of epistemic platforms democratizes discussions amongst various approaches as a result of they’re requested to desert the siloed thrones that they usually maintain behind claims of excellent and singular ‘actuality.’ Right here, approaches have to put out how they’re fruitful in a way more clear method. For instance, the notion of intersectional decoloniality is fruitful as a result of it goals to broaden the opportunity of distinction, listening to a number of struggles on the similar time, and creating extra open alternatives of co-existence. On the similar time, the method teaches us to cease deconstruction on the contextual level at which dominant discourses internalize and annex ‘others.’

On the opposite aspect, the Khä Pacha and the sustained dilemma remind us that that is however a career of religion amongst others; it’s a second of epistemic settlement throughout the threatening void of the Khä Pacha. Therefore, this cosmology asks us to consider the constraints of our approaches. For instance, this specific understanding of relationality may differ from different approaches, which could have fruitful insights and broader notions of praxis (Trownsell et al. 2019; Kurki 2021). The Khä Pacha thus requires a second of democratic dialogue amongst various approaches, which might create deeper potentialities of studying and extra trustworthy alternatives of solidarity.


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