Appendix 1: Postcolonial and Decolonial: ‘Same Same but Different’

in Contextual Biblical Hermeneutics as Multicentric Dialogue
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In a recent essay published by Gregory A. Banazak and Luis Reyes Ceja, The Challenge and Promise of Decolonial Thought to Biblical Interpretation (2008), they argue that a new turn in Latin American studies called decolonial thought which is an emerging paradigm seeking to challenge the current modern way of thinking holds significant potential in transforming biblical interpretation. According to them, decolonial thought ‘criticizes both the intellectual distortions of modernity and the concrete oppression brought by five hundred years of colonial domination’ (Banazak & Reyes Ceja, 2008, p. 114). Therefore they propose three main contributions that decolonial thought can make, namely recovering a communal way of interpretation that brings together readers from both western and non-western contexts, relating empire in Scripture to the contemporary global situation and challenging the tendency to isolate biblical studies as a secular, academic discipline. The relevance this holds to the present book is that one of its foremost pioneers, Walter Mignolo has argued for the use of geo-political locations as a key ingredient in understanding epistemologies. The concern of this appendix is to clarify how decolonial relates to the postcolonial.

Mignolo (2011) points out the differing genealogies of both strands. Decolonial thought emphasises traditions of Fanon, Cesaire, James whereas postcolonial studies owe more to French poststructuralism and neomarxist traditions especially in ideology such as Gramsci and Althussar. In terms of language medium, decolonial thought attempts to incorporate different linguistic traditions, albeit it seems to me more of the Spanish language more than any other language, while postcolonial studies have been mostly in colonial English. Furthermore, Banazak and Reyes Ceja (2008) points to differentiating coloniality and colonialism. Colonialism is taken to refer to the historical experience of domination that coincided with the colonial enterprise, typically traced to the period of 18th to 20th century CE. Coloniality on the other hand is an epistemic concept that finds its origins in the 15th century discovery of the ‘New World’ which dominates and controls subsequent modes of knowledge production through codifying differences between the civilised West and the underdeveloped Rest. Furthermore, they point out that colonialism is constitutive of coloniality but it does not mean that coloniality can be reduced to colonialism.

Therefore, one key concern of decolonial thought is delinking from western epistemology which expresses itself in the rhetoric of modernity (first as conversion, now as development). The concern is seeing the phenomenon of colonialism and the consequences from below. As Mignolo and Tlostanova (2006) argue, postcolonial largely remains within the subject/object dichotomy that typifies research of much of the social sciences and humanities. Decolonial is concerned with what they call the corpopolitics and geopolitics of knowledge. It is constantly conscious of the limits of academic institutions and their methods and lean heavily towards engaging the market not only for data or information but also for standpoints and epistemologies. Therefore it is not difficult to see that postcolonial studies tend to privilege history, western colonialisms and deconstruction. Decolonial, on the other hand, is concerned with the present, how current systems of knowledge production are structured and recovery of subaltern epistemologies.

While both are concerned with emancipation, there is a tendency within postcolonial studies to map ethnicity onto Marxist theories of emancipation while decolonial maintains critical distance to and unearths the whiteness of Marxist traditions (Mignolo, 2011). Decolonial thought, on the other hand, emphasises that struggles for independence from (western) globalisation mandate the participation of local traditions and cultures as critical hermeneutical resources.

That being said, postcolonial and decolonial ultimately share common concerns: ‘colonialism, colonial legacies and above all for decolonial thinkers, coloniality’ (Mignolo, 2011, p. xxvii). Decolonial desire welcomes the postcolonial and seeks its partnership in a pluriversal project of undoing what colonialism and modernity has done especially to subaltern knowledge systems. It is a reproduction of colonial desire to pit the two against each other and demand that they compete for superiority. There is an intentional disrespect for disciplinary territorialism since both are victims of such western constructions of knowledge.

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