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Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism, and Latin America

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Sara Qureshi

on 8 March 2014

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Transcript of Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism, and Latin America

Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism, and Latin America
America and the New Model of Global Power
Anibal Quijano
He is a Peruvian sociologist and humanist thinker.

He is known for having develop the concept of Coloniality of power

His body of work has been influential in the fields of post colonial studies and critical theory.


Race: A mental category of Modernity


• The purpose of racialization was to create a system of social categorization that differentiated between who could own land and who would be forced to work on it; a distinction in social category between who could define, and who was to be defined.

• The dominated peoples were situated in a natural position of inferiority and their cultural features were considered inferior.

• Race became the fundamental criterion for the distribution of the world population into ranks, places, and roles in the new society’s structure of power.

Capitalism, the new structure for the control of labor
• Slavery, serfdom, petty commodity production, reciprocity and wages are all forms of control, exploitation of labor and production, as well as the control of appropriation and distribution of products.

• These forms configured a new global model of labor control, and in turn a fundamental element of a new model of power.

• Each form of labor mentioned developed into new traits and historical-structural configurations.

Coloniality of Power and Global Capitalism
• The new configuration of labor, produced the foundation of the idea of race in which both race and the division of labor remained structurally linked and mutually reinforcing, which created a dependency between them.

• The racist distribution of labor in the interior of colonial modern capitalism was maintained throughout the colonial period.

• Basically, each form of labor was associated with a particular race group.

Coloniality and the eurocentrification of world capitalism
• Whites had a granted advantage to compete for the control of worldwide commercial traffic due to their privileged positions in the control of gold, silver and other products that were produced by the unpaid labor of Indians, blacks and mestizos.

• The new world market was created under European dominion, which was articulated in a chain of transference of value and profit that was controlled by Europeans.

• Europeans associated non-paid or non-wage labor with the dominated races because they were inferior races.

• Minorities were forced to work for the profit of their owners.

• Control of labor was constituted by the assignment of all forms of unpaid labor to colonial races and through the assignment of salaried labor to the colonizing whites.

• Social geography of capitalism: The social formation for control of wage labor in which labor control, resources and products were articulated.

• Europeans became the center of the capitalism world economy.

The new model of world power and the new world intersubjectivity
• Europe had the dominance over all regions and population of the planet, as being the center of global capitalism Europe input its world system and its specific model of power.

• The world capitalism was formed by the incorporation of a diverse and heterogeneous cultural history into a single world dominated by Europa.

• All of the mentioned process involved a long period of the colonization of cognitive perspectives, modes of producing and giving meaning, the material existence, the universe of inter subjective …..the culture!!!

• The association of colonial ethnocentrism and universal racial classification helps to explain why Europeans feel superior to other people of the world.

Eurocentrism and Historical Experience in Latin America
Erocentrism and the “national question” : the nation-state
• Is created through domination, centralized power, which is regulated by a democracy.

• All people are put under one nation and brought together through a common interest.

• This is through democratic participation and distribution of centralized power.

• Europe and its creation and expansion of a centralized state

• France vs Spain in the creation of a nation state.

• Democracy important to creating the nation state.

The nation-state in America: the United States
• Colonization of American and acquisition of territory

• The creation of a centralized power and democratic process.

• The exclusion of non-whites to that process (Black and Indians).

• Broadening of democratic foundations, control of the production and of the state.

Latin America: the southern cone and the white majority
• Immigration of Europeans to Uraguay, Argentina, Chile.

• The European majority identity and conforming to that standard.

• Control of labor and political power through a Eurocentric view.

• The racial homogenization was created not through political or social issues. But through the exclusion of a major part of the population

Indian, black, and mestizo majority: the impossible “modern nation-state”
• Exclusion of Blacks, Indians and Mestizo this didn’t create a nation state.

• They were could not be part of the democracy. Since two few hold too much power.

• They kept the old model with racial groups as the primary use of free labor.

• What was different was decolonization and the creation of the independent state.

Independent states and colonial society: historical – structural dependence
Black Mosaic
Was put in the context of Afro American History.
It was also to show how Latino experience and the construction of their identity in American society.
The exhibit consisted of 6 parts which were Identity,Memories of home, Migration, Race and ethnicity in D.C community life.

-Anacostia museum was funded by innovation of and the Smithsonian Institution
- supposed to be representative and servile to the surrounding community
-developed into a larely academic atmosphere, not super accessible to the Anacostia neighborhood
-Black Mosaic exhibit reignited communication with community, researchers, spent time with people in the community interviewing, hearing stories
-broought to light divide between Latino -American Black community and African American black community
Race/ Migration
Both very important to framing how the Black mosaic shapes the experience of race, migration.
1940s example of the use of the diplomats and the retention of the black identity.
1950 getting rid of blackness and to not be a second rate citizen
1960 civil rights movements Dominicans becoming black because of advantages.

Coloniality of Power and Eurocentrism
- Eurocentrism: “the name of a perspective of knowledge whose systematic formation began in Western Europe before the middle of the seventeenth century”

- This doesn’t refer to all of the knowledge of history of all Europe or Western Europe

- Associated with the specific bourgeois secularization of European thought

- This perspective was made globally hegemonic in the centuries following its inception …it overcame other perspectives of knowledge all over the world
- In the Eurocentric perspective history is seen as linear

-Slavery, serfdom, and independent commodity production, reciprocity are were all considered pre-capitalism, and incompatible with capital

- However this is inaccurate. These forms of labor existed simultaneously in America

- “Slavery, in America, was deliberately established and organized as a commodity in order to produce goods for the world market and to serve the purposes and needs of capitalism”

- Indian serfdom as well -> to produce merchandise for the global market

- together these forms of labor configured a new economic system: capitalism.

- “Therefore, capitalism as a system of relations of production, that is, as the heterogeneous linking of all forms of control on labor and its products under the dominance of capital, was constituted in history only with the emergence of America.”

Capital and Capitalism
- Another component of Eurocentrism was a set of ideas that elaborated around the spatial relations between Europe and non-Europe.Europe and West were culmination of civilization, and every other region was uncivilized and inferior.

- This myth was associated with the racial classification of the world’s population.

- When America was conquered and colonized, the conquerors found a great number of different peoples, each with its own history, language, discoveries and cultural products, memory and identity. Despite all their differences they all became merged into singular racial categories. (Indians, blacks)

From this merging comes two implications:
1. peoples were dispossessed of their own historical and cultural identities
2. their new racial identity, colonial and negative, involved the plundering of their place in the history of the cultural production of humanity. From then on, there were inferior races, capable only of producing inferior cultures.

In other words, the model of power based on coloniality also involved a (necessary) cognitive model, a new perspective of knowledge where non-Europe was the past, and because of that inferior, if not always primitive.

So, Europe and America made themselves as the first two new geocultural identities of the modern world. It was on this cognitive foundation that a region was configured as the site of control of the Atlantic routes and therefore they controlled the world market.
Evolution and Dualism
- According to the Eurocentric view, history is homogeneous and continuous but Quijano disagrees.

- On the contrary, the pattern of global power that is known as capitalism is, fundamentally, a structure of heterogeneous elements as much in terms of forms of control of labor-resources-products (or relations of production) as in terms of the peoples and histories articulated in it.

- Consequently, such elements are connected between themselves and with the totality by means that are heterogeneous and discontinuous, including conflict.

Historical change cannot be linear, one-directional, sequential, or total. The system, or the specific pattern of structural articulation, could be dismantled; however, each one or some of its elements can and will have to be rearticulated in some other structural model, as it happened with some components of the precolonial model of power in.

Homogeneity/Continuity and Heterogeneity/Discontinuity
- The difference between body and non-body (spirit/mind) in the human experience is virtually universal throughout different cultures. The body and non-body were considered different, yet unseparable and co-existing

- Eurocentric view: the body and non-body were separated into two very and distinct elements. The non-body was given primacy over the body.

- The non-body (or the mind) is seen as the only thing capable of reason, logic, and knowledge. The body is incapable of reason

- From the Eurocentric perspective, certain races are condemned as inferior for not being rational subjects. They are considered bodies closer to nature.

- This allowed for them, and their bodies, to be dominated and exploited.

- All non-Europeans were considered pre-European. They were considered primitive, irrational, traditional, and magical-mythical instead of civilized, rational, modern, and scientific.ic to the scientific.
The New Dualism
- Western Europe the concentration of the wage-capital relation is the principal axis of the tendencies for social classification and the correspondent structure of power. Economic structures and social classification underlie the confrontation with empire during the period of competitive capital. Liberalism is one of the clear expressions of Western European society.
The Question of Modernity
-Control of economy, government, social order by white European groups, not non white groups (native population, imported and native black population, mestizo population)
-Since the total number of non white individuals was greater than white individuals, and since a homogenized culture, historical narrative and language (including dialect) could not be agreed upon, any national identity would have been based on geographical boundaries, as well as on the experiences of the ruling minority class
-Not only was true nationhood impossible because of opposing cultural and historical perspectives, it was impossible because the national identity represented by the ruling minority class was in DIRECT OPPOSITION to the freedom of the subjected majority classes to have different perspectives
-The Eurocentric model was NOT adopted by those people, so while they were still subjected to this coloniality of power, and while the white ruling class represented the geographic regions they governed as nation states, this was just not realistic
-Additionally, though the waged bourgeoisie shared the same Eurocentric views as the seigniors, and though they had a similar outward appearance (white), the concept of paid employees was anathema to the feudal and slave economy that defined their role in society
-Unwaged labor was such an intrinsic part of the social and economic structure that, when slavery was eliminated, it was really only done so by name: locally and globally, foreign and immigrant workers were hired at low rates that were NOT indicative of the work they produced
-A perverse system of subordination and dependence developed as the ruling class further subjected dominated groups to low waged and unwaged labor to produce goods for that ruling class
-Slavery, colonialism redefined, not eliminated
-According to Quijano, four possible outcomes for Latin American “nation states”
-Decolonization through violent revolution
-Homegenization through genocide of the native and dissenting populations
-Attempts towards cultural genocide, leaving the subject colonized people devoid of a defined history and culture, and in a perpetual state of confused identity
-A covert discrimination, hidden behind a public message of “racial democracy”, where publicly, equality and acceptance are politically and socially de rigeur, but colonialism and subjectivity are still active parts of the social structure
-A lack of national identity still exists for many individuals who have been born into citizenship of Western European and Europeanized nations, and/or whose families have been citizens for several generations
-Revolutionary processes divided between leftist bourgeois socialist and socialist
-Middle class effort to bring up social status of subjected groups and thereby themselves, versus an effort to bring financial, social and political power to the citizens of the nation, and eradicating private control
- Aprista, similar to socialist revolution, an attempt to eliminate imperialist influence, and bring each nation to a point of relevance through evolution and modernization of society
-Bourgeois socialist revolution depends on understanding of the following:
-relationship between feudalism and capitalism
-dichotomy between needs of the aristocracy and needs of the bourgeois
-a bourgeoisie community who is willing and able to undertake this task
-Quijano asks, “…slavery ended before the twentieth century…Isn’t that true?” (571)
-Dilution of national and individual identity has significantly slowed progress or made revolution improbable in most Latin American nations
-Although democratization is critical for independence as a state, racialization has been very effective at polarizing groups, making exploitation very easy
-Control of capital is still equivalent to social and political control
-Fragmented reflection of history and culture in previously colonized nations has made an understanding self and national identity difficult, thereby organization to revolution is nearly an impossibility
-According to Quijano, the only effective way to be an independent nation is to recognize Eurocentrism and artifacts of it that still remain, and to eliminate them
Eurocentrism and Revolution
in Latin America
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