Previous Courses

2018: What does it Mean to “Decolonize” Democracy and the Others of Europe

9th Annual Decolonial Summer School
19th June 2018 – 5th July 2018 (2.5 weeks)
University College Roosevelt (Middelburg, The Netherlands)
Credits: Utrecht University Certificate (6 ECTS)

The Middelburg Decolonial Summer School, in its ninth year, will continue to explore ‘What does it mean to decolonize?’ and will focus on the ‘Others of Europe‘. We will walk around praxis of living in harmony and plenitude that call the universality of western democracy and its Eurocentric legacy into question.

By Others of Europe we understand both the other Europes inside, silenced and shattered by the narratives of modernity (Roma, Gitanos, Gaelic, African Diaspora, Suomi, immigrants,…) as well as the others of Europe outside  (first nations and indigenous from Africa, the Americas and Asia). The others of Europe is also the non-Eurocentered Europe within European territories, as well as the critique of Eurocentrism in Africa, Asia and the Americas. Eurocentrism is not a geographic but a complex set and flows of believes, knowledges and affects (sensing) still orienting the life of billions of people.

By Democracy we understand both the Eurocentered name and vision of living together in harmony and the pretext to impose European vision of governance to the rest of the planet. Therefore we do not take democracy for granted as we confront it with the Euro-US un-democratic politics towards the other Europe and the others of Europe. What “decolonizing democracy” may mean will be explored in relation to the double trajectory of the Others of Europe: its internal and external subjugated people’s.

The resurgence of Ubuntu in Africaof Sumak Kawsay in South America, of He in China, of Ummah in Islamic communities allows us to think that pluriversal visions of governmentality and of conviviality are possible.  The first decolonial step to move towards pluriversality is to decenter and humble the Eurocentric universal rhetoric of democracy in order to liberate alternative praxis of living in harmony.

Could we envision communal and global orders predicated in pluriversality rather than in universality?  Could we think beyond the categories of Western civilization learning from non-European cultures, civilizations and traditions that the rhetoric of modernity silenced, disavowed and deligitimized? Can we envision praxis of living that allow for co-existing alternatives?

2017: What does it Mean to Decolonize II, On Education, Nature and Conviviality

8th Annual Decolonial Summer School
27 June 2017 – 13 July 2017 (2.5 weeks)
University College Roosevelt (Middelburg, The Netherlands)
Credits: Utrecht University Certificate (6 ECTS)

The 8th Middelburg Decolonial Summer School, 2017, will explore decolonial horizons of living in harmony (Sumak Kawsay) and conviviality. To do so it is necessary to unlearn dominant structures of knowledge and assumptions taken for granted about life, politics, nature, race and sexuality. The 2017 Summer School will be an exercise in shifting the geographies of knowing, sensing and believing. We will focus on three themes: eating, healing and learning. Intellectuals from the humanities and social sciences as well as practicing artists will contribute to the conversation.

Being aware of learning through bodily senses opens up relations towards living in plenitude that challenge the Western divide between “nature” and “culture”. “Nature”, like race and sex, is one of three pillars in Western narratives to secure the position of Man, the over representation of the Human as Sylvia Wynter’ convincingly argued. The separation of the human species from earth has had enormous consequences. The environmental crisis is the most visible. The commodification of food and health follow suit.

Together we will explore forms of relationality that make us all kin with the living earth (Pachamama, Mother Earth, Gaia). Our task would be to generate understanding and praxis based on relationality rather than on objectivity and separation. To do so, it is necessary to delink from the hegemonic narrative of ‘nature’ as resource at the service of growth and development, in order to relink with earth and the regeneration of life.

The decolonial tasks of delinking and relating cannot be individually achieved, they need to be done in conviviality. Conviviality requires building communal togetherness and engaging in decolonial conversations capable of changing the terms of the modern/colonial conversations (e.g., from beliefs and theories and education to imposed common sense).

To pursue our goals, we will focus on three themes: eating, healing and learning. Intellectuals from the humanities and social sciences as well as practicing artists will contribute to the conversation. The overall issue to be explored will be:
a) What is the rhetoric of modernity in the spheres of food, education and health that keep us fixed on what to eat, what to learn and how to heal;
b) What is the hidden logic of coloniality;
c) and what is decolonial horizon.
Decolonially we are interested in mutual understanding of how colonial wounds (humiliations, disdain, dehumanization) are inflicted through food, health and education in order to engage in decolonial healing for living in plenitude.

2016: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “DECOLONIZE”? Introducing the decolonial option

7th Annual Decolonial Summer School
15th of June – 1st of July 2016
University College Roosevelt (Middelburg, The Netherlands)


The decolonial is increasingly used as an expression in blogs and conferences such as “decolonizing Europe” or “decolonizing X, Z or Y”. There also expressions such as “decolonizing knowledge” or “decolonizing the university.” In this summer school we want to ask what are the concrete tasks that to decolonize implies for our times. What indeed is required to accomplish the decolonization that the expression promises?

In the Summer Seminar we will construe decoloniality as processes of delinking. Delinking from what?

From coloniality of power and therefore from the temptations of the promises of modernity reaching us through a rhetoric of progress and well being by means of acquiring, having more, competing to be the best and, in the process, losing ourselves in the world of objects and images, of the fascination of the digital and the oblivion of ourselves. Decoloniality is a process of delinking from modernity/coloniality

To that end, the decolonial option is a way to entering the process of delinking:

The decolonial option implies

a) A revisiting of the formation of the modern/colonial order, by introducing an option, the decolonial option, to the understanding of the historical and geographical origins of our troubled present,

b) The identification of decolonial trajectories at work around the world and at different domains of the colonial matrix of power

c) The recognition of processes of re-mergence and re-existence that are configuring decolonial horizons.

d) The need of border thinking (border gnosis) that emerges from the experiences of dwelling in the border and leads to processes of re-emergence and re-existence configuring decolonial horizons.

The course will draw on concrete examples of decolonial processes under way in social movements, in epistemic communities, and at institutions like the university and the museum.

At a personal level the students will be encouraged to examine their own location in the colonial matrix of power and, consequently, how can they understand from their own positionality the decolonial option as a way to delink from coloniality. Furthermore, how could each participant find its own way to carry on decolonial processes grounded in personal experiences and local histories.

The decolonial option doesn’t offer a global blueprint that pretends to be good for the almost 8 billion people in the planet. It maps the decolonial as an option and leaves the door open to be enacted by emergent decolonial processes. The decolonial option encourages pluriversality and rejects universality; it comes to light and materializes when collective and diverse construction of pluriversality—in doing and thinking, sensing and believing—is embodied in decolonial actors and institutional agencies.

2015: STOLEN MEMORIES: Museums, Slavery and (De) Coloniality

Middelburg Decolonial Summer Course
University College Roosevelt
Tuesday June 30th – Thursday July 16th 2015

Museums and Universities are two fundamental institutional formations of modernity/coloniality. They are at the same time holders of coloniality of knowledge and the makers of modern/colonial subjectivities. Ethnographic museums served to store the stolen memories of the colonized while Art History and Fine Arts Museums served to build on the memories and achievements of Europe and Western Civilization.

The Tropen Museum in Amsterdam, the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg and the Ethnological Museum of Berlin are paramount institutions of stolen memories. While the British Museum and Le Louvre combine both, stolen and proper memories. Under what historical conditions museums emerged as constitutive institutions of Western Civilization? Who built them? How, when and why did the distinction between ¨art¨ and ¨ethnographic¨ museums come to be? What are the purposes of the difference between ethnographic and fine art museums?

Today such distinction is being contested in two directions. On the one hand, by building museums, in the Western as well as non-Western world, devoted to retrieve stolen memories and to heal the wounds of the negated and denied ways of living and being in the world. The International Slavery Museum in Liverpool and the National Museum of American Indians in Washington DC are two inviting reflections and actions toward decolonizing knowledge and subjectivities. On the other hand, emerging economies in the Arab Gulf as well as Singapore are, through the institutional figure of the museum, restoring histories that Western modernity disregarded. The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha and the Museum of Asian Civilizations in Singapore, are two cases of dewesternization.

The 2015 edition of the Decolonial Summer School in the Netherlands will be devoted to explore how institutions like the museums in tandem with the universities have functioned for the consolidation of Western modernity and European imperial expansion by disdaining other civilizational trajectories. The course will also explore emerging projects of decolonizing and re- orienting the goals of ethnographic museums as well as building non-Western Civilizational museums. Both trajectories complement themselves in the task of restoring dignity and plurality through the re-emergence of stolen memories.