The Darker Side of Western Modernity

Global Futures, Decolonial Options

The Darker Side of Western Modernity

Latin America Otherwise

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Book Pages: 458 Illustrations: 1 drawing, 2 maps, 2 figures Published: December 2011

Latin American Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Postcolonial Theory

During the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, coloniality emerged as a new structure of power as Europeans colonized the Americas and built on the ideas of Western civilization and modernity as the endpoints of historical time and Europe as the center of the world. Walter D. Mignolo argues that coloniality is the darker side of Western modernity, a complex matrix of power that has been created and controlled by Western men and institutions from the Renaissance, when it was driven by Christian theology, through the late twentieth century and the dictates of neoliberalism. This cycle of coloniality is coming to an end. Two main forces are challenging Western leadership in the early twenty-first century. One of these, “dewesternization,” is an irreversible shift to the East in struggles over knowledge, economics, and politics. The second force is “decoloniality.” Mignolo explains that decoloniality requires delinking from the colonial matrix of power underlying Western modernity to imagine and build global futures in which human beings and the natural world are no longer exploited in the relentless quest for wealth accumulation.


“It is dense, but refreshing and ultimately uplifting. Walter Mignolo’s visionary ideas about the decline and fall of (Western) modernity and hence leadership should be on the syllabus in schools, let alone higher education institutions.” — Latin American Review of Books

"[I]n this provocative book, Mignolo delivers a complex analysis of the modernity/coloniality couple and of how it unfolded from the sixteenth century until today.”  — Cecilia Tossounian, Bulletin of Latin American Research

“Walter D. Mignolo is one of our leading theorists of coloniality/modernity and decolonial thinking. With this superb book, the third in an ‘unintended trilogy’ exploring the nature and limits of modern social thought, Mignolo continues his ambition to ‘break the Western code’ embodied in its rhetoric of modernity and logic of coloniality. This volume brings to light a darker side of the project of modernity, the oppressive relations that were at its heart, and offers decolonial options for the building of communal futures different from our pasts. It is necessary reading for all those interested in the emancipatory potential of social theory for dealing with the challenges of the twenty-first century.” — Gurminder K. Bhambra, author of Rethinking Modernity: Postcolonialism and the Sociological Imagination

The Darker Side of Western Modernity is a significant, visionary, and hopeful text. More than just revealing the logic and strategy at work in the ‘darker side of Western modernity,’ this book makes evident and gives life to decolonial delinking and thought. Walter D. Mignolo’s eye is toward emergent processes and projects of political-epistemic resistance, disobedience, and transformation that give sustenance, reason, and concretion to the prospect and anticipation of other possible worlds. Through these processes and projects, Mignolo remaps the order of knowing, reading, and doing, while also indicating paths and perspectives for significantly different communal futures.” — Catherine E. Walsh, Director, Doctoral Program in Latin American Cultural Studies, Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Quito, Ecuador


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Walter D. Mignolo is Director of the Institute for Global Studies in Humanities, William H. Wannamaker Professor of Literature and Romance Studies, and Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. He is the author of The Idea of Latin America; Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking; and The Darker Side of The Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality and Colonization and a co-editor of Rereading the Black Legend: The Discourses of Religious and Racial Difference in the Renaissance Empires.

Table of Contents Back to Top
About the Series ix

Preface and Acknowledgments xi

Introduction. Coloniality: The Darker Side of Western Modernity 1

Part One

1. The Roads to the Future: Rewesternization, Dewesternization, and Decoloniality 27

Part Two

2. I Am Where I Do: Remapping the Order of Knowing 77

3. It Is "Our" Modernity: Delinking, Independent Thought, and Decolonial Freedom 118

Part Three

4. (De)Coloniality at Large: Time and the Colonial Difference 149

5. The Darker Side of Enlightenment: A Decolonial Reading of Kant's Geography 181

Part Four

6. The Zapatistas' Theoretical Revolution: Its Historical, Ethical, and Political Consequences 213

7. Cosmopolitan Localisms: Overcoming Colonial and Imperial Differences 252

Afterword. "Freedom to Choose" and the Decolonial Option: Notes toward Communal Futures 295

Notes 337

Bibliography 365

Index 389
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