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Local Histories/Global Designs

Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking

Walter D. Mignolo With a new preface by the author
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 408
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  • Book Info
    Local Histories/Global Designs
    Book Description:

    Local Histories/Global Designsis an extended argument about the "coloniality" of power by one of the most innovative Latin American and Latino scholars. In a shrinking world where sharp dichotomies, such as East/West and developing/developed, blur and shift, Walter Mignolo points to the inadequacy of current practices in the social sciences and area studies. He explores the crucial notion of "colonial difference" in the study of the modern colonial world and traces the emergence of an epistemic shift, which he calls "border thinking." Further, he expands the horizons of those debates already under way in postcolonial studies of Asia and Africa by dwelling in the genealogy of thoughts of South/Central America, the Caribbean, and Latino/as in the United States. His concept of "border gnosis," or sensing and knowing by dwelling in imperial/colonial borderlands, counters the tendency of occidentalist perspectives to manage, and thus limit, understanding.

    In a new preface that discussesLocal Histories/Global Designsas a dialogue with Hegel's Philosophy of History, Mignolo connects his argument with the unfolding of history in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4506-4
    Subjects: Anthropology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface to the 2012 Edition
    (pp. ix-xxiv)
  4. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxv-2)
  5. INTRODUCTION On Gnosis and the Imaginary of the Modern/Colonial World System
    (pp. 3-46)

    In the sixteenth century, Spanish missionaries judged and ranked human intelligence and civilization by whether the people were in possession of alphabetic writing. This was an initial moment in the configuration of the colonial difference and the building of the Atlantic imaginary, which will become the imaginary of the modern/colonial world.Translationwas the special tool to absorb the colonial difference previously established.Border thinking, as we shall see, works toward the restitution of the colonial difference that colonial translation (unidirectional, as today’s globalization) attempted to erase. In the sixteenth century, the colonial difference was located in space. Toward the...


    • CHAPTER 1 Border Thinking and the Colonial Difference
      (pp. 49-88)

      In March 1998, I participated in a workshop jointly organized by the University of Tunisia and the Mediterranean Studies Group, from Duke University. The subject of my talk, which is a recurrent theme of this book, was the mapping of the racial foundation of modernity/coloniality. Basically, I explored the reconversion and formalization of the “purity of blood” principle in sixteenth-century Spain (and, therefore, in the Mediterranean), which locked a long-lasting history of conflicts between the three religions of the Book and, parallel to it, the legal-theological debates, in the School of Salamanca,

      of the “rights of the people”—debates that...


    • CHAPTER 2 Post-Occidental Reason: The Crisis of Occidentalism and the Emergenc(y)e of Border Thinking
      (pp. 91-126)

      “POSTCOLONIAL REASON” was the expression I used in the first version of this chapter (Mignolo 1994; 1996a; 1997c), but I soon realized that “postcolonial” criticism and theory was mainly employed by critics and intellectuals writing in English and in the domain of the British Empire and its ex-colonies

      (Australia, New Zeland, India). The entire Americas, including the Caribbean, North Africa, and most of the time sub-Saharan Africa were left out of the picture. “Post-Occidental reason” appears to be more satisfying for the geohistorical scenario I was seeking, from the Spanish empire since the sixteenth century to the emergence of the...

    • CHAPTER 3 Human Understanding and Local Interests: Occidentalism and the (Latin) American Argument
      (pp. 127-171)

      In the fall of 1997 Irene Silverblatt and I cotaught an undergraduate seminar on “Modernity and Coloniality in Latin America.” In the spring of 1998 we repeated the seminar at the graduate level, as one of the core courses for the Latin American Cultural Studies certificate. Between the two seminars

      we changed the title slightly. In the spring of 1998 the title was “Modernity, Coloniality and Latin America.” We realized that the first title presupposed a fixed and existing entity where “things” like modernity and coloniality happened “inside” it or “to it,” while our argument was oriented toward

      showing that...

    • CHAPTER 4 Are Subaltern Studies Postmodern or Postcolonial? The Politics and Sensibilities of Geohistorical Locations
      (pp. 172-214)

      Theories travel, I heard, and when they get places, they are transformed, transcultured. But what happens when theories travel through the colonial difference? How do they get transcultured? I also heard that when theories get to places where colonial legacies are still in the memories of scholars

      and intellectuals, traveling theories may be perceived as new forms of colonization, rather than as new tools to enlighten the intelligence of the theories’ host or to reveal a reality that could not have been perceived without the theory’s travel, or inviting a theory to stay just as it was going by. I...


    • CHAPTER 5 “An Other Tongue”: Linguistics Maps, Literary Geographies, Cultural Landscapes
      (pp. 217-249)

      The first version of this chapter¹ was read at a conference on theoretical issues in Hispanic Studies, in November 1994. I remember, and I was not surprised, that one of the questions raised at the conference was why I chose to include Michele Cliff, a Jamaican author writing in English, in my argument. When I submitted the paper for its publication in the conference proceedings, one of the referees suggested I add examples like Augusto Roa-Bastos from Paraguay or Miguel Angel Asturias from Guatemala, since most of their work deals with issues relevant for my argument, Roa Bastos working within...

    • CHAPTER 6 Bilanguaging Love: Thinking in between Languages
      (pp. 250-277)

      Lives on the border (De Vos 1994) are conceived and experienced in and from different perspectives: either as the authenticity of the native cultures being harassed by globalization or as the authenticity of the North Atlantic (or Western) culture either in danger or still in its triumphal planetary march. The celebration of bi or pluri languaging is precisely the celebration of the crack in the global process between local histories and global designs, between “mundialización” and globalization, from languages to social movements, and a critique of the idea that civilization is linked to the “purity”

      of colonial and national monolanguaging....

    • CHAPTER 7 Globalization, Mundialización: Civilizing Processes and the Relocation of Languages and Knowledges
      (pp. 278-312)

      That “civilization” is somewhat related to “globalization” and “modern/colonial world system” is obvious. How it is related it not obvious. I submit that the colonial difference is one of the missing links between civilization, globalization, and modern/colonial world system. The attentionWallerstein

      devoted to “civilization” (Wallerstein 1992) is indeed important although limited to the logic of the modern world system and oblivious of the colonial difference. In this chapter I attempt to remap the concept of civilization and to make the colonial difference visible in the crack between globalization

      and “mundialización” (Ortiz [1994] 1997; Glissant ([1990] 1997; 1998), and between civilization...

  9. AFTERWORD An Other Tongue, An Other Thinking, An Other Logic
    (pp. 313-338)

    In chapter 2 I attempted to delineate the notion of post-Occidental reason and to locate it at the borders of modernity/coloniality. The argument kept in its horizon the internal borders of the modern/colonial world system, the historical density of its making (Arrighi 1994), and the diversity of the borders, becoming more complex due to the historical diversity at the intersection of the local histories of imperial powers and those local histories upon which the coloniality of power, in its constant reconversion, was exercised. Nation building, both in the nineteenth century in the Americas (see chapter 3) and in the twentieth...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 339-366)
  11. Index
    (pp. 367-372)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 373-380)