Culmination of the CLACS Andes Seminar on Decolonization

This semester the CLACS Speakers Series and the CLACS Interdisciplinary Regional Seminar were titled “Decolonization in the Andes: Contemporary Debates and Transformations”. The series was coordinated by Sinclair Thomson (History Department, NYU) and Carmen Medeiros (CLACS, NYU). The corresponding course was taught by Professor Medeiros. I had the wonderful opportunity of taking the course with Professor Medeiros, which covered both the history of the Andean countries, but more specifically looked at questions of the “Coloniality of Power” (term coined by Quijano) and the “Colonial Difference” (term coined by Mignolo). We read contemporary works on race and racism, issues of gender, as well as issues around development and education.
The speaker series featured some amazing presentations, many by local activists, intellectuals and scholars from the Andes. Here is the schedule of the events linked to the Seminar:
February 16, 2010- Luis Tapia (Development Studies Program, CIDES, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, La Paz, Bolivia)
“El ciclo de democratización pluricultural en Bolivia”
March 29, 2010- Marisol de la Cadena (Anthropology Department, University of California-Davis)
“Indigenous politics: Beyond politics as usual”
April 5, 2010- Julieta Paredes (Activist, Writer, Co-founder of Mujeres Creando and Asamblea Feminista, La Paz, Bolivia)
“Hilando fino desde el feminismo comunitario”
April 12, 2010- Hernán Ibarra (History Department, FLACSO, Quito, Ecuador)
“Estado nación y crisis del discurso del mestizaje en Ecuador”
April 19, 2010- Bret Gustafson (Anthropology Department, Washington University in St. Louis)
“Epistemic rupture, affirmative action or ‘reverse racism’?: Decolonizing knowledge in Evo’s Bolivia”
April 26, 2010 –Rodrigo Montoya (Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima, Perú) and Mario Palacios (President, CONACAMI, Lima, Peru)
“Rebelión en los Andes y la Amazonía del Perú”
May 3, 2010- Daysi Zapata (Vicepresident, Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana-AIDESEP)
“La lucha de los pueblos indígenas de la Amazonía peruana”
The theme of the seminar, decolonization, is by no means a new concept, but in recent years it has been gaining traction in the Andes as a deliberate project by governments, especially that of Bolivia. This series attempted to propose the questions- what is decolonization? -and how are Andean countries using the concept and what kind of practices are they employing?
The events were filmed by CLACS and they should be up soon on NYU’s Youtube channel for anyone to watch. Anyone interested in the topics of the series and seminar should definitely check them out!
Rebecca Fisher, MA Candidate, CLACS

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