Decolonizing Knowledge Spaces

We all have been culturally colonized in more or less forceful ways and we behave to our society’s powers as a colony to the sovereign state. We recognize that overthrowing colonial authority has historically meant violence and conflict that still continues today. In its metaphorical version, however, decolonization is a conceptual breakthrough. We intuitively understand it and we viscerally feel it has something to do with each of our lives. Decolonization speaks to many because is at its core a conversation about supremacy: being in command of power, influence, assets, media or infrastructures; but the power appears to be always in someone else's hands – the media, the dominant culture, the wealthy, the employers. Decolonizing means to alter the dynamics of a system, not only changing who is in control but how power gets exercised. In our society, power is an issue of accessing, interpreting, communicating, and producing knowledge. In Decolonizing Knowledge Spaces, I will present a short history of this concept as a metaphorical framework and five practical propositions to question the way we assemble, understand and redistribute knowledge today. These strategies argue to subvert authority as a regulatory structure in the distribution of knowledge, ownership as an iterated economic organizational form, identity as a customary epistemology, access and resources as a governing arrangement of power, and control as the underlying aim of social assemblages.

Decoloniality, Knowledge, Education, Epistemology, Power

2020 Special Focus - Advocacy in Design: Engagement, Commitment, and Action

Focused Discussion

  • Gaia Scagnetti
    • Associate Professor, Graduate Communications Design, Pratt Institute