Decolonial Perspective on Contemplative Studies

By: Nuño Aguirre de Cárcer  

Contemplative Studies brings together different contemplative practices from major religions, to create a discipline in which first-, second- and third-person perspective are integrated. Contemplative Studies can be conceived as a dialogue between science, particularly with neuroscience, humanities and religious studies, to analyze the nature of contemplative practices. This emerging field is a very promising new direction in the Humanities; it is interdisciplinary by definition, global and diverse by the nature of the object studied. However, there is a serious risk that Contemplative Studies might fall into the trap of repeating and reinforcing ongoing forms of coloniality, creating a gap between present-day Science and old, long-gone traditions from India and the East. For this reason, it is essential to introduce a critical perspective in the discussion. In my view, decoloniality can be an adequate theoretical framework to approach contemplative texts and practices, helping the field develop into a more inclusive one. In this paper, I will use the work of poet and essayist Ranjit Hoskote (Bombay, 1969) as an example of what could be a decolonial perspective on Contemplative Studies. I will analyze how he brings forth his own multi-faceted contemplative tradition into the present: through poetry and translation. This analysis is intended as a contribution to the future syllabi of Contemplative Studies, currently lacking contemporary authors, particularly from the Global South.

Contemplative studies, Decoloniality
Critical Cultural Studies, Literary Humanities
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Nuño Aguirre de Cárcer

Researcher, -, University of the Witwatersrand

Nuño Aguirre de Cárcer is a Visiting Researcher at SLLM, University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg). After having completed his MSc at Edinburgh University in General & Comparative Literature, he completed his PhD at Autónoma University of Madrid (2013) with a dissertation on Contemplative Literature and the poetic works of the Belgium-born Spanish writer Chantal Maillard. He has taught at Jamia Millia Islamia University (New Delhi) and in Complutense University (Madrid), before joining Wits. His areas of interest include contemplative traditions, with a particular emphasis on the forgotten/erased influences between Indian and Western traditions, Spanish & Latin American contemporary poetry, and non-Western forms of contemporaneity in a broader sense.