Results of the survey on the Decolonial Academic Network

DIN has conducted an online survey among the reader of its newsletter to get an idea about the viability of a Decolonial Academic Network (DAN). The survey was put online on February 7 2018; 111 respondent who filled in the survey. This number is enough for DIN to base a policy for DAN.

On the basis of this survey the Decolonial International Network has decided to set up the Decolonial Academic Network (DAN). The practical implications of this decision are:

  1. DIN is going to invest in a digital infrastructure for DAN. This infrastructure will consist of the following parts:
    1. A digital academic journal.
    2. A database of past, current and future research.
    3. A database of vacancies for academic positions.
    4. Digital meeting rooms for different commissions of DAN.

In the coming months DIN will draw up proposals for the functionalities of the digital infrastructure and will engage the respondents of the survey who expressed their willingness to get involved, to develop these functionalities.

  1. A research program for social movements. DIN will engage with social movements to link DAN with activism by setting up relevant research projects that activists can use in their daily struggle.

The first priority will be to set up a steering committee of DAN who can take the responsibility to develop DAN in close cooperation with DIN. They can be the counterpart for setting up the digital infrastructure and the research projects.

Read the report here.

Houria Bouteldja: White progressivism or Indigenous « fertile regression »? Get your hands dirty and go beyond the dilemma

In het speech at the Bandung of the North conference in Paris Houria Bouetldja from the Parti des Indigènes de la République (PIR) tackled the question: Are we the progressives they dream of us to be, those presented to us as our natural allies, the Left? Are we anti-capitalists, feminists, ecologists? Are we for gay rights? Welcoming of migrants? In brief, are we good people according to the Left’s criteria? Instinctively, I would answer that we are not. This isn’t a timeless or definitive « not ». It is a temporary « not ». In other words, a complex « not ».

Read the whole speeach here.

Selim Nadi: Why do we need an Indigenous Party in France?

Selim Nadi from the Parti des Indigènes de la République (PIR) explains why the building of an autonomous political force for people of color in France is needed. In January 2005, several anti-racist activists and organizations sent out a call – l’appel des Indigènes de la République. This call was sent out in a context of very strong racial tensions in the French Hexagon : girls wearing hijabs were thrown out of school (2004 – but this issue goes back to the 1990s), the French banlieues were rising up (2005), etc. … The aim of this call was to mobilize activists around the balance of forces deriving from the colonization. Thus, the call was saying that “France was a colonial state, France remains a colonial state”. This call received around 3000 signatures in a few weeks. After this call the Movement of the Indigenous of the Republic (M.I.R) was created, an organization that intended to be a political one. Nadi tracks the history of the PIR in the context of the theoretical and practical question: how to build an autonomous political force.

Read the article here.

Freedom of speech under attack at the University Of California Berkeley – again

On 17 April, Bazian facilitated an event at UC Berkeley with Haneen Zoabi, a member of Israel’s Knesset. Zionist students are calling for the university to take disciplinary action against Bazian for hosting Zoabi and defending the content of her speech. This latest attack is part of an ongoing series of targeting BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions movement) activists and individuals who continue to do work on Palestine in the US. The group behind the smear campaign at UC Berkeley is Tikvah, a Zionist campus group that has a long history of smearing Bazian and Students for Justice in Palestine. Students for Justice in Palestine launched their own petition to defend Bazian against the mischaracterization, bullying and blatant racism of Tikvah and off-campus Zionist groups in their continued attempts to suppress open discussion and honest academic analysis of Israel’s occupation.

Read more.

A campaign against the exploitation of African children to raise money for white saviours

Why was I not immediately outraged when I saw the 12-year-old black African, heavily pregnant girl-child, Fridah, posing in pastel-coloured maternity clothes, in quite a sensual manner, in the Plan International Finland campaign advertisements meant to raise awareness about child pregnancies, placed on billboards, streets and public transport spaces all over Finland?”, asked Dr. Faith Mkwesha, Executive Director of the non-profit organization SahWira Africa International and researcher in gender studies at Åbo Akademi University. The advertisement campaign was awarded prizes for best advertisement.

SahWira Africa took a bold step to challenge the negative representation of Africans that perpetuates stereotypes and prejudices in the West, and demanded that Plan International Finland withdraws the campaign, and offers apologies to the African and PoC community, and return the prizes awarded to them. Plan has refused to apologise, and to return the prizes.

They started a campaign with discussion on social media, a demonstration at the office of Plan International where a petition was sent with the demands.

More information is to be found on: https://www.ruskeattytot.fi/rakenteet/protectblackgirlstoo.

See more information on:  www.sahwira-africa.org

Twitter: @sahwiraAfrica

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sahwiraafrica/

Other links:

DIN wholeheartedly supports this campaign and will help mobilize against the dehumanization of African people in Western media.

We call upon other organization to join the campaign of SahWira and offer their support for their campaign. More information: Faith Mkwesha, faithmk20@gmail.com, whatsapp: 00 35 45 66 888 75.

A decolonial critique of a colonial project

This is the text of a lecture by Sandew Hira on April 22, 2018 at the University of Amsterdam for Indonesian students on decolonizing history.

You can download the powerpoint here.

Slide 1: A decolonial critique of a colonial project

I would like to thank PPI Belanda, PPI Leiden and PPI Amsterdam for inviting me to present my views on the colonial research project of white Dutch academics on the liberation struggle of the Indonesian people. I will explain why this project does not meet basic standards of scientific research, why nonsense is presented as scientific knowledge and what the alternative can be for this colonial project. I will present my critique from a decolonial theoretical framework. I will briefly touch on some theoretical aspects of a decolonial critique of Western knowledge production before going into the aforementioned questions.

Slide 2: If you are a professor, that does not mean that you are a scientist, you can be an ideologue of colonialism

Let me start with a basic critique of the authority of knowledge production. What is the authority of knowledge production? The authority of knowledge production is the collection of institutes that assures society of what is valid knowledge and what not. In Western science professors are the authority of knowledge production. If you are a professor, you are supposed to be knowledgeable and searching for the truth. In decolonial critique we argue that if you are a professor, that does not mean that you are a scientist. You can be an ideologue of colonialism presenting nonsense as science. It is not the position at a university that determines whether you are a scientist, but the content of your argument. Ideologues are not searching for the truth, but are producing lies to cover the truth. This is a theoretic proposition of decolonial theory and does not only bear specifically on this colonial research project but on Western knowledge production in general.

Slide 3: Western epistemology

Another theoretical note I want to touch on is the difference between Western epistemology and decolonial epistemology. Epistemology deals with what is knowledge en more specifically what constitutes valid knowledge. Western science has developed in opposition to Christian theology since the second half of the seventeenth century and evolved from David Hume’s view of knowledge based on experience thought Immanuel Kant’s concept of the need to understand experience with theoretical analysis to George Hegel notion of testing theories by prediction. Karl Popper later developed this notion into the concept of falsification. And August Comte conceptualized it in the idea of positivism that holds that knowledge is solely derived from observation and reasoning and detached from ethics. The idea that ethics is not part of knowledge has now become entrenched in the canon of Western epistemology. Knowledge is about true or false and not about right or wrong.

British philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) says: “Our knowledge of truths … has an opposite, namely error.”[1] Not quite. In decolonial theory the opposite of truths are lies. The difference between a lie and an error is that an error should be corrected, while a lie should be opposed. An error is a false statement in an effort to find the truth. A lie is a false statement in an effort to block the truth. Once you realise that there is an error, you will try to correct it. A lie is produced with the intent to manipulate the mind.

Slide 4: DTM epistemology

In the theory of Decolonizing The Mind knowledge is not only about true or false but also about right and wrong.  In DTM the basic unit of knowledge is a concept. A concept is an idea that describes and explains certain aspects of the social and natural world. Knowledge is contained in concepts.

A concept has five dimensions.

The five elements of a concept are treated differently in an error, a lie and a truth. They have to be understood in relation to each other.

  1. In search of the truth you develop a terminology that is an adequate representation of the object of knowledge. If you make an error and you use a term that does not adequately represent the concept, you correct that and use another term once you realise the error. If you produce a lie, you intentionally come up with a term that is not an adequate representation, yet you use an inadequate term because you want to paint a different picture of the object that does not correspond with reality. Take the story of Columbus. The colonial scientist use the term “discovery of the Americas”, while the indigenous people use the term “the illegal occupation of their lands”. The Dutch would never use the term “the discovery of Holland by the Nazi’s in 1940” to describe the German invasion of their country. And they are right.
  2. Observations (facts). In search of the truth you take all relevant facts into account that relate to the concept. If you make an error, you might mistakenly leave out facts, but once you realise that, you make a correction and include these facts in making your argument. If you produce a lie, you select facts that fit into your concept and intentionally leave out or twist the facts that contradict your concept. In the case of Columbus his first crime – the fact of the kidnapping of seven Taino’s – is left out of the narrative of the colonizer but is very much present in the stories of the Taino’s.
  3. The analysis offers a framing and a storyline that makes us understand the concept. In search of the truth you develop a framing and a storyline that matches the facts and provides a logical explanation of the concept. If you make an error in the storyline, you correct it by adapting the storyline so it matches the facts and logic. If you produce a lie, you intentionally develop a storyline that matches your concept and manipulates the facts and logic so as to suit the concept. If you need to fantasise, then you put the fantasies into the storyline. The analysis use a logical framework. The logical framework of Western science is the two-value logic that goes back to Aristotle and use two values: true and false. It does not help us to understand problems of uncertainty and change. Non-Western logical systems like the Indian philosophy of Jainism use a seven value-logic that enables use to understand reality in its uncertainty and process of change. The colonial analysis of Columbus is the legitimization of colonialism in the story of discovery. The decolonial analysis of Columbus is the legitimization of the struggle to colonialism in the story of resistance.
  4. A theory is a collection of interrelated concepts that provides a bigger picture of the natural and social reality. In search for the truth you put your concept in the context of a theory that provides a factual and logical extension of the storyline of the concept. If you make an error, you correct it by looking for a theory that better matches the facts and logics of the bigger narrative. If you produce a lie, you select a theory that extends the storyline of your concept despite the facts and the logic that go against the theory. The colonial theory behind Columbus is the rise of modernity and human civilization. The decolonial theory behind Columbus is the demise of human civilization through the horrors of colonialism.
  5. A concept often contains ethics, a value judgment about what is right or wrong, good or bad. In searching the truth you acknowledge the ethics, make it explicit and defend your position. If you make an error, you correct it by acknowledging the ethics, make it explicit and move on. If you produce a lie, you hide or disguise the ethics by presenting your concept as objective and devoid from ethics. Western epistemology has hidden their ethics from science and cloaked it in notions of objectivity.

Slide 5: What happens when you hide your ethics in knowledge production?

When you hide your ethics in knowledge production, you are then able to present lies as scientific knowledge. How?

First, you present pose knowledge only in two terms: true or false and neglect the dimension of right and wrong.

Second, you claim objectivity on the basis of the authority of knowledge production, not on the basis of arguments. You present yourself as a scientist who is objective.

Third, you claim universality of your knowledge. Not only are you objective, your objectivity has a universal claim: your truth is the absolute truth.

And thus you are able to present blatant lies as scientific knowledge.

A decolonial theoretical framework enables us to lay bare the ethics behind Westernized knowledge and the fallacies it contains from  scientific point of view.

Slide 6: Critique #1: extreme and normal violence is not about facts, but about morality

Let us take a look at the colonial project of these white Dutch historians. The aims and content of the research program is defined on the website of het Koloniaal Instituut voor Taal, Land en Volkenkunde: “The program, which consist of nine parts, should answer questions about the nature, extent and causes of structural extreme (they use the Dutch term ‘grensoverschrijdend’) violence in Indonesia, seen from a broader political, social and international context. In this regard extensive attention will be paid to the chaotic period of August 1945 till the beginning of 1946 – often termed as the Bersiap – and the political and social legacy in the Netherlands, Indonesia and other places.”[2]

The first decolonial critique of the project is that is not a scientific project, but an ideological one. Why? Because it does not use a scientific concept to define the content of the program but an ideological one. In the ideological concept extreme violence is wrong and normal violence is OK. In the decolonial concept the judgment of violence depends on many factors: strategy, tactics, the nature of violence as one of oppression or one of liberation etc.

Slide 7: Critique #2: the concept of extreme violence is an insult to the victim of oppression

The second critique is that this concept of normal and extreme violence is an insult to the victims in a war of liberation. There is no extreme violence without normal violence.  How would any Dutch person feel when German historian would set up a project to assess whether the bombing of Rotterdam was normal or extreme violence? On May 14, 1940 the German bombed the Dutch city of Rotterdam which killed 650-900 victims. On February 13-14 1945 the allied forces carried out a massive bombardment of the city of Dresden which killed 25.000 German, 25 times more than in Rotterdam. How would the Dutch feel when German historians would then claim that the bombing of Rotterdam was not extreme violence but normal violence compared to Dresden? They would feel extremely insulted, and rightly so. The whole notion of normal violence which is inherent to the concept of extreme violence is an insult to the victims of this violence. What are the criteria of these white Dutch historians applied to Indonesia. Is cutting off the balls of a freedom fighter normal violence but beheading is extreme? You get into these ridiculous discussions if you use the concept of normal and extreme violence.

Slide 8: Critique #3: the concept of extreme violence is a direct legitimization of the crime of colonialism

The concept of normal violence means that Dutch racist colonizers who introduced apartheid in Indonesia are perfectly in their right to use normal violence to maintain their colonial rule. Normal violence means the acceptance of the relationship of power. Colonial power is legitimate as long as they use normal violence. This is nonsense presented as science.

Slide 9: Critique #4: the moral judgment of violence should be related to its purpose and cannot be judged in absolute terms

There are two moral categories of violence: the category of the injustice of oppressors violence and the category of the justice of the violence for freedom and liberation. The violence of a woman who is raped by a man cannot be placed in the same moral category of the violence of the rapist. The violence of Dutch freedom fighters against Nazism could not be placed in the same moral category as the violence of the Nazi’s. The violence of the freedom fighters of the people of Indonesia cannot be placed in the moral category as the violence of the Dutch racist colonizers to maintain their apartheid state in Indonesia.

Slide 10: Critique #5: the most obvious comparison is not made: extreme and normal violence of Nazism and colonialism

Scientific research often has a comparative dimension. You compare the phenomenon you want to study in different situations in order to get a better understanding of the phenomenon. In 1945 the Dutch just came out of a struggle for freedom in which they also used violence. The Dutch resistance organized violent resistance in coordination with the allied forces. Shortly after their fight for freedom from Nazism they used violence against the freedom fighters of Indonesia. If you are an objective researcher into violence, why don’t you take this obvious comparison into account?

Slide 11: Critique #6: this colonial research project is a racist project

The leader of this colonial research project, Gert Oostindie, wrote a book on this topic as a prelude to this investigation titled Soldaat in Indonesie, soldier in Indonesia. He claims to be objective and open-minded, as many racists do and contrasts his attitude to the historians in Indonesia who are not objective and open minded. He writes about the way he conducted his research on documents of Dutch soldiers who were fighting their colonial war: “Each of the ego-documents is just an individual account, but an open-minded, systematic analysis of the whole body can produce a more balanced picture and thus also more insight into the war.”[3]

So he is the white objective and open-minded researcher. This is what he says about the historians  in Indonesia: “Until now no Indonesian government has ever showed any interest in serious historical research into the war of decolonization, whether it is carried out in cooperation with the Netherlands or not. That is not strange. Open-minded research would undermine the image of a united heroic people that expelled the colonizer under the leadership of the army.”

The racism of Oostindie lies in his contradiction which he does not even notice. How can you know the result of a research that was never started according to your own account? Why is the conclusion of the white Dutch historian Oostindie open-minded and the conclusion of the historian in Indonesia narrow-minded without judging the facts of a research that was never conducted? Objectivity and open-mind means that you have to subscribe to the conclusion of the white Dutch colonial historians without discussing the fact of the research.

Oostindie is the leader of the colonial research project so he will carry his racist arguments into this project.

Slide 12: Critique #7: the legitimization of the racist colonial rule deligitimizes the fight for freedom – 1

In a debate in Amsterdam Jeffry Pondaag from Indonesia asked his panel members the basic question regarding Dutch colonialism: who gave you white people the moral right to occupy my country that is 11.000 km away from your country and oppress, exploit and humiliate coloured people? This is the crucial question that anyone should pose at the start of any discussion on colonial history. If you evade this question, you evade the crucial context that determines your position in the discussion.

Slide 13: Critique #7: the legitimization of the racist colonial rule delegitimizes the fight for freedom – 2

Colonialism was a system of oppression that used any means necessary to establish and maintain its rule: rape, theft, violence, yrs extreme violence, humiliation, occupation. They colonize by any means necessary. And when colonized people fight for their freedom by any means necessary the colonizers start to scream: you use extreme violence. That is not fair! Oostindie claims that the violence of the freedom fighter was worse than the violence of the occupier and there illegitimate. He writes: “It is clear without any doubt the Indonesian side have committed cruel crimes – probably on a much larger scale and directly mostly against other Indonesians.” Oostindie argues that without Dutch rule the Indonesians would kill each other. He writes: “An important part of violence in the Archipel can be explained by the absence of an effective (colonial) power, but reflected further local contradictions of which the Netherland was partly party to, other than in the function of the keeper of public order.” The Dutch as the neutral ruler that keeps the Indonesians from killing each other. This is belanda racism of the worst kind.

In any freedom struggle the strategy and tactics is related to the means of oppression of the colonizer. Why is the colonizer allowed to establish their rule by any means necessary and the colonized is limited in their struggle of freedom to the means that the colonizer finds acceptable? What kind of logic is this?

Oostindie explicity legitimize colonial oppress in the following statement: “The Dutch military actions should be understood in the context that was given then by the Dutch: protection of the population en restoring law and order.” This is how the so-called scientist conceptualized a system of oppression: colonialism as the protection of the colonized and law and order as the natural way of governing the colonized. The most outrageous comment from Oostindie is to deny the role of violence in maintaining colonial rule. He writes that the Netherlands never had a strong military culture. It was always about protecting the Dutch border. If that is the case, why did you go 11.000 km from you country to occupy and exploit other men’s and women’s country? How was colonization achieved? By saying to the colonized: we come here in peace to rape your women, steal your resources, enslave your people and impose a racist aartheid system. Was this all done with peacefull means? In what kind of world does Oostindie live? What kind of colonial fantasies does he produce. Rember: if you are a professor that does not mean that you are a scientist. You can be an ideologue of colonialism and that is what this project is about: producing the lies of the legitimacy of Dutch fascist rule of Indonesia.

Slide 14: Critique #8: the colonial project turns the victim into the criminal and the criminal into the victim

A common technique in colonial the production of lies is the technique of turning the victim into the criminal and vice versa. Oostindie draws the following conclusion from his research on the liberation struggle of the Indonesian people: “Veterans reject Dutch apologies with reference to war crimes of the opponents.” Then the socalled objective researcher takes a political position in the debate: “It is clear that the other party was guilty of war crimes on a large scale.”

Oostindie turns the victim of oppression into a criminal of war crimes because of the war of liberation. While the oppressor is granted the method “by any means necessary” to impose oppression the oppressed cannot use the same method “by any means necessary” to liberate him or herself from oppression. The colonizer will put limits to the forms of resistance.

Oostindie leaves all claims of objectivity aside when he openly honor the soldiers who weer sent to put down the liberation struggle of an oppressed people. According to him his book should be seen as “a testimony of honor to these men.” What happened to the objective researcher that does not give moral judgments?

Slide 15: What is Decolonizing The Mind (DTM)?

Let me go back to the theoretical framework of Decolonizing The Mind. In this framework decolonizing the mind means three things:

  1. The articulation of a scientific critique of Western knowledge production on different levels: conceptualization, methodology of research etc. This critique exposes the lies of Western knowledge production, in this case the lies of normal and extreme violence and the lies about the legitimacy of colonialism crimes.
  2. The production of alternative decolonial concepts. If we study the period of 1945-1950 we use the concept of the legitimate fight for freedom and not the concept of normal and extreme violence to understand what has happened.
  3. The translation of the alternative knowledge in activism.

I will deal with the third point in the form of the question: what is a decolonial alternative for this colonial research project?

Slide 16: Understanding the nature of Westernized academia and the colonization of the mind

In order to develop an alternative you must understand the nature of westernized universities. You must understand the difference between education and training. Education is the liberation of the mind through free discussion and open debate, critical research and the search for the truth. Training is the imposition of limitations on the mind, disciplining the mind to think in one particular way, acquiring the skills to produce lies and developing the attitude to criminalize people who disagree with you and criticize you.

Education is related to power because education is an attack on the authority of power. We don’t accept propositions that are based on positions of power. We accept proposition on the basis of arguments.

If I talk about Westernized universities I mean not only universities in the West, but also universities in the former colonies of Suriname and Indonesia where we have Surinamese and Indonesians who are eager to defend their former masters against decolonial critique. Jeffry Pondaag can pose the crucial and basic question in every discussion on the history of colonialism because he was not trained in the Westernized university. He is a cement worker in an factory who has not lost his common sense and dares to ask: who gave you white people the moral right to occupy my country that is 11.000 km away from your country and oppress, exploit and humiliate coloured people? That is the question is ask to any Surinamese of Indonesian historians who stand up to defend his or her colonial master. What gave them the right to colonize our land, institute apartheid, enslave, exploit, oppress and humiliate our people? That is the basis of my conversation of coloured people who are trained to defend their white masters.

In 1940 the Kingdom of the Netherlands was a Muslim country; 90% of the kingdom were Muslims, yet there was a minority racist dictatorship in the Kingdom that prevented the coloured people to vote. In Indonesia racism and apartheid was instituted in public places under the banner of “No dogs and Indonesians allowed”. In Nazi-Germany Hitler instituted racism and apartheid with the banner “No Jews allowed”. At least the dogs were better off under Nazism compared to Dutch colonialism.

Slide 17: An alternative decolonial research project

My suggestion for the alternative is to organize a network of activists and academics to set up and carry out a decolonial research project into the colonial history of Indonesia. This project should systematically document the crimes of Dutch colonialism, calculate the amount of reparations that the Dutch should pay as compensation for colonialism and documents the resistance struggle against the racist colonizer. That is the most appropriate answer to this colonial project. The Decolonial International Network would be happy to support any initiative in this direction.

Thank you for your attention.

[1] Russell, B. (1912), p. 186.

[2] http://www.kitlv.nl/vierjarig-onderzoeksprogramma-dekolonisatie-geweld-en-oorlog-indonesie-1945-1950/.

[3] All references are from my review of his book in: https://www.iisr.nl/koloniale-geschiedschrijving-van-indonesie/.

Bandung of the North in Paris May 4-6, 2018

From May 4-6th activists in France with the support of the Decolonial International Network (DIN) are organizing an international conference with the title Bandung of the North in Paris in the spirit of the 1955 Bandung conference.

The English version of the program can be downloaded here.

Below is the manifesto of the conference.

Manifesto of the Bandung of the North

“This is the first intercontinental conference of coloured people… in the history of mankind… It is a new departure in the history of the world that leaders of Asian and African people can meet together … to discuss and deliberate upon matters of common concern. In spite of diversity that exists among its participants, let this conference be a great success. Yes, there is diversity among us. Who denies it? … What harm is there in diversity? .. This conference is not to oppose each other.” With these words Indonesian president Sukarno opened an international conference entitled “Let a New Africa and Asia be Born” in the Indonesian city of Bandung in 1955. It was the first international meeting of head of states of countries in the Global South.

From May 5-6 2018 the Committee of the Bandung of the North will organize an international conference in Paris in the spirit of the 1955 Bandung conference. It will be the first international conference of coloured people that takes up the issues of people of colour who are living in the Global North to discuss matters of common concern.

The “Global North” refers to countries of Western Europe, North America and Oceania that colonized Africa, Asia and the Americas among themselves. Nowadays, large communities from the Global South live in their metropolis. Out of 800 millions living in these countries, an estimated 160 million are people of colour.

They confront racism in every sphere of life as a daily reminder of the continuation of the legacy of colonialism. Racism not only manifests itself in discriminations on the basis of skin colour but also on the basis of religion, origin and culture. Racism is rooted in economic, social, political and cultural institutions. Racism can also be found in health, housing and at work where people of colour systematically lagged behind white people. Racism is translated into social segregation. It is manifest in a political system that deprives people of colour of speaking their mind and impose a dominant narrative about terrorism that facilitates the rise of a police state and targets people of color. It is manifest in a culture that promotes the concept of the superiority of the West and the inferiority of the rest, enforces assimilation, and instrumentalizes diversity.

The communities of colour in the Global North present a diversity of historical experiences: indigenous genocide and land theft, trans-Atlantic enslavement and other forms of forced migration, current migration due to colonial wars and increased poverty and inequalities. In return, they have diversified social movements and offered their own narratives about their oppression and exploitation.

The 2018 conference Bandung of the North wants to create a space in which activists of these movements can meet, get acquainted, learn from each other and develop common projects and campaigns. The conference is about sharing of experiences and analysis in the plural societies of the North. It aims to facilitate common projects and campaigns.

The conference will have plenary session with four keynote speakers: Angela Davis, Fred Hampton JR, Ramon Grosfoguel and Eli Domota. Different workshops will explore different themes from the rise of the police state to the relationship between social movement from black, indigenous, Roma, Asian and Islamic communities.

The organizing committee of the conference is a joint venture of the Decolonial International Network and activists in France.

Information about the conference ca be found here: http://bandungdunord.webflow.io/.

The program of the conference is here: programmebandungENG

Watch part of the 1955 Bandung conference.

Weekend courses Decolonizing The Mind (DTM)

DIN coordinator Sandew Hira has started a series of weekend courses on Decolonizing The Mind. The first series was held in London in the weekend of 24-25th of February and was organized by the Islamic Human Rights Commission.

The second one is in Amsterdam in the weekend of 28-29th of April and is organised by Studio-K.

The third one is in Finland in the weekend of 19-20th of May and is organized by SahWira Africa International.

Background

The weekend course Decolonizing The Mind (DTM) explores the concepts and tools from the theoretical framework Decolonizing The Mind. Two narratives of liberation had dominated knowledge, culture and activism the past 150 years: Liberalism and Marxism. They are rooted in the European Enlightenment. Decolonial thinking is a collection of contributions to a third narrative of liberation with different labels (postcolonialism, orientalism, subaltern studies, Islamic liberation theology). DTM aims to develop a coherent theoretical framework as an alternative to Liberalism and Marxism.

This course is aimed at activists and academics who want to know about and make a contribution to the development of this coherent framework.

Topics

The course deals wit the following questions:

  1. What are the differences in theoretical framework between Liberalism, Marxism and DTM?
  2. What are the differences in producing knowledge from the three frameworks: theories of knowledge including logic, methods of research and analysis for academics and activists?
  3. What is the DTM framework: concepts, methods of arguments, attitudes of a (de)colonized mind, skills of a (de)colonized mind.
  4. How do we apply the DTM framework in different areas of knowledge production and activism? We will deal with the following examples:
    1. Decolonizing social theories: three views on race, class, gender, intersectionality en sexuality.
    2. Decolonizing cultural theory: three theories about authority of knowledge production, identity formation, religion and ethics.
    3. Decolonizing world history: three views on world history
    4. Decolonizing economic theory: Islamic economic theory, liberal and Marxist economic theory.
    5. Decolonizing political theory: three political theories on democracy, political systems and activism
    6. Decolonizing mathematics (you don’t need expert knowledge on mathematics).
  5. How do we apply DTM theory in everyday life?
    1. What kind of attitudes and skills have colonialism installed in white people and people of color?
    2. How do you recognize and analyze these attitudes, skills and colonial knowledge in everyday life: workplace, school, daily interaction, friends an family encounters?
    3. How do we develop a decolonial attitude and acquire decolonial skills in fighting racism?

Course material and preparations

The course is an intensive interactive engagement that starts with a preparation, the course itself and engagement after the course.

Before the course the participants will receive access to an E-Learning application (Moodle) with PowerPoint presentations on the different topics of the course. Participants are supposed to go through these presentations before attending the course.

Teaching methods

Each session starts with a summary of a PowerPoint presentation. Then we spent the course with debates, presentations by participants and analysis of arguments in propositions that develops the topics in the Powerpoint. Special attention is given to possible critiques of the DTM theoretical framework, apart from the critique on Liberalism and Marxism. Participants are asked to prepare a presentation of maximum 5 minutes on a topic by using or criticizing the DTM framework as explained in the PowerPoints. This is optional. If you don’t want to make a presentation, you don’t have to.

After the course

An important aim of the course is to enable participants to use the DTM framework to intervene in political discussions from a decolonial perspective. Participants are invited to use the course to prepare such intervention (writing an article, making a review, submitting discussion pieces, organizing a debate etc). After the course Moodle will be kept open for further communication after the course.

 

Germany March 15: Day of Action against the Normalization of Racist Police Violence

On March 15th, the International Day against Police Brutality, various actions were organized in Frankfurt am Main. This international day of remembrance had not been organized before in a German city except for Berlin, but it is now thought to be established on a long-term basis.

Creative Day of Action in Frankfurt am Main

Random police controls, stop and search controls, sending off, public humilliation and brutal treatment by police and security services shape the everyday reality of Black people, People of Color, migrants, roma, poor and homeless people, sex workers and transgender persons. Making visible this normalization of structural and state violence was the aim of the action day #15MRZ. It was about mourning the various victims, making visible the dimension of racist police violence, engaging in the various forms of resistance and empowering the persons affected through a creative engagement in urban space.

An alliance of local initiatives and transregional campaigns had called for organizing the International Day against Police Brutality in the city of Frankfurt am Main. At Hauptwache, a hotspot of everyday police controls, and at Willy-Brandt-Platz speeches were held and a creative performance as well as a memorial event took place. An information desk gave passerby the opportunity to inform themselves and to get into conversation with the activists about police violence. A place of encounter was created for some hours at the crossroads of Niddastreet and Ottostreet in the district of the central station. Video installations, speeches held by persons affected and local initiatives created an atmosphere of solidarity that was accompanied by music and food for everybody, and that made space for imagining the social without daily policing. The “activist excursion” found its ending with a panel discussion at Café KoZ in the district of Bockenheim. The discussion was about the different possibilities of collective action and interventions as well as radical alternatives to police and policing.

Of much importance were the numerous encounters with people who shared their experiences with policing, informed themselves about the difficult legal situation or expressed their solidarity. At the same time, the comments of outraged passerby showed to what extent a discussion and actions against state violence are urgent and necessary.

Racist Police Controls constitute an Everyday State of Emergency

Sissy Rothe of the Initiative of Black People in Germany (ISD) explains in a moving memorial speech at Willy-Brandt-Platz that „Racial Profiling is often dismissed as ‚just‘ a control and routine, and we see how we – Black People and the People of Color – are being criminalized promptly and with pleasure. The mere color of skin is enough for the police to stop us, asking for papers, documents, the right of residence, the right of existence. No suspicion of a specific crime, our appearance alone is the sufficient trigger for suspicion. Even court jurisdictions, as most recently by the Higher Administrative Court in Baden-Baden in February 2018, are not able to provoke any reaction of the police apparatus. The necessity of measures in order to recognize own prejudices and to examine and reduce them, is denied. Instead they use statistics as an argument. Statistics that they themselves created on the basis of (biased) controls.“

Why Frankfurt needs the International Day against Police Violence

Throughout the day a horrifying picture of the routine violence of policing against marginalized groups was revealed. It became obvious that policing escalates on a routine basis, or better, is itself an escalation, and that controls result in slurs and physical violations. A member of the collective Doña Carmen described how the new “prostitute protection act” enhances the humiliation and continuous criminalization of sex workers. Apartments of sex workers can be raded without judicial search warrants.

„Especially refugees experience systemic violence on an everyday basis, in form of controls, searchings or during the traumatizing enforcement of deportations“, explained a member of the Hessen Refugee Council.

Greetings and words of support from the alliance “Unraveling the NSU Complex“ emphasized the systemic racism within the police apparatus, which contributed to the decade long continuation of the murders by the rightwing terrorist group NSU. Relatives of the NSU victims have been surveilled, lied to and criminalized by law enforcement. „The bomb after the bomb” is how a survivor of the NSU murder series has called the treatment by law enforcement as victims have been treated as perpetrators based on racist bias.

The victims of racist police violence are also dehumanized from state authorities. The case of Oury Jalloh, who was murdered in a police holding cell in Dessau on January 7th 2005, demonstrates how important evidences are concealed, bringing the case to justice is systematically sabotaged and deferred by the justice system. “Until now the murderers have not been found and the circumstances of Oury Jalloh’s death have not been cleared up” scandalizes a representative of the Initiative in Remembrance of Oury Jalloh. That is why an independent international commission has now been constituted to investigate the case as well as the circumstances that make possible the systematic concealing in the investigation of the murder.

Structural Dimension of Racist Policing and Police Violence

Racial profiling is not just the outcome of a racist attitude of single police officers. It is a form of institutional racism that is also reproduced by the legal apparatus as racial profiling is fostered and legitimized by stop and search controls. „These are structural violations of basic human rights and they include severe physical and psychological consequences“ says June Jordanus from the documentation and support collective copwatch-ffm. The recent report of the UN-investigation group of the decade for people of African descent also highlights this.

Manuel from the red aid legal support group explains the obstacles when it comes to legal struggles against police violations. “It does not really matter what applies or does not apply to the law, what the police is allowed to do or not to do. The police does what it can when it can and with what it gets away with”.

Remember, make visible and practice alternatives!

„Laye Condé, Oury Jalloh, Dominique Koumadio, N’deye Mariame Sarr and Christy Schwundeck are only a few of the people who have lost their lives based on racist policing practices. Christy Schwundeck was shot in a Jobcenter in Frankfurt Gallus on May 19th 2011,” says June Jordanus from copwatch-ffm. During the day of action victims of police killings were remembered and a commemoration took place at Willy-Brandt-Platz where the names of victims of police killings in Germany, France, the US and Brazil where remembered during a say their names performance.

„As long as the lives of some are more worth than those of others, as long as some are more free than others, our societies are unfree“, explains Sissy Rothe from the Initiative of Black People in Germany.

„Just yesterday the Black queer socialist city councilor Mareille Franco, who was very active against police brutality in racialized communities, was brutally murdered. This painfully shows the international importance of the struggle against policing and police violence“, says a representative of the Initiative Bahnhofsviertel Solidarisch.

Societal problems such as poverty, gentrification and migration are only regulated and criminalized by police instead of providing solutions. What alternative forms of social and political living without policing and punishment could look like was discussed at the final plenary discussion. The necessity of lived practices of abolition and solitary forms of living together were also emphasized by the Kafä–Kollektiv, that organized the awareness team for the entire action day: „There’s no justice –  there’s just us.”

The following groups were involved in organizing the 15MRZ:

Copwatch Frankfurt,
Rote Hilfe Frankfurt,
Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland (ISD),
Bahnhofsviertel Solidarisch,
LOS! – Offenbach Solidarisch,
KNAS [] Initiative für den Rückbau von Gefängnissen,
Kollektiv Kafä