Epistemological Decolonization through a Relational Knowledge- Making Model

Africa Today 67 (4):50-72 (2021)
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Abstract
This article argues for epistemic decolonization by developing a relational model of knowledge, which we locate within indigenous knowledges. We live in a time of ongoing global, epistemic coloniality, embedded in and shaped by colonial ideas and practices. Epistemological decolonization requires taking nondominant knowledges and their epistemes seriously to open up the possibility of interrogating and dismantling the hegemony of the Western knowledge tradition. We here ask two related questions: What are the decolonial affordances of indigenous knowledges? And how do these compare to other contemporary critiques of epistemic coloniality, specifically those mounted by posthumanism? In answer, we develop three definitional senses of relational with reference to indigenous knowledges. First, we define indigenous knowledges in relation to Western knowledge, with which they share a dialectical origin at the moment of colonial contact. Second, indigenous knowledges are relational in their ontological and axiological orientations. Third, relationality in indigenous knowledge suggests a trialectic space, rather than a dialectic space. We argue for the necessity of an anticolonial framework, which assigns priority to indigenous people’s perceptions and ways of knowing for theorizing recurring colonial relations and their (imperialistic) manifestations in producing and reproducing knowledge.
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Archival date: 2021-06-07
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