walter--2-2010cThe philosopher and semiotician, Walter D. Mignolo, is one of the founders of the modernity / coloniality school of thought. His early work focused on the history of writing and included discussion of literature, historiography, cartography, and cultural theory. In developing the idea of ‘decoloniality’, Mignolo builds on the work of Anibal Quijano and argues specifically for the necessity of epistemic decolonization. This is required, he argues, to undo the damage wrought by both modernity and by understanding modernity / coloniality only as modernity.


The decolonization of knowledge, Mignolo suggests, occurs in acknowledging the sources and geo-political locations of knowledge while at the same time affirming those modes and practices of knowledge that have been denied by the dominance of particular forms. He is not arguing simply for a geo-politics of location as central to any academic endeavour, but rather a consideration of what that geo-politics enables to be known and how it is to be known. The key issue for Mignolo is not only that epistemology is not ahistorical, but also, and perhaps more importantly, that epistemology ‘has to be geographical in its historicity’ (2000: 67). This has also been described by Mignolo (2000) as ‘border thinking’.


More recently, he has also worked on the idea of ‘decolonial aestheSis’ with others including Alanna Lockward and Rolando Vazquez. This is a collective movement that highlights the practices that have challenged and subverted the hegemony of modernity/coloniality in the realm of the senses and perception.






Essential Reading

Mignolo, Walter 2002. ‘The Geopolitics of Knowledge and the Colonial Difference,’ South Atlantic Quarterly 101.1 (Winter): 56-96.

Mignolo, Walter 2007. ‘DELINKING: The Rhetoric of modernity, the logic of coloniality and the grammar of de-coloniality,’ Cultural Studies, 21:2, March: 449-514.


Further Reading

Mignolo, Walter and Elizabeth H Boone 1994. Writing without WordsDuke University Press

Mignolo, Walter and Rolando Vazquez 2013. ‘Decolonial AestheSis: Colonial Wounds/Decolonial Healings‘ Social Text 

Collective statement – Decolonial Aesthetics Manifesto



Critically assess the ways in which the ‘rhetoric of modernity’ and the ‘logic of coloniality’ are connected.

What is the relationship between Mignolo’s commitment to decolonial aesthesis and his earlier work on ‘writing’?

What is the place of epistemic decolonization in the broader project of decoloniality?



Submitted by Gurminder K Bhambra 

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