Marcos S. Scauso


Political Science: International Relations​ and Political Theory

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Intersectional Decoloniality: Re-imagining I.R. and the Problem of Difference


The encounter of “other” ways of being and knowing has historically created debates and struggles that aim to understand and organize these differences. As globalization decreases some distances, this problem has gained saliency in domestic, international, and global politics. The objective of this book is to assess diverse ways to think about “others” while also emphasizing the advantages of decolonial intersectionality. In order to achieve this goal, Intersectional Decoloniality: Reimagining I.R. and the Problem of Difference systematically analyzes the disputes and struggles that emerge among Andean indigenous intellectuals, governmental projects, and scholars from the Global North to define ways to deal with “others” between the 1825 Independence of Bolivia and 2019. By focusing on the epistemic assumptions (i.e., definitions of what is "real", how we know "reality," and who knows "reality") and the marginalizing effects that emerge from these constructions (i.e., definitions of what is not "real," how “others” do not know "reality," and who these “others” are), this book separates four ways to think about differences and it analyzes their implications. Each approach represents a location; a locus of enunciation found in a struggle to define a dominant epistemic possibility to deal with “others.”

The empirical chapters thus analyze the separate discourses that seek to define ways to deal with “others” in Bolivia, which is a country with a distinctly complex trajectory of colonialism and a particularly rich history of resistance. In and for Bolivia, intellectuals used colonial discourses such as liberalism and Marxism, which drew notions of equality that included some ways of being and knowing, but also demanded that “others” disappear or become assimilated. Instead, the various branches of Indianismo, an indigenous movement from the Andes, validated their own knowledges and authorized their own anti-colonial voices, but they also silenced “other” struggles that emerged from feminist and ecological concerns. In order to avoid this problem, some intellectuals used post-structuralist insights and sought to listen to the insurrection of multiple subjugated voices. This approach was used as an ally that helped silenced voices to deconstruct dominant projects of civilization, but its “western” locus of enunciation and its tendency towards generalization limited post-structuralism’s capacity of political action and the study of decolonial alternatives. To the contrary, feminist scholars from Bolivia have taken into account these insights, together with Indianista legacies, and have constructed a fourth possibility. They created another epistemic position, which sees “others” as truths and sustains a reflexive capacity to problematize its own limitations; it builds a philosophically localized possibility to critique multiple colonial legacies of patriarchy, racism, sexual discrimination, environmental destruction, capitalist exploitation, etc. while also reimagining an innovative form of intersectional, reflexive, decolonial, and global coexistence. How is this reflexive approach of decolonial intersectionality possible? What kind of epistemic assumptions does this approach include and what are its advantages over the other ways to think about difference?

By studying the distinct epistemic approaches used in a struggle for the possibility to define relationships with “others,” Intersectional Decoloniality: Reimagining I.R. and the Problem of Difference thus analyzes four positions in a process of epistemic politics and it highlights the ways in which intersectional decoloniality moves beyond some of the limitations found in the other discourses.