Imperialism

The Global Tribute System

by Betsy Bowman

Introduction

The three interlocking crises looming over the planet – the ecological, the economic and the political — like Edgar Allen Poe’s pendulum inexorably come closer every day.

If the focus of the entire world immediately turned to building renewable energy grids and renewable fuels, we would still not be able to stave off all the climate change that is happening. We might be able to stave off the worst.

If we put everyone involved in the financial collapse in jail and expropriated their ill-gotten gains, there would still be millions of people unemployed and millions whose homes have been foreclosed. There are billions of marginalized, unemployed desperate people around the world who risk slaughter if they bring attention to their plight.

If our elected representatives complied with the wishes of the voters rather than the corporations, the ethos of disgust, discouragement and despair would still infect the body politic.

Regardless, we try. In what follows, I explain clearly and concisely what has happened in the U.S. and the global economy over the last 65 years and why we are facing austerity. We are facing austerity because the top 1% — the international financial capitalist elite around the world – runs most of the governments, the international organizations, the international financial organizations and they want the rest of the world to continue paying tribute – giving their surplus – to them. This is the natural evolution of capitalism. Like in the game Monopoly, one player ends up owning everything. But, there is an alternative. The alternative is to make all banking and credit facilities public and force the current cast of banksters to take their losses. But first we need to understand how we got here. I explain for the non-economist how we have gotten to our present collapsing standard of living and the further enrichment of the top 1%.

By standard of living I don’t mean per capita GDP (gross domestic product) and the amount of consumption we can arrogate to ourselves. I mean our deteriorating eco-system, our war-ravaged and violence-plagued societies, our miserable lives of fear, insecurity, oppression and exploitation, our collapsing hopes for collective fulfillment of human potential. This global problem is the result of conscious, government policies; it was designed and orchestrated. It was not an accident.

Only just under half a century ago, under the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s, the government sponsored a “war on poverty.” The national ethos was one of helping others, believing in the intrinsic equality of all humans and using government fiscal policy to compensate those not born to luxury so they could earn a good education and fulfill their own potential. This is humanity’s heritage from the Enlightenment of the 18th Century. Liberty, equality and brotherhood for all. The modern project of actually realizing this human heritage has been attacked many times, but never so viciously and successfully as now. Today’s ethos is a return to the ethos of monarchies. We are no longer citizens of a republic, but we are subjects of corporations and the oligarchy that controls everything. This profound change was designed and orchestrated. It was not an accident.

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Dangerous Nation: America´s Place in the World from Its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century

Review of Robert Kagan, (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006).

Cliff DuRand, Research Associate, Center for Global Justice
June 11, 2009

Robert Kagan is a leading neo-conservative intellectual.  He is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a columnist for the Washington Post.  He also is a contributing editor for the leading neo-con publication The Weekly Standard, edited by William Kristol, with whom Kagan co-authored an earlier book.

His latest book, Dangerous Nation, is a scholarly study of U.S. diplomatic history from before the founding of the U.S. up to the end of the 19th century.  He plans to give us a continuation of that through the 20th century.  As a piece of scholarship it is an impressive 416 pages of text with another 64 pages of footnotes and a 26 page bibliography.  But for all of its scholarship, it is not an objective, neutral study, but an argument for a point of view –something to be said for most scholarship.

What Kagan is arguing for is an understanding of the national character of the American people.  The history that he analyzes is one of expansionism and interventionism as the new nation spread across the North American continent and then beyond as it sought to build a global empire.  In short, it is a history of imperialism.  But rather than critiquing this imperialist history, Kagan embraces it as defining the national character.  In effect, he claims that imperialism is an American as apple pie.

This understanding of who we are as a people is foreshadowed in his previous book, Of Paradise and Power.  That more polemical volume contrasts Europeans and Americans.  The former are committed to building a world of perpetual peace a la Immanuel Kant based on negotiated agreements between nations, multilaterialism in foreign affairs, and building international institutions.  On the other hand, he claims Americans live in a more Hobbesian world of conflict between nations acting unilaterally in pursuit of their own self interests where the most powerful militarily are dominant.  As Kagan puts it, Europeans are from Venus, Americans are from Mars.

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The New Imperialism

Cliff DuRand,
Morgan University

Barely two years ago the term ‘imperialism’ was banned from use in polite discourse, at least with regard to the role of the US in the world. One could talk about British imperialism or French imperialism of an earlier era, but the US did not seek colonies and so was not considered imperialist by most opinion makers.

That abruptly changed with the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003, especially as the public became increasingly aware of the neo-conservative’s Project for a New American Century. That strategic vision of ensuring US superpower dominance in all parts of the world, preventing the rise of any challenging power, either globally or regionally, struck most as unabashedly imperialistic. Some embraced this vision eagerly; others were horrified by its prospects. But all applied the previously forbidden word ‘imperialism’ to it, whether approvingly or as a condemnation.

But what was new in this imperialism? For one thing, unlike the British in an earlier era, the US did not seek permanent colonial administration outside its own territory. Rather it sought dominance by other means so as to ensure a certain world order favorable to what were called the nation’s interests. Besides, the US has a long history of interventions, both overt and covert, in other nations –as Latin America is all too painfully aware. To understand what, if anything, is new in the imperialism we now witness, we have to take a broader look at world history.

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Why is the U.S. in Iraq?

Panel presentation by Cliff DuRand, March 21, 2007

It is now generally recognized that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq is an unmitigated disaster –some say the biggest foreign policy mistake in U.S. history, meaning it even surpasses the U.S. war on Vietnam.  At the same time it has helped to lay bare the reality of U.S. imperialism.  But lest we think of that as an aberration peculiar to the Neo-cons running the Bush presidency, I want to argue that there are basic continuities between the Non-con view of the role of the U.S. in the world and the Liberal view that has characterized the foreign policy establishment since at least WWII and certainly for the last quarter century.  Let me begin by characterizing the Neo-con and Liberal views in the present era of corporate globalization and where they differ.

The Liberal version of corporate globalization promotes neo-liberal economic policies  — free trade, hyper-mobility of capital, privatization, rollback of social programs, and withdrawal of the state from the market, except where corporations need governmental support, etc.  In the area of foreign policy, Liberals favor multilateral agreements between states under U.S. leadership, including the establishment of transnational institutions of governance to regulate inter-state relations, e.g. WTO.  Trade relations are to be rule governed, disputes to be resolved by panels of experts, and enforcement is to be by states on each other under WTO sanction.

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Global Imperialism and Nation-States

Olga Fernández Ríos
Instituto de Filosofia, Habana, Cuba

INTRODUCTION

We live in times characterized by some as an era of a rabid capitalist globalization in which the centers of the world power, while they try to minimize the role and the autonomy of the national states located in the South of the planet, use these as means to consolidate the devastating advance of the capitalist market with its negative consequences for two thirds of humanity. At the same time the thesis proliferates that the nation state loses its importance as there exist international regulatory agencies charged with designing the domestic policies.

Another element present in the analysis of this subject is tied to the multiple contradictions that exist in the contemporary world that are consequences derived from capitalism and from the myth that considers it the only legitimate mode of production for the entire planet, in spite of it having generalized social exclusion, poverty, the ruination of natural resources, violence and political corruption. These deformations caused by capitalist society have been joined by additional phenomena that affect the relations between countries, as there is, for example, terrorism.

This has become the fundamental pretext that the principal imperialist power of the world wields in order to exercise its influence in any country under the supposedly objective pretext of liberating the world from this sore which is deliberately attributed only to less developed countries. The nation-states of the South are also affected by the North American interventionism in their internal affairs exercised through a variety of means that include war as an instrument of coercion and domination, and declared legitimate. They are also affected because of the high rates of earnings by important oligarchical Yankee sectors. The military budget of the United States, that was already high, has grown in the last three years by more than 20%. The military rhetoric that accompanies the center of global imperialism turns even more cynical when the new North-American interventionism justifies itself in the name of civilization and as God’s command.

In our judgment, the nation-states, inclusive of the less developed ones, have the right
to seek their own solution to the existing situations. These states continue to have a cardinal importance which, in many instances, is reinforced by the fact that they are territorial and cultural places where important searches for alternatives to capitalism
and struggles for a more just and equitable world are taking place.

The theme we analyze here is complex and impossible to exhaust in so few pages.
We only propose to engage in some reflections – fundamentally from the Latin American and Caribbean perspective which, we think, will make a contribution to the debate. For that purpose we are arranging our ideas in four fundamental categories:

- Some reflections about global imperialism and nation-states.
- The removal of national sovereignty from the so-called peripheral states as an instrument of global imperialist domination.
- New North American formulas for justifying the imperialist domination by
global imperialism.
- About some alternatives to the reigning order.

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Women’s NGOs in East and Central Europe and the Former Soviet Union: The Imperialist Criticism

Nanette Funk
Philosophy Department, Brooklyn College; Network of East- West Women

PLEASE DO NOT CITE OR QUOTE WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR

In the 1970s and 1980s development programs in Africa, Latin America and Asia began to focus on non–governmental organizations (NGOs) as agents of political, economic and social change. In the 1990s in postsocialist east and central Europe and the former Soviet Union, an interest in the creation of a non–state sphere of civil society with active NGOs was high on the agenda of many international organizations, western states and funders, both state and private. Publicly, it was argued that increased citizen political participation was necessary for democracy and NGOs were an important vehicle for such participation.

Feminist and Women’s NGOs in the region came to be included in these strategies, albeit only a very small percentage of funding went to them. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) funded US NGOs working in the region, including feminist NGOs, as well as women’s and feminist NGOs in the region. The European Union (EU), through programs such as the Poland and Hungary Aid for Restructuring the Economy (PHARE) program and the Link Inter–European NGOs program (LIEN), and major foundations such as the Soros, MacArthur and Ford Foundations also funded women’s and feminist NGOs working in the region.

At first sight it would appear to be an unalloyed positive step to include women as agents of transformation of the state, institutions and social policy and in the expansion of democracy. But as western support for NGOs has grown so has criticism of them. In this paper I consider one set of criticisms as they bear on women’s and feminist NGOs working in and for the region of and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union. I henceforth refer to any women’s and feminist NGO in the region as a ‘local NGO’ whether it is in a particular city or district, national or regional so long as it is not a ‘western’ NGO. I examine different forms of what I refer to as the Imperialist Criticism, and what is right and wrong in them. I introduce a typology for categorizing forms of this argument, contrasting them with my own position, which I identify as a Compatibilist position. By the latter I mean that NGO support of some imperial aims can, in certain cases, be compatible with both the political justification of such NGOs and the demands of justice.

In contrast to the Imperialist Criticism, there are also Pragmatic Criticisms concerning the inefficiencies, ineffectiveness and injustices of NGOs, including those of Anthony Bebbington and Roger Riddell, Gerard Clarke, David Hulme and Michael Edwards, Patrice C. McMahon, Sarah Mendelson, James Richter, Paul Stubbs and Janine Wedel. These criticisms will not be discussed here. Pragmatic Critics generally accept what they take to be the goals of NGOs, while the Imperialist Critics do not. Secondly, whereas Pragmatic Critics propose changes to improve local NGOs, Imperialist Critics often strongly reject NGO activity. Like all categorization, when it comes to individual critics the picture is more complex, with many crossovers.

I argue that although there is certainly much truth to some forms of the Imperialist Criticism, both feminist and non–feminist, in its strongest forms this argument is overstated. I focus on the Imperialist Criticisms because they constitute the strongest and most principled criticisms of NGOs and are frequently espoused. I give examples of the kinds of activities local women’s and feminist NGOs in the region have engaged in and their bearing on the Imperialist Criticisms.

The Imperialist Criticism suggests that local women’s and feminist NGOs and their western supporters do not promote gender, class or transnational justice but foster an imperial agenda or western interests. What the critics mean by an ‘imperial agenda’ or ‘western interests’ differs but in the 1990s in east and central Europe and the former Soviet Union one central meaning was the building of a neoliberal capitalist economic system and a political order that would support it in the region, to the advantage of western capitalism but the disadvantage of those in the region.

There are both non–feminist and feminist Imperialist Criticisms of both western feminist NGOs working in the region and of local women’s and feminist NGOs in the region. The non–feminist Imperialist Criticism characterizes an institution as imperialist either if those acting on behalf of that institution intend to foster neoliberalism in the region, or the institution has that function or its consequence is to foster neoliberalism. Both western governments, western NGOs that support local NGOs in the region and local NGOs active in the region are all criticized as imperialist.

The feminist Imperialism Criticism condemns both western feminist NGOs and local women’s and feminist NGOs in the region as imperialist if 1– it is a western feminist NGO that promotes ‘western’ feminism in the region and/or the western NGO’s own interests or 2– it is a local women’s NGO in the region that adopts western feminism or promotes its own interests through cooperation with a western NGO, and 3– (1) or (2) succeeds at the cost of causing harm or not being beneficial or as beneficial as it might otherwise be to local woman’s NGO interests and/or the interests of women in the region. In what follows I examine both the nature and adequacy of these arguments, focusing particularly on the non–feminist Imperialist Criticism and what moral and political criticisms of NGOs and women’s and feminist NGOs follow from it.

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Is Imperialism Capitalist?

Ross Gandy
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

“Today we see that capitalism reinforced and unfettered expands throughout the world. . . Discredit has fallen upon the very idea of socialism, among other reasons because of the disasters in the countries that used the name of “socialists” and the collapse of those regimes. We have to reclaim once more the idea of socialism”
— Adolfo Sánchez Vázquez and Adolfo Gilly (La Jornada, January 23, 2004, p.19)

THESIS:This opinion of two of the most distinguished thinkers of the Latin American left is held by progressive forces throughout the world. It’s a serious error that we all share. To say that capitalism is almost universal and to denounce it as the main enemy is wrong and does harm. The power of capitalism is shrinking, it is a relic. We must eliminate the word “capitalism” from our vocabulary when we attack neoliberalism, the multinational corporations and their globalizing program. From the theoretical standpoint and from the propagandistic standpoint it is a mistake to speak of “capitalism” as the principal enemy. It also does damage to advocate “socialism”, although of course the colectivization of property is the aim of the revolutionary left. But we must avoid the word.

The concept of socioeconomic class is still useful but we have to bring it up to date. We have to update it because Adam Smith, James Madison, Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill were analyzing the market society of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In the eighteenth century the majority of the businesses had no more than 20 workers; in the 1840s about 50 workers; by 1873 the largest factory in the world, a textile factory in Manchester where Friedrich Engels was a partner of the owners, this factory only had 300 workers. Down through the 1840s single-unit enterprises were run by the owner or by a family partnership. By the 1860s a tiny stratum of supervisors, accountants and foremen was emerging and joint-stock companies were appearing. But competitive capitalism still prevailed with proprietor-managers owning the factories as their private property and with a free market.

We are two centuries beyond the thinkers of classical political economy. In the twenty-first century the situation has changed: in the United States 10,000,000 small businesses with limited capital represent only 25 percent of industrial production. For example, a small construction company that builds residential houses, a business that makes a product for cleaning and maintaining automobiles, a small company that produces and repairs valves for industrial use, a workshop that assembles computers at low cost. In services small businesses represent a little more than 25 percent: restaurants, laundries, boutiques, flower shops, cleaners, day-care centers, plumber services, beauty parlors, auto mechanics, veterinarian clinics, a consulting service for high tech projects, a freight transport company, a small business of financial service, an evangelical minister writing, printing and selling tens of thousands of sermons on the second coming in order to satisfy the religious needs of his flocks–and the needs of his bank account.

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Decolonizing Feminism: the Indigenous Womens’ Movement in Mexico

Silvia Marcos

Originally published in: Dialogue and Difference: Feminists Challenge Globalization, Marguerite Waller and Sylvia Marcos (eds), Palgrave , New York , 2005.

Feminism conjures up a promise to resist the various forms of opression women face, but feminism’s capacity to fulfill this promise has been undermined by its failure to deal with the difference that race and ethnicity and class make for gender.

In Mexico, a certain hegemonic feminism often reproduces the relationship that C. Mohanty speaks of when describing the links between First and Third World feminist discourse. She argues that Western feminist discourse has produced a “…composite, singular Third World woman who is a ‘powerless’ victim of male dominance and patriarchal oppression” (Mohanty, 1983.)

Urban feminist analysis has given rise to a hegemony which has often defined indigenous feminism as the ‘other’: exotic, strangely rooted in ‘culture’ and powerless if not non existent (Jaidopolu, 2000.)

My purpose here is not only to approach the ‘other woman’, the ‘indigenous other,’ but also to revisit the dominant discourse (often feminist) that portrays the indigenous women as passive, submissive, subject and bound to inevitable patriarchal opressions springing from their cultural background. One example could be Xochitl Galvez when she expressed that in her own village, women are considered to be “buenas solo para el metate y el petate” (good only for grinding corn and for the straw matt.) An ‘indigenous woman’ appointed to be representative, at the highest gobernamental level possible, for indigenous affairs by the president of Mexico. She is a perfect example of an ‘indigenous woman’ who has – in this case – internalized the dominant gaze on her own backround.

Feminisms in Mexico are often submerged in practices that follow quite mimetically international feminist theories and priorities. We are inserted into the dominant global international feminist discourse, and a certain sort of feminist movement in Mexico is derivative of the US movement. The pressure of intelectual and activist trends, and the resources to continue with concrete activism, are allocated by agencies that define priorities and targets. Often, they have little to do with the context of indigenous women’s feminist practices.

“The NGOization and transnationalization of the Latin American feminist field appeared to have led increasing numbers of feminists to priviledge some spaces of feminist politics, such as the state and the international policy arenas,… ” affirms Sonia Alvarez (Alvarez, E.S., Dagnino, E., Escobar, A., eds, l998, p. 315.)

When approaching, interpreting, evaluating and/or impinging on the indigenous womens’ movement, urban and other elite (socially advantaged) feminists have to face the challenge of deconstructing a three-tiered structure of bias:

– the gendered assumptions the feminist imported into the indigenous womens situation;

– the attitudes of male superiority in the indigenous group that are selectively communicated to her;

– the interpretation of asymetrical gender relationships in that community (pueblo) as analogous to those in her own context.

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The Coloniality of Power: Notes Toward De-Colonization

Steve Martinot
San Francisco State University

The “coloniality of power” is an expression coined by Anibal Quijano to name the structures of power, control, and hegemony that have emerged during the modernist era, the era of colonialism, which stretches from the conquest of the Americas to the present. The notes that follow are a kind of synthesis of ideas from Quijano, Enrique Dussel, Walter Mignolo, and Lewis Gordon, filtered through myself.

A vast movement of the world’s people, in the aftermath of colonialism’s demise, and fleeing the impoverishment, derailed development, and debt-servitude it left as its heritage, has accelerated toward the heartland of that colonialism: Europe and the US. This diaspora a logical response to the EuroAmerican despoliation of the third world’s resources and public assets. The people of post-colonial regions, divested of their economies, and thus of their ability to live, follow their pillaged wealth into the EuroAmerican economies that plundered them. In the US, they face a virulent anti-immigrant machine that combines a racist populism with arbitrary policing and a militarized border.

Yet, under the aegis of corporate globalization, the immigrant laborer should have no different status than the worker who moves to Chicago from a rust-belt city like Youngtown looking for employment. Both are engaged in the same endeavor. If the immigrant reveals the machinery of coloniality that still surrounds the US economy, a similar coloniality, interior to the US border, is reflected in the Youngstown worker’s decision to cross state lines. Yet they stand on opposite sides of an ideological boundary, whose many names include “ethnicity” or “national identity.” Guarded by the anti-immigrant machine, this differential boundary gives the “citizen-worker,” whose economic stature and well-being has been decimated by “runaway” industry, a renewed though meager sense of superiority as an identity replacement. In taking his place at that boundary, the anti-immigrant citizen-worker’s participation in guarding the national economy against immigrants is a direct measure of his/her own colonization in the US, his/her conscription into what Anibal Quijano calls the coloniality of power.

We all live within a multiplicity of colonialities; subjected in both body and mind. It is not only our labor, or our sexualities and genders that mark colonial relations; it is not only the wars, the mass murder and death squads organized by imperialist classes, nor the subcolonies formed by women, African-American communities, or ethnic identities; it is also the hegemonic mind, the white, or masculinist, or heterosexist, or national chauvinist mind that constitutes and is constituted by coloniality.

We face a political situation in which an absence of ethics, a stench of death and corruption, surrounds us. Appearing in all domains of US governance and its institutional relations to people and to nations, this corruption presupposes an unspoken permissibility for itself — for its wars, for mass murder, and for the torture that has appeared all too familiar to this society. We thus face the question of who we are in this mirror. The power of coloniality, as a structure of control, is that it speaks for us so forcefully that we see no recourse but to represent it, to uphold its existence, to ratify its dispensing with ethics and with the sanctity of human life in everything we say and do as labor and resource. It is not only the insufficiency of class struggles or revolutions that beset us, whose results have fallen into debt-servitude by falling for commodification and coloniality. It is the acceptibility of that corruption to those who should most be in opposition to it that strikes hardest, and gives measure to the success of the coloniality of power.

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From the Political Economy of Empire to the Latin American Philosophy of Dependency

Mario Saenz
Le Moyne College

Globalist ideology and Hardt and Negri’s critique of empire come to us from different ends of the political spectrum. While the former sings the panaceas of global capitalism, the latter looks for revolutionary ways of overcoming it. But they share one point in common: globalization is total and reality is, therefore, not dialectical.

[T]he end of history that Fukuyama refers to is the end of the crisis at the center of modernity, the coherent and defining conflict that was the foundation and raison d’etre for modern sovereignty. History has ended precisely and only to the extent that it is conceived in Hegelian terms—as the movement of a dialectic of contradictions, a play of absolute negations and subsumption. The binaries that defined modern conflict have become blurred. The Other that might delimit a modern sovereign Self has become fractured and indistinct, and there is no longer an outside that can bound the place of sovereignty.

In this essay, I criticize both: The former for its mythology of a more integrated and better world; the latter for its too rapid transition from imperialism to empire, leaving all forms of radical resistance and revolutionary theory (from popular seizure of state mechanisms to a class-conscious dependency theory) behind.

Global neoliberalism became best known for the political and social changes with which it is associated: The decline of the welfare-state has been interpreted by some as the decline of the nation-state itself, and the consequent increased facility of capital to move across borders has led some to speak about the appearance of “shared phenomenal worlds” (David Harvey and Anthony Giddens) and the rise of a global informational network society (Manuel Castells). However, it is in the economy that it reveals some of its deepest truths: Rather than simply destroying the nation-state, it has transformed it into the directive organ for privatizations whether through terrorism (Chile) or through the already established laws of bourgeois democracies. In many cases, global capitalism has thus established itself as normal, written into the body-politic and the behaviors of different sectors of the working class as they internalize the new labor discipline of global competition or interstate labor migrations. In this sense we can also speak of a shared phenomenal world: Capital, in the form of money-capital, commodity-capital, and productive-capital circulates freely and its free circulation appears as the natural order of things.

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Towards decolonizing encounters with social movements’ decolonizing knowledges and practices

Elena Yehia
University of North Carolina, U.S.A.

Introduction

This paper takes various analyses of modernity as a point of departure in order to explore possibilities for decolonizing encounters with social movements’ decolonizing knowledges and practices. To this end, the paper seeks to establish a conversation between two novel frameworks for the critical analysis of modernity: actor-network theory (ANT), and the Latin American Modernity/Coloniality/Decoloniality perspective (MCD). My contentions are, first, that both ANT and MCD contribute in specific ways to de-colonial thinking and practice; second, that despite differences and tensions between the two frameworks they are largely complementary and have much to offer each other; and third, that the set of inquiries broached by these frameworks, when mutually reconfigured as ANT/MCD, offer a set of enabling, concrete, and perhaps unique contributions to thinking about modernity, ethnography, and the relation between academic knowledge and political practice. The paper is also written in the context of the growing field of the anthropology of social movements, although this will remain largely in the background and will not be discussed as such in the paper.

My own up-close encounter with both ANT and MCD took place somewhat simultaneously upon beginning my graduate studies in Anthropology at UNC-CH. I found the two frameworks to be making important contributions to the project of decolonizing knowledges and practices within the social sciences and providing hopeful terms of engagement with social movements. While I found both to be of considerable relevance for my research interests, I came across hardly any work that draws upon both frameworks and that makes use of the insights that each provides.

Part I of the paper looks first at actor-network theory, highlighting what I call ethnography of ontological encounters. I then go on to present some of the main aspects of the modernity/coloniality/decoloniality research program, this time highlighting the different understandings of modernity offered by this framework. In Part II, I set the two frameworks into dialogue, including a discussion of the implications for ethnography and for decolonizing the academy. I finally state what I believe are remaining problems within both frameworks from the perspective of a decolonial project, and suggest ways in which these problems can be addressed by relocating both frameworks within modernity and by shifting some of the frameworks’ epistemological and political implications, especially in terms of refusing to decode subaltern knowledges as a provisional phase that would allow for concretely changing the terms of the conversation between those of us situated in the academy and the subaltern groups or movements we are engaging with.

In this respect, my project has also been influenced by, and resonates with, the World Anthropologies Network (WAN) project. Building on anthropological critiques of dominant anthropologies as nodes of expert knowledge production that exclude –or at least make invisible—other ways of doing anthropology world wide, WAN is envisioned as an effort towards creating conditions of possibility for pluralizing anthropology and, more generally, for de-colonizing expertise (see, e.g., Ribeiro and Escobar, eds. 2006; see also www.ram-wan.org). The end result is a transformation of the conditions of conversability among anthropologies of the world; paraphrasing one of the slogans of MCD (“worlds and knowleges otherwise”), this aim has been stated as “other anthropologies and anthropology otherwise” (Restrepo and Escobar 2005).

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