The Decolonial Imagination

A conversation with Walter Mignolo on the history and development of decolonial thought and theory


Fields of Knowledge
  • Philosophy / Theory
  • Public culture

Organizing Institutions

Slought, York College of Pennsylvania's Institute for Civic Arts and Humanities, Penn English


Victor E. Taylor

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Slought is pleased to announce The Decolonial Imagination, a conversation with Walter D. Mignolo, Gabriel Abudu, and Victor E. Taylor on the history and development of decolonial thought and theory, on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 from 5-7pm. This event is co-presented with the York College of Pennsylvania's Institute for Civic Arts and Humanities and the Department of English at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Decolonial Imagination engages Mignolo's recent book with Catherine E. Walsh entitled On Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, Praxis. As Mignolo writes, decoloniality is a way to fundamentally address and resist how human beings are being "ruled." It is an examination and confrontation of power alongside and before coloniality—the material conditions for invasion and control. Decoloniality is also a way of imagining, a process of creatively shaping a world-future that holds the possibility of an existence radically unaligned with Western systems of epistemological, political, and theological hegemony. The decolonial imaginary gives us a perspective on these possibilities and the material conditions required to bring them more fully to life in the arts, literature, and politics.

What does the decolonial imagination mean for civically engaged arts and humanities? In brief, it means a process for radical intervention, a process for disrupting the "Western cultural cartel" that claims for itself an exclusive sufficiency in the world for understanding, making, doing, and living—the "Colonial Matrix of Power" in full force. The civically engaged arts and humanities, through the decolonial imagination, become sites for making Western cultural sufficiency glaringly insufficient and subject to foundational change through a multitude of artistic and critical decolonial uprisings.

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Walter D. Mignolo is the William H. Wannamaker Professor of Literature at Duke University. In addition to his recently published book with Catherine E. Walsh, On Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, Praxis, Mignolo is the author or editor of more than fifteen books on the topic of decoloniality and colonization.

Gabriel Abudu is a professor of Spanish and literature at York College of Pennsylvania. He is the editor/compiler of Poesia Completa de Georgina Herrara with Juanamaria Cordones-Cook (Editorial Letras Cubanas 2016) and translator of Looking Within/Mirara Adentro: Selected Poems of Nancy Morejón, 1954-2000 (Wayne State UP 2002).

Victor E. Taylor is a professor of humanities at York College of Pennsylvania. He is the executive editor of The Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory and the author of Christianity, Plasticity, and Spectral Heritages (Palgrave MacMillan 2017) and editor of Divisible Derridas (Davies Group, Publishers 2017).

"The matrix (colonial) created by a minority of the human species rules the life of the majority of the human species. Power is that instance of the colonial matrix in which all of us, human beings, are being ruled, and the ruling includes of course the creators and gatekeepers of the rule: the ruler is ruled by its own desire and compulsion to rule.

Decoloniality is the exercise of power within the colonial matrix to undermine the mechanism that keeps it in place requiring obeisance. Such a mechanism is epistemic and so decolonial liberation implies epistemic disobedience."

—Walter D. Mignolo