Mignolo on Nature

Image top: Juan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti Yamqui Salcamayhua, see also at > Archive.org


The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options Walter D. Mignolo, 2011, p 10-11

Speaking about: Nature

Take, for instance, the question of „nature“ (which could also be flagged as the fifth domain of the colonial matrix, rather than consider it as part of the economic domain). During the past ten years, the question of nature has been debated in the collective modernity/coloniality. Shall we consider nature as a fifth sphere or, as Quijano suggested, as part of the economic sphere? It so happened that the contemplation of Pachamama (for Western minds „nature“) in the new constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador was incorporated not due to green movements, to the theology of liberation, or to Marxist anti-capitalism, but because of the simple fact and thinking of indigenous communities, leaders, and indigenous intellectuals. Now, this is part of the struggle for the control of the colonial matrix of power based on the concept of „nature“ or, on the contrary, delinking from it by arguing decolonially on the basis of the concept of „Pachamama.“ […]

The phenomenon that Western Christians described as „nature“ existed in contradistinction to „culture“; furthermore, it was conceived as something outside the human subject. For Aymaras and Quechuas, more-than-human phenomena (as well as human beings) were conceived as Pachamama; and, in this conception, there was not, and there is not today, a distinction between „nature“ and „culture.“ Aymaras and Quechuas saw themselves in it, not separated from it. As such, culture was nature and nature was (and is) culture. Thus the initial moment of the colonial revolution was to implant the Western concept of nature and to rule out the Aymara and Quechua concept of Pachamama.“ This was basically how colonialism was introduced into the domain of knowledge and subjectivity. Twenty years after Acosta, Sir Francis Bacon published his Novum Organum (162o), in which he proposed a reorganization of knowledge and clearly stated that „nature“ was „there“ to be dominated by Man. During this period, before the Industrial Revolution, Western Christians asserted their control over knowledge about nature by disqualifying all coexisting and equally valid concepts of knowledge and by ignoring concepts that contradicted their own understanding of nature.



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