Prefixes have always been cause for controversy when it comes to colonialism. On one hand, the “post” in “postcolonial” has famously sparked debate about temporalities and epistemology; on the other, a growing school of thought claims that turning to the term “decolonial” would disambiguate the content and reach deeper into the power relations at play. Postcolonial theory is often considered as reaching back to Edward Said’s pioneering critical work while decolonial theory is a critical disposition that started with the works of Anibal Quijano and Enrique Dussel. Postcolonial studies was born within the nexus connecting the Subaltern Studies Group in India with Anglo America (Said-Spivak-Bhabha), while the “decolonial option” was born thanks to the Latin American Subaltern Studies Group scholars in the USA. These (albeit most likely unfixed) points of origin explain the different stress placed on Western colonial history. If, within postcolonial thinking, colonial history mainly starts sometime between the 17th and the 18th centuries, when Orientalism was initially born as a discipline – though, for example, Paul Gilroy, Arjun Appadurai and Janet Abu-Lughod speak of much wider temporalities – for decolonial thinkers, that history starts with the conquest of the “New World” and, as Quijano puts it, the rise of the “coloniality of power”. The choice of point of origin is crucial because it highlights the historical moment when modern European identity emerged and constructed the Other of Europe. However, the dividing lines between postcolonial and decolonial theories/thinking are quite blurry and overlapping, and this in itself is an issue for debates. For instance Dipesh Chakrabarty proposes a frame to decolonise world knowledge from a Eurocentric perspective, Walter Mignolo to delink from it and search not for a new paradigm but for an alternative one: un pensamiento otro. How does the common ground between both epistemological fields interrogate us? How can we articulate another thinking entirely, pre-fixed, post-fixed, but certainly not fixed? This issue of Anglistica brings together scholars from the fields of postcolonial and decolonial thought, literary and cultural studies, visual and performing/ance arts, history, gender studies, diaspora studies, media studies, critical race theory, and all related and transdisciplinary areas, to discuss those questions.

Published: 2021-11-20

Full Issue