Colonizing and decolonizing minds

Whereas the most visible forms of political colonialism have for the most part disappeared from the planet by the end of the millennium, several of its consequences remain with us. Criticism of colonialism, accordingly, has shifted its focus to its more subtle and lasting manifestations. Prominent among these are the varieties of what came to be known as the ‘colonization of the mind’. This is one of the forms of ‘epistemic violence’ that it is certainly the task of philosophers to contribute to identify and struggle against. ‘Postcolonial’ thinkers have undertaken not only to analyze this phenomenon, but also to devise strategies for effectively combating and hopefully eradicating colonialism’s most damaging aspect – the taking possession and control of its victims’ minds. My purpose in this paper is to contribute, qua philosopher, to both of these undertakings. I begin by trying to clarify the nature of the colonization of the mind and its epistemic underpinnings and the typical reactions to it. Next, I examine examples of these reactions with their corresponding analyses and strategies. The assumptions underlying them reveal certain inherent paradoxes, which call into question the possibility of a full decolonization of mind. I conclude by suggesting an alternative strategy and a series of means to implement it.
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