WORKSHOP ON DECOLONIAL THINKING, SOCIAL SCIENCES AND LAW, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES, BOGOTA, 3 MARCH 2017
A Workshop on Decolonial thinking, social sciences and law was organised last Friday 3 March 2017 at the University of Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia, by Professor José Manuel Barreto (Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano and Universidad de Los Andes), and Juan David Cabrera (Universidad de Los Andes). The event was a welcomed occasion to revitalise debates on Latin American decolonial theory, by stressing the role of law in the production of global injustice and coloniality, an area usually omitted by leading scholars in the field.
The first panel included contributions from Arlene Tickner, Gustavo Rojas and Juan David Cabrera. While Rojas and Cabreras respectively proposed a critical re-assessment of international criminal law and property law in light of decolonial theory, Tickner presented the results of her research project in which she applies decolonial theory to the study of international relations. Of particular interest for international lawyers is a series under her direction in Routledge, entitled “Worlding Beyond the West” (https://www.routledge.com/Worlding-Beyond-the-West/book-series/WBW), in which international relations scholars attempt to build non-Western perspectives to decolonise their discipline.
The second panel put together Jimena Sierra, Miguel Rábago and José Manuel Barreto. While Sierra claimed the neo-colonial character of gold mining law in Colombia constructing a subordinate position for the country in a post-colonial world, Rábago situated decolonial thinking about the state within a critical genealogy of revolutionary legal ideas in the West. Barreto finalised the workshop proposing a dialectical method for thinking international law and international human rights law from a decolonial perspective. According to him, thinking of law in a decolonial way requires sustaining a dialogue between legal knowledge from Europe and legal knowledge from outside Europe, by means of both a critique of Eurocentrism, and the recognition of resisting legal ideas laying on the side of coloniality. Some of his argument can be found in his edited book Human Rights from a Third World Perspective: Critique, History and International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013).
Discussions engaged during the Workshop may now give rise to a study group on decolonial theory and law. The continuity of such reflections can only be praised, especially having in mind the centrality of Bogota in the emergence of Latin American decolonial theory, and the quality of critical legal scholars present in that city.
Filipe A. M. da Silva
Law School of SciencesPo