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Center for Race and Gender Thursday Forum Series:
INTERVENTIONS IN DECOLONIAL THOUGHT & WHITENESS STUDIES

March 8, 2012

Who’s Afraid of Whiteness Studies?: Toward a Minoritized Analysis of Abolition
Prof. Zeus Leonardo, Education

This presentation engages White abolition from the perspectives and lives of people of color. First, it will offer a brief review of the abolitionist strategy, particularly as it attempts to convince and compel Whites to ‘stop being White.’ Second, it relates these provocations with respect to racial minorities and what their participation would look like in the abolition of whiteness, which implicates identities of color in the process. In other words, the transformation of whiteness necessitates the transformation of ‘color’ and race relations in general. Third, if White abolition’s suggestion is for Whites to unthink their whiteness (after all what are Whites but people who think they are ‘White’, according to James Baldwin), this implies that people of color would also need to stop thinking of Whites as ‘White.’ What would this mean? Finally, the abolition of whiteness implicates identities of color, for there is no dismantling of White identity without simultaneously calling into question non-White identities. Because they are dialectical unities, White and identities of color were once created and now exist alongside each other.

Age, Race, and Decolonial Thought
Samuel Bañales, Anthropology

My dissertation examines the relationship between the logic of colonization and the recent criminalization of youth of color in the US. In particular, my study is about how age, race, and power have been conceptualized in modernity, and how youth of color at the turn of 20th century challenge and respond to neoliberal racist forces through their recent activism in the San Francisco Bay Area.  For this talk, in conversation with Third World feminism and scholars of modernity/coloniality, I rigorously examine decolonial thought and its lack of attention on age. I argue that anti-youth attitudes and adult-centeredness constitutes what I am calling the in/visible side of modernity/coloniality. By placing age matters central to decolonial thought, in addition to what combinations of scholars call the imperial/global designs of the present as the “European/Euro-American modern/colonial capitalist/patriarchal world system” or the “[heterosexual] modern/colonial gender system,” I specify the necessity of adding the word “adult” to the phrases.  Although subordination based on age is produced simultaneously with other forms of oppression that came about with the colonial encounter—the space of “colonial difference”—I don’t mean for “adult”/age to only be added as another item to list of systems of oppressions. Instead, I take this concept of adult further to argue that it is in the naturalization of adulthood that other forms of oppression are justified. In other words, I argue that age oppression is a tool in which European/Euro-American modern/colonial capitalist/hetero-patriarchal gender adult system comes into place.  Because this is an ambitious argument, I take two steps to get us there. First, I look at recent literature that has contributed to decolonial thought and how age (or lack thereof) figures into this. Second, although I consider the Renaissance and the Enlightenment in general, I look at the ways that age matters in the “dark” side of the early modern/colonial period specifically.