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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Globalization/Coloniality: A Decolonial Definition and Diagnosis


In this essay, I contend that globalization is less an international process and more a colonial project. I argue that definitions of “globalization” articulated primarily through economic metrics insufficiently account for the violences concomitant with such a project. In response to this insufficiency, I draw on three concepts by three decolonial authors—transmodernity (Enrique Dussel), global coloniality (Aníbal Quijano), and dialogical cosmopolitanism (Eduardo Mendieta)—in order to develop my own definition of globalization. I then offer a preliminary sketch of what I call “affective alternatives,” which could convey ways of life different from the hegemonic social forms that globalization promotes and imposes. At the very least, affective alternatives present a parallax: seen and felt from the perspective of the alternative, globalization is not taken as neutral, normal, irreversible, or desired; rather, it is “distorted” into globalization/coloniality, a project to be resisted. I conclude with reflections on connecting and deepening coalitions of resistance.

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