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Decoloniality as an Ethical Challenge


This paper argues that, while positive attempts to integrate European ethical approaches to the decolonial context have contributed much to decolonial ethics and have their place, a better means to understand the ethical content of the decolonial is through the challenge that it poses. That is, decolonial theory itself confronts one with a challenge–if one is truly engage in decolonial critique in good faith, one must attempt to decolonize oneself, one’s relations, one’s actions, one’s life. The question of what exactly this means and the depths to which one must confront this is examined through an engagement with the work of Fausto Reinaga and his argument that we must “turn our back to Europe.” Reading this both through the context of his political engagement as indigenous activist and also through the lens of Foucault’s reflections on the Cynic as a figure who haunts philosophy, demanding that it live up to its own commitments, it finds that decoloniaty thus stands as a challenge, not just of uniting theory and practice but of living one’s thought. What both Reinaga and the Cynic have in common is the challenge–that one recognize the tensions that animate their lives and point toward the possibility of an other life.

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