Decolonisation & Desuperiorisation

A Panel on “Decolonisation & Desuperiorisation: On the Dangers of Western Thought”
as part of the 14th Annual International Conference on Philosophy
27-30 May 2019, Athens, Greece
Sponsored by the Athens Journal of Humanities & Arts

The Philosophy Unit of ATINER is organizing a Panel on “Decolonisation & Desuperiorisation: On the Dangers of Western Thought”, 27-30 May 2019, Athens, Greece as part of the 14th Annual International Conference on Philosophy sponsored by the Athens Journal of Humanities & Arts.

It seems that western thinking, most notably since the beginning of the Enlightenment, has been permeated by the sense that it is the standard bearer of thought. With unprecedented strength, western philosophy asserted itself as the one right way to peace, prosperity and happiness for all human beings. Within the framework of philosophy, contributions beyond the so-called western traditions have been largely ignored. African philosophy for example, even though developing rapidly, seems to be ignored almost completely by mainstream western philosophy.

If we look closely at many of the important thinkers of the Enlightenment, such as Kant or Voltaire, we find vile testimonies of racism or sexism, of, in a word: superiorisms. The superioristic thinking asserts itself above the “other” and makes itself decisive for the “other.”

The superiorisms of the Enlightenment result in the fact that a multiplicity of human beings are excluded from the project of the Enlightenment, even if this is rarely acknowledged explicitly. The persistent claim of the Enlightenment thinkers to address the needs of all human beings seems in sharp contradiction with, for example, the exclusion of non-white people from the Enlightenment. It seems until today not clear how this could happen: Did the thinkers of the Enlightenment manage to be humanists and racists at the same time? Or did they dehumanize those excluded from the Enlightenment so that the contradiction just dissolved? It is of urgent importance to understand this, because we need to find out if we in the contemporary context have implicitly, inadvertently received and transferred this superioristic heritage. Are the values of the Enlightenment like democracy, autonomy, freedom contaminated by the superiorism of some of their architects? Might this sense of superiority be an explanation for the fact that western thinking remains deeply convinced of its own rightness?

The outcome of this pervasive and unexamined conviction of superiority in western thought, with its genesis in the Enlightenment, is a humanistic self-understanding which presumes its ethical rightness based on its selective rhetorical memory and, thus, is oblivious to its culpability in horrible actions, like the colonization of the African continent.

Today, African thought is continuing the process of freeing itself from colonial usurpation, however Western thought has never consciously released the African thought. Western thought did not itself recognise its own injustice, and, even worse, it did not want to recognise this injustice as an injustice. We find again this strange testimonial for Western thought. It was the same thought that brought forth the idea of human rights and equality before the law and yet committed a genocide of continental proportions. How could the western thinkers fail so radically? And if they could, can we still?

It seems Western thought, to this day, has not sufficiently recognised its superioristic danger as the danger that it is! When we take a look around in contemporary contexts, this danger remains real. The foreign, the other, is (re)stigmatised. Western thought is and remains dangerous. We must finally take this seriously and critically evaluate our value as a normative authority.

In this panel we want to stimulate the discussion that Western thought must understand that its central task must be its desuperiorisation. Desuperiorisation has to be the part of the process of decolonisation form the West. We are looking for contributions that help to stimulate this discussion, either by working on some of the named questions, by presenting examples how non-western thinking handles the western superiorism, by showing how to practice desuperiorisation e.g. in educational, academic or social environments of different kinds. Of course, other contributions vital to these fields of research are also most welcome. You may participate as presenter of one paper or as an observer.

Fee structure information is available on www.atiner.gr/2019fees.

Special arrangements will be made with a local hotel for a limited number of rooms at a special conference rate. In addition, a number of special events will be organized, including a pragmatic symposium (as organized in Ancient Athens but fine-tuned to synchronous ethics), a special one-day educational island tour, a Myceanae and island of Poros visit, an Athens educational walking tour, a day trip to Delphi, and an ancient Corinth and Cape Sounion visit. Details of the social program are available here.

Please submit a 300-word abstract via email only (atiner@atiner.gr) by 28 January 2019 to: Dr. Bjorn Freter, Independent Researcher, Germany. Abstracts should include: Title of Paper, Family Name (s), First Name (s), Institutional Affiliation, Current Position, an email address and at least 3 keywords that best describe the subject of the submission. Please use the abstract submitting form. Decisions are reached within 4 weeks.

If you want to participate without presenting a paper, i.e. organize a stream, chair a session, review papers to be included in the conference proceedings or books, contribute to the editing of a book, or any other contribution, please send an email  to Dr. Gregory T. Papanikos, President, ATINER & Honorary Professor, University of Stirling, UK (gregory.papanikos@stir.ac.uk).

The association was established in 1995 as an independent world association of Academics and Researchers. Its mission is to act as a forum where Academics and Researchers from all over the world can meet in Athens, in order to exchange ideas on their research, and to discuss future developments in their disciplines.

The organizing and hosting of International Conferences and Symposiums, the carrying out of Research, and the production of Publications are the basic activities of ATINER.  Since 1995, ATINER has organized more than 400 International Conferences and other events, and has published close to 200 books. In 2012, the Association launched a series of conference paper publications (click here), and at the beginning of 2014, it introduced its own series of Journals (click here).

Academically, the Association is organized into seven Divisions, 37 Units and six Centers.  Each Unit organizes at least an Annual International Conference, and may also undertake various small and large research projects.

Academics and Researchers are more than welcome to become members and to contribute to ATINER’s objectives. If you would like to become a member, please download the relevant form (membership form). For more information on how to become a member, please send an email to: info@atiner.gr.