Decolonizing Economics

Dr. Epifania Amoo-Adare
Summer Academy for Pluralist Economics, 2021
Poziom: początkujący
Nurt ekonomii: Inne
Temat: historia ekonomiczny, North-South Relations & Development
Formularz: Syllabus

The Art of (Un)thinking: Interrogating Decolonial Perspectives, Practices and Modes of Becoming Economists

This lecture was originally taught at the Summer Academy for Pluralist Economics 2021

Instructor: Dr. Epifania Amoo-Adare

Workshop Description:

The premise of this workshop is that we, as knowledge producers - especially within westernized universities (Grosfoguel, 2013), are significantly implicated in neoliberal imaginaries that are often in service of hierarchical, binary, competitive and linear narratives of growth as civilizational progress. Bearing this in mind, the intention of this workshop is to engage in an (un) thinking of this normative form of science, by engaging in different modes of being a scientist; that is, creative, sacred and pedagogical modes, where the foundational concern is to always investigate and comprehend the politics of “who, where, what, why and how” in our scholarship (Moya, 2011).

Consequently, in this workshop, we will be interrogating decolonial perspectives, practices, and modes of becoming that privilege an engagement with “border consciousness” (Anzaldua, 1987/2012), “threshold theories” (Keating, 2012), “open-ended becoming” (De Landa, 1999), and other forms of praxis in contradiction and ambiguity. These embodied modes of unlearning are critical for anyone who wishes to engage in scientific knowledge production with social and cognitive justice as central tenets of their work. In this rhizomatic manner, we will engage in an (un)thinking of scientific knowledge production, so as to move us beyond the utilization of certain hegemonic forms of knowledge—especially Cartesian binary understandings of the world (Functowiz & Pereira, 2015), where many false dichotomies are constructed between minds and bodies, theory and practice, culture and nature, men and women, self and other, and so on.

We will do so by immersing ourselves in transgressive post-disciplinary approaches that destabilize what Lewis Gordon (2006, 2011) describes as “disciplinary decadence”, i.e., when “disciplines lose sight of themselves as efforts to understand the world and have collapsed into the hubris of asserting themselves as the world” (p.8). This will occur by touching on important ideas such as why there is a need for the reconstitution of a pluriverse of “Worlds and Knowledges Otherwise” (Escobar, 2007), which are not only “situated knowledges” (Haraway, 1988) but also steeped in a keen understanding of one’s “positionality” (Chiseri-Strater, 1996,Rose, 1997, Sheppard, 2002), as well as an awareness of how we must also urgently “decolonialize methodology” (Kovach, 2009; Sandoval, 2000; Smith, 1999).

This kind of unlearning requires that scholarship also becomes “conscious practical work” (Freire, 1991/1983), thus, perhaps leading us towards an “Academics of the Heart” (Rendon, 2000) - a radical approach toward scientific inquiry, whereby we 1) view research as a relationship-centered process, 2) honor diverse ways of knowing, and 3) engage in contemplative practice, as we connect the inner and outer nature of knowledge; i.e., connect ourselves to the external world by reading and re-writing both it and the word (Freire, 1991/1983).

In this workshop, we will also get to understand the power in being able to admit “I do not know”, as well as the value in being lost - set adrift from the predictable and the predetermined in order to shake ourselves free of preset modes of thinking, knowing and being scholars - within our prescribed disciplines and safe niches of knowledge production. By intentionally
transgressing knowledge boundaries, we will definitely find ourselves at risk as we negotiate uncertainty and an ensuing discomfort, within which we will begin to truly engage in forms of unlearning that might perhaps herald our transformation into diverse, uncharted and open-ended becoming.

Workshop Requirements:

  • Reading of Literature: Please try to go through all of the obligatory readings in advance of the workshop as these will form the basis of the discussions. You might also find it worthwhile to skim some of the suggested (further) reading, time permitting. The same goes for the suggested viewing, although some of these YouTube videos may be viewed during the workshop.
  • Additionally, a Critical Response Guideline has been provided at the end of this syllabus in order to facilitate your process of critically reading the literature (see page 8).
  • Workshop Presentations: For the first day of the workshop, please have with you a ‘cultural artifact’ that represents some aspect of your life. This artifact can be something inherited, bought or found. It can be a photograph or any other object that is significant to you and forms a part of your identity, role, and/or heritage. Be prepared to share the meaning of this artifact with other workshop participants as a way of introducing yourself and one of the things that is important to you.
  • You will also be required to participate in a collaborative project, which you will present at the end of the workshop on Thurs 5 August. The project will be to imagine what a decolonized economy for a post-Covid future might look like, be that at a household, city, country or global level. What would be its key components? What would be the overall goal and objectives of such an economy? Further details will be provided on the project assignment, and who you will be collaborating with, on the first day of the workshop.
  • Workshop Participation: It is expected that all will participate in the discussions. This is seen as an opportunity to explore ideas, make connections, and share a collective questioning curiosity with each other in ways that encourage us to flourish, while also being challenged.
    In other words, during discussions we should aim to create a learning community within
    which we challenge each other’s ideas and positions with utmost sensitivity and respect, so
    as to enable mutual growth.
  • Written Assignment (for ECTS credit): If you are interested in receiving ECTS credit for the workshop, you will be required to write a brief discussion paper (of at least 2500 words) that reflects on the reasons why it is important to decolonize academic, and/or other mainstream, knowledge production processes, including the provision of at least one example of how one might do so utilizing certain decolonial perspectives and/or practices. Your paper must be analytical. It should also include a reference to how that decolonial perspective and/or practice informs your own thinking about the field of economics and/or your process of becoming an economist.
  • Further details will be provided on the written assignment on the last day of the workshop.
    The paper is due on 14 September.

Workshop Outline:

DAY ONE - Why Unthinking – Our Progress: Positionality and Power Moves

Obligatory Reading and/or Viewing:
Moya, P. M. L. (2011). Who we are and from where we speak. Transmodernity: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World 1 (2), 79-94.

Rose, G. (1997). Situating knowledges: positionality, reflexivities and other tactics. Progress in Human Geography, 21 (3), 305-320.

Sheppard, E. (2002). The spaces and times of globalization: Place, scale, networks, and positionality. Economic Geography, 78 (3), 307-330.

Chang, H. (2014). Economics: The User’s Guide. New York: Bloomsbury. (Chapter 3, “How Have We Got Here? A brief history of capitalism”)

Further Reading and/or Viewing:
Anderson, J. (Sept 26, 2013). Qualitative Methods and Positionality. Pedagogy through Podcast Series YouTube video retrieved at:

Bourke, L., Butcher, S., Chisonga, N., Clarke, J., Davies, F., & Thorn, J. (2009). Fieldwork stories: Negotiating positionality, power and purpose. Feminist Africa: Body Politics & Citizenship, 13, 95-105.

Chiseri-Strater, E. (1996). Turning in upon ourselves: Positionality, subjectivity, and reflexivity in case study and ethnographic research. In Mortenson, P. & Kirsch, G. (Eds.), Ethics and representation in qualitative studies of literacy (p. 115-133). Urbana, IL: NCTE.

England, K. V. L. (2010). Getting personal: Reflexivity, positionality and feminist research. TheProfessional Geographer, 46 (1), 80-89.

Haraway, D. (1988). Situated knowledges: The Science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective. Feminist Studies 14 (3), 575-599.

Sultana, F. (2007). Reflexivity, positionality and participatory ethics: Negotiating fieldwork dilemmas in international research. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, 6 (3), 374-385.

Takacs, D. (2003). How does your positionality bias your epistemology? Thought & Action: The NEA Higher Education Journal, 27-38.

DAY TWO - Why Unthinking – Beyond Disciplinary Decadence, Westernized Universities and Competitive Growth Narratives

Obligatory Reading and/or Viewing:
Grosfoguel, R. (2013). The structure of knowledge in westernized universities: Epistemic racism/sexism and the four genocides/epistemicides of the long 16th century. Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge 11 (1), 73-90

Gordon, L. R. (2011). Shifting the geography of reason in an age of disciplinary decadence. Transmodernity: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World 1 (2), 95-103.

Funtowicz, S. & Pereira, A. G. Cartesian Dreams. In A. G. Pereira & S. Funtowicz (Eds.). Science, Philosophy and Sustainability: The End of the Cartesian Dream (pp. 1-10). New York: Routledge.

Thackara, J. (2015) How to Thrive in the Next Economy. London: Thames and Hudson. (Chapter 1, “Changing: From do less harm, to leave things better”.)

Further Reading and/or Viewing:
Boidon, C., Cohen, J. & Grosfoguel, R. (2012). Introduction: From University to Pluriversity: A Decolonial Approach to the Present Crisis of Western Universities. Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge 10 (1), 1-6

Escobar, A. (2007). Worlds and Knowledges Otherwise. Cultural Studies 21 (2), 179-210.

Gordon, L. R. (2006). Disciplinary Decadence: Living Thought for Trying Times. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.

Mignolo, W. D. (2009). Epistemic Disobedience, Independent Thought and De-Colonial Freedom. Theory, Culture & Society, 26 (7-8), 1-23.

Ndlovu-Gatsheni, S. J. (2015). Genealogies of Coloniality and Implications for Africa’s Development. Africa Development XL (3), 13-40.

Santos, B. (2014). Epistemologies of the South: Justice against Epistemicide. London: Routledge.

Sayer, A. (2000). For Postdisciplinary Studies: Sociology and the Curse of Disciplinary Parochialism and Imperialism. In J. Eldridge, J MacInnes, S. Scott, C. Warhurst & A. Witzs (Eds.), For Sociology: Legacies and Prospects (pp. 83-91). Durham, UK: Sociologypress.

Teo, T. (2010). What is Epistemological Violence in the Empirical Social Sciences? Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4 (5), 295-303.

DAY THREE - The Art of Unthinking – Wholistic Engagement with Complex Flows, Networks, Epigenetic Entanglements and other Uncertainty.

Obligatory Reading and/or Viewing:
Amoo-Adare, E. A. (2020). The Art of (Un)thinking: When hyper productivity says “Enough!”, is a feast. Postdigital Science and Education.

Freire, P. (1991). The importance of the act of reading (L. Slover, Trans.). In C. Mitchell & K. Weiler (Eds.), Rewriting literacy: Culture and the discourse of the other (pp. 139-145). New York: Bergin & Garvey. (Original work published 1983)

Lima, M. (May 21, 2012) Power of Networks, RSA Animate. YouTube video retrieved at:

Sardar, Z. (2010). Welcome to Postnormal Times. Futures 42, 435-444.

Miller, R. (2012). “Anticipation: The Discipline of Uncertainty”, Association of Professional Futurists, The Future of Futures. Retrieved November 4, 2014

Further Reading and/or Viewing:
Amoo-Adare, E. (2017). (Un)thinking, Decolonial Loving & Becoming: Critical Literacies for “Post-Normal Times.” [YouTube video] Retrieved July 18, 2021 at:

Amoo-Adare, E. (2020). “(Un)thinking Science: Here’s to Contradiction and the In-Betweens of Power-Knowledge”. In I. H. Warnke, A. Hornidge, & S. Schattenberg (Eds.), Kontradiktorische Diskurse und Macht im Widerspruch. Berlin, Germany: Springer VS.

Lock, M. (2015). Comprehending the Body in the Era of Epigenome. Current Anthropology 56 (2), 151-177.

Miller, R. (2013). “Changing the Conditions of Change by Learning to Use the Future Differently”, in ISSC/UNESCO, World Social Science Report 2013: Changing Global Environments, OECD Publishing and UNESCO Publishing.

Miller, R. (2015). Learning, the Future, and Complexity. An Essay on the Emergence of Futures Literacy. European Journal of Education 50 (4), 513-523.

Sardar, Z. & Sweeney, J. A. (2016). The Three Tomorrows of Postnormal Times. Futures 75, 1-13.

Sheller, M. & Urry, J. (2006). The new mobilities paradigm. Environment and Planning A, 38, 207-226.

DAY FOUR - Ways to Unthinking – an Academics of the Heart: honoring other ways of knowing

Obligatory Reading and/or Viewing:
Rumi (n.d.). Out Beyond Ideas. National Poetry Day. Retrieved July 18, 2021 at:

Rendon, L. I. (2000). Academics of the Heart: Reconnecting the Scientific Mind with the Spirit’s Artistry. The Review of Higher Education 24 (1), 1-13.

Burman, A. (2012). Places To Think With, Books To Think About: Words, Experience and the Decolonization of Knowledge in the Bolivian Andes. Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge 10 (1), 101-119.

Holmes, L. (2000). Heart Knowledge, Blood Memory, and the Voice of the Land: Implications of Research Among Hawaiian Elders. In G. J. S. Dei, B. L. Hall & D. G. Rosenberg (Eds.). Indigenous Knowledges in Global Contexts: Multiple Readings of Our Worlds (pp. 37-53). Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.

First Peoples Worldwide. (2013). ENOUGHNESS – Restoring Balance to the Economy. [YouTube video]. Retrieved July 18, 2021 at:

Further Reading and/or Viewing:
Dei, G. J. S. (2002). “Rethinking the Role of Indigenous Knowledges in the Academy.” NALL Working Paper #58. Toronto, Canada: NALL: The Research Network for New Approaches to Lifelong Learning.

Escobar, A. (2016). Thinking-feeling with the Earth: Territorial Struggles and the Ontological Dimension of the Epistemology of the South. Revista de Antropologia Iberoamericana 11 (1), 11-32.

Hilton, C. A. (2021). Indigenomics: Taking a seat at the Economic Table. British Columbia: New Society Publishers.

Mignolo, W. D. (2016). Sustainable Development or Sustainable Economies? Ideas Towards Living in Harmony and Plenitude. DOC Research Institute. Retrieved October 26, 2016 at:

Pearsall, P. (1999). The Heart’s Code: Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart Energy. Danvers, MA: Broadway Books.

Rendon, L. I. (2009). Sensipensante (sensing/thinking) Pedagogy: Educating for Wholeness, Social Justice and Liberation. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

DAY FIVE - Ways to Unthinking – Decolonizing Binary Thinking, Methods, and Modes of Becoming

Obligatory Reading and/or Viewing:
Anzaldua, G. (2002). Now let us shift… the path of conocimiento… inner work, public acts. In G. Anzaldua & A. Keating (Eds.) This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation (pp. 540-579). New York: Routledge.

Keating, A. (2009). Transforming Status-quo Stories: Shifting from “Me” to “We” Consciousness. In H. Svi Shapiro (Ed.) Education and Hope in Troubled Times: Visions of Change for Our Children’s World (pp. 210-222). New York: Routledge.

Mackenzie, I. (2012) Sacred Economics with Charles Eisenstein - A Short Film. [Youtube video] Transparent Film. Retrieved July 18, 2021 at:

Mountz, A., Bonds, A., Mansfield, B., Loyd, J., Hyndman, J., Walton-Roberts, M., Basu, R., Whitson, R., Hawkins, R., Hamilton, T., & Curran, W. (2015). For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Resistance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, 14 (4), 1235-1259.

Further Reading and/or Viewing:
Anzaldua, G. (2012). Borderlands/ La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Aunt Lute (Original work published in 1987) (Chapter 7, La Conscienza De La Mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness)

De Landa, M. (1999). Deleuze, Diagrams, and the Open-Ended Becoming of the World. In E. Grosz (ed.), Becomings: Explorations in Time, Memory and Futures (pp. 29-41). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Eisenstein, C. (2011) Sacred Economics: Money, Gift and Society in an Age of Transition. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Keating, A. (2013). Transformation now! Toward a post-oppositional politics of change. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Keating, A. (2006). From Borderlands and New Mestizas to Nepantlas and Nepantleras: Anzaldúan Theories for Social Change. Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge, special issue, 5-16.

Shahjahan, R. A. (2014). “Being ‘lazy’ and slowing down: Toward decolonizing time, our body, and pedagogy.” Educational Philosophy and Theory: Incorporating ACCESS 47 (5), 488-501.

Shahjahan, R. A. (2004). “Centering spirituality in the academy: Toward a transformative way of teaching and learning.” Journal of Transformative Education 2 (4), 294-312.

Smith, L. T. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous people. London: Zed books.

Other Resources

Critical Response Guidelines

A text can convey information to us, but usually when we read a text we respond not to the information (or facts) but to the ideas (interpretations, conclusions, assertions) that the author presents. When we respond to a text critically we are questioning the author’s ideas, methodology, assumptions, techniques, strategies or choices.

A critical response, then, results from questioning. Here are some general questions that you can use as a model to formulate specific questions about a specific text.

  • What is the problem or question that motivates the author?
  • From what context is the author writing?
  • What argument is the author putting forth? What is the thesis?
  • What contradictions do you find in the text? Why are they there? How do they affect your understanding of the argument?
  • What evidence does the author use to support his or her assertions? Why?
  • How is the text structured? How does the structure affect your understanding of the author’s argument?
  • What kinds of connections can you bring to the text? How has your own experience informed your reading of the text?
  • What do you see as the key passages in this text? Why are they important?
  • How do they work with the rest of the text to convey the author’s meaning?
  • What assumptions do you bring to the text? To what extent has the author considered your needs as a reader?

Note: You do not need to use every single question, plus you might have questions of your own making.


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