What are we learning about Decolonising Self?

In the Winter Season of the CitizensLab Learning Journey we addressed the topic of “Decolonising Self”. We set out to explore how we can dismantle our own cultural history and challenge colonial mindsets in order to decolonise ourselves, our minds and our bodies. We soon understood that decolonisation is a contextual, relational and lived process. The following questions emerged:

How do we decolonise our countries, our bodies and minds?

How do we get out of the trap of colonial modernity?

How do we heal the land and the human?

We understood that the first step to decolonising ourselves requires an unlearning and relearning of certain ways of thinking, being and acting.

In order to decolonise ourselves we need to deconstruct:

• the concept of borders, both physical (national borders) and mental/emotional ones, the visible and invisible borders, that are limiting our freedoms

• the concept of superiority/inferiority present in our cultural frameworks and in the ways of knowing, and being

• the logic of separability, of belonging/not belonging

• history, and the narratives written by the dominant voices

• whiteness

• the simplicity of certainty and the easy solution-making

What patterns and learnings are emerging?

• The topic of decolonising has a direct connection to the trauma caused by colonisation, both in terms of grabbing land, resources, human lives and rights, and in terms of the exploitative, capitalist, white supremacist values and worldviews that colonisation inherently imposes.

• To decolonise ourselves therefore means to activate processes of individual and collective healing in the world.

• To cultivate deeper, authentic, honest relationships with one another, Mother Earth and the more than human world is central to this process of healing.

• At the core of the dynamic between injustice, healing and repair is a strong longing for love. Yet also a fear of facing the discomfort, the pain and shame that such inner work requires.

• There is a strong need to re-create collective spaces for healing, grief tending and trauma work.

• We want to explore creating rituals as commons to face the “colonial/western” cultural numbing that brought us to sit comfortably with our privileges and the idea of superiority.

• The powerful practices of art, music and dance allow us to speak uncomfortable truths, to be vulnerable, to challenge colonial attitudes and to enter the terrain of collective liberation.

• We understand the importance of dismantling centuries of lies and false history, creating a route to new narratives and hosting processes where the truth can be expressed (eg. Truth and Reconciliation process in Canada).

• We need to cultivate capacities to hold conflict, disagreement and discomfort when it shows up, to navigate the complexity of the whole spectrum between harmony and “war”.

• The importance of intergenerational connectivity, of connecting to our ancestors and the pain that comes with them having been oppressed or having been the oppressor.

What are we not seeing?

We shed light onto certain questions that we might not have considered fully in our enquiry:

How can we infuse the dominant culture with all this wisdom?

What is needed so that relationships are reciprocal and just?

How can we become aware of the inequalities we reproduce and reinforce in our daily life?

How do we bring social justice work into our lives?

How do we host accountability, discovery & repair?

How can we navigate discomfort and conflict when it shows up?

How does not feeling good enough play into colonising ourselves?

Acknowledging how colonisation has led to the inequalities in the world we ask: What resource redistribution and recognition are needed to restore and rebuild equality?