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Abstract

This is the journal editor’s note to the winter 2012 issue of Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge, entitled “Decolonizing the University, Practicing Pluriversity,” including papers that were presented at the conference entitled "Quelles universités et quels universalismes demain en Europe? un dialogue avec les Amériques" ("Which University and Universalism for Europe Tomorrow? A Dialogue with the Americas") organized by the Institute des Hautes d’Etudes de l’Amerique Latine (IHEAL) with the support of the Université de Cergy-Pontoise and the Maison des Science de l’Homme (MSH) in Paris on June 10-11, 2010. Addressing the significant themes and findings of the studies included in the proceedings, the editor asks whether it is possible to decolonize the Westernized university solely from within its existing structures and through the agency of its own critical, yet still vested, actors. Is the European, as well as broader Westernized global, university system confronted with a binary crossroads, or can the posing of the problem as such in terms of a duality, at the expense of exclusion of alternative efforts outside the Westernized university, be itself a factor in determining the outcome of the journey? The editor argues that based on his own experience, it would be self-defeating to depend solely on the agencies operating within the carceral structures of existing university systems to seek a way out in favor of utopystic outcomes. As Anders Burman argues in the collection, and does so drawing on non-Western ways of knowing, the way one thinks (and thereby seeks solutions) is intricately and organically dependent on the place one thinks with—and this should necessarily include the Westernized university itself—including its dominant epistemic standpoints, disciplinary structures, organizational frameworks, and procedures. The editor concludes with a brief comment on his recent decision, partly inspired by the works in this collection itself, to retire early in the near future from his tenured university position in favor of more autonomous and utopystic, pluriversal outcomes.

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