I wanted to write a brief post about the name of the site and doing so basically means that I need to explain de-linking. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a scholar of race and public culture, which means that my scholarly work explores (in one way or another) the relationships between race, democracy, and situated public discourse (a.k.a., rhetoric). This scholarly interest first manifested itself in grad school, when I decided to pursue a dissertation on the New York Young Lords. While I continue doing work on the Young Lords, my scholarship has broadened out to examine other situated rhetorics of race and racial(ized) rhetorics (e.g., work on Obama and the Tea Party, Nuyorican cultural production, and Sonja Sotomayor).
As I’ve sat down to piece together, to assemble as rhetoricians and bricoleurs do, my book-length monograph on the Young Lords, I’ve started thinking more and more about the formal qualities of their discourse and activism; that is, I’ve been contemplating what makes their rhetorical and political program distinct aside from its content, aside from the claims they made when they were active in the 1960s and 70s. My first foray into considering these questions, based on the dissertation, was attentive to what I called intersectional rhetoric — to the ways in which discursive forms (image, performance, text) intersected to produce a rhetorical whole that was greater than the sum of its parts. That approach may be of interest to some rhetorical scholars, but it’s probably not of interest to many other people.
In continuing to refine my ideas about the Young Lords, and in preparing portions of the book manuscript for submission to scholarly journals, I’ve come back to a concept with which I flirted briefly when I was in dissertation land: coloniality. Coloniality, in this formulation, “refers to long-standing patterns of power that emerged as a result of colonialism, but that define culture, labor, intersubjective relations, and knowledge production well beyond the strict limits of colonial administrations” (Maldonado-Torres). Rooted in the work of Aníbal Quijano, scholars engaging the coloniality of power seek to explicate the ways in which de-colonial challenges emerge. In this formulation, a decolonial challenge engages in a form of what Walter Mignolo calls “delinking,” which deploys a “geo- and body politics of knowledge that … denounces the pretended universality of a particular ethnicity (body politics), located in a specific part of the planet (geo-politics).”
Delinking (or de-linking, depending on your mood) is a kind of “other thinking,” or what Mignolo, in Local Histories/Global Designs, also calls “border thinking.” It’s an alternative epistemology that challenges modern-Western rationality, hybridizes cultural and political traditions, seeks liberation rather than emancipation … and it blows my mind. I’ve borrowed the term for this blog’s/site’s title because, well, many of my posts will probably be filtered through the critical lens it implies. As I immerse myself in finishing the book, teaching this stuff to students, and trying to maintain some critical perspective on the world around me, I plan to use this blog as an outlet for ideas — as a place for first-runs that relate in one way or another to the scholarly work that I’m doing.