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Walter Mignolo, William H. Wannamaker Professor of Romance Studies and Professor of Romance Studies and Cultural Anthropology

Walter Mignolo

Scholarship & Intellectual Projects

Conventional academic categories do not reflect my work, my research, or my teaching interests. That is what happens when you have to define yourself according to someone else's categories. Institutional categories do not allow for creativity; they simply force you into the box-cage of orthodox scholarship instead of giving you the freedom to profile your research. My work—thinking, writing, researching, teaching, networking—in the last five years (of which I do not foresee a closing yet), has been based, first, on the premise that “research” cannot be an isolated category of intellectual labor. Secondly, my work has been devoted to the unveiling of the logic of coloniality—a logic of oppression and of expendability of life (both human and that of nature)—hidden under the Salvationist rhetoric of modernity. Consequently, my work has aimed, and will continue to aim, to echo de-colonial projects going on around the world, moving away and disengaging from the belief that history is one, although it admits a diversity of interpretations. These interpretations, however, have been silenced; histories have been discarded by the pervasive work of the coloniality of power, of knowledge, and of being. 

My research has three trajectories: the historical and salvationist foundation of the narratives of modernity and Western Civilization and the Westernization of the world; the darker side of those narratives, coloniality; and the energies, anger and people’s creativity to delink from the promises of modernity and the logic of coloniality and to create for themselves conditions to live in plenitude, harmony, and in love that current institutions cannot provide. My teaching, writing, lectures, workshops, publications have these three trajectories as the focus.

In the next five to ten years, my work will follow a complimentary path. I have already begun to think and write a trade book entitled Globalization and the Beautiful Life: Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic. Las Terrenas, a small town populated primarily by people of African-descent, including a significant population of Haitian immigrants, is being surrounded by an increasing tourism of European provenance (US prefer Punta Cana), which will allow me to look at globalization from the receiving end. The rise of real estate industry, exploitation of labor, professional prostitution, racism, colonial memories and imperial realities all collide to make of Las Terrenas a single place to understand the imperial/colonial histories of the Americas and the “beautiful life” that globalization makes possible. Non-fictional literature (as they call this type of writing in South Africa) gives me an opportunity to think on the issues I am concerned by doing non-academic work within the academia.

The second path, which I have already embarked on, is the writing of op-eds and intensifying international activities with colleagues in South and Central America, South Asia, former Western and former Eastern Europe, South East, and East Asia. I have been also working with young colleagues on collecting and editing my works in Spanish. Two volumes already appeared (Habitar la frontera, Barcelona 2015), and Trayectorias de Re-existencia (Bogotá, 2016). The third one will be published in México in the summer of 2016, Psicoanálisis y pensamiento decolonial, in collaboration with a collective of South American psychoanalysts. I will continue my editorial work in Argentina, with the series El desprendimiento (initiated in 2000), published by Ediciones del Signo. And with Duke University Press where we have started a new book series, On decoloniality, co-edited with Catherine Walsh from Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar in Quito. And, I will certainly continue to publish scholarly articles and small books on the three trajectories of my research outlined above.

Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy has always sought to engage students in thinking beyond research and analysis. That is, I seek to engage students in shifting the geography of disciplinary reason. I have been using the metaphor “learning to unlearn in order to relearn” (I have co-authored a book under that title) as a guiding principle. Engaging students in thinking about themselves directly in relation to the questions they are researching, describing, interpreting, or explaining is central to my teaching. My primary goal is to encourage students to reflect on their own geo-political (the language in which they were born and the region of the world where they have been nurtured and educated) and body-political (how they have been located in the “social classification,” racially and sexually) in relation to what they are learning. Above all, it is important for me to engage students in thinking about the dominant agents, institutions, languages, and modes of being that govern structures of social classification we all inhabit. My students learn to question basic assumptions of Western Civilization, such us notions of space, time, literacy, economy, gender and sexuality, political, knowledge, science, religions, which have been built upon the denial and obliteration of co-existing civilizations. They learn that what we call “modernity” is a rhetoric of salvation that hides its darker side, the logic of coloniality; in turn, a project of decoloniality, in all spheres of the social (economy, religion, aesthetics/art, gender and sexuality, ethnicity and racialization, politics and knowledge), emerges in resistance to the dominance of that logic.


Globalization and Globalism

Darker Side of Renaissance and of the Enlightenment

Global Coloniality and World Dissorder


Decolonial Thinking

Decolonial Aesthetics/Aesthesis

Non-European Thinking and Imagination

Capitalism and Economic Coloniality

Political Theory and non-Western Governance

Dewesternization and Decoloniality

Decolonial Reflections on Hemispheric Partition

Contact Info:
Office Location:  125B Friedl Building, Box 90670, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 668-2151, (919) 668-1949
Email Address: send me a message
Web Page:

Teaching (Spring 2016):

    Crowell 107, TuTh 03:05 PM-04:20 PM
    (also cross-listed as CULANTH 367S.01, ICS 460S.01, LSGS 412S.01)
    Carr 106, M 04:40 PM-07:10 PM
    (also cross-listed as AMES 690S.01, CULANTH 590S.01, ROMST 690S.01)
Office Hours:

Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment (between 1pm and 3 pm)

Ph.D.Ecole Des Hautes Etudes (France)1973
Research Interests:

Global Coloniality, Critical Cosmopolitanism, Modern/Colonial World System


Colonies • Decolonization • Geopolitics • Knowledge

Postdocs Mentored

  • Julo Pinto (Augsut 1, 2014--July 31, 2015)  
  • Andres Arguello Parra (Fall Semester 2013)  
  • Nelson Maldonado-Torres (Scholarly year 2003-2004)  
  • Bernal Herrera (Fall 2009)  
Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1. W Mignolo, The Geopolitics of Knowledge and the Colonial Difference, SAQ: The South Atlantic Quarterly, vol. 101 no. 1 (2003), pp. 57-96, Duke University Press, ISSN 1527-8026
  2. WD Mignolo, The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality and Colonization, manual (1995), The University of Michigan Press
Selected Invited Lectures

  1. Hegel's Spirit and the Opium War: Local Histories/Global Designs, March 14, 2012, Advanced Institute for Cross Disciplinary Research, City University of Hong Kong    
  2. A Decolonial Archeology of Hegel’s Spirit: The Ming Dinasty, Pope Alexander VI and Matteo Ricci, March 28, 2012, Advanced Institute for Crossdisciplinary Studies, City University of Hong Kong    
  3. Critical Theory and Decolonial Thinking: Two Parallel Roads to the Future, April 30 to May 1, 2010, Keynote address, New Directions in Critical Theory, Grad Students Conference, Tucson, Arizona    
  4. The Spirit Croces de Atlantic and Move to the US: Hiroshima, Human Rights, Bandung and the Cold War., April 11, 2012, Advanced Institute for Crossdisciplinary Studies, City University of Hong Kong    
  5. The Spirit Crossed the Pacific and Returned to the East Closing the Cycle of Western Imperial Expansion: Dewesternization and Decoloniality, April 25, 2012, Advanced Institute for Cross Disciplinary Research, City University of Hong Kong    
  6. The Spirit Returns to the East: Rewesternization, Dewesternization, Decoloniality and the Roads to Future, May 22, 2012, Beijing, in 25th Conference of the Academy of Latinity - "Humanity and Difference in the Global Age", held at the Wenjin Hotel in Beijing, from the 21st to the 23th of May 2012, in cooperation with Tsinghua University    
  7. Cosmopolitan Localism: A de-colonial shifting of the Kantian's legacies, May 31, 2010, Pusan National University, South Korea    
  8. Epistemic Desobedience and the Decolonial Option: A Manifesto, May 27, 2010, Seoul National University, Institute of Latin American Studies    
  9. Coloniality and Decolonial Thinking: An Introduction, June 3, 2011, Hong Kong    
  10. Second thought on geopolitics of kowledge and understanding, Inaugural Panel, May 10, 2010, Goldsmiths College, London, Workshop on Politics of Knowledge    
  11. De-Schooling and Learning to Unlearn: Ivan Illich's Legacies and the Project Amawtay Wasi, June 22, 2011, The University of Bremen, Germany    
  12. Who speaks for the "Human" in Western Humanism? A decolonial perspective, April 26-28, 2010, XXI Conference de l' Academie de la Latinite, Cordoba, Spain    
  13. Globalization and the geopolitics of knowing: A decolonial view of the Humanities, April 23, 2010, Hilldale Lectures in the Arts and Humanities, the University of Wisconsin at Madison    
  14. Global Linear Thinking, International Law and (De)Coloniality, July 1, 2011, Berlin, Goethe-Saal, Harnack-Haus, Max-Planc Gesellschaft    
  15. “Geopolitics of Knowing/Understanding and American Studies,” Keynote address, April 8-11, 2010, American Studies as Transnational Practice, Texas Tech Comparative Literature Symposium, Lubbock, Texas    
  16. The communal and the decolonial, Keynote Address, April 16, 2010, 20th Annual Philosophy, Interpretation and Culture Conference    
  17. Modernity: The Way We Are, May 19, 2011, The University of Bremen, Germany    
  18. Re-Westernization, De-Westernization and De-Coloniality, June 2 and June 3, 2010, Two lectures delivered at Peking University and Renmi University, Beijing, China    
  19. The Global South and World Disorder, XXXth Distinguished Lecture, Journal of Anthropological Research, March 04, 2010, University of New Mexico    
  20. The State We' re In- Cosmopolitanism, March 7, 2009, Birkbeck College, London [link.]    
  21. Anti-Systemic Movements and Decolonial Projects, December 31, 2009, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico    
  22. Between Cosmopolitanism and Empire: Europe, Human Rights, and Sovereignty, March 6, 2009, London, Birkbeck College [launchworkshopflyer+mignolo+birkbeck+empire+and+cosmopolitanism&hl=en&gl=us&sig=AHIEtbRhE7]    
  23. Epistemic Disobedience and the Decolonial Option, March 5, 2009, Goldsmiths College, London [available here]    
  24. Geopoliticas del conocimiento y formaciones disciplinarias, August 3-August 14, 2009, Quito, Ecuador [Boliv]    
  25. The Advent of Black Thinkers and the Limits of Continental Philosophy, June 29, 2009, Amsterdam, NiNsee [B]    
  26. Transmodernity and Global Decoloniality, March 13/14, 2009, Tate Britain Museum, London [Bourriau.]    

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