Understanding Migration through a Decolonial Language

Published on 8 February 2024 at 13:37

The imperial mode of living, entrenched in the infrastructure of global powers like the United States and other Global North nations, thrives on an exploitative dynamic. This approach necessitates an "elsewhere" – regions designated for exploitation and bearing the aftermath of disasters (Brand and Wissen, 2021). Cloaked in the language of growth and progress, this inherently imbalanced mode is underpinned by a colonial power matrix, emerging from a superiority complex and enforced through centralized power structures (Mignolo, 2011). This epistemology, neglecting a critical examination of objectivity, inadvertently limits inter-epistemic dialogues, endorsing a singular, imperial truth. 


This perspective, shaped by theology and ego-centric politics, perpetuates neo-colonial policies that lead to environmental devastation and social crises (Hickle, 2020). In the U.S., societal introspection and dilemma evaluation are often confined within this neo-colonial framework, fostering a cycle of growth obsession and historical amnesia.


The U.S. Southern Border migration crisis exemplifies the repercussions of the Global North's economic policies in Latin America. This crisis, a direct result of these policies, has led to continuous and escalating displacement of people. These migrations represent the human cost of exploitation. In the Global North, migration is often framed as an emergency, overlooking historical injustices and power structures. Redefining these crises as long-term humanitarian issues, rather than emergencies, is essential for addressing root causes.


Latin America's struggle to defend identity rights and champion governance systems valuing plurality and well-being has clashed with Western liberal market ideologies since the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 (Mignolo, 2011). The promise of modernity has, in practice, led to exploitation of Latin American resources and people, leaving countries dependent. Institutions like the IMF, G20, and World Bank have perpetuated the weakening of the Global South, hindering human development.


Addressing the refugee crisis requires reevaluating the dominant ideologies of the Global North. Acknowledging that our policies have not empirically improved well-being is imperative. Engaging in inter-epistemic dialogues and learning from past mistakes is crucial for a new understanding of our history and cosmology, revealing gaps in empathy and understanding. Embracing diverse perspectives is key to centering well-being in our policies and actions, moving towards a more equitable and compassionate global community.

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