Decolonizing Peacebuilding

By Duke Huang

            Decolonization for me is like when Neo finds out about the Matrix. Just like Neo has to choose the red or the blue pill, we also have a choice to ignore what colonization has done to us or try to do something about it. I decided to take the “red pill”, which means that I want to decolonize my mind. Just like Morpheus not only liberates Neo from the Matrix and teach him the skills to fight against it, i.e. Agent Smith; Pushpa talked to us about decolonization and teach us how to do our best to decolonize ourselves and the world. I have a thousand more references to the Matrix, but I will stop and focus on what I have learned about decolonization.

            Before learning about decolonization, we learned what colonization is. Colonization is about domination; it is about power. One of the most important ways colonization affect us is through education, it determines what and how we should think. To decolonize our mind is to challenge what we have learned through the colonized education systems. To decolonize our mind is to decentralize our source of knowledge. We need to challenge the idea of having an authority to dictate us what to do and what to say. We need to transform the structure and include people with different knowledge and background.     

             Like peacebuilding and sustainability, decolonization is a goal not an endpoint. There should be people working on different levels to come together to change the structure. We can never undo the harm colonization has done to people, but we can address the needs of those who are harmed and putting their voices in the center of the discussion. We all have important roles in decolonizing our own communities. Sometimes, it is not that people do not want to decolonize themselves, but they do not have the means and agencies to do so. So, to decolonize peacebuilding, we as peacebuilders should not only focus on decolonizing ourselves and our actions, but also assisting the communities we are working with to decolonize themselves. 

            One point about decolonization that I found very important is that decolonizing is not about eradicating western civilization, rather, it is about bringing more people with different experience into the discussion. I think this is not only crucial, but also strategic. I am assuming that there are lots of pushback from western countries about decolonization because they think it means that they are losing their power. However, decolonization still keeps them in center while changing the structure. I do think that there should be an emphasis on the already existing power difference in decolonization. What I mean is that we should not only include more people into the center but addressing the issues and harm that had prevent them from being in the center.