CPSA 2018: “Missing Children: Centring Childhood and the Intergenerational Transmission of Coloniality”

Title

“Missing Children: Centring Childhood and the Intergenerational Transmission of Coloniality”

Abstract

It is central to the maintenance of colonialism and its cognate structures that every generation is socialized through interpersonal violence into a prevailing civilizational order. Violence is endemic in the process by which some children are taught to dehumanize others as initiation into a dominant community while other children are taught to dehumanize themselves as initiation into a marginalized community. I argue in this paper that the intergenerational process of normalizing civilizational violence situates childhood as the originary site of colonial reproduction and, therefore, as a site of emancipatory refusal and resistance where a radical  break with coloniality can be initiated. Unfortunately, with rare exceptions, the child is absent from contemporary decolonial discourse and literature. Childhood agency and experience are almost uniformly transposed through one or more of the triumvirate logics of race, class, and gender, where coloniality is framed as a problem of symbolic relations or ideology that can only  be effectively addressed through critical intellectual and organizational work of adults. Theoretical contributions to liberatory resistance and resurgence tend to privilege able-bodied adults as both subject and audience (erasing not only children but those with severe cognitive disabilities). I argue that recognizing the centrality of intergenerational violence to the reproduction of coloniality enjoins us to treat childhood as a central and constitutive feature of decolonial analysis along side race, class, and gender. Initially, this will require theorists to engage with disciplines that have been largely ignored such as critical childhood studies.