Decolonize Zurich
interdisciplinary collective
ongoing since june 2019
Zurich, Switzerland

organized with Sina Jenny, Martin Roth, Kenza Benabderrazik, Deborah Suter, María Ordoñez

Decolonize Zurich is a reading and action-oriented group. Although Switzerland never obtained any colonies, it cannot be understood without colonialism. Everyday ideas and concepts are colonially embedded. Colonial terms continue to exist in our ways of thinking, especially in view of the special position that Europe holds. A paradigmatic example is the "colonial goods", as trade goods from "exotic" regions are still called. Non-European forms of knowledge and regions are subjected to and exploited. Switzerland therefore must come to terms with its own colonial past and acknowledge the late effects of colonialism in the present. For example, the social conflicts of migration and integration are rooted in the colonial past. Current global inequalities and dependencies can also be attributed to a colonial dimension.

Decolonization aims to question and overcome these asymmetrical constellations. Ruling ideologies must be destabilized. Due to the constantly changing world situation, a multitude of possible actions must be developed to rectify and reduce the social, political and cultural grievances. To this end, we take postcolonial theories as the starting point of our reflection on action. Decolonial problematization in the university and social context is central to transforming patterns of thought and expanding the canon of knowledge. Especially on the basis of living and interacting together in the context of the city of Zurich, where people from around 180 nationalities with different residence rights live, questions of social differences and the scope of action of marginalized individuals and groups are very topical.

Decolonize Zurich has been a kind of continuation of my teaching practice at the University of Zurich, looking for formats and collaborations with the students that take the classroom as a point of departure for something that, hopefully, reaches the broad society. And how beautiful it is to work with Sarah, Kai, Deborah, Kenza, Sina, Olivier, María und Martin at this crucial task in our present. We were slowed down by the lockdown, but now is our time!!

cover image by Jose Cáceres and gallery images by decolonize zurich.
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