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Preparing for the end of the world as we know it

Preparing for the end of the world as we know it

For many Indigenous people, the collapse of our current system is not necessarily bad news.

Image: Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti, all rights reserved

Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures (GTDF) is a collective of researchers, artists, educators, activists and Indigenous knowledge keepers from the Global North and South. Our collective focuses on how artistic and educational practices can gesture towards the possibility of decolonial futures. We work at the interface of questions related to historical, systemic and on-going violence and questions related to the unsustainability of “modernity-coloniality”. We use the term modernity-coloniality to mark the fact that modernity cannot exist without expropriation, extraction, exploitation, dispossession, destitution, genocides and ecocides.

Drawing on Indigenous critiques and practices from the communities we collaborate with in Brazil, Peru, Mexico and Canada, we propose that a decolonial future requires a different mode of (co-) existence that will only be made possible with and through the end of the world as we know it, which is a world that has been built and is maintained by different forms of violence and unsustainability.

There is a popular saying in Brazil that illustrates this insight. It states that, in a flood situation, it is only when the water reaches people’s hips that it becomes possible for them to swim. Before that, with the water at our ankles or knees, it is only possible to walk, or to wade. In other words, we might only be able to learn to swim – that is, to exist differently – once we have no other choice. But in the meantime, we can prepare by learning to open ourselves up to the teachings of the water, as well as the teachings of those who have been swimming for their lives against multiple currents of colonial violence.

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