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Discussion Group

How we see the world

Use of maps and coloniality in transnational policy

Add to calendar 2023-06-08 10:00 2023-06-08 12:00 Europe/Rome How we see the world Sala del Torrino (Villa Salviati) and on Zoom YYYY-MM-DD


08 June 2023

10:00 - 12:00 CEST


Sala del Torrino (Villa Salviati) and on Zoom

At this Decentering Eurocentrism reading group session, STG Policy Leader Fellows Carla Vitantonio and Petra Krylova, together with STG Master students Özüm Çelik, Laura Higuera Sanchez, and Marija Rakovic will share their research paper on the Eurocentric usage of maps by international development policy leaders in their communications.

There is no perfect map, as all maps are an approximation. Therefore, there is no neutral map, and choosing one approximation over another should be, in international policy making, an informed and deliberate choice. 

This research targets policy actors engaged in international development policies in governmental, non- governmental and UN institutions. It aims at raising awareness about the effects of unaware use of maps in communication related to policy. It is based on original research which encompassed data collection and subsequent analysis, and literature review. 

Data collection focused on institutions working in international development, namely: 1) official Development Agencies of the Development Assistance Committee members (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) and EU member states, 2) selected United Nations agencies, 3) International Non-Governmental Organizations, 4) Think-Thanks and 5) Foundations. 

Literature review used keywords as #mapping, #coloniality, #decoloniality, #decolonialmap, #mercatorprojection, #petersprojection.

The research uses the theory of coloniality and decoloniality as a reference framework, as developed by Anibal Quijano, Walter Mignolo, Nelson Maldonaldo Torres and others. Such framework identifies the Colonial Matrix of Power (CMP) as the root of dynamics that are affecting relations, knowledge and beings and that replicate colonial patterns. 

Quijano et al. argue that, despite it is generally considered that the process of decolonisation ended in 1999, with the return of Macau to China, coloniality in the three realms of power, knowledge and being is still dominant.  

The visual representations of the world that key development actors choose for their communication embody the idea that they have of the world. This idea is too often still based on a Eurocentric and obsolete perspective, which ignores other points of view, new global trends and (un)balances. By proposing alternatives and recommendations, this research aims to support policy actors willing to reconsider visual communication from a decolonial perspective.

The research paper will be circulated upon a completed registration to the reading group session.   
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