Volume 27, Issue 1/2, Fall 2021
The Metaphysics of Decolonization
Healing Historical Trauma and Indigenous Liberation
Decolonization is synonymous with liberation. It is invoked in multiple overlapping geopolitical projects that demand both the undoing of imperial-colonial structures and the amelioration of their effects. In his essay “Decolonizing Western Epistemology/ Building Decolonial Options,” Walter Mignolo describes decoloniality as a double-faced concept. Decolonization is a geopolitical project while decoloniality is an epistemological, political, and ethical process that enables decolonial futures (Mignolo 2011, 20). In this way, decoloniality is an analytical that critiques coloniality but also a generative utopian project that relies on decolonial epistemologies to materialize these futures. Like settler colonialism, coloniality is a structure that exceeds colonization and capitalism, expressing itself as modernity. It is the epistemic and hermeneutical processes of decoloniality that reveal ways of living and being—what Mignolo calls “living in harmony and reciprocity”—that ultimately build a nonimperial, noncapitalist world (Mignolo 2011, 25). In this article I put decolonial theory in conversation with Indigenous articulations of decolonization and religious life to illustrate what Indigenous decolonial futures may look like. I argue that reclamations of Indigenous metaphysical life regenerate Indigenous ontologies (intersubjective personhood) in ways that not only secure decolonial futures but also heal historical trauma, which can be understood as ontological dispossession.