Decolonise IVS


Knowledge Hub

Reading materials

ICVO 2023 Blog Series

In preparation of the 2023 IVCO (International Forum for Volunteering in Development) conference, a number of blogs have been written to stir debate on current volunteering issues. We especially welcome blog post nr. 2 from Dr Amjad Mohamed Saleem which focuses on reimagining volunteering through a decolonisation lens.

ICVO 2023 Blog Series

Decolonising peacebuilding: a way forward out of crisis. Article by Lisa Schirch for the Berghof Foundation. 

“Decolonising agendas” are emerging all over the world and relate to humanitarian aid, development, anthropology, sociology and many other facets of life, including peacebuilding. Decolonialism refers to the process of undoing colonial worldviews, institutions and impacts. In the last few years, various authors have begun laying out an agenda for decolonising peacebuilding (Ayindo 2017; Omer 2019; Linklater 2014; Beraia et al. 2019). The study of decoloniality, abolition and reparations is relevant to peacebuilding, both as an analytical framework that explains global patterns of grievance against political, economic and social systems, and as an agenda for how to build peace, foster social transformation and protect human security. This article explores and opens up for discussion and dialogue how the peacebuilding field can respond to the profound sense of chaos and unpredictability in today’s world by addressing the colonial distortions of governance, economy and society.

Decolonising Peacebuilding A Way Forward out of Crisis

Where do we go from here?

This research examines the extent and nature of concrete actions undertaken by Northern NGOs and Southern NGOs to tackle power asymmetries, explicitly comparing their understandings, perspectives and initiatives.

Where do we go from here?

Decolonise. Now! Practical inspiration guide for equitable international cooperation

Until 1961, the Belgian Ministry of Development Cooperation was simply called the Ministry of Colonies. What more do you need to understand how interwoven development cooperation is with the colonial history of our country? Missionaries and colonials went on a mission to ‘civilise’ Congo, Rwanda and Burundi; we were going there to ‘develop’ them. Same difference, more and more critical voices say, in one fell swoop also questioning the legitimacy and relevance of our work and the entire sector of development cooperation.

Decolonise, Now!

Imagine alternative future(s) of the Belgian development cooperation

The development aid discourse is portrayed as the will to do good to help populations left behind in humanity’s inevitable march towards modernity and economic growth. However, its usefulness and the multiple violences (e.g., racism, colonialism, patriarchy, neoliberalism, capitalism, extractivism, etc.) derived from modernity and growth are increasingly being questioned. Academia, social movements, and development aid agencies have argued that development aid has little impact on poverty reduction in the partner countries . Thus, there is a request for a power shift from all parts, especially elucidated from the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in 2016 and social movements such as “Black Life Matters”, “Charity so White”, and the 60th anniversary of DRC’s independence demonstrations. These movements call for an urgent need to break with the modernity/coloniality violences and decolonize international relations and development aid practices.

Imagine alternative future(s) of the Belgian development cooperation – Final report

Decolonizing transformations through ‘right relations’

Climate change has been conceptualized as a form and a product of colonization. In this perspective, it becomes important to base climate change adaptation and transformation efforts on decolonizing practices and imaginaries. A central aspect of decolonization is contained in the Indigenous conceptualization of relationality. Exploring how decolonization and relationality might form the foundation for transformations research, we engage with the concept of ‘right relations’. In the context of this inquiry, we take ‘right relations’ to mean an obligation to live up to the responsibilities involved when taking part in a relationship—be it to other humans, other species, the land or the climate. We begin the paper by bringing together the literature on climate change adaptation, transformation and decolonization to show their interconnections and emphasize the need to engage with all three when talking about sustainability. Second, we invoke the idea of ‘right relations’ to address how non-Indigenous transformation researchers can further the process of decolonization as part of their research. Third, we offer insights from our own research experience with narrative practices to help exemplify how transformation researchers in all disciplines might embody ‘right relations’ centered around four characteristics: listening deeply, self-reflexivity, creating space and being in action. Embodying ‘right relations’ is a continuous process of becoming with no end point, and we do not wish to suggest that we hold the answers. Instead, we reflect on our role in this process and hope for these words to open a dialogue about how we might move towards a ‘decolonized humanity’. We suggest that willingness to be affected and altered by the process of reciprocal collaborations is key to imagining decolonial ways of being and that this in turn can be a powerful manner of generating equitable and sustainable transformations.

Decolonizing transformations through ‘right relations’

Decoloniality and anti-oppressive practices for a more ethical ecology

Ecological research and practice are crucial to understanding and guiding more positive relationships between people and ecosystems. However, ecology as a discipline and the diversity of those who call themselves ecologists have also been shaped and held back by often exclusionary Western approaches to knowing and doing ecology. To overcome these historical constraints and to make ecology inclusive of the diverse peoples inhabiting Earth’s varied ecosystems, ecologists must expand their knowledge, both in theory and practice, to incorporate varied perspectives, approaches and interpretations from, with and within the natural environment and across global systems. We outline five shifts that could help to transform academic ecological practice: decolonize your mind; know your histories; decolonize access; decolonize expertise; and practise ethical ecology in inclusive teams. We challenge the discipline to become more inclusive, creative and ethical at a moment when the perils of entrenched thinking have never been clearer. 

Decoloniality and anti-oppressive practices for a more ethical ecology