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About us Practical matters How to find us A.M. (Anne) Martinez, Dr

A.M. (Anne) Martinez, Dr

Assistant Professor, American Political Theory and Culture (tenured)
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Decolonial Catholicism

Can the universal church be de-linked from its colonial past? How do we theorize a space for resistance within the Catholic Church? Can the practice of Catholicism ever be a decolonizing project?

 In 2000, Aníbal Quijano’s essay “Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism, and Latin America” was published in English. Coloniality of power, according to Quijano, revolves around two axes: race, as created and sustained with the arrival of conquistadores in what we now call Latin America; and capital, as then harnessed by the control of labor and its production and subsequent insertion into a world market (Quijano 533-534). After the end of colonial rule in Latin America, coloniality – the racial and economic structuring of society – remained, as did a Western vision of “modernity.” Quijano concluded his essay by writing “it is time to learn to free ourselves from the Eurocentric mirror where our image is always, necessarily, distorted” (Quijano 574). This essay, which twenty years later is described as “capturing the essence of the alter-globalist spirit at the end of the century” (Gandarilla Salgado, et. al. 212), remarkably never mentions the Catholic church, as a factor in maintaining coloniality in Latin America over the previous five centuries.

 In the decades since Quijano’s foundational text, Latin American theorists have worked to shift the geopolitics of knowledge from a Eurocentric model to local iterations – “a cultural studies of decolonial orientation” (Walsh 225). Whereas postcolonial denotes a post-independence restructuring of colonial institutions, decolonial centers the production of knowledge. Decoloniality is an epistemological project attempting to de-link from Western iterations of modernity, which rest on the racialized others produced by coloniality. Decoloniality is a praxis of de-linking and re-linking(Walsh and Mignolo 120).

 The U.S. imperial project has largely displaced the European colonial project in Latin America. Catholic participation in sustaining American empire, particularly in former Spanish territories, is well documented (Martínez 2014); coloniality is thus reaffirmed by U.S. capital, religion, and the perpetuation of Eurocentric epistemologies. Within the United States, Indigenous, Black and Mexican communities have been subject to multiple colonialities; in the case of French and Spanish colonizations, with the assistance of Catholic missionaries. Despite coloniality’s efforts at elimination, displacement, and cultural genocide, these groups have survived, and many have remained part of the Catholic Church.

This book project historicizes decolonial practices by Indigenous, Black, and Mexican Catholics in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Through a set of relational histories, I show how Indigenous, Black and Mexican Catholics in the twentieth and twenty-first century United States de-link from coloniality and its damaging, distorting views of non-Whites, and re-link to their own communities through rituals of resistance. These practices rewrite scripture to address the everyday life of aggrieved communities in the United States. They provide crucial empirical evidence to efforts to understand the relationship between Catholicism and decoloniality.

Disrupting Sameness in Dutch Academia 

This NWO-funded research project, designed with a consortium of scholars and professionals from across the Netherlands, seeks to address inequality and exclusion in Dutch Academia. Higher education is a means of upward social mobility that may lead to better life and employment chances. Yet, higher education is also a site for the social reproduction of marginalizations and inequities present in society such that some (minoritized groups) have much lower access to and less capacity to remain and thrive within academic settings, whether as students, teachers and researchers, or professionals. A key mechanism by which universities and similarly elite institutions reproduce privilege and inequity is what we refer to as the reproduction of sameness— a systematic institutional preference for the similar and the same. Despite existing research and EDI measures on sameness in the Dutch context, we do not yet know exactly how to disrupt sameness. Scholars suggest that only through counter-normative behavior can sameness be disrupted, yet what such behavior and practices would actually look like, and what works, has not been examined. Therefore, this project focuses on disrupting sameness in the Dutch university setting, through the development and piloting of research-based, context-specific interventions in collaboration with stakeholders from start to finish in medical, teaching, and middle management settings in the Netherlands. Therefore, in this research we will: 1) examine how, when, and where sameness can be disrupted through counter-normative behavior, and 2) test and develop institutionally transferable interventions to disrupt sameness in various Dutch university settings. By targeting and disrupting a key mechanism in the perpetuation of inequity and marginalization for institutions to ultimately valorize equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Last modified:10 January 2023 5.11 p.m.