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5 Pillars

In order to promote social justice the lectorate has chosen methodological approaches that embody certain principles. The lectorate proposes five pillars or five concepts that ought to guide and question one’s steps of action, whether they are education, artistic practice or research related. Collectively these pillars are rooted in indigenous knowledge and decolonial theory. They include: relationality, temporality, transformation, cost, and joy.

Relationality
Relationality starts from the premise that all our interactions are based in relations. It behooves us then to be mindful and question how we engage in the relations that we hold, from interpersonal, to interspecial, to our relationship with the earth. Some guiding questions might be: Which relationships do we tend to engage in? Who are we always including or overlooking in the relationships that we hold? How do we practice ‘relational accountability’; meaning how are our relations responsible, reciprocal and respectful?1 How do we honor or abuse the relationships we have, including the relationship with resources and our environment? How do we relate to place? What do we have to commit to in order to make our relations better? How do we stay in relation in spite of difficulties and discomfort we encounter?

Temporality
Temporality refers to the expansion across time and space. Often we engage as if we are starting from a point 0. This is something we unfortunately have gained from modernity. By acknowledging temporality we acknowledge that there is a previous story at any point of entry. What was that story? How are we honoring or dishonoring that story? What are we overlooking when we fail to acknowledge that story? Which legacy should we honor before we start anything? Perhaps we hold on too much to the stories of the past and should we let go of some stories before we get started? How do we listen and incorporate the stories of those who came before us and how will what we do, honor and cherish the stories of those who are still to follow? In terms of space we might be too focused on the here and fail to acknowledge that we are connected to 'those' out there. Who is experiencing similar experiences that we could consult, incorporate, need to recognize or can be inspired by? How do we not stay stuck in our arrogance and ignore our connection in whatever journey we undertake?

Transformation
A lot of the work we undertake is based on information. We generate, delve in, strengthen load and loads of information on an ongoing basis. How do we make sure that we are not just invested in information but also and perhaps more so in transformation? To what extent does our information contribute to transformation? What do we need to do to make sure that we contribute to transformation? Are we open to our own transformation or are we only focused on the desired transformation of others? In our current academic system and in the cultural field we are focused on 'output' and often hear the term (research) 'impact', which desires us to be productive in a way that focuses on (visible) outcomes, numbers and quick fixes. What does it mean to become transformed as a person and as a community? How and when does it manifest, on what (small) scale, through which actions, through which reactions?

Cost
What is the cost of our engagement? What is the price that is being paid or the sacrifice that is made in terms of time, (emotional) energy, finances, resources, human capital, the environment, etc? What kind of sacrifice or price should we be willing to pay if we desire the change we proclaim we want?

Joy
Where is the joy? The pursuit of social justice or the grappling with diversity issues is often paired with frustration, anger and dismay. Those are valid emotions, but where is the joy? What is precious, valuable, hopeful, pleasant that is worth taking a stand or fighting for? How does what we do contribute to the joy of future generations? In addition or in place of anger, can we be motivated by love, joy and appreciation? And if we can no longer find the joy or appreciation, then what are we doing? How long do you think you can last in this type of work without the appreciation of joy? How can you retrieve your sense of joy, hope, love, preferably with the use of creative imagination, so you have something constructive to add towards this socially just world we are trying to create?

Indigenous knowledge and decoloniality

Indigenous knowledge
We do not believe that knowledge is out there waiting to be extracted and then owned by the select few. Indigenous knowledge teaches us that the knowledge we seek is already out there, all around us and between us. It is how we stand in relationship to that knowledge, about what we do to have that knowledge revealed to us that matters. To have that knowledge revealed to us requires attention, patience, reverence, but most of all connection. The knowledge we seek will be revealed to us when the time is right.    
Indigenous knowledge always starts from the premise that we are related to everything and anything, hence the relational approach to knowledge. Because we are connected to anything and everything we have infinite resources when it comes to inspiration, gaining insight, becoming aware, etc. What is required then is to develop the skill of listening, sensing, connecting and trusting. It requires one to be okay with not knowing in the moment, to step into the unknown and to be patient that when the time is right and everything is right, the right insight will reveal itself. Indigenous knowledge honors local knowledges and local approaches to knowledge.
 
Decolonial theory
Decolonial theory acknowledges that due to a particular colonial history we have a world filled with inequities and inequalities and where a dominant story has become the norm. Decolonality hails from Abya Yala (South America) and understands modernity/coloniality as a tandem concept; modernity was only possible because of the ‘darker side’ of coloniality. Decolonial theory does not refer to undoing colonialism per se, but to undoing the structural remnants of modernity/coloniality that have invaded and structured our (intellectual) lives, our (individual) sense of self and our relationship with the earth. Examples are the knowledge production from a particular perspective; standards of aesthetics and validation that only reflect one norm; or the overall exclusion of multiple voices, stories and perspectives with associated power differentials. These structures, though normalized, have contributed to unbalanced and damaged relationships. Decolonial theory therefore is about more than intellectual theorizing, it requires praxis, or concerted action. Decoloniality is at its core the return to relationality, the acknowledgement of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all. It seeks for the acknowledgment of plural stories as a starting point and a given, rather than a struggle for validation. In order to do so we might have to spend some time on undoing, unlearning, ‘detoxing’ from the conditioned behaviors we have acquired along the way. It also requires trust in ourselves and each other and a whole new way of being that requires surrendering to not-knowing and what might be possible.

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