Epistemic ethnonationalism: identity policing in neo-Traditionalism and Decoloniality theory


  • George Hull University of Cape Town




Decoloniality theory, Traditionalism, Epistemic ethnonationalism, Aleksandr Dugin, Walter D. Mignolo


Traditionalism’s most influential contemporary revival, Dugin’s Eurasianism, is routinely characterised as being of the radical Right. The Decoloniality theory of Quijano, Mignolo and Ndlovu-Gatsheni, on the other hand, with its intellectual roots in Marxist dependency theory, presents itself as on the progressive Left. Yet, despite their different intellectual genealogies and drastically different reputations, both theoretical approaches have converged on a position with troubling practical consequences: epistemic ethnonationalism, the doctrine that which beliefs one should adopt and which concepts one should employ are determined by which ethnos/ethnie one belongs to. Both approaches deplore acceptance of Western beliefs and employment of Western concepts outside the West, both turn to existential phenomenology to ground their ethnorelativism, and both have influenced contemporary politics. I assess the theoretical underpinnings of both approaches, and argue that if neo-Traditionalism is to be classified as a Rightist body of thought, then Decoloniality theory ought also to be.


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