Ramon Grosfoguel
University of California, Berkeley2, USA

Brief conceptual clarifications

In this piece of writing I am using several terms I deem important to clarify before starting the discussion. I am talking about “coloniality”, “world-system”, “civilization” and “modernity”.

The concept of “world-system” is an alternative to the concept of “society”. It is used to step away from the modern notion reducing “society” to the geographic, juridical-politic boundaries of a “nation-State”. For modern Euro-centric common sense “society” is equal to “Nation-State” and, therefore, there as many societies as Nation-States around the globe. This modern Euro-centric glance not only takes the notion of State down to “Nation-State”, but reduces society to this pattern of political authority as specific modern/colonial world. It is well known the claim for a State with an identity matching the identity held by the population within its borders is a 19th century Euro-centric fiction. Nowhere is there such a thing as a State, with identity matching exactly with the identity of the population within its borders. This principle of identity correspondence between State and population has brought about more problems than solutions, and more opacity than clearness, not only on the conceptual and epistemic level but also on the political, economic and social levels.