"This great emptiness we are feeling": Toward a decolonization of schooling in Simunurwa, Colombia

Luz A. Murillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the decolonization of schooling in an Arhuaco community in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region of Colombia. Interweaving ethnographic description with accounts of key events that took place between 1915 and 2006, I trace the community's struggle to develop an Indigenous school capable of appropriating Western forms of knowledge while retaining Indigenous practices and beliefs. I describe how Indigenous educators incorporate local forms of knowledge into schooling, and how these are presented and understood relative to the structures and discourses of the colonized school. Using the concepts of " translocality" and " transculturation," I frame this discussion of the struggle for educational autonomy within broader efforts to decolonize knowledge and epistemologies inherited from European traditions and the Colombian state. I argue that educators have transformed the school from a colonizing space to one in which Indigenous people contest and negotiate, via practices of cultural and linguistic revitalization, the state violence that threatens to surround them. [Arhuaco, Colombia, decolonization, Indigenous education, local knowledge, transculturation, translocality].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-437
Number of pages17
JournalAnthropology and Education Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Anthropology


Dive into the research topics of '"This great emptiness we are feeling": Toward a decolonization of schooling in Simunurwa, Colombia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this