Another summer in which heat records are broken all over the world, drought alternates with heavy rain, with all the disastrous consequences that entails. For some time now I have been looking for the purpose of my research into coloniality in Europe and the Netherlands, and its consequences and traces in the present.
With my increased knowledge about power structures, how can I not just continue to stare at the past, but look ahead and make changes for the better? What do I want to use my visual and thinking skills for?
It felt nessecary to de-colonize my mind bit by bit from ideas related to our European Colonial past, to commit myself to Anti-Racism and the implementation of the celebration of KetiKoti, the abolition of Slavery in the Netherlands. But global climate change caused by the persistently high CO2 emissions of us, rich countries, increasingly requires my attention.
How to deal with the unequal distribution of responsibility for global warming can no longer be denied. The consequences have been felt in the Global South for a long time, now also in the Netherlands for about 10 years.
Decolonizing the Heat
The essay by historian Daniel Reybrouk The colonization of the future | David Van Reybrouck which he delivered at the Huizinga lecture in Leiden, on December 12, 2021, he puts his finger on the sore spot:
“Perhaps you were hoping that I would talk about colonialism and the guilt and responsibility we bear for it in the present. Yes, let’s talk about guilt and responsibility. But not just looking backwards. …Even if we ever fully come to terms with the colonialism of the past, we still have not done anything about the dramatic way in which we are now colonizing the future… Humanity (not all of humanity, but more specifically us, in the rich countries, in the former West or North, my comment… ) will take over the coming century with the same ruthlessness, the same greed and the same short-sightedness with which parts of the world were appropriated in earlier times. …
Decolonizing the mind. Zeker, maar belangrijker is Decololonize the heat. Het Westen enColonialism has become something temporal, not something territorial, the worst is still ahead of us…the rich countries are responsible for climate change. The Southern countries are already feeling the consequences. Disproportionately.”
e then proposes several ways to involve citizens in making decisive climate policy, such as establishing more citizen councils to draw up decisive policies together with Citizens. Is that what I want? Would you like to become a member of a citizen council on energy revolution in my area?
And yet I also look for it in literature and imagination:
The folk tale of ‘Die Regentrude’ by the North German writer Theodor Storm haunted my mind. A German classic fairy tale that thematizes in an imaginative way the reflection on our connection with nature. As a child, I regularly listened to the story as an audiobook about a young brave woman who manages to awaken Regentrude, causing rain to fall again.
We are not living in a fairy tale but perhaps this old story can give me (and others) hope despite the reality of another dry and hot summer full of record heat and forest fires.
“We haven’t had such a hot summer for 100 years since…no more green to be seen: domestic and wild animals lie dead in the fields. …That’s how it begins. The story is about the brave young woman Maren, who seeks out the legendary Regentrude in her subterranean world to awaken her. For the people know: When the Regentrude has fallen asleep, the fire devil gains supremacy and burns everything, crops and livestock are then lost. Maren goes searching with the help of her friend Andrees and deep underground she eventually finds the Regentrude and even manages to wake her up. The rain is going to fall again.”
I looked for today’s brave young women from media and found Laura, Elizabeth, Greta… on boats. Just look at those Regentrude’s.