On Knowing: Cultural bias and the decolonization of knowledge
ABOUT THIS PROJECT
This is an author’s edition whose contents, design, conception and construction are entirely of my own making and based on research I conducted. Very briefly, under a call for the decolonization of design, this project aims to question and unravel the binaries that govern the production and diffusion of knowledge. The book addresses this question by exploring the form of the book object as a symbol of knowledge. The title itself is an allusion to the typical nomenclature of academic treatises, but with an added layer of sardonicism. “On Knowing,” when spoken, also sounds like its opposite: “unknowing,” and it’s thus meant as a comment on how only some ways of knowing are perceived as legitimate. Its volume and physical form are also intended to allude to classical tomes of knowledge. The content itself has been structured according to the Pentateuch, as a reference to the Bible, for that same reason.
The first part, “The Origins,” is based on the book of Genesis and introduces the topic. The second, “The Marginalizations,” is based on the book of Exodus and addresses issues anchored in a matrix of oppression and corresponding prejudices that create communities marginalized by hegemonic priorities. The book of Leviticus inspires the third part, “The Fixes," and is intended to offer some suggestions as to do. The fourth part, following the book of Numbers, deals with relevant studies and statistics to support the argument. The fifth and final part, as per the book of Deuteronomy, brings together a collection of speeches curated by myself which speak to the relevance of the issue while reflecting my personal interactions with the cultural richness of these historically marginalized epistemologies — simultaneously highlighting how limited we are by our own experiences.
The cover was deliberately left obscure to compel the reader to engage with the contents of the book. Other interactive elements are also present as a conscious attempt to engage and confront the reader with the physical form of the object itself as an attempt to challenge the usual static way of receiving knowledge through the object of the book, which here becomes an interactive installation as well. Similarly, the graphic work is designed to subvert the common hierarchy of both structure and content, deconstructing their protagonism. This can be seen reflected in how the main body is introduced through notation typically associated with footnotes, albeit with a font size that is significantly larger, as an inversion of that same pagination hierarchy. In addition, bibliographical references are structurally understood to be part of the content as well, along with popular culture references such as movies, music lyrics, or comic books, often dismissed as legitimate sources of knowledge or discourse — to give just a few examples.