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Decolonization and Globalization

During the “Decolonizing Nursing: What? Why? How? webinar on September 23rd, there were questions posed for the panelists that could not be addressed due to time constraints. We promised to post responses to these questions on the Nursology.net blog – and here is the first of those responses!

Dr. Martinez

The first question we are addressing is from nursologist Rudolf Cymorr Kirby Martinez in the Philippines, and a blog contributor to Nursology.net! The Philippines has provided well educated and competent nurses to fill nursing shortages in the United States for decades. Dr. Martinez posed the following question:

From the perspective of a developing country who supplied nurses for developed countries, colonization of nursing, especially education, is often masked as globalization. In the process of conforming to the requirements for working abroad and in the guise of being “globally competitive”, the local and distinct practice of nursing is set aside. The nursing curriculum of some developing countries are more American than local.

Panelist Responses

Daniel Suárez-Baquero

I would like to begin by stating that the idea of developed and developing countries is one of the most colonial ideas. It centers the vision of superiority made by the “developed” nations over the others. These “developed” nations have been characterized for invading and exploiting the resources of other countries. Also, this notion underlies that the “developing” want to be like the “developed,” rather than considering their greatness and contributing to their self and authentic growing.

I agree in that, in many instances, globalization is a masked form of colonization. The “international cooperation” must be a “reparation” made by the colonizer for more than 500 years of historic colonization of other nations, which remains even today. This critical state of oppression, exclusion, and discrimination is a product of an historical political and economical relationship between the invaders and the invaded, in which the dominant nations must be accountable of their acts dating back to before the invasion of Abya Yala (word used by the native tribes of Latin America to refer to their territory as an indivisible macrocontinent from south to north (from Argentina to Canada) and that I will use here instead of “America” as a form of vindication..)

Having this global perspective, the idea that we have been sold (to us, the developing ones, the others) grounded in otherness is that we want to be like them (the dominant and developed). Such an idea has led, in many instances, to lose our own identities and, even nowadays in the north, the very identity of nursing is blurred. Then, the invitation is to reclaim what is ours, what has been denied to us and, in the other hand, to the dominant white elite of the discipline to recognize the epistemologies outside of what they consider the core of the discipline. This will be the first step in a co-construction of a new epistemology of Nursing and in the rescuing of the local identities and practices of Nursing.


Barbara Hatcher

I do not believe nursing education in some countries is masked as globalization. I note you are from the Philippines and nursing education is part of the economic development blueprint of your country. As a past member of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, I can remember vividly and somewhat in shock, a presentation by government officials telling us emphatically that nursing was part of their blueprint for globalization. Even today, physicians who would have a hard time getting credentialed in this country are retrained in your country as nurses who then immigrant to the US. Economists suggest that countries taking part in the global economy are experiencing more economic growth and poverty reduction than those countries which remain in isolation. So, globalization is both good and bad.  However, the nursing community can turn this around by also seeing it as an opportunity for increased communication, and cultural exchange.  How might beliefs and practices of other countries humanize and change nursing worldwide.  How might nurses from other countries help nursing in your country design a more authentic part of your curriculum as well.  You can certainly honor and embrace your cultural heritage as is done in the US, Canada, and other parts of the world.  As an African American woman, I honor and embrace my ancestry and believe that it makes me unique and powerfully different.   Others can do the same.

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