Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Ethnic Studies

First Advisor

Joanne Belknap

Second Advisor

Enrique Sepúlveda

Third Advisor

Andrea Dyrness

Fourth Advisor

Rubén Donato


I draw on a decolonial imaginary to identify and explore the epistemic erasure of critical and decolonial scholars amidst a contemporary discourse and mainstream historicization of transdisciplinarity as a knowledge paradigm. Using ‘transdisciplinarity’ as a signpost, I trace the dominant narrative and evolution of this epistemological orientation as it has emerged in recent decades in tandem with a contemporary multidisciplinary endorsement for transdisciplinarity. As I track the historical process of epistemic silencing toward critical and decolonial scholars in transdisciplinary discourse, I purposefully center their analytics and conceptualizations to consider the historical mechanisms of knowledge production in academia broadly, which offer a viable explanation as to how and to what extent the epistemic erasure of critical and decolonial scholars in transdisciplinary discourse and history-telling may be occurring, exacerbated, and legitimized. I argue that critical and decolonial scholars have had a longue durée as transdisciplinarians and have been central and even preceding architects to transdisciplinary knowledge configurations. In fact, as it relates to transdisciplinary historicization and discourse, major proponents have promoted this paradigm as an engagement, reappraisal, and reconfiguration of knowledge production that does not go beyond Western canonical thought. Critical and decolonial scholars are seldom mentioned, and even less resourced, as crucial theoreticians and practitioners of this research paradigm. With this central contradiction in mind, I locate, describe, and detail examples of transdisciplinarity work and transdisciplinarians in critical and decolonial traditions as a means of (re)membering and actively working against the embedded conical logics of Westernized Universities (Grosfoguel, 2012).