“The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have never viewed the world.” (A. von Humboldt.)
We all know the (hi)story: the first explorers in Western modernity who paved the way towards civilization and rational knowledge were actually colonizers who contributed to exploit local resources, destroy Indigenous knowledge, and develop an entangled system of social power relationships in terms of gender, race, and nature/culture dissociation. The very term of “exploration” has always been connected to a definition of territory and legitimate knowledge where wildness, as well as non-Western and/or women and non-binary populations, have been harmed in a certain way – if only through their invisibilization. While the history of exploration still shows today how intrusive it can be, it cannot be done in those terms today.
Exploration can be understood as an intellectual process motivated by the respect of all and Otherness, usually (but not only) engaging geographical travel, and guided by peaceful purposes for the advancement of knowledge, social action, and/or collective awareness. Exploration can concern terrestrial lands, either local or remote; the underseas; or outer space.
A sustainable approach to exploration needs to be decolonial in the sense that it should never be done against the wellbeing or integrity of the people (or natural species) it concerns. A decolonial exploration is guided by diversity and inclusion, starting with the open and honest collaboration with locals and requiring the adhesion to non-intrusion principles. A decolonial exploration is reflexive and self-questioning, and only serves common good according to the highest standards of intellectual honesty possible.
Sure, exploration is a mindset before being a profession. However, it’s furthermore a responsibility and an ethical engagement, before being a individual achievement.