chapter  3
32 Pages

Worlds and Knowledges Otherwise: The Latin American Modernity/Coloniality Research Program

WithPROGRAM Arturo Escobar

Cruzando Fronteras , the timely organizing theme for the 2002 CEISAL Congress celebrated in Amsterdam on 3 6 July, sought to signal, and rethink, the ever increasing relevance of ‘borders’ to the construction of political, social, and cultural imaginaries from, and about, Latin America at the dawn of the new millennium. The present paper focuses on a ‘border’ that is gaining salience in recent years, particularly as a result of the work of an increasingly interconnected group of researchers in Latin America and the United States, with smaller branches elsewhere. I am referring to the concepts of ‘border thinking’ and ‘border epistemologies’ associated with a larger effort that I will call here ‘the modernity/coloniality research program’. I am using the concept of research program loosely (not in a strict Lakatosian sense) to refer to what seems to be an emergent but already significantly cohesive perspective that is fueling a series of researches, meetings, publications, and so forth around a shared even if course contested set of concepts. In keeping with the spirit of the group, I would argue that this body of work, still relatively unknown in the English speaking world for reasons that go beyond language and that speak to the heart of the program, constitutes a novel perspective from Latin America but not only for Latin America but for the world of the social and human sciences as a whole. By this I do not mean that the work of this group is just of interest to allegedly universal social and human sciences, but that that the group seeks to make a decisive intervention into the very discursivity of the modern sciences in order to craft another space for the production of knowledge an other way of thinking, un paradigma otro , the very possibility of talking about ‘worlds and knowledges otherwise’. What this group suggests is that an other thought, an other knowledge (and another world, in the spirit of Porto Alegre’s World Social Forum), are indeed possible.