Our research focuses on convivial contexts in Latin America and the Caribbean as examined through the history of their constitution and their interdependencies at local, regional, national, and global levels. Convivial contexts are not necessarily spatially fixed. They may correspond to a neighbourhood, a municipality, a country or to global or transnational spaces of translocal or virtual nature. Analytically, Mecila looks at convivial contexts from three interdependent dimensions:
Structures – Shaping Conviviality
The first dimension involves analysing, at a theoretical-analytical level as well as by researching an illustrative sample of convivial contexts, relevant structures which constitute and configure conviviality, including social structures, legal, political and institutional frameworks, but also physical spaces and “infrastructures” in which interactions take place. Urban spatial design and architecture, unequal access to natural resources and to protection against risks, control of territories, violence, legal frames and the specific configuration of knowledge infrastructures, for instance, all have immediate effects on modes of conviviality.
Negotiations – Articulating Conviviality
The second dimension examines the processes of disputing, negotiating and regulating conviviality in diverse spheres including public space, political and legal arenas and everyday interactions as well as at different levels: local, national, international and also the entanglements between them. Thus, this dimension focuses on how societies dispute relevant issues such as symbolic belonging, political participation, distribution of resources and risks, rights for nationals, minorities, foreigners, etc. in forums as diverse as the media, political institutions, social movements, and academic conferences.
Representations – Imagining Conviviality
The third dimension studies the heterogeneous, often conflictive ways in which individuals and social groups represent conviviality in their respective social spaces. Imagining conviviality involves looking closely at discursive (mythical, cultural, literary and other narrations) and non-discursive expressions (iconicity, material culture, etc.) in order to understand reflections on and concepts of conviviality in specific historical and contemporary contexts. Researchers will also examine how different ways and practices of knowing constitute, ground and affect conviviality and how knowledge is produced, translated and transformed in and through convivial contexts. As such, the Centre will also provide a space for reflections on how knowledge constitutes, and is constituted through, the interaction and interdependence of social actors with one another as well as with non-human entities, including artefacts, books, commodities, plants and animals.
Mecila is an innovative forum for transnational knowledge production characterized by a symmetric cooperation between institutions and researchers from different countries, cultures, disciplines and career stages. This implies a reflection on the very role of the Centre in promoting less asymmetrical transnational co-production and exchange of scientific knowledge. In order to achieve this goal, we follow three epistemological perspectives:
Transference / Translation
Transference and Translation involve the analysis of historical and contemporary tensions, transformations and negotiations inherent to the processes of circulation of knowledge, ideas, norms as well as practices and their materiality.
Positionality / Multiperspectivity
Since all knowledge is situated – that is, non-universal – it is necessary to reflect on the multiple locations of the production of knowledge and the position of each of them in the realm of academic and non-academic networks of power.
The emphasis here lies on both comparison – in the sense of understanding past and present interactions and interpenetrations between Latin America, Europe, and other regions of the world – and the promotion of the international circulation of knowledge and experiences.