Southern Theories in Circulation:
Towards a Convivial Canon

Global Convivial Forum 

Discussing the challenges of epistemological changes in LASA 2021

Between 26 and 29 May 2021, the Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) was held virtually, convening a significant part of the Latin American studies international academic community under the slogan “Global Crisis: Inequalities and the Centrality of Life”.

Mecila participated in a panel titled “Southern Theories in Circulation: Towards a Convivial Canon”. On 26 May at midnight in Berlin and sunset in Bogota, five members of Mecila met virtually to discuss different perspectives and proposals for disciplinary transformations and the construction of alternative canons and epistemologies in academic spaces between and within the South and the North.

The organisers and chairs Mariana Teixeira (Mecila/FU Berlin) and Clara Ruvituso proposed to address these challenges from the notion of a convivial canon. The notion aims to underline “the entangled inequalities that constituted the academic spaces in which we are involved, as well as to discuss the inclusion of differences in a way that mitigates rather than enhance existing asymmetries”.

Sérgio Costa’s (Mecila/FU Berlin) proposal “Convivial Sociologies: Exploring Transdisciplinary Futures” focused on the challenges of transforming sociology within the framework of theoretical and methodological advances in research on conviviality, overcoming methodological nationalism, anthropocentrism, and even logocentrism.

Addressing the challenges of epistemic transformations, Astrid Ulloa (Mecila/Universidad Nacional de Colombia) presented epistemological perspectives of indigenous women in Colombia, who produce their own conceptualizations and methodologies with strong territorial and political impacts and in asymmetrical and violent contexts.

Based on an analysis of the pioneering thought of Brazilian anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro, Clara Ruvituso proposed a historical analysis of the forms of circulation of southern theories in the Global North and the difficulties and limits of the its reception.

Barbara Göbel (Mecila/IAI), invited as discussant, examined the institutional and political challenges facing these proposals for epistemological change. In what ways do the disciplines established on historical institutionalizations react to the changes? What types of circulation and infrastructures can facilitate this opening and transformation?

The conclusion of the panel pointed out that Mecila’s own experimental and interdisciplinary space allows us to test the conceptual, political, and institutional challenges of these proposals.

Image credit (cover): LASA 2021 Program Book, Image of María de los Ángeles Balaguera. 

Clara Ruvituso (Mecila/IAI)