From South-South Epistemologies to the Reflection on South-East Relations: putting on a decolonial lens
Global Convivial Forum
Joanna M. Moszczynska (Junior Fellow Mecila)
Global entanglements, Souths within the North included, read through a decolonial lens, provide interesting impulses for transregional studies, such as those dealing with relations between Latin America and Eastern Europe.
Latin America (and the Caribbean) and Eastern Europe are two geopolitical areas that have been under economic, cultural, political as well as military pressure from the imperial powers, with whom they had to negotiate their national projects and visions of the future. The stigma of the (semi-) periphery bound by the postcolonial and post-socialist consciousness and the contested ideas of “the invention of the region”, in Anderson’s terms, that are found in the discourses from and about those regions show how the experience of oppression, marginalisation, and dependency have been crucial for the political and cultural (self-)understanding of those two parts of the world. Bringing together the scholarship on both regions, that is, Latin American Studies and Slavic Studies, should not limit itself to traditional comparative study but also allow searching for transregional and decolonial methodologies. What seems like a challenging task can nevertheless help better understand and map the entangled modern realities and representations of the regions, their spatial and temporal constellations and regimes, that is, their histories, cultures, institutions, trades, political transformations, migration processes, diasporas, negotiations of belonging, etc.
Manuela Boatcă, for example, underlines the ontologically peripheral position of the “forgotten Europe”, one that “has been defined as Eastern Europe and is often still reduced to being an Other within” (Boatcă 2019: 96). The scholar further observes that “Eastern and Southern Europe are often considered lesser Europes and have to be specifically mentioned to be included” and proposes “creolisation of Europe”, that is, “the project […] contingent upon creolising social theory so as to re-inscribe the transnational experiences of regions othered as non-European and non-Western or racialised as non-white – such as the Caribbean – as well as the multiple entanglements between Europe and its colonies into sociological thought” (Boatcă 2019: 96; 108). Of course, “creolisation” does not have to limit itself just to the social sciences nor to “Europe”, but be a transdisciplinary and transregional project. A similar reflection on epistemic violence, yet committed against Latin America and the Caribbean, is provided by Ana Nenadović:
In its transition from colony to coloniser, the United States of America monopolised the name ‘America’. The linguistic exclusion of the peoples south of the US border lead to their othering and marginalisation. Donald Trump’s slogan ‘Make America great again’ is perhaps the most recognisable contemporary expression of this neo-colonial and racist monopolisation of the name. Trump’s ‘America’ is, without any doubt, white settler USA (Nenadović 2022).
The scholarship cited here raises many engaging and thought-provoking issues, although not always directly having both regions, Latin America and Eastern Europe, as a joint case study. They nevertheless engage with the concepts and ideas such as: creolisation, imperial and postimperial difference, colonial difference and post-colonialism, and knowledge production, and thus broaden our perspective and incentivise us to rethink and improve our methodologies and enable us to open for a better historical, geopolitical and cultural understanding of those regions and their states:
Borges, Jorge Luis (1977): “Las causas”, en Historia de la noche, Buenos Aires: Emecé.
Botrel, Jean- François (2006): “Entre material e inmaterial: el patrimonio de cordel” en: Simposio sobre patrimonio inmaterial. La voz y la memoria. Palabras y mensajes en la tradición hispánica, Urueña: Fundación Joaquín Díaz, 122-131.