Re-visiones #7


The South as interlocution

María Íñigo Clavo (

Universidad Oberta de Catalunya

Guest editor by Re-visiones for number 7, 2017

Translated by Ana Iribas Rudín (Arte Traducciones)

What is at stake at this time is what type of interlocution we are able to create, among fields of work, cultures, social and professional contexts, and spaces of struggle. Each of these places, in dialogue with the others, will help us shed light on each of our blind spots.

Some two decades ago, erudite postcolonial theoreticians who migrated to the north opened the Eurocentric conversation, constructed categories of cultural negotiation such as translation, creolisation, inter-mediate space or hybridity. To that end, they resorted to their border position as essential for their mediating agency, which was consolidated at the global level as the locus of alterity. One of their main goals was the very institutionalisation of the postcolonial perspective within hegemonic academic spaces; this was consequently regarded with suspicion by many Latin American intellectuals who did not find any interest in the local struggles of each context. The postcolonial perspective, persistently discredited as exhausted, helped all the same to build legitimacy to acknowledge the incomplete histories eclipsed by modernity. At an international level it became impossible to conceal the emergencies of each of these local problems. Today this perspective has expanded and has seeped into various local contexts, where it has been appropriated, questioned and incited. In some cases it became urgent to radicalise the regimes of alterity and to question the guarantee offered by the concepts of cultural mediation and how they favoured an occidentalist appropriation, always eager for new concepts to feed back on itself. Even though decolonial discourses gave impetus to the possibility of levelling non-western and western knowledge, these never ceased to use western epistemological frames of reference for assessment, and did not attempt to explore those particular to every culture: there was talk about ethno-mathematics, ethno-geography and ethno-education.1

We began to ask ourselves when did these conversations indeed modify the scientific language or the museum context of representation of the national, or if they rather strengthened them, and we questioned modern academic language and the persistence of its colonial structures of exploitation of resources. Doubts arose about the possibility to decolonialise Marxism, hybridity, nation, as well as western thought and its institutions, also established on the foundations of extractivism and negation of difference. In this context indigenous perspectives gradually gained more space, showing the limitations of the colonial grammar in our thinking and opening the debate about the possibility to construct epistemic diversity.

I have been invited to edit the 7th issue of the journal Re-visiones to contribute to this debate, in my belief that local contexts build conceptual tools with a considerable potential to keep growing together in this global conversation of transformation. I feel that this demands digging deeper into the regimes of alterity, on the one hand, to avoid self-definitions as representatives of other alterities that we do not occupy, concealing the complexity of the internal relations and the different layers of souths in one same north. It demands not taking for granted that occupying the locus of otherness necessarily implies questioning the hegemonic structures; it also demands to understand the mobility of the places of enunciation in accordance with each geography, to avoid fixation. On the other hand, we believe it is necessary to theorise and debate about how supremacy places/discourses are constructed in each national context and what their collusions are with academic production. 

The texts presented in this issue address these topics: the possibility to engender identity struggles from cultural contexts; the possibility to create other types of university and concepts of knowledge negotiation; the limitations of those in the law; the limitations of our vocabulary and our grammar, and how, in the face of the separability of extractivist modernity, lies the possibility to create encounters, to decolonialise History by means of micro-narratives, of orality, of memory or of popular culture, all of them in dialogue with contemporary art. There is a potentiality to learn to become another in the conversation with our interlocutor, as José Pablo Ramírez points out in his text included here: “It is important to clarify that a conversation is not an agreement or a celebration of diversity, but the opposite: it is the fear of the impossibility to communicate. But let us not worry about this, it is not about communicating but rather about meeting”. For this, I believe, one has to be ready to learn, above all, to meet, without having to share the same methodologies, allowing for their mutual influence, to learn to respect the irreducibility of our interlocutor, to be ready to unlearn and learn new vocabularies again, to err when we use them, to learn and to try again.

Therefore, I want to thank all the authors for their work, those included in the dossier of the call for papers and the invited contributors. Given that we are talking about interlocution, the issue includes three interviews to know the contexts of the indigenous struggles in Guatemala, the Federal University of Southern Bahia and the last Documenta, in Athens. The Focus on Athens has also been carried out in dialogue with Alejandro Simón during his research stay in the city. Three reviews have been included, changing in part the original structure of Re-visiones. I would also like to thank the permanent dialogue of the journal’s editorial team, without whom this issue would not have been possible. In general, I would like to thank the effort and, above all, the generosity of the whole team: translators, layout designers, reviewers and the the authors, who work from the negotiation with the limited resources of a southern European University. 


[1] Cavalho, José Jorge & Flórez, Juliana (2014). Encuentro de saberes: proyecto para decolonizar el conocimiento universitario eurocéntrico [Knowledge encounter: A project to decolonialise eurocentric university knowledge]. Revista Nómadas, October, 41. Colombia: Universidad Central

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Re-visiones - ISSN 2143-0040
HAR2013-43016-P I+D Visualidades críticas, reescritura de las narrativas a través de las imágenes