Center for World Indigenous Studies
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What Are the Epistemologies of the South?

Published: February 27, 2020, Author: Yesenia Cortés
What Are the Epistemologies of the South?

Colonization and modernization are intrinsically related in they both enact epistemological violence. These processes brought with them a new hegemonic world vision that wouldn’t tolerate anything outside of them: the colonizers not only took physical territories but minds, ideas, traditions as they tried to erase history and force colonized peoples to abandon their customs and adopt theirs. 

The central axis of modernity is to put reason over myth, a concept of western rationality, which left out of the discursive space all the knowledge and wisdom of indigenous peoples, simply because those didn’t fit the standards of westernity.

This epistemological colonization makes urgent the need to resist, and in this context the epistemologies of the South arise. This is a South that is not geographical, that represents everything that is underneath the western concept of reason. 

Boaventura de Sousa Santos, who coined this concept, proposes that all the knowledge and wisdom from native peoples not only needs to be recognized but also valued as something essential. 

To De Sousa Santos it is vital to act against what he calls epistemicide.The epistemologies of the south is not only a concept to name all the victims of this crime, but also a proposal of an horizontal dialogue among epistemological diversities, so we re-define the global debates that we are facing nowadays and get epistemic justice. 

Biodiversity Wars, the new book by Dr. Rudolph Rÿser speaks from this perspective, elevating the lens of indigenous populations on current issues like environment, pollution and the rights of indigenous peoples. You can read the introduction by clicking here

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

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