Article ID: CBB490306265

Can the subaltern save us? (2018)


A cursory review of diverse theories (postmodernism, posthumanism, postcolonialism, decolonial theory, and anthropology) that are concerned with the crisis of modernity and ecological destruction reveal not only how moderns often have turned to indigenous cosmologies and ontologies to find resolutions to this crisis, but also how confounding this process of recuperation has been. We observe moderns sometimes trying to appear as saviors of the subalterns because they intuit in the subalterns a revelation so powerful it will prevent the definite destruction of the world, or at least redeem the moderns from the sins of their ancestors. At other times, we find moderns giving a substantive importance to the concepts and ontologies developed by non-moderns as a way to imagine futurity for themselves. Instead of rescuing the subaltern, it is the subaltern that rescues them. There are also cases where indigenous ontologies and cosmologies are utilized in unstated forms as in posthumanism, revealing the colonial relationship to indigenous knowledges that modern theorists often have. This includes postcolonial and decolonial theorists from the south, which is my locus of enunciation. Indigenous intellectuals themselves are committed to rescue their ancestral knowledges to build futurity as they also believe that their cosmologies and ontologies are better suited to solve the problems of modernity. But in the indigenous projects, there are no absolute dividing lines or clear-cut dichotomies between indigenous and modern epistemologies. Here I argue that indigenous peoples have dealt for centuries with modern epistemologies. Indigenous theories must be taken more seriously, but also critically analyzed.

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Authors & Contributors
Lin, Wen-yuan
Marisol Campos Navarrete
Leon Arellano-Lechuga
Mario Blaser
Tironi, Manuel
Cristina Rodríguez Marcos
Tapuya: Latin American Science, Technology and Society
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Social Studies of Science
Science, Technology, and Human Values
Science and Education
Imprensa de Ciências Sociais
Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica
Madrid OEI, Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura
Cambridge University Press
Science and technology studies (STS)
Indigenous peoples
Theory (philosophy)
Poincaré, Jules Henri
Latour, Bruno
Duhem, Pierre
Dufay, Charles-François de Cisternai
Time Periods
21st century
20th century
19th century
18th century
20th century, late
Latin America
Lisbon (Portugal)
Amazon River Region (South America)
South Africa

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