News from Berlin

Berlin Debates on the Trans-regional Exchange of Knowledge in Latin America

October 10th, 2014
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News from Berlin - The Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut (the Ibero-American Institute) in Berlin has organized a workshop on “La Producción, Traducción y Apropiación Transregional de Saberes: Actores, Instituciones y Discursos” (The Trans-regional Production, Translation, Appropriation of Knowledge: Actors, Institutions and Discourses). At the same time that concrete, tools and other construction materials were being used outside the building, inside, scholars from the two sides of the Atlantic were analyzing the construction of a new discourse on the trans-regional epistemology. The workshop started October the 10th and will be going on until the 11th.

The first Panel discussed transculturalisation (transculturalización) and cultural translation in Latin America from the 19th to the 20th century. Professor Hector Pérez Brignoli, from the Universidad de Costa Rica, in San José, opened the debate by explaining the concept of transculturalisation. He explained that although the idea of transculturalisation was used to overcome the concept of acculturation, they inferred both asymmetries, and, as a result, the asymmetry of power does not vanish. The later referred to the process suffered by the colonized of being alienated from his or her own culture.

On the other hand, Professor Mabel Moraña, from Washington University, talked about the latino-americanism. She proposed that the term transculturalisation was created to be used in a particular context that does not exist anymore. The global conjuncture that changed after the end of the Cold War determined also the way that the colonial relations were perceived in Latin America. Moraña proposed new concepts to deal with interculturalism, since she considered that transculturalisation is an aged concept, such as collective subjectivism, agencies, and so on. Moreover, she brought to the discussion the idea of “ecology of knowledge”, by the Portuguese Sociologist Boaventura. This concept aims at reflecting on the salvation of the epistemologies whose existence is in danger, due to the globalized reality where we live nowadays. The ideas exposed were summarized by Vittoria Borsò, from Heinrich-Heine-Universität, and challenged by an active audience that continued discussing over a cup of coffee, during the short break.

The audience went back to their seats eager to get to know more about that very magical continent that is Latin America. Professor Christiane Stallaert from Universiteit Antwerpen, introduced the ideas of cultural translation and transmodernity. She considered that the prefix “trans” got a positive connotation and has supplanted other prefix such as “post” or “a”. She considered that, due to the fact that Latin America is rich in thinkers and that Latin Americans have developed several concepts to deal with the interculturalism, Europe should learn from them. She questioned, as Latour, whether Europe has ever been modernized, and whether Europe should study the Latin American process of modernization. The last lecture of the first panel of the workshop was delivered by Professor Friedhelm Schmidt Welle. He reflected on the liberal romanticism insights of Esteban Echeverría. Echeverría introduced Romantic ideas in his country after living in France. Although the ideas of patriotism were present in his work, he still wanted to have Europe as a model. The idea that remains after Welle’s conference is that although Argentineans were independent, they were not free.

The morning ended and the audience left the Simon Bolivar room to reflect on the ideas that were debated during the first part of this intense workshop. However, this conference promises to be very fruitful and new concepts will be discussed and introduced during the following hours.

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