Presentation on theme: "Latin America in Movement and Perspective: Learnings for Schools Catherine Walsh Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar, Ecuador and Mellon Visiting Professor,"— Presentation transcript:
Latin America in Movement and Perspective: Learnings for Schools Catherine Walsh Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar, Ecuador and Mellon Visiting Professor, Duke University
Key questions: Latin America in whose “perspective”/from what point of view? What is the perspective from which the US typically sees LA? How does LA see itself? And in what ways do dominant geo-politics orient –or not- both North and South perspectives? What is the movement that LA is experiencing today and how does it turn geography and politics, but also knowledge and culture, on its head? And what are the challenges -and movements- all this presents to schools and to our perspectives?
I. Geography, politics, and power in perspective
1. The map: How does the map re-present and re-produce our perspective of Latin America, the US, and the World? Why is the north always up?
On the traditional world map used in schools and everywhere, the Equator is not at the center, the North occupies two thirds and the South one, when in reality… “ We learn world geography through a map, which does not show the world as it is but as its owners decide it is…”
In the more accurate Peters map: South America is twice the size of Europe and the America of the South is much larger than the America of the North. North America fills more space than South America Europe is shown as larger than South America PETERS PROJECTION MAP the North occupies 18.9 million sq. miles as compared to the 38.6 million sq. miles that is the South MERCATOR MAP The Peters map -the 1 st to clearly show that maps are unavoidably political- lets us see the World in its true proportions. But while it has been widely adopted elsewhere, in the US it remains a curiosity. Why? In the traditional Mercator map:
“This map, which makes us smaller, symbolizes all the rest. Stolen geography, plundered economy, falsified history, daily usurpation of reality: the so called Third World, inhabited by people who are considered third class, occupies less, remembers less, lives less, says less [and in essence is less]….” (E. Galeano)
Latin America: in the US’s shadow & “backyard”… Since 1890, there have been more than 50 direct US interventions in Latin America and hundreds of indirect ones; In the 1 st half of the 20 th century Nelson Rockefeller designed and carried out a plan for the US exploitation of oil & natural resources in LA, involving the US gov’t, CIA, missionaries, and Latin American dictators; In 2010 the US established 7 military bases in Colombia Since 1890, there have been more than 50 direct US interventions in Latin America and hundreds of indirect ones; In the 1 st half of the 20 th century Nelson Rockefeller designed and carried out a plan for the US exploitation of oil & natural resources in LA, involving the US gov’t, CIA, missionaries, and Latin American dictators; In 2010 the US established 7 military bases in Colombia … and under the US’s wing… Most Latin America dictators and military chiefs have been trained by the US School for the Americas, many Right-wing presidents have also attended Harvard’s Kennedy School…
How come “America” and “Americans” are used as synonyms for the US? Doesn’t this invisibilize and marginalize the other Americas and Americans? Hmm, geography, politics, and power in perspective! Language contributes to this top-down perspective… And why are people from Latin American referred to as “hispanics”? And why are people from Latin American referred to as “hispanics”? Imperial and colonial categorizations and classifications that superiorize and inferiorize, that negate and invisibilize national, cultural, continental, historical identities and geography itself
2. Race Racialization and the use of the idea of “race” are key practices and referents in the perspectives of the US about LA –the top looking down-, but also within LA itself -the bottom looking up-
Official history tells us that the “Conquest” brought “civilization” despite the presence of millennial nations and civilizations While there are over 50 million people of African descent in Latin America today, Blacks remain absent in history, and in accounts of nation-building, where the heroes and leaders are always white and of Spanish or Portuguese descendent The key reference of “independence” was, and remains to be, the French Revolution LA’s National projects have always found their base in social “whitening”, in the model and imperatives of Western modernity, and the “mono-cultural” Nation-State (the gaze toward North)… Not the Haitian Revolution With the national “forefathers” all white
National projects founded on Import of white European immigrants and attempted “elimination” of indigenous and blacks “racial democracy” “Mestizaje” as the dominant matrix of power Models of hierarchical social classification : Whites Mestizos Indigenous Blacks
In this still-colonial model/discourse of power, the use of the idea race remains key, including in negating indigenous and black cultural practices, ways of being-living, and knowledge (knowledge still seen in an euro-usa-centric perspective) This continues in US Latin American communities, where white and “whitened” Latin Americans consider themselves superior, and indigenous and Afro Latinos inferior, the latter also often excluded by US African Americans. Yet in the perspective of US society and schools, Latin America and Latin Americans are homogenizing categories Latino, Hispano, Hispanic = Spanish-speaking and Brown Ahhh, geography, politics,powe r in (colonial) perspective! Ahhh, geography, politics,powe r in (colonial) perspective!
In the 12 th Century the official geographer of the kingdom of Sicily drew a map of the World that Europe knew about, with the south on the top. 8 centuries later, an Uruguayan painter drew a map of South America with the north down. “Our north is south …. To go north our ships don’t go up but down.” -J. Torres-Garcia
Since 1992 Native peoples of the Americas have begun to refer to themselves as peoples of ABYA YALA A N And to name themselves on their own terms, as collective peoples and nations with histories, languages, territories, knowledges, cosmovisions that still live today
From the America –or Abya Yala- of the South, and particularly the Andes, come today “other” perspectives and politics that not only challenge dominant views but give lessons to the North and World: NATURE as the subject of rights INTERCULTURALITY as a social, political, epistemic project DECOLONIZATION of EDUCATION Today’s projects grounded in perspectives that come from the struggles, thinking, and practice of indigenous communities, proposed and conceived for all of society Refounding of State PLURINATIONAL AND INTERCULTURAL STATE BUEN VIVIR/LIVING WELL/collective well being
Feb. 2011: Largest environmental suit in the World decided in favor of Amazonian plaintiffs in Ecuador against Chevron-Texaco Important lessons that challenge the dominant geopolitics of the US in and with regard to LA, and make evident today’s MOVEMENT IN PERSPECTIVE
In Conclusion… if the map has been one of the key tools in constructing a dominant geopolitical perspective, what happens when its directionality moves? This is the way indigenous people have always seen the World, that is with the up side down
As the presence of Latin Americans continues to grow in the US (around 50 million) and in NC (one of the fastest growing states with now close to a million), the question becomes not only how non Latinos in NC and the US see Latin America and Latin Americans, but also how Latin Americans see you: the people next door.