Category Archives: Region

Buen Vivir in Melbourne

Ecuador Vive (Association of Ecuadorian students in Melbourne) with the support of the Embassy of Ecuador in Australia have the pleasure to invite you to 2nd edition of the conference: “Ecuadorian Ideas That Matter”

The aim of the conference is to promote ideas, academic research papers and technological innovations of Ecuadorian students in Australia. The conference will revolve around several topics including human rights, health, innovation and the rights of nature.

Date: 2 June, from 2:00 a 5:00 pm.
Place: University of Melbourne, Gryphon Gallery, GSA Building (1888),
A degustation of Ecuadorian traditional food will take place during the event.
RSVP: 28 May 2014 [email protected]

Encuentro Internacional de Estudios Visuales Latinoamericanos 2014

III Encuentro Internacional de Estudios Visuales Latinoamericanos 25, 26 y 27 de junio de 2014 en la UAEH, Pachuca de Soto, Hidalgo, México

El Tercer Encuentro Internacional de Estudios Visuales Latinoamericanos, tiene la finalidad de reunir especialistas internacionales en relación con el estudio de la imagen como instrumento fundamental para la construcción tanto de memorias colectivas como del acontecer histórico latinoamericano. En esta ocasión, el Encuentro centrará su atención en las metodologías del estudio de las imágenes y la cultura visual.

La propuesta de la Red va mucho más allá de la Historia Oficial, que ha utilizado la imagen y el registro visual para justificar políticas de exclusión o interpretaciones sesgadas e interesadas del transcurrir histórico. También va más allá de los métodos empleados por historiadores de carácter tradicional, que han considerado la imagen como un subproducto histórico, un objeto auxiliar que acompaña a la palabra o, en el mejor de los casos, la ilustra.

La Red sostiene que la imagen (y, en general, la cultura visual) desarrolla estructuras propias que conforman discursos que deben ser leídos en otras claves: rigurosas, actuales y tomando posición.

La imagen provoca procesos de intertextualidad que la historia y las ciencias sociales no han sabido o no han querido explorar, ni asumir. Hoy en día, es imposible acceder al estudio del pasado y del presente de una manera eficaz y verosímil si no tenemos en cuenta la imagen, instrumento que sobrepasa la noción limitada de documento que maneja el discurso escrito.

La imagen plantea sus propias condiciones (y contradicciones), y responde a preguntas que no están presentes en la ortodoxia de la tradición histórica. Además, en momentos en que la construcción y recuperación de las memorias sociales e individuales se ha convertido en un reto para la academia, las imágenes son un instrumento ineludible, una herramienta de comprensión quizás más cercana al individuo social y a los procesos de globalización en los que estamos inmersos.

El Tercer Encuentro Internacional de Estudios Visuales Latinoamericanos tendrá lugar en el marco del III Coloquio Internacional Imagen y Culturas que organizan el Cuerpo Académico de Estudios Históricos y Antropológicos y el Grupo de Investigación en Estudios Sociales y Culturales del Área Académica de Historia y Antropología de la Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo.

Con el objetivo de estrechar relaciones académicas entre investigadores de América Latina, la Red de Estudios Visuales Latinoamericanos se suma a la convocatoria del III Coloquio Imagen y Culturas para, juntos, construir un espacio de intercambio académico interdisciplinario en torno al estudio de la imagen.

El Tercer Encuentro Internacional de Estudios Visuales Latinoamericanos se desarrollará en varias sesiones organizadas en mesas de acuerdo a las coincidencias temáticas y/o metodológicas de las ponencias seleccionadas.

Las propuestas deberán incluir los siguientes elementos: título, breve biografía académica del autor (máx. 500 palabras), datos de contacto (postal y electrónicos), resumen de la ponencia (máx. 600 palabras), y cinco palabras clave. Deberán ser enviadas antes del 28 de febrero a: [email protected]

Las ponencias tratarán de los diversos temas que son propios de los Estudios Culturales y la Cultura Visual, con una cronología que va desde la Colonia hasta nuestros días, siempre dentro del marco geopolítico de América Latina. Se podrán abarcar todos los medios de expresión que conciernen a la imagen. El tiempo máximo de exposición será de veinte minutos.

The truth about the resignation of Benedict XVI

One wonders if Esteban Bedoya has some secret hot-line into the Vatican. When he published The Apocalypse According to Benedict in 2008 it seemed an audacious fantasy that Pope Benedict XVI, AKA. Joseph Ratzinger, would ever retire from this highest of worldly offices. Popes don’t retire: they assume the Papal throne at an advanced age and moulder away on the job. One need only think of Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who died at the age of 85, suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and severe degenerative arthritis. By the end of his life John Paul II had survived two assassination attempts and several cancer scares, but his decrepitude was alarming.

In his novella Bedoya has Benedict retire – and so it came to pass. On 11 February 2013, two months’ short of his 86th birthday, the Pope announced his intention to step down, citing “a lack of strength of mind and body”.

Having witnessed the lamentable final years of his friend and ally, John Paul II, one can understand Benedict’s actions, even if had been 598 years since the previous Papal resignation. That was when Gregory XII was forced to resign in order to end the Great Schism which divided the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1418.

The novelty of Bedoya’s story is that the Pope does not resign solely because of declining health. His decision follows a landmark decision that throws the Church into crisis. Those who considered the Pontiff to be an ultra-conservative, now call him “Benedict the Revolutionary”.

Having detonated his bomb the Pope declines the offer of spending his retirement in the Vatican and withdraws to his native Bavaria. The real Benedict has remained in Rome, but with the caveat that his only ‘revolutionary’ gesture was the resignation itself.

The startling parallels between art and life lend a seductive power to Bedoya’s imaginative rewiring of reality. Is it impossible that the real Benedict might have felt the same anxieties about the “crisis of faith” faced by the Church today? The crisis is real enough with the Catholic Church often resembling a vast multinational corporation peddling a medieval view of personal morality. Believers around the world find their faith tested by doctrines seemingly at odds with the circumstances of their lives.

Bedoya’s Pope takes decisive action then resigns while the shock waves are still radiating outwards. He knows there can be no stopping the forces he has unleashed. For the reader this extraordinary scenario has a eerie plausibility. One can believe the real Benedict nurtured similar ambitions which never came to fruition. The author leads us into this state of heightened credulity by presenting the Pope as a creature of flesh-and-blood who talks freely about his childhood temptations, feeling the conflict between his vows to the Church and the pangs of sexual desire.

For the Church the Pope is an immaculate figure whose life and actions can only be exemplary. Bedoya’s version seems much more like a mere mortal – more capable of eliciting our sympathies, less demanding of reverence.

And so we read The Apocalypse According to Benedict as both an outlandish work of fiction and a tale that brings a touch of earthy realism into our views of that otherworldly kingdom, the Vatican. The book dispels the air of professional mystery concocted by the Church and leads us to focus on those greater mysteries contained within the human heart.

Review by John McDonand

Kukuli Velarde–the empire looks back

Kukuli Velarde, Patron Santiago (Corpus Series), red clay low fire, underglazes, casein, gold leaf and wax, 84 h x 49 d x 26.5 w cm, 2013

Kukuli Velarde, Patron Santiago (Corpus Series), red clay low fire, underglazes, casein, gold leaf and wax, 84 h x 49 d x 26.5 w cm, 2013

Kukuli Velarde is a Peruvian-born artist whose work deconstructs the Spanish colonisation of Andean peoples. Here she writes about the southern agenda behind her work:

Like the majority of Peruvians, I am the product of the forced combination of the european and the indigenous worlds, which ultimately can be seen also as the forced combination of two aesthetics. CORPUS is an attempt to explore and develop a body of work that visually narrates Peruvian history through physical syncretism, combining pre-Columbian and Colonial sensibilities within the objects created, in order to document our paradoxical idiosyncrasies. CORPUS is also a search for a truer Peruvian aesthetic than just the one taught by the victor. Once we are able to artistically represent what historically we have experienced, then can we successfully join in the larger community of nations and contribute to the wealth of international aesthetics… The European aesthetics, which is the international aesthetics today, was formed in the image and likeness of their creators, maybe it’s time to reflect and reconsider whether we, Peruvians, shouldn’t place ourselves at the center of our likes and dislikes,  stopping being the dissonant ugly ones in the ‘movie’, the stone guests to a banquet to which we were not even invited.

Corpus rite in Cusco

Corpus rite in Cusco

Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, the city of Cusco had 350 Wakas, sacred places where representations of beneficial entities could be placed, linked to natural elements such as sun, water and corn. Colonisation involved the occupation of shrines, replacing many local gods with the one Jesus. The rite of Corpus has been held since 1572 when Viceroy Francisco Toledo received the order of the king of Spain to “fight” the Wakas of Cusco. This involves a procession of fifteen icons, representing religious figures such as Saint Sebastian and Santiago.

Velarde’s Corpus series reveals the indigenous figure harboured inside its official Christian mask. The pedestal is inspired in the actual platforms on which Santiago is carried in the Cusquenian Corpus. The form and designs of horse and man are drawn from Tiwanaku sculptures.

While exposing the hidden reality, the works also bring together the two worlds that house the mixed identity of someone like Velarde – ‘I am the product of the forced combination of the European and the indigenous worlds.’ Velarde’s work does not fit neatly into the essentialism of indigenismo, which seeks to de-colonise the Andean region, stripping away the traces of European colonisers. It is rather a carnivalesque play of cultures otherwise ordered hierarchically in order of whiteness. See her website for more examples of this prolific artist.

Epistemologies of the South: South-South, South-North and North-South global learning

From the multilingual Boaventura de Sousa Santos comes news of an important upcoming event in southern thinking:

Call for papers

Epistemologies of the South: South-South, South-North and North-South global learning
Coimbra – 10, 11, 12 July 2014

A sense of exhaustion looms over Europe. It would appear that the old world is no longer capable of rethinking its past and future.

This colloquium challenges participants to consider that an understanding of the world is much broader than a Western understanding and that therefore the possibilities for social emancipation may be different from those legitimised by the Western canon. This is the essential challenge: we do not need alternatives, but an alternative way of thinking about alternatives.

Can the anti-imperialist South teach anything to the global North? Can the global North teach anything that is not defined by centuries of colonialism and neo-colonialism, imperialism and ethno-racial supremacy? Can both learn in such a way that one day there will be no South or North?

The answers to these questions will enable proposals for theory and action to be constructed which effectively confront the logic of global exploitation, oppression and exclusion

The colloquium is structured around the following four main themes,involving the participation of scholars and activists in the global North and South:

  • Democratising democracy
  • Transformative constitutionalism, interculturality and the reform of the state
  • Other economies
  • Human rights and other grammars of human dignity

Full version of the call for papers here

To submit a proposal, please follow this link

Also in Portuguese:

and Spanish:

Decolonial Aesthetics out in Social Text

Decolonial AestheSis

Decolonial AestheSis

Walter Mignolo’s application of decolonial theory to art practice is discussed in a number of papers for the latest edition of Social Text.

“Decolonial aestheSis asks why Western aesthetic categories like ‘beauty’ or ‘representation’ have come to dominate all discussion of art and its value, and how those categories organise the way we think of ourselves and others: as white or black, high or low, strong or weak, good or evil. And decolonial art (or literature, architecture, and so on) enacts these critiques, using techniques like juxtaposition, parody, or simple disobedience to the rules of art and polite society, to expose the contradictions of coloniality. Its goal, then, is not to produce feelings of beauty or sublimity, but ones of sadness, indignation, repentance, hope, and determination to change things in the future.”

Materialidades (Pos)coloniales y de la (de)colonialidad Latinoamericana

II Coloquio del Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios en Teoría PoscolONIAL
Facultad de Humanidades y Artes
Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Argentina
18, 19 y 20 de noviembre de 2013

El Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios en Teoría Poscolonial convoca al envío de resúmenes para su II Coloquio,Materialidades (Pos)coloniales y de la (de)colonialidad latinoamericana. Los mismos deberán abordar algún aspecto de la materialidad colonial, poscolonial o de la (de)colonialidad en América Latina, desde cualquier disciplina de las humanidades o ciencias sociales.

Nos interesan especialmente aquellos trabajos que puedan mostrar el impacto de la cultura material en la articulación de perspectivas críticas tanto sobre situaciones coloniales como poscoloniales y decoloniales, y también aquellos trabajos que indaguen en las tensiones que emergen al yuxtaponer representación/discurso y materialidad en situaciones (pos)coloniales y (de)coloniales en nuestra región.

Proponemos reflexionar sobre las siguientes preguntas: ¿Qué es lo que se entiende por cultura material en nuestras respectivas disciplinas y abordajes?  ¿Cómo es que la cultura material en cualquiera de sus formas, interpela, atraviesa y tensiona los discursos crítico teóricos-sobre el colonialismo y la colonialidad en América Latina? ¿Qué perspectivas crítico-teóricas emergen del diálogo entre abordajes filosóficos y de análisis de discurso con aquellas disciplinas marcadas por la materialidad de sus objetos de estudio?

Para más información Enviar resúmenes a  [email protected] hotmail.com

Nicholas Mangan–recreate the past for the future

Installation shot from Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Installation shot from Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Nicholas Mangan is a Melbourne artist with a strong interest in the material histories of the Pacific. His previous show at Sutton Gallery Nauru, Notes from a Cretaceous World concerned the history of phosphate mining in the remote Pacific island, which had become a processing centre for asylum seekers (see article). His recent show, Progress in Action, concerns struggle in 1988 by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army to close the Panguna Copper mine which was polluting their island.

Copper plate from Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Copper plate from Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Mangan’s strategy is to re-stage the BRA’s attempts to cope with the blockage of food and energy by developing new modes of self-sufficiency. Locals took to the ubiquitous coconut as a resource to sustain their existence (as told in the film Coconut Revolution). Mangan learned how to extract oil from the coconut which could then be refined as a fuel to power a generator. This energy was then used to project a film documentary montage from the time. Alongside the installation and performance were copper plates, reproducing publications such as the Bougainville Copper annual report.

Mangan’s work follows that of others who seek to re-enact past struggles, such as Tom Nicholson. What’s particularly interesting here is the contemporary relevance of the energy system that he re-creates, showing the way in which the necessity of deprivation can lead to the invention of renewable energies. As Mangan says,

Beyond the politics or history for me it always comes back to the core materials that are formed or sculpted by an ideological determination, like copper being used for capitalist extraction or the coconuts being used as the agency for an eco-revolution.

In Australia, this has particular meaning as a challenge to the way neighbouring Melanesian region can be dismissed as an ‘arc of instability’. It ranks alongside the television series Straits as a way of imaginatively connecting the continent to the oceanic web in which it is embedded.

Installation shot of documentary projection in Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Installation shot of documentary projection in Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Mangan’s work also opens up a particularly southern strategy for art making, in revealing the means of production. Exposing the supply chain works against the commodification of art by revealing the process that lies behind the product. It sociology it demonstrates the kind of creative potential in the ecological knowledge outlined by Boaventura de Sousa Santos.

Of course, it could go further. The exhibition itself is lacking a relational dimension. There is no active role played by people in Bougainville today. If only Mangan had the opportunity to visit Bougainville himself, and find ways in which they might like to become actively involved in his work.

Fortunately, the project is far from over. Mangan is in the process of shipping the installation to Brazil, where it will feature in the Mercosul Biennial at Porto Alegre. According to the curatorial statement, the biennial

gathers works together that explore different kinds of atmospheric disturbances propelling travel and social displacement, technological advancement and world development, vertical expansions in space, and transversal explorations through time.

This seems a perfect fit for Mangan and an important opportunity to have an Australian artist represented in this key South American event.

The proposal to legalise drugs in South America

Security is one of the most important topics in International Studies. This concept is not always related to the North, the South has had its own threats too: throughout 19th and 20th centuries there have been Western empires, ideological battles and US interventions. But today, in South America, the main threat is drug trafficking and its roots are in economic globalization.

Free trade around the world is one of the most important long term economic trends and the exploitation of the free trade by emerging powers is an important short term trend. In this way, regions around the world have been impacted by new world economic powers like China. The Chinese demand of commodities around the world has resulted in high international prices and lucrative imports from countries like Chile, Peru and Brazil.

Together with China, Brazil has been very important in South America (in spite of its low growth throughout 2012) especially for countries like Bolivia or Paraguay, two landlocked states, where the main export to the Brazilian market is energy.

Thus, most of South American economies are growing around 4%[1] and during last decade poverty has decreased, even in Bolivia, the poorest regional country;[2] this is mainly because government efforts in this period have been focused on keeping macroeconomic responsibility plus implementation of social programs. Nonetheless, there are two main economic menaces in the region: first, most of South American countries are relying on China’s economy success, which in turn will not be forever. Second, if Brazil keeps its economy dependent on a bumpy Europe, and if the called “Brazil Cost”[3] continues without solution, most of its neighbours will suffer some consequences in the future[4].

In this context, most important security challenge in the region is drug trafficking and the first goal of defence policies is in human security. In order to overcome these issues countries are developing their own military actions: Democratic Security Policy (Colombia), “Ágata” Military Operations (between Brazil, Bolivia and Peru), “BOLBRA” war games (Bolivia and Brazil), or the New National Security Strategy and Defence of Chile whose main theatre of operations is Arica, region located in the border with Peru and Bolivia.

To understand this regional security challenge, first we have to highlight two of its main causes. First, despite the regional economic growth and social programs there are a huge social inequality and a strong social feeling of injustice (let’s remember student’s riots in Chile during 2011), many disadvantaged people choose alternative ways to realise social progress through gang activities. This happens in Rio do Janeiro (Brazil), Ciudad del Este (Paraguay), VRAEM (Peru), La Legua (Chile), and so on. It is certainly true that South American social problems could be worst if emerging powers cannot maintain its economy growth in the future.

Second, the economic growth and social programs in countries like Chile or Brazil have resulted in a huge middle class with capacity to consumption and, therefore, drugs traffickers have new markets to sell cocaine, besides its traditional big markets such as the United States and Western Europe. Clear example of this is the power gained by gang Primero Comando da Capital in Sao Paulo, which traffics from Paulist jails to the Brazilian market. In this sense, it is very important for Brazilian authorities to keep the control over international borders, because these gangs make business with cocaine dealers from Bolivia or Peru.

Without doubt, the situation is more complex when gang activities are connected to terrorist groups or irregular armies like the FARC. In this case the Colombian government has made enormous military and political efforts in order to combat this organization; actually today there is hope on Colombian peace negotiations lead by President Santos, because the end of war in Colombia could be the end of the main “narco-guerrilla”.

The Colombian case is especially worrying due to the guerrilla’s war impacts on Venezuela and Ecuador[5], two countries known by their difficult borders. According to the UNODC (2012) Venezuela has become the main port for Colombian cocaine to transatlantic routes, and Ecuador has become an important transit place too.

There is not easy solution to this kind of regional challenge, because drug trafficking and social inequalities are the first link in an intricate chain connecting Central America and Mexico, where transnational criminal gangs have got a dangerous power. On the other hand, South American countries are not the primarily responsible or, at least they are not only responsible of drug trafficking, because the primarily cocaine consumers are in the West.

In other words, this problem seems to be a transnational issue, and in this sense, one alternative would be legalizing the cocaine trafficking in order to dismiss criminal gangs, to get secure cocaine markets and better statistics of cocaine consumers. But this kind of solution would require big cultural and institutional changes.

For instance, in Uruguay President José Mujica has recently proposed to legalize marijuana consumption and to educate people about this issue, but this proposal will not be able to become law while conservative groups have influence over popular opinion, especially the Catholic Church and right wing parties. In fact, Mujica recognized later that society is not yet ready to this kind of measures.

Another important step has been Bolivian experience during Evo Morales presidency, because his administration recognizes coca leaf farmer rights and coca cultural values. Bolivian policies on coca leaf represent a deep change of mentality since DEA interventions in the country two decades ago, when coca leaf activities were synonymous of crime. But at the same time, the new Bolivian institutional model has not meant the end or decrease of illegal coca leaf planting.

Both Uruguay and Bolivia cases show that, at least, the legalization debate has started. In this sense, maybe the most important signal of a new time has been the Global Commission on Drug Policy, where much respected intellectuals and politicians were able to participate, such as Mario Vargas Llosa, Fernando Enrique Cardoso, César Gaviria, Ernesto Zedillo, Kofi Annan, Paul Volcker and George P. Schultz. In its report (2011) the Commission proposed to create new institutional models around the world in order to legalize drugs. The main argument for this proposal is the failure of drug policies during last fifty years, especially the war against drugs launched by President Nixon; together with this, the commission stated the importance to pay more attention to health programs instead of military policies[6].

Notwithstanding this, all these signals are not enough to take seriously an international legalization model and certainly they are not enough to overcome current military policies as key actions to combat drugs trafficking.

Claudio Coloma is an academic at the University of Santiago of Chile

Notes


[1] IMF-Western Hemisphere Department. Regional Economic Outlook. Washington, D.C. October 2012.

[2] Weisbrot, Mark, Rebecca Ray and Jake Johnston. Bolivia: The Economy During the Morales Administration. Center for Economic and Policy Research. Washington, D.C. December 2009.

[3] Combination of bureaucratic hurdles, complex taxes and insufficient infrastructure. Glickhouse, Rachel. Rousseff Takes on the Infamous “Brazil Cost”. AS/COA. May 22, 2012.

[4] According to IMF “low growth and uncertainty in advanced economies are affecting emerging market and developing economies”. Emerging powers such as China and Brazil are reliant on developed countries, especially USA and UE. IMF. World Economic Outlook. Washington, D.C. October 2012.

[5] IISS. The FARC Files: Venezuela, Ecuador and the Secret Archive of ´Raúl Reyes`. London. 2011.

[6] Informe de la Comisión Global de Políticas de Drogas, junio de 2011, www.globalcommissiondrugs.org