Cultivating ways of knowing for transformations

The basic assumption of western schoolarization and academia is that we are individuals (body and mind) who "appear" in an unconscious universe, made of inert matter and devoid of meaning. This belief promotes individualistic and materialistic attitudes that objectify life and are inculcated across the globe through neo-colonial institutions and dynamics such as school, university, government, market, etc.

Global environmental change, inequality and the other existential crises in which we are trapped are rooted in the hegemony of individualistic materialism and the monoculture of knowledge that justifies it. Addressing these crises involves decolonising the mind by cultivating in each person a diversity of ways of being and knowing, but... How can we decolonise ourselves? The good news is that outside the dominant Western culture there are still thousands of ways of being and knowing that assume a meaningful and relational universe in which the material world is only a useful, but not absolute, way of perceiving. These cultures can be a source of inspiration. The bad news is that these alternatives are rapidly disappearing or are subjected to dominant practices and discourses that silence, extract, domesticate or oppress marginalised and alternative voices.

Decolonisation begins with recognising the materialistic and individualistic beliefs in ourselves, but that is only a first step. The real work consists of unlearning and undoing the monoculture fields that we have labored, through habit and repetition, deep within ourselves. In this series of videos, we will discuss experiences in Latin America that can inspire or guide processes to unlearn and undo monocultural practices rooted within us, and to learn to cultivate a truly plural and transformative base for ways of knowing.

Using “cultivation" as a metaphor, this project brought together four virtual conversations; their content and themes were co-constructed and re-signified by the project collaborators and participants. The themes were:

Conversatorios Metáfora

Complete series of conversatories

Conversatory 1. Regenerating the soil for new roots Regenerating the soil for new roots
Conversatory 2. The sowing of shared dreams The sowing of shared dreams
Conversatory 3. Gathering knowledges Gathering knowledges
Conversatory 4. Caring for and nurturing the soil Caring for and nurturing the soil

Blogs and related content

This project is part of a series of events occuring during the Methods year of the STEPS Centre, aiming to discuss how to challenge sustainability research. Challenging Research
Read our first blog about diverse initiatives in Argentina, Mexico and Kenya on different methodological challenges and ways to catalyze change towards more just worlds. Waves of challenging research for sustainability
"What methods can help to ‘open up’ and ‘broaden out’ pathways to sustainability, revealing alternatives to one-track visions of progress and expertise" Methods bazaar
"Coloniality has traditionally been associated with territorial control. As such, individuals capable of controlling research are the dominant voices setting the research agenda, and thus issues power in research discourses arise." Decolonise methodologies

The project Cultivating ways of knowing for transformations was coordinated by Umbela Transformaciones Sostenibles A.C. and LANCIS-IE-UNAM, in collaboration with IIMAS-UNAM and SOS-ASU, with the support of the STEPS Centre, it was part of the series Challenging research for sustainability in which ARIN - Africa Research and Impact Network also participated.