St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, September 29th to October 3rd, 2010

This workshop will seek to bring forward the potentially enriching synergy between two lines of inquiry in the social sciences that while generating similar theoretical insights have so far proceeded unrelated. One of them involves the critical interrogation of the Euro-modern ontological divide between Nature and Culture and its associated practices in science and politics. The other involves probing the significance of various claims about ‘difference’ made by grass-roots social movements in the context of neo-liberal globalization. The common theoretical insights that the convergence of these inquiries generate can be succinctly captured by the term ‘pluriverse,’ that is, the notion that there are multiple ontologies or worlds. When, for example, in the Americas conflicts arise because Indigenous peoples see ‘sentient beings’ where science see objects that the state or corporations can treat as mere ‘resources’ this insight becomes crucial to understand political practices and occurrences without resorting to arguments of ‘cultural belief,’ which themselves beg the question about the ontology that underlies both categories (culture and belief). Although the analysis of grassroots mobilizations and the interrogation of the Nature and Culture divide are making important contributions on their own, establishing a dialogue with each other has the clear potential to strengthen both while broadening the impact of their shared insights about the ‘pluriverse’ across the social sciences. The aim of this workshop is a) to promote a dialogue through which these different lines of inquiry can inform each other; b) to explore the wider implications that the notion of ‘pluriverse’ may have for the social sciences; c) to generate a publishable volume. A workshop, gathering for a few days of intense and focused work a small group of scholars that are at the forefront of the two lines of inquiry—that otherwise would not necessarily converge—is the most appropriate format to accomplish these goals.

 

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