LASA2017 / Dialogues of Knowledge: XXXV International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association

Shortly after the Natural Medicine Gathering the Latin American Studies Association is organising a conference in Lima, Peru, with a focus on Dialogues of Knowledge:

About LASA2017

LASA2017 / Dialogues of Knowledge

XXXV International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association

LASA President

Joanne Rappaport
Georgetown University

Program Co-Chairs

Mauricio Archila
Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Juliet A. Hooker
University of Texas, Austin

Congress Theme

Fifty years after LASA was founded, its membership looks very different: we have grown from a core of mainly North American social scientists and historians to an academically diverse organization with notable growth in members from the humanities and the arts; 40 percent of our members live in Latin America and the Caribbean; there is a growing indigenous and Afro-descendant presence; we share the podium at our scholarly panels with activists, journalists, and filmmakers. Today, the concept of Latin America overflows the traditional geopolitical boundaries of the region with, on the one hand, a growing presence of Latin@s in North America and a burgeoning Latin American diaspora in Europe, while on the other hand, Latin Americanist scholars have begun to envision their research in a broader global context and from more interdisciplinary standpoints. Finally, theory produced in the global South, and in Latin America in particular, is gaining increasing purchase in both academic and nonacademic circles in the North, reversing the traditional directionality in the flow of ideas and recognizing the growing presence of knowledge producers from sectors that have traditionally been excluded from academic dialogues.

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Traditional Knowledge in the Ecuadorian Amazon

“Antes los gringos decían que somos estúpidos,
ahora quieren llevarse nuestro conocimiento…”
(Kichwa grandmother)

[“The gringos used to say we are stupid,
now they want to take our knowledge away…”]

Joining the gathering you will be entering into a foreign culture and even if you have been in the Amazon before, even if you have been here many times, you might not have spent much time finding out about the history, political economy and the ways in which Amazonian science, logic and medicine differs conceptually from its counterparts in Euro-American philosophical systems of understanding and making sense of the world.

Want to say a few things in Kichwa? Download Gayle and Elias’s wonderful little phrasebook.

Paradigmatically different things have to be understood, if you want to grasp them properly, in their own terms, not merely translated into your own language and system of thought – or, as it were, cosmovision. While we can never truly see the world through the eyes of someone else, we can try to listen carefully and slowly generate in our own minds a picture of another reality. This thesis is about that sort of thing: The Protection of Traditional Knowledge in the Ecuadorian Amazon: A Critical Ethnography of Capital Expansion. Chapter 3, Living in Napo: a brief political economy of extraction and colonisation in the Ecuadorian Amazon, is probably a good place to start.

For an easy, but very informative and exciting reading check out On the Origins of Ayahuasca, by Steve Beyer.

Very much worth a read is The Life and Times of Grandfather Alonso: Culture and History in the Upper Amazon, by Blanca Muratorio, which is briefly reviewed here and introduced here: Continue reading