The standard area studies paradigm, which emerged in the wealthy countries of the global north, might be labelled “us studying them”. Traditionally grounded in the humanities and social sciences, this kind of work is foundational in many disciplines. But in an increasingly interconnected and polycentric world, it is no longer accurate to refer to “their” problems and “our” problems. Increasingly, they are all “our” common problems. These include such things as climate change, economic development, security, and, of course, pandemics, among many others. Rapid technological change—including advances in communications and transportation—has also facilitated the spread of ideas, norms, and values, which are in turn contributing to this shift in perspective.
Rethinking Latin American Studies from the South (RLASS) is a CIH Working Group grounded in the proposition that the old paradigm was dying; and that it’s time to bury it. Instead of us studying them, we need to build new frameworks based on us working together to solve a range of common problems. This kind of collaboration requires working alongside people in the region (which many of us have done for a long time), and across a broader range of disciplines. The RLASS Working Group will facilitate knowledge mobilization, exchange, and collaboration across cultures, languages, and disciplines to address common problems with sensitivity to local knowledge in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In this second year (2021-2022), our aim is to embrace RLASS as an incubator to foster innovative transdisciplinary research, graduate student training and the co-creation of knowledge. We do this with a big picture understanding of the significance of complex ecosystems to sustainable rural livelihoods, especially involving Indigenous communities.
Don Miguel Sanchez (Cajamarca-Tolima-Colombia) granted permission and gave consent for the use of this image in electronic media on September 10th, 2020.