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Southpaw released

Southpaw is a new literary journal of writing from  the global south. It is dedicated to the idea of  ‘south-south’ dialogue: to conversations between  writers, artists and readers about life away from  the metropolitan centres of power and culture. It is a literary left hook from the south features fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, essays, reviews and  images.

Southpaw issue 1 is focused through the theme of  displacement. Writers from South Africa, Indigenous  Australia, Philippines, Colombia, Suriname, Angola,  Indigenous Japan, China, the Horn of Africa, Tunisia,  New Zealand and non-Indigenous Australians write fascinating stories and reflect on home and eviction, migration and asylum seeking, cultural diplomacy  and political oppression, cross cultural dealings and cultural reclamation.


  • Kevin Murray on the idea of south,
  • Danilova Molintas on the city of Baguio, Kendall
  • Trudgen on diplomacy in East Arnhem Land and
  • Martin Plowman on UFOs in South America.
  • Fiction by: Karen Jennings, Tony Birch, paulo da costa, Ruth San A Jong and Paul Maunder.
  • Non-fiction by Yeeshan Yang, Karen Lazar, Batool Albatat and Aliza Amlani.
  • Reviews by Alice Robinson (Tamil pulp ction), Justin Clemens (Mapanje), Bernard Caleo (Ubby’s Underdogs), John Hughes (Planet B) and Vicki Crowley (Indigenous sexuality).

South Paw Order Form

Conference on Colonialism and Decolonization

Call for papers.
We are pleased to inform you that the Department of History and Civilization, IIUM, with the collaboration of International Institute of Islamic Thoughts and Civilization (ISTAC) and the National Archives of Malaysia will be organizing the above programme at ISTAC, IIUM KL Campus on 17th-19th April 2012.

We are inviting you to contribute generously by sending abstract to the conference. You may send your paper in English, Arabic and Bahasa Melayu or Indonesia. We have an editorial board to look your abstracts and papers to make them publishable.
Kindly visit our website for further details:

Department of History and Civilization
Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge
and Human Sciences

Southpaw launch–a new literary journal

South Paw Order Form



You are invited to the launch of a new literary journal
Southpaw: writing from the global south

To be launched by
Professor Stephen Knight
Wednesday 14th December
Arena Project Space
2 Kerr Street Fitzroy
6.30 pm


All welcome

Southpaw # 1 features writing from and about Australia, Africa, China, Philippines, South America and the Pacific around the theme of displacement. It includes essays on the idea of South, power shifts in East Arnhem Land, change and development in Philippines, UFOS in South America and displacement in Colombia fiction and creative non-fiction from Angola, Australia, China, New Zealand, South Africa and Suriname; reviews of Tamil pulp fiction, Indigenous graphic novels and documentaries from the Pacific. There’s an Ainu fable re-told, a radio play and poetry from many places in the global South, much of it in new translation.

Further information: 9416 0232 or 0418 304 500.

A Call for Silence in the Pacific

Since colonisation in the Pacific, there has been much talk about cultural differences. Those from European cultures profess a more individualist world view, where one should stand independently of family and social ties. By contrast, Pacific peoples are seen to place much emphasis on genealogy as determinate of selfhood. But behind all this talk, lies a more fundamental difference – silence.

As Unaisi Nabobo-Baba argues in her book Knowing and Learning: An indigenous Fijian approach (Suva: IPS Publications, 2006), the silent child in a Western classroom is seen as a problem. By contrast in many traditional Pacific communities, silence is seen as a culturally appropriate mode of behaviour. Nabobo-Baba goes further and develops a taxonomy of silence, which includes 18 different ways of being quiet, including ‘silence and the elements’ and ‘silence when in awe of custom’ (see here for an extract of her book).

The cultural meaning of silence poses some challenging questions:

  • How can silence be reconciled with modern democracy?
  • What is the role of silence in modern Western countries like Australia?
  • How can silence speak?
  • What is the positive role of silence in the classroom?

Would you be interested in being part of a further discussion about this issue? If you would like to be involved in the development of a colloquium on silence, you are invited to send in your details. This includes:

  • Name
  • Role
  • Area of interest
  • What you would like to contribute to this development

Contributions can include research, a specific perspective, a performance, a venue or a program context.
Please send an email to [email protected]. Responses are due 21 January 2012.

Unaisi Nabobo-Baba, University of Guam
Kevin Murray, Southern Perspectives

A taxonomy of silence

This is a brief extract from Unaisi Nabobo-Baba Knowing and Learning: An indigenous Fijian approach (Suva: IPS Publications, 2006 , pp. 94-98). Here she outlines different meanings that silence has in a traditional Fijian community. This complex reading of silence challenges a Western attitude which associates silence with lack of intelligence. Nabobo-Baba’s approach has particular relevance to educators.

Silence, Clan Boundary, Space and Gifting as Ways Of Knowing


In Vugalei epistemology, silence plays a major role, equal to that of verbalizing. Offering a taxonomy of silence and outlining appropriate examples, both questions and puts into context the importance of verbalized communication, and demonstrates the importance of the non-verbalized communication that is contained in silence. Silence, as explicated in the taxonomy, says as much about Vugalei epistemology and culture as does verbal language.

Silence as a way of knowing

Silence is pivotal to the Vugalei.1 It emits dignity, and summons a respect that transcends all in a vanua. It gives the vanua its value and its strength. The vanua is said to have mana when it is vakanomodi (encompassed in deep silence). When the vanua assembles, deep silence reflects how people regard their vanua, chief, god, ancestors, and relatives.There is eloquence in silence, and things important in a ceremony are best observed in silence. Silence is a pedagogy of deep engagement between participants.

In Vugalei the word for silence is noma. Increasingly, people use the word galu or vagagalu. Nomo is the base word for vakanomodi, which is the adjective that describes how quiet a place or an event is. The opposite of nomo is sosa or kosakosa\ both these words mean noise or disturbance and connote a situation that lacks peace.

Another antonym of vakanomodi is the word vakasausa (to deliberately make noise so as to offend and show disrespect).

Vugalei people believe all spaces are occupied, or taw a, hence the importance of observing silence in all places. Vugalei people perceive silence as indicative of high birth and an excellent upbringing. It is culturally desirable. However, in most schools and universities, silence, that is the absence of verbal replies, questions and comments from students, is interpreted by educators as a sign of stupidity or lack of participation, and is considered a problem.

Outlined below is a suggested cultural taxonomy of silence, which I developed from interview data and my observations of the Vugalei, as they live their lives.

A proposed cultural taxonomy of silence
  1. Silence and the vanua
  2. Ceremonial silence
  3. Silence and the Church
  4. Silence and the elements
  5. Silence and social class
  6. Silence and clan rights to public speaking
  7. Silence of women
  8. Age and silence
  9. Taukei and vulagi and related silences
  10. Silence and the supernatural
  11. Silence as resistance, disagreement and opposition
  12. Silence and relationships of avoidance
  13. Silence when in awe of custom
  14. Silence in death
  15. Silence of exclusion
  16. Silence of the land
  17. Silence in harvest
  18. Holy silence
Silence and the vanua

When the vanua assembles, there is silence; only a handful of persons are entitled to speak. The vanua dictates such behaviour and protocols. An example of silence and the vanua occurred at a meeting of representatives of the Tailevu Provincial Council Office and the men and chiefs of Vugalei, convened to discuss the how mahogany plantations in Vugalei were to be harvested and the returns would be distributed. The meeting was quiet save for the government committee members, who busied themselves trying to explain what appeared to be inexplicable. Then a momo, a wise, white- haired elder, a maternal uncle, knelt and spoke. He spoke with the dignity and authority of clan truth. It was his place to speak as well as his right and obligation to reprimand those that appeared to be ‘wronging’ the clan. After he spoke, all the elders of Vugalei present and the chiefs retreated into a silence that, often misinterpreted as acquiescence, signalled total opposition by the people to the government proposal.

In all vanua meetings I attended, there was a prevailing silence. When elders speak, all listen. A monologue by the chief, is heard by the meeting in silence. Any response, if verbal, will be done by the right people, at the right time. Silence does not necessarily suggest acceptance or agreement; it can suggest a continuum of reactions from total opposition on the one hand to complete support.

People have had a long training in silence. There is silence in all vanua or village meetings; talk is limited. As Sainimere Toalagi stated:

E nagauna ni bose vakoro, warai na vivosaki se vakasosa e colo. E ra vosa na na moro vosa. 0 ratou na qaravi yaqona e ratou dabe galugalu tu …. E bibi na bose vata na qaravi ni yaqona. In village meetings, there is no unnecessary talking in the upper part of the meeting house. Only those who are destined or born to talk, do the talking. Those that serve the yaqona do so quietly, they do not chat. The meeting is an impor­tant part of vanua life; it is respectcd, and so is the serving of th <t yaqona.

The Vugalei are often heard to say, ‘Na vagagalu e bibi kina ka dokai kina na vanua’ (‘Silence puts weight and respect on the vanua’). Noise, particularly disruptive noise, is considered i tovo ni kaisi (the manner of the common folk) and is not tolerated.

Extreme silence and respect is expected when crossing the village green. Aunt Ulamila Tuinakelo noted: ‘Na vakanomodi e bibi ni da lako tu e loma ni koro (‘Silence is important when one is walking through the village’). On a similar note, Ratu Tevita Tuinakelo commented:

E da dau vakarokoroko, e rokovi na vanua, na tamata, e da dau vakatabuya kina na kaikaila tu e loma ni koro. We respect the vanua, the people, this is why we forbid people from yelling or shouting in the village.

In Vugalei, silence is also observed in the presence of older people; we lower our voices to signify respect and allow only their voices to be heard. This is the same sort of silence given to a chief, which allows the voice and wisdom of the chief to be heard and acknowledged.

Ceremonial silence

Silence is observed in all important ceremonies. Only the voices of the appointed speakers are heard, and even these are highly controlled. This is what SainimereToalagi said with regards to silence during the sevusevu (the ceremony of welcome when a visitor arrives):

Na sevusevu e bibi. E rokovi, e tabu ni dua e curu mai, tabu ni dua na vosa e rogo. Ni sa coboti maka sara na yaqona, ni sa maca na yaqona vakaturaga sa rawa ni qui ia na curu mai vi ira se tu e tuba, na tama mai, vata na vivosaki e loma ni vale. Sevusevu is important. It is respected, no-one is allowed to enter the house or building while it is on, no-one is allowed to chat or be noisy. After the first mix is served, what we called the yaqona vakaturaga (grog for chiefs or leaders), the situation is more relaxed. The silence can be broken after the first bowl is empty and people have all clapped to acknowledge that that is so.

The value of silence is again demonstrated in the following report of a betrothal, in which silence was central to the display of respect between relatives and reflected the seriousness of the ceremony.

The day of the betrothal came. The visiting party (five or six relatives of the betrothed boy) approached the house to the sound of tama (customary cries of greeting) and, having being given affirmative replies from inside, slowly entered, heads bowed. Silence was the dominant ‘voice’, indicating the importance and seriousness of the occasion. Lilieta [the prospective bride] was then summoned … to come and sit in the sitting-room with an aunt, while the visiting party began their requests. The speech highlighted their intentions for Lilieta, their blood ties to the host, the importance of keeping blood ties and the vanua strong by way of the marriage, and their belief that the occasion would be blessed by God and their ancestors. The hosts then replied, the speaker affirming the visitors’ words and emphasizing how the marriage would unite related people and maintain blood ties.

Lilieta was then asked to declare her wishes with regard to the visiting party’s intentions. She maintained her silence for a while. She was asked three times before she spoke of her wishes. This silence was important, as a well-brought- up girl would be expected to show (by her silence) that she is not at all keen to leave her home. She finally agreed and a handful of whales’ teeth were presented to the hosts by the visitors in recognition of the agreement.

Na vakanomodi (deep silence) demonstrates deep respect for an occasion. It also denotes a common understanding and reverence for what is important to the vanua and to the ceremony. Relationships and the purposes of the ceremony are honoured by ceremonial silence.

Other Knowledges: Reflections on Recent Archaeology in South America by David Turnbull

To give you some sense of where I am coming from, I have always worked in what is now known as science studies, and in particular within the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK). My overarching interest has been with looking at the ways in which people, practices, and places are moved and assembled in differing local knowledge traditions. So I see my work and that which the Latin American historian Santiago Castro-Gomez has labelled ‘Coloniality of Power’ Group, as having a key question in common­– how to work with the multiplicity of knowledges without subordinating them in the panoptic archive of western science.[1]

A guiding principle of SSK has been ‘things could be other than they are’, accordingly that which seems self-evident, natural, true or authoritative requires examination and explanation. The historical understanding of South America, like the global south as a whole, Australia included, has been frequently enmeshed in the self-evident and naturalising assumptions of Eurocentric explanations of the emergence of complex societies and civilization, of what civilisation consists in and how it came to be. This is especially apparent in the méconnaissance and violent misrecognition surrounding knowledges, spaces and rationalities in the narratives of prehistory within which South America has been framed.[2] South America has been variously portrayed as the last continent to be ‘discovered’, a ‘New World’, a pristine wilderness, as inhabited by primitive natives without civilization, though with the acknowledged exception of the Incas. Not only has South America been continuously subjected to the most extreme forms of violent conquest and exploitation since Columbus chanced upon it, but our understandings of it have been shaped within a narrative of a universalizing knowledge tradition and an abstract space, perhaps the most egregious and disturbingly popular being Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel.[3]

However, such narratives have been substantially challenged from a number of directions. First and foremost have been the challenges from South American critics, authors, and indigenous activists including Jorge Luis Borges[4], Edmundo O’Gorman[5], Arturo Escobar[6], Walter Mignolo[7], Enrique Dussel[8], Eduardo Viveiros de Castro,[9] and the movements leading to the establishment of The Intercultural University “Amawtay Wasi” (UIAW) of the Indigenous Nationalities and People of Ecuador[10], all of whom, in various ways, aim to destabilise the dichotomies under which the hierarchical hegemony of a unifying and universalising western science is established. They pose differing oppositions of unity and multiplicity in their conceptions of ‘agonistic pluralism’, ‘transmodernity’, ‘diversality’, ‘interculturality’, ‘multinaturalism’. Other challenges have come from a rethinking of the peopling of the world, the origins of complexity, modernity and civilization, that have emerged along with the geneticisation of history and archaeological work in Africa and the Near East. But it is the debates and controversies surrounding recent archaeological and historical ecological research in Norte Chico and Amazonia, and their articulation in understanding the emergence of complex societies and what constitutes civilization that are the central concerns of this paper. Naturally this concern carries with it a reflexive corollary: can an explanation of complexity in terms of emergence avoid simply being an extension of a universalizing knowledge tradition on the one hand, while avoiding a vitiating proliferation of multiplicities on the other?

A number of assumptions have served to preset the narratives of prehistory. Among them are the assumption that early man had little agency and was subject to population and environmental pressures, climate change, resource supply and geography, and that agency was only fully achieved with settlement and the invention of agriculture. This ‘sedentarist’ metaphysics reinforces the dominant orthodoxy that the Neolithic revolution was the precondition of civilisation and modernity, and was largely a Mesopotamian phenomenon.[11] Though counterparts in the East were acknowledged, the natural supremacy of Europe was assumed, because, at least according to Diamond, Europeans were geographically advantaged by being able to spread their domesticated crops and animals latitudinally. They were also lucky enough to have a climate and environment that encouraged them to sleep with their animals and thereby acquire immunity to infectious diseases. All they needed was to invent steel and the world was theirs.

This narrative underpins a particular conception of modernity and rationality that ties it to being settled in place — particularly Europe — and to building cities, establishing the rule of law and creating hierarchical states. Fixity in space and place has become the foundation stone of western rationality and epistemology. Consequently unrestrained movement is equated with wandering, irrationality, placelessness and the primitive, something that needs to be controlled, located and set in logical, linear order.[12] It is now possible to pose a counter narrative in which movement is given greater salience, and in which the notion of revolutions, especially the European Neolithic revolution, as foundation of modernity are undermined by recent archaeological work in South Africa, Turkey, and South America.

Arguably one of the key components on which all forms of movement depend is a social technology of kinship – a network of relatedness, bonding, and obligations that enables the transmission of resource access and knowledge across generations through a classification of friends, enemies, and strangers. Such conceptions of kinship and relatedness are social and cultural constructs and do not necessarily map naturally onto genetic and biological relationships. However, the development of such complex forms of social cognition is, Clive Gamble suggests, a prerequisite for overcoming the limitations of co-presence and extending relationships in space and time. A view that is consonant with Robin Dunbar’s ‘social brain hypothesis’.[13] Dunbar argues that ‘Primate societies are implicit social contracts established to solve the ecological problems of survival and reproduction more effectively than they could do on their own. Primate societies work as effectively as they do in this respect because they are based on deep social bonding that is cognitively expensive. Thus it is the computational demands of managing complex interactions that has driven neocortical evolution.’ This conception of the dynamics of human neocortical evolution as social rather than simply technological or biological fits well with both the model proposed by Stanley Ambrose for the co-development of language, symbolisation, a larger brain, and compound tool-making that began in Africa around 300,000BP, and with Ben Marwick’s claim that language and symbolisation developed with the extension of exchange networks.[14] In large part the symbolisation and feedback essential to the development of such social networks depends on keeping track of relatedness and kinship through forms of telling – performing and representation, storytelling, singing, dancing, painting, building, and, importantly for my argument, weaving.[15]

The narrative of human dispersals around the world simply as mass migrations or demic diffusions, can now be countered with a more complex narrative. One in which human movements are seen a relatively fast and strategic, demonstrating great flexibility in a diversity of environments, necessitating complex information exchange systems that allow group decision making and feedback, but without the necessity for hierarchy or plans.[16] Such information-exchange systems typically exhibit forms of emergent complexity in which relationships, language, materials, genes, places, practices and people are co-produced in the process of human movement.[17]

Correspondingly there are at least two possible frameworks, with multiple dimensions, within which to understand the origins of social complexity, modernity, and the relationship of knowledge and space. In a heterarchical framework social order can be understood as an emergent effect of a complex adaptive system. While a hierarchical framework implies that systemic superstructural forces produce social order. In turn heterarchical models have a dynamic based in multiplicity and difference, while hierarchical models are totalizing. I would argue that the answer to how work with multiplicity is not to simply favour the heterarchical, but to hold these two frameworks in the kind of tension of agonistic pluralism advocated by Dussel, that would allow for emergent knowledges and spaces.

Python Rock, oldest religious site, Tsodilo Hills, Botswana, 77 kya

Python Rock, oldest religious site, Tsodilo Hills, Botswana, 77 kya

To date production of universalising scientific knowledge has been a narrative of dependency on a tightly demarcated organisation of abstract space and regularized movement. However, the naturalization of this narrative of space, time and knowledge subserving an account of European modernity is now countered by recent discoveries at the Blombos Cave and Pinnacle Point in Southern Africa which reveal that the behaviours that have been claimed to make humans ‘modern’ such as sourcing, combining, and storing materials that enhance technology or social practices, along with external symbolization and religion, occurred, not in Europe after a Neolithic revolution, but 100,000 years ago, before humans ever left Africa.[18]

Fig 2 Pierced shells Blombos Cave 75kya indicating external symbolisation and use of string

Fig 2 Pierced shells Blombos Cave 75kya indicating external symbolisation and use of string

Fig 3 Incised ochre with possible tally marks according to Ambrose

Fig 3 Incised ochre with possible tally marks according to Ambrose

Fig 4 Incised Ostrich shells

Fig 4 Incised Ostrich shells

Fig 5 Arrow heads

Fig 5 Arrow heads

While recent excavations in Turkey and Jordan suggest that the sequence of settle down, invent agriculture and only then are complex and hierarchical structures and societies possible is not the way things worked out in every case, rather there appear to have been a diversity of approaches to living and working together, including examples of building complex structures without agriculture or settling down.[19]

Fig 7 Community center for processing wild plants, and performances. Wadi Faynan 16 South Jordan 12,000BP

Fig 7 Community center for processing wild plants, and performances. Wadi Faynan 16 South Jordan 12,000BP

Fig 8 Gobekli Tepe 11.5kya pre-agricultural monumental architecture

Fig 8 Gobekli Tepe 11.5kya pre-agricultural monumental architecture

Fig 9 Çatalhöyük 9.5kya post-agriculture; all domestic spaces, no complex monumental architecture, the only public space being house roofs

Fig 9 Çatalhöyük 9.5kya post-agriculture; all domestic spaces, no complex monumental architecture, the only public space being house roofs

Fig replica of a Catal Hoyuk house, with everything public and domestic in one space:- a shrine, a hearth and ancestors under the bed

Fig replica of a Catal Hoyuk house, with everything public and domestic in one space:- a shrine, a hearth and ancestors under the bed

There is no time here to expand on the evidence for alternative paths to complex societies in the Near East, or on the evidence of human movements by sea in prehistory.

Fig 10 Possible Maritime Routes into South America- the ’kelp highway’

Fig 10 Possible Maritime Routes into South America- the ’kelp highway’

However, the revision of the view that human movement around the globe was largely by land, opens up the possibility of a much earlier time frame for the peopling of South America no longer constrained by an impassable barrier in eth Bering Straits. As early as 30,000BP people could have been coasting on the ‘kelp highway, with multiple groups overlapping each other along the coast and penetrating the interior simultaneously.[20]

It also lends strong support to Michael Moseley’s controversial ‘Maritime foundation of Andean civilization’ (MFAC) hypothesis, that is at the heart of the debate over Caral which, with its impressive size and massive pyramids and plazas, is now variously proclaimed the ‘oldest city’ or ‘oldest civilization in the Americas’, even ‘the oldest in the world’ and which is the main focus of this talk.[21]

Fig 11 Norte Chico

Fig 11 Norte Chico

The area of coastal Peru north of Lima, now known as Norte Chico, was first noted as significant in 1905. Aspero, the site at the mouth of the Supe river on which Caral stands, was excavated in 1941 by Willey and Corbett. Much to their subsequent embarrassment Willey and Corbett simply failed to recognise the existence of pyramids at the site, dismissing them as ‘natural eminences of sand’.[22] The site did not excite much attention because it was pre-ceramic, having no pottery or gold; it was also in an arid cold desert. It simply didn’t rate as a site of a possible civilization.

Fig 11 Aerial view Caral Complex

Fig 11 Aerial view Caral Complex

Fig 12 Ampitheatre Pyramid Caral

Fig 12 Ampitheatre Pyramid Caral

Fig 13 Caral Megalith

Fig 13 Caral Megalith

Fig 14 Main Plaza torch lit

Fig 14 Main Plaza torch lit

Fig 15 Caral Geoglyph Human Face

Fig 15 Caral Geoglyph Human Face

Fig 16 Shicra (woven) reed bags of differing sizes filled with stones

Fig 16 Shicra (woven) reed bags of differing sizes filled with stones



Fig 17 4000-year-old engraved gourd image reveals the fanged teeth and splayed feet of the

Fig 17 4000-year-old engraved gourd image reveals the fanged teeth and splayed feet of the

It was not until the late 1990s that the single-minded persistence of the Peruvian archaeologist Ruth Shady revealed its full complexity and extent with multiple, massive pyramids, temples, plazas and residences. Interest in Caral became intense when Shady published the dating results in Science in 2001 with the help of Jonathon Haas and Winifred Creamer from the Field Museum in Chicago.[23] At 2900 BCE it was declared ‘the oldest civilization in the Americas’, making Caral one of the oldest civilizations in the world. At this period the only other site with that degree of urban complexity was Sumer in Mesopotamia.

Haas and Creamer have turned their attention to revealing the complex of sites in adjacent valleys, and to articulating an alternative explanation to Ruth Shady’s for the emergence of this society, while Shady has continued to excavate Caral. Despite a growing rivalry and differing explanations, Shady and Haas/Creamer have taken each other’s work into account and have more in common than their apparent differences.[24] The importance of Caral lies in the fact that much of what has been found does not fit with the orthodox understanding of the emergence of a complex society, of civilization. The same can be said of recent work in Amazonia.

Much to everyone’s surprise historical ecologists, archaeologists and anthropologists, Anna Roosevelt, William Denevan, Clark Erickson, William Balée and Michael Heckenberger have found evidence of the fabled civilizations first reported by Francisco de Orellana in his extraordinary voyage down the Amazon in 1541. The region may have had a population of 4-5million, but who, in a wavefront of disease, possibly smallpox, disappeared ahead of full-scale Spanish invasion. Such large populations, it is claimed, were made possible by the total and deliberate transformation of what would be otherwise rather difficult and restricted ecosystems with very poor soil subject to severe flooding. The Amazon, on this account, is not a pristine wilderness, but an anthropogenic construct, a performative landscape with spatial, temporal and epistemological dimensions, a co-production of human agency, knowledge practices, movement and the environment. Until recently what has gone unnoticed, seemingly invisible in the dense rainforests, were the massive complexes of geometrical earthworks, mounds, causeways, canals, roads, fishtraps and terra preta.[25]

Fig 18 Prehispanic Raised fields Beni Region Bolivian Amazonia

Fig 18 Prehispanic Raised fields Beni Region Bolivian Amazonia

Fig Terra Preta mounds

Fig Terra Preta mounds

Fig 19 Xingu complex of villages

Fig 19 Xingu complex of villages

These earthworks and soil transformations enabled the proliferation of large interlinked urban settlements. Around the Amazon and its tributaries in the floodplains (varzea) the dark earth (terra preta) mounds, carefully and deliberately created out of soil mixed with charcoal, broken pottery, fish and food remains and human excreta, were superbly fertile, allowing the abundant growth of food crops.[26]

Fig 20 Fazenda Colorada Geoglyph Geometric Earthworks Upland Amazonia.

Fig 20 Fazenda Colorada Geoglyph Geometric Earthworks Upland Amazonia.

At the same time geometrical earthworks or geoglyphs are starting to become visible in upland areas of the Amazon (terra firme) as they are exposed by forest clearing and archaeology’s newest research technique Google Earth. These massive constructions are most likely to be performance spaces, though there is some possibility that they had defensive functions. Whatever their function the researchers anticipate finding thousands more such structures, revealing a completely unexpected degree of social complexity in a region held to have been only capable of supporting simple villages.[27]

Now that the first round of what Denevan calls the ‘Amazon archaeology wars’ has been won, and the presence of these vast complexes has largely been accepted, what remains at issue is how and why they could have been built. The critics argue that the massive earthworks would have required a correspondingly massive workforce, which in turn would have necessitated a hierarchical social structure and division of labour, typical of state-level societies, along with an augmented food supply, i.e. agriculture,

Erikson, Heckenberger and Roosevelt have shown that there is evidence of augmented food supply, but agree there is no historical or ethnographic evidence of such hierarchical social structures in Amazonia [28] They suggest the earthworks, were built by heterarchical societies: groups of communities, loosely bound by shifting horizontal links through kinship, alliances, and informal associations. For Heckenberger these were ‘self-organising autonomous polities in a distributed system’, for Erickson the result is ‘the accumulated landscape capital of generations of farmers who built it more or less on their own’. [29]

In my own work I have similarly argued that complex structures like the gothic cathedrals did not, in the first instance, require either a master architect or a plan, they were the result of the ‘ad hoc accumulation of the work of many men’.[30] However, I would also argue that these communal activities have to be understood performatively. These communities were creating knowledge spaces, enabling people, practices and places to be linked together. They socialised the landscape through performance of a collective social identity.[31]

At Norte Chico the evidence is more equivocal. Norte Chico is of great importance because of its special features, not just its surprising age. It is built in one the most arid environments on earth, which would seem to lend support to Moseley’s MFAC hypothesis based on the superabundance of anchovies, sardines and molluscs on the Peruvian coast. However, Shady’s discoveries at Caral and Haas and Creamer’s at other inland sites in Norte Chico reveal a complexity that caused Moseley to modify his claim that ‘it’s all based on fish’. All the sites are centered on irrigation utilising the seasonal floodwaters of the four main rivers coming down from the Andes. While some food crops were grown in these irrigation areas, the dominant crop was domesticated cotton. Despite Haas and Creamer’s claims that their inland sites are as old as, and outnumber the coastal ones, and[V1] that hence the maritime hypothesis cannot hold, it seems plausible to claim that the region displays a unique example of co-dependency.[32]

Fig 21 Buena Vista site of oldest calendar? 4.2kya

Fig 21 Buena Vista site of oldest calendar? 4.2kya

Fig 22 Sechin Baja Plaza near Casma 5.5kya

Fig 22 Sechin Baja Plaza near Casma 5.5kya

Fresh sites of greater age are being found, on the coast, inland, and in the mountains as attention has become focused on Norte Chico, at Sechin Baja at Casma, Buena Vista, Bandurria and Chankillo for example.[33] These sites suggest that initially they were autonomous, though right from the earliest stages they were linked in trading networks exchanging exotic goods up and down the coast, inland into the mountains, possibly even to the Amazon.

Fig 23 Bandurria 4.5kya

Fig 23 Bandurria 4.5kya

Fig 28 Found at Caral: 1. feather necklace 2. offering 3. basket 4. sandal

Fig 28 Found at Caral: 1. feather necklace 2. offering 3. basket 4. sandal

Fig 29 Whale vertebra seat unearthed at Caral

Fig 29 Whale vertebra seat unearthed at Caral

Fig 30 Caral Flutes with Incised Amazonian jungle monkey images

Fig 30 Caral Flutes with Incised Amazonian jungle monkey images

Fig 27 Spondylus shell

Fig 27 Spondylus shell

For example Spondylus shells from the warm water off the Ecuadorian coast have been found in the Andes, as have salt crystals from the Peruvian coast.[34] Feathers from the Amazon jungle along with Condor bones, the aphrodisiac achiote, and obsidian from the Andes have all been found in Norte Chico.[35] Michael Moseley suggests that there was an ancient coastal trading tradition with exchange specialists called mindala. [36] These traders sailed massive balsa rafts up to Mexico carrying Spondylus shells and other exotic materials, and would have been the kind of craft captured by the conquistador Pizarro in 1526.

Shady’s and Haas and Creamer’s attraction to a hierarchical explanation of social complexity may in part be rooted in their attempt to attribute a special iconic status to Norte Chico as a ‘mother civilisation’ on the grounds that, unlike any other, it grew in isolation from outside influence.[37] The trading networks and exchange systems which would have been established through the movements and interactions of the region’s earliest occupants, as a precursor to social complexity, make such miraculous births seem as unlikely as ‘neolithic revolutions’ and ‘pristine wildernesses’, whilst they also undermine the apparent corollary of seeming to have done it all by themselves, and that there must have been an elite to direct it.[38]

Autonomous communities and exchange networks aside, the evidence seems to show that the inland communities’ basic source of protein was fish, and for the coastal communities to supply that volume of food they had to have nets, nets made[V2] from cotton domesticated and grown in irrigated plots inland. Over time what may have developed was a relationship of co-dependence rather than dominance by one or the other. Equally problematic is the qustionof how the labour force was organised to build this massive complex of monuments[V3] ?

For Haas it’s straightforwardly obvious: The size of a structure is really an indication of power…People don’t just say, ‘Hey, let’s build a great big monument.’ They do it because they’re told to and because the consequences of not doing so are significant.[39] Shady is likewise in no doubt, it was a proto-state run by an elite in the service of a religious ideology: ‘Religion functioned as the instrument of cohesion and coercion, and it was very effective’[40] But her key claim for the necessary existence of an elite hierarchy dominated by religious and scientific experts is that Caral was laid out in a specific spatial plan based on astronomy and a calendar.

[t]he arrangement of architectural structures implies a spatial ordering that preceded construction and the elaboration of a planned design of the city, that recognised important social organisational criteria such as hierarchical social strata and symbolic divisions into halves- upper and lower, right and left…Supe society produced advanced scientific and technological knowledge; it constructed the first planned cities in the New World and laid down the foundations of what would become the Central Andean social system.[41]

Leaving aside the question of the evidence for accurate astronomical and calendrical alignments, which she does not provide, her argument depends on a self-evident understanding of knowledge and space. If a set of structures has a spatial ordering then there must have been a planner or group of planners. The apparent differentiation in the quality of domestic spaces may be evidence of social division, but it may also be interpreted as permanent and occasional accommodation. However, the claim of necessary hierarchy looks less cogent if the large geometric and spatially organised structures in the Amazon were built communally without an expert elite. Other archaeologists such as Richard Burger suggest that it was possible to mobilize the large labor force needed for such monumental architecture without state coercion. Like Shady he thinks religious ideology was the key innovation:

In motivating collective efforts, maintaining order and perpetuating the system… an ideology that held that the community not the individual owned and controlled critical resources… structured many of the productive activities and shaped social and economic dimensions. Consequently it would be misleading to think of religion – and particularly in these early ‘ceremonial centres’ – as somehow separate from the economic or political spheres.[42]

For Burger, unlike Shady, hierarchy is not self-evidently necessary nor is communal ideology inherently coercive.

Herrera proposes a ‘heterarchical framework that drives socio-spatial organization’ and: sketch[es] a picture of Andean social complexity as embedded in the history of deeply intertwined sacred and economic landscapes, held together by reciprocal relations about places, including sources of water, ultimately anchored in memory through the idiom of kinship.[43]

Burger’s and Herrera’s interpretive frameworks differ from that of Shady and Haas, not only in conceiving knowledge and space as an emergent effect of heterarchy, but also in being performative rather than representational, a framework which brings to the fore two key dimensions. The first gives the community active and engaged agency rather than reducing them to passivity and coercion. The second is the manifest spatial character of all the Norte Chico sites and especially Caral, where the central and most obvious characteristic is not the buildings or their layout, but the plazas and their associated performance spaces, spaces where the community enact their understandings of the world and the cosmos.[44] The cultural landscape and the community are the product of movement and social interaction, of people making connections. However, the performative and emergent character of an heterarchical, distributive system, framework cannot be assumed presumptively, it has to be held in tension with the top down structuralist character of an hierarchical one. But I also think we should treat the notion of tension as having more ontological significance than this epistemological point would suggest.

These reasons lie in the role of string and stories, textiles, khipu and narratives; other forms of connection which seem relatively slight, mundane and banal against the massive solidity of the pyramids and the vast plazas, but which were also central to the performance of knowledge and space at Caral.

Fig 31 Oldest Khipu Caral

Fig 31 Oldest Khipu Caral

Fig 32 Caral textile

Fig 32 Caral textile

In a sealed room in one of the pyramids in 2005 Shady and her team made the most exciting find at Caral – the earliest known example of a khipu, a proto-khipu consisting of a ladder-like assemblage of 12 cotton strings, some knotted, wrapped around sticks. Famously Khipu are the knotted string devices used for recoding and transmitting information in the Inca Empire. Along with the khipu many fragments of textiles have been which along with the landscape itself are held to be readable as narratives of social order and identity.

Fig 33 Andean textile

Fig 33 Andean textile

Heather Lechtman in her brilliant analysis of Andean technologies of power argues that solutions to the problem of productive management of the disparate and distributed systems in the Andes that were ‘uncoordinated spatially and temporally’, ‘had to be solutions of articulation, design and labour orchestration rather than through tools, artefacts, or machines’.[45] And it was textiles, string and Khipu that provided the means of orchestration.

‘Textiles were the primary visual medium for the expression of ideas, the fundamental art form of the Andean peoples’.[46] Their ‘weaving insists that messages be embodied in and expressed by structure’. [47] As Katherine Seibold puts it, ‘Textiles are art which reveals cosmologies.’[48] Inca landscapes were draped with textiles, as for example on the island of the sun in Lake Titicaca, and people’s clothing was designed to be read t reveal their status and their ethnicity.


Fig 34 Last Inca string bridge

Fig 34 Last Inca string bridge

‘Andean solutions to the most fundamental, physical and mechanical problems of daily life, as well as those of communication and ideology, were sought, conceived and executed through resource to technologies based on the engineering of fibres.’[49] According to William Conklin ‘tension was the Inca way. Textiles are held together by tension and they exploited that tension with amazing inventiveness and precision’.[50]

Fig 35 Ceque lines radiating out from Cuzco. According to Bauer

Fig 35 Ceque lines radiating out from Cuzco. According to Bauer

Fig 36 A khipu that may be a map of Ica Valley Ceque System

Fig 36 A khipu that may be a map of Ica Valley Ceque System

Fig Q’enqo Huaca near Cuzco. Maybe a map, a solar observatory, a shrine, an altar, a performance space, on, in, through and around.

Fig Q’enqo Huaca near Cuzco. Maybe a map, a solar observatory, a shrine, an altar, a performance space, on, in, through and around.

Likewise the landscape was marked by lines (ceques) radiating out from the capital Cuzco. These lines joining sacred shrines (huacas) formed an abstract social map projected onto the landscape as paths, which had their fabric and material analog in the knotted string khipu.[51] In their ‘discursive construction of the landscape…the ceque lines, and the khipu may be homologous forms: visible, tactile, and emotive, they each embody knowledge, produce history, and harness the memory’. [52] Khipu are knotted strings that hang off a main primary cord. Their spin, colour, size of knots and so on can record all kinds of knowledge. It has been known for some time that some of them are numerical ledger books recording llama flock numbers, labour tax records, tributes and food quantities in storage.[53] It is now hypothesised that there are many varieties of khipu and some may also encode narratives and histories.[54]

Fig 37 Khipu on display at civic plenum Peru 1995 (Salomon)

Fig 37 Khipu on display at civic plenum Peru 1995 (Salomon)

This understanding fits with that of the anthropologist Frank Salomon who has recently found khipus are still in use in some Peruvian villages.[55] Admittedly they have been undoubtedly transformed from those of their original Inca ancestors, nonetheless he finds khipu are markers of social obligation to the commons, and are also badges of office. They are used in pairs in dialogue with each other; one as sort of simulation of an agenda, the other a simulation of the results. The dialogue between the plan and the record generates the communally agreed rationality of the community and public acknowledgement of the labour obligations of its members. Basically Salomon finds khipu to be operational devices for trying out alternatives, for modelling and assembling a plan for the commons through being publicly performed in theatres or ceremonial plazas.

In Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years, Elizabeth Barber made a delightful observation that she suspects string to be ‘the unseen weapon that allowed the human race to conquer the earth, that enabled us to move out into every econiche on the globe during the Upper Palaeolithic. We could call it the String Revolution’.[56] The recognition that the capacity to join things together through lashing, binding and knotting, with string or cordage, is what enabled people to move is of profound importance. Movements are performed by groups of people through the actions of their own bodies and are coordinated and motivated through ritual, music, dance and stories. Historically stories and string were very likely coproduced with one another; they certainly inform each other mythopoetically through the fundamental commonality of narrative and weaving. Weaving and storytelling reflect a common origin in the derivation of text and textile from the Latin verb texere to weave. What weaving, stories, and string share is the complex duality of tension and connection, difference and similarity. Stories join ideas, string joins things together, and both are dependent on tension.[57] String and cordage derive their connective capacity from tension in knots, binding, or twining. Weaving depends on the tension between the warp and the weft.

The “incredible fact,” in the view of William J. Conklin, architect, archaeologist and research associate at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C, is that “weaving was invented for what we might call ‘conceptual art’—to communicate meaning—and only afterward was it used for clothing. Textiles are important to every society. But their role in Andean societies as carriers of meaning and power is different from anything else that I know.”[58]

Just as khipu are not forms of writing Andean textiles are not representations.[59] Weaving and textiles like khipu are profoundly tactile coming alive in performance, which makes Andean knowledge traditions profoundly different ontologically and epistemologically from those underpinning Western conceptions of modernity. For the Inca ‘[t]he universe and the world are alive and this can be captured in weaving, the threads can have power, life and meaning are imparted by the weaver through rotation spinning and twisting’.[60] Tension is thus central to an Andean ontology, and to heterarchy and complex adaptive systems in the opposition of positive and negative feed back.[61] But, tension is also central to the agonistic pluralism and diversality that is vital to working with differing knowledge traditions, and to the possibility of emergent new knowledge.

The conditions for possibilities of there being other knowledges, other spaces, other rationalities’ lie, as Dussel suggested, in creating a space for transmodernity in which modernity and its negated alterity could co-realise themselves in a process of mutual creative fertilization. However, I would argue, along with Dussel, that in order to ground an anti-foundationalist position with its recognition of multiple incommensurable knowledge traditions you need to sustain critical reason in order to avoid the vitiation of simply celebrating difference.[62] Critical reason is best sustained through comparing the ways in which spatiality, temporality, knowledge and reason are coproduced in differing traditions. Such ontological dimensions are typically concealed and invisible behind a screen of self-evidence in any given tradition, bringing them to the fore and recognising them may best achieved through by putting them on a equitable footing, acknowledging that all knowledges whether they are indigenous, scientific or traditional, are local in that they are performed by people in places with specific practices. Holding them in tension can reveal the differing ways in which knowledge and space are co-produced. The linkings of people, practices and places and the production of knowledge spaces have messy, contingent, and only partly acknowledged dimensions: ontologies, systems of trust, reciprocity and obligation, technical devices, social strategies and spatial structures for moving, assembling, and performing the knowledge, along with narratives of spatiality and temporality that shape community and identity. In addition to being profoundly narratological and spatial, knowledges are also performative, they are based in embodied practices, in the movement of human bodies in engagement with each other, with the physical environment, and with their own artifacts, in the movement along cognitive trails through conceptual space in making linkages and connections.[63]

To make all these dimensions visible, to enable them to interact and to create the conditions for the possibility of the emergent knowledge, we need to experiment with ways to create third spaces, theatres of diversity in which differing knowledge traditions can not only be performed together, but can be critically compared in determining how best to proceed in sustaining diversity and the commons once we are aware of how things could be other than they are.[64] To that end I am working with Wade Chambers to develop Story Weaver at The Institute of American Indian Art (IAIA) and with Robin Boast at the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology in Cambridge and Ramesh Srinivasen at UCLA to develop a distributed knowledge system between museums. Both these projects sustain the commons by allowing differing knowledges to work together while holding them in tension rather than absorbing them into one dominant tradition, but that is a story for another day.

This paper was previously subtitled ‘Other Spaces, Other Rationalities: Heterarchy, Complexity and Tension, Norte Chico, Amazonia and Narratives of Prehistory in South America’. It was delivered at the Institute of Postcolonial Studies, Melbourne on 5 Nov 2011 as part of the Southern Perspectives series by David Turnbull from the Victoria Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL), Architecture Faculty, University of Melbourne (email [email protected]).

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[3] Diamond, Jared. 1997. Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Society. London: Jonathon Cape.

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[29] cited in Mann 2000

[30] Turnbull 2000.

[31] Herrera, Alexander. 2007. Social Landscapes and Community Identity: the Social Organisation of Space in the North-central Andes. In Socialising Complexity: Structure, Interaction and Power in Archaeological Discourse, edited by S. Kohring and S. Wynne-Jones: Oxbow Books. Abercrombie, Thomas. 1998. Pathways of Memory and Power: Ethnography and History Among an Andean People. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

[32] Haas, Jonathan, and Winifred Creamer. 2006. Crucible of Andean Civilization: The Peruvian Coast from 3000 to 1800 BC. Current Anthropology 47 (5):745-775.

[33] Sandweiss, Daniel. Michael Moseley, 2001. Amplifying Importance of New Research in Peru. Science 294 (5547):1651-1653. Ghezzi, Ivan, and Clive Ruggles. 2007. Chankillo: A 2300-Year-Old Solar Observatory in Coastal Peru. Science 315 (5816):1239-1243.

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[34] Burger, Richard. 1992. Chavin and the Origins of Andean Civilization. London: Thames and Hudson, 32. See also

[35] Brooks, Sarah Osgood. 1997. Source of Volcanic glass for Ancient Andean Tools. Nature 386 (6624):449-450.

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Owen, Bruce. 2010. The Late Preceramic period: Massive Monuments in Simple Societies 2006 [cited June 1st 2010].

[36] Moseley, Michael. 2001. The Incas and Their Ancestors: The Archaeology of Peru. London: Thames and Hudson, 48-9.

Miller, Kenneth. 2005. Showdown at the O.K. Caral. Discover Magazine.

Salomon, Frank. 1987. A North Andean Status Trader Complex Under Inca Rule. Ethnohistory 43 (1):63-77.

Burger, Richard. 1992. Chavin and the Origins of Andean Civilization. London: Thames and Hudson.

Heyerdahl, Thor, Daniel Sandweiss, and Alfredo Narvaez. 1995. Pyramids of Tucume: The Quest for Peru’s Forgotten City. London: Thames and Hudson.

Sandweiss, Daniel H. 1999. The Return of the Native Symbol: Peru Picks Spondylus to Represent New Integration with Ecuador. Society for American Archaeology 17 (2).

Owen, Bruce. 2010. The Late Preceramic period: Massive Monuments in Simple Societies 2006 [cited June 1st 2010].

[37] Mann, Charles C. 2005. Oldest Civilization in the Americas Revealed. Science 307 (5706):34-35.

[38] Marwick, Ben. 2003. Pleistocene Exchange Networks as Evidence for the Evolution of Language Cambridge Archaeological Journal 13 (1):67-81.Gamble, Clive. 2007. Origins and Revolutions: Human Identity in Earliest Prehistory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[39] na. 2001. Ancient Peruvian Metropolis Predates Other Known Cities. National Geographic News

[40] Solis, Ruth Shady. 2006. America’s First City? The Case of Late Archaic Caral. In Andean Archaeology 111: North and South, edited by W. Isbell and H. Silverman, 28-. New York: Springer, 58-9.

[41] Op cit 36, 62.

[42] Burger, 38.

[43] Herrera, 180

[44] Moore, Jerry. 2005. Cultural Landscapes in the Ancient Andes: Archaeologies of Place. Gainesville: University of Florida.

[45] Lechtman, Heather. "Technologies of Power: The Andean Case." In Configurations of Power: Holistic Anthropology in Theory and Practice, edited by John Henderson and Patricia Netherly, 244-81. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993, 246.

[46] Ibid 255

[47] Ibid 273

[48] Seibold, Katherine. "Textiles and Cosmology in Choquecancha, Cuzco, Peru." In Andean Cosmologies through Time: Persistence and Emergence, edited by Robert Dover, Katherine Seibold and John McDowell, 166-201. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.

[49] Lechtman, 255.

[50] Mann, Charles. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus. New York: Alfred Knopf, 2005, 83

[51] Abercrombie, 179

[52] Howard R, 2002, "Spinning A Yarn: Landscape, Memory, and Discourse Structure in Quechua Narratives", in Narrative Threads: Accounting and Recounting in Andean Khipu Eds J Quilter and G Urton (University of Texs Press, Austin) pp 26-52, 46. Frame M, 2001, "Beyond The Image: The Dimensions of Pattern in Ancient Andean Textiles", in Abstraction: The Amerindian Paradigm Ed C Paternosto (Societe des Expositions du Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelle, Brussells) pp 113-136.

[53] Urton, Gary. Signs of the Inka Khipu: Binary Coding in the Andean Knotted-String Records. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003.

[54] anon. "Language Could Be Tied up in Inca Knots." Canberra Times, Aug 13th 2005, 15.Brokaw, Galen. "Toward Deciphering the Khipu." Journal of Interdisciplinary History xxxv, no. 4 (2005): 571-89.Conklin, Willliam. "A Khipu Information String Theory." In Narrative Threads: Accounting and Recounting in Andean Khipu, edited by J. Quilter and G. Urton, 53-86. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002.Quilter, J., and G. Urton, eds. Narrative Threads: Accounting and Recounting in Andean Khipu. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002.

[55] Salomon, Frank. The Cord Keepers: Khipus and Cultural Life in a Peruvian Village. Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2004. See his khipu conservation project…/ peters-khipus/index.htm

[56] Barber, Elizabeth. Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years. New York: W.W, 45. See also Good, I. 2001, Archaeological Textiles: A Review of Current Research, Annual Review of Anthropology, 30, 209-226, 209.

[57] According to Webster’s Dictionary tension owes its etymology to the Sanskrit word for string. My thanks to Lesley Green for this point.

[58] Mann, Charles. 2005. Unraveling Khipu’s Secrets. Science 309 (5737):1008-1009.

[59] Mignolo, Walter. 1995. The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality and Colonization. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 86.

Boone, Elizabeth Hill. 1994. Introduction: Writing and Recording Knowledge. In Writing Without Words: Alternative Literacies in Mesoamerica and the Andes, edited by E. H. Boone and W. Mignolo, 3-26. Durham: Duke University Press.

[60] Conklin, William. 2008. The Culture of Chavin Textiles. In Chavin: Art, Architecture, and Culture, edited by W. Conklin and J. Quilter, 261-278. Los Angeles: Costen Institute of Archaeology, University of California.

[61] Turnbull, David. Working with Incommensurable Knowledge Traditions: Assemblage, Diversity, Emergent Knowledge, Narrativity, Performativity, Mobility and Synergy 2009 [cited. Available from

[62] Dussel, Enrique. 2000. Epilogue. In Thinking from the Underside of History: Enrique Dussel’s Philosophy of Liberation, edited by L. Alcoff and E. Mendieta, 269-290. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 276-7.Turnbull, David. 2005. Multiplicity, Criticism and Knowing What to Do Next: Way-finding in a Transmodern World’. Response to Meera Nanda’s Prophets Facing Backwards. Social Epistemology 19 (1):19-32.

[63] Cussins, Adrian. 1992. Content, Embodiment and Objectivity: The Theory of Cognitive Trails. Mind 101:651-688.

[64] Guardiola-Rivera, Oscar. 2010. What If Latin America Ruled the World? How the South Will Take the North into the 22nd Century. London: Bloomsbury Press, 48.

Escobar, Arturo. 2008. Territories of Difference: Place, Movements, Life, Redes. Durham: Duke University Press, 25.

Indigenous Knowledges in Latin America and Australia conference

Please note the upcoming Symposium that SURCLA is organising: Indigenous Knowledges in Latin America and Australia | Locating Epistemologies, Difference and Dissent | December 8-10, 2011.

The symposium will bring together Indigenous educators and intellectuals from Mexico, Argentina and Chile to Sydney to meet with interested Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander educators, scholars and activists, as well as non-Indigenous practitioners and allies, to discuss different models and approaches of Indigenous Knowledges and Education in the tertiary sector and beyond.

This project aims at helping educators and researchers in the Higher Education sector of Australia and Latin America to identify opportunities for integrating in their research and teaching and learning relevant aspects of Indigenous Knowledges in the areas of culture, education and sustainability.

Apart from the symposium itself, academic publications, public lectures by distinguished visitors and the creation of a website, the project will stimulate debate on Indigenous Knowledge and film production in Latin America and Australia by hosting film screenings on the topic.

For more information, visit the website.

El congreso Ciencias, Tecnologías y Culturas–Chile January 2013

Convocatoria Estudiantes de Graduaçao, Pregrado, No-Graduados para III Congreso Ciencias, Tecnologías y Culturas

La Internacional del Conocimiento desea abrirse a la participación de la mayor cantidad posible de estudiantes de diversas disciplinas y países. Para ello ha establecido un conjunto de iniciativas. Se trata de promover entre estudiantes de grado-graduaçao la realización de un importante Viaje Intelectual a Santiago de Chile y a otras ciudades cercanas.

El congreso Ciencias, Tecnologías y Culturas se desarrollará en la Universidad de Santiago de Chile, 7-10 de enero-janeiro 2013

Simposios para jóvenes [email protected]

Habrá simposios especiales para estudiantes de graduaçao, sobre los temas:

  • Educación superior en América Latina
  • Energía, geografía y recursos
  • Integración latinoamericana y relaciones internacionales
  • Historia de América Latina
  • Temas políticos y movimientos sociales
  • Pueblos indígenas
  • Pensamiento, filosofía y teorías
  • Salud pública y ciencias de la vida
  • Medioambiente y calidad de vida
  • Comunicaciones, Internet, arte y cultura
  • Administración, desarrollo, economía, equidad
  • Recursos naturales, minería, piscicultura
  • Derechos humanos y derecho internacional
  • Turismo y patrimonio
  • Entre otros…

Presentación de trabajos

Los resúmenes (15 líneas, título, [email protected], institución, mail, contenido) deberán ser enviados hasta el 31 de agosto 2012. Se recomienda hacerlo con anticipación. Se podrá participar con o sin presentar trabajo. Se dispondrá de 15 minutos para presentar el trabajo


La Internacional del Conocimiento espera recibir aproximadamente comitivas de estudiantes de graduaçao de unas 50 ciudades Al congreso 2010 concurrieron varias delegaciones de estudiantes de numerosas ciudades de Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia.

Organización de la comitiva

Se recomienda que se organice un equipo, de 2 o 3 personas, en cada ciudad o institución de educación superior que organice la comitiva y se comunique con la Internacional del Conocimiento, informando el interés por viajar al congreso

Equipo de Jóvenes Profesionales del Conocimiento

Es deseable que se aproveche la preparación para participar del congreso y de ese viaje intelectual para organizar un equipo permanente que promueva la realización de actividades especialmente destinadas a promover la investigación entre jóvenes. Este equipo puede permanecer ligado a la Internacional del Conocimiento, obteniendo así muchos beneficios de información y contactos.

Se organizará un Foro Latinoamericano de Estudiantes para pensar el futuro de la región, en relación a las tareas del estudiantado


Instalaciones deportivas de la USACH, gratuito

Presentar carné estudiante [email protected] y certificado inscripción congreso

Pre-Inscribirse a través de comitivas-delegaçoes

Es necesario traer artículos de aseo y saco de dormir.


30 US o 17.000 pesos chilenos

Esta inscripción da derecho a materiales congreso, participación en todas las actividades académicas, presentación de ponencia, actividades recreativas, de convivencia, cóctel de bienvenida y asado-churrasco final.

Campanha Compromiso Intelectual

OJO: Si ya has adherido comunicar a tus colegas para que apoyen también. Necesitamos 10.000 adesoes-adhesiones. Manifiesto y datos en la pagina web.

Responsable: Mg. Eduardo Hodge Dupré: [email protected]

David Turnbull – Other Knowledges: Reflections on Recent Archaeology in South America

Other Knowledges: Reflections on Recent Archaeology in South America
3 November 2011 7:30pm Institute of Postcolonial studies

David Turnbull considers recent research into the ancient civilisation of Caral in Peru, which questions the privileging of sedentary forms as necessary for complex social organisation. Turnbull reflects on the nature of heterarchy as framework for emergent knowledges and spaces. He relates this to the work of Enrique Dussel, which advocates ‘a space for transmodernity in which modernity and its negated alterity could co-realise themselves in a process of mutual creative fertilization.’

Dr David Turnbull is a philosopher of science who has published extensively on the history of space and time, with recent emphasis on concept specific to southern knowledges. His books include Masons, Tricksters and Cartographers: Comparative Studies in the Sociology of Scientific and Indigenous Knowledge (2000)

Institute of Postcolonial Studies
78-80 Curzon Street
North Melbourne
Victoria 3051 Australia (map)
Tel: 03 9329 6381
Admission – $5 for waged, $3 for unwaged, and free for members.

Talk – Modernism as a local phenomenon: the art of Artur Barrio and Helio Oiticica

María Elena Lucero, Universidad Nacional Rosario, Argentina
11 August 2011 7:30pm, Institute of Postcolonial Studies, North Melbourne

María Elena Lucero

María Elena Lucero

Visiting Argentinian art theorist presents a paper on influential Brazilian artists Artur Barrio and Helio Oiticica in relation to recent ‘decolonial’ thinking in Latin America. In this, she tracks a particular local modernism that drew its materials from the margins. She makes reference to the tropicalia movement, which endures as a quintessential southern way of thinking and creating. Her paper reflects a ‘decolonial aesthetics’, as found in Latin America writers such as Ramón Grosfoguel and Walter Mignolo. Broadly speaking, such an approach advocates a system of meaning that is located in Indigenous forms of knowing that are independent of imperial ideology. This paper is a unique opportunity to consider the relation between the Latin American ‘decolonial’ and the Anglo ‘postcolonial’.

Dr María Elena Lucero is Director of CETCACL (Centre of Critical Theoretical Studies of Art and Culture in Latin America), Universidad Nacional de Rosario. She is the author of many publications on Latin American art movements and artists, including Eugenio Dittborn, Cildo Merilles and Adriana Varejão. She has also written widely on pre-Columbian cultures. María Elena Lucero is coming to Australia exclusively to speak at the Southern Perspectives series at the IPCS.