In a world overwhelmingly unjust and seemingly deprived of alternatives, this book claims that the alternatives can be found among us. These alternatives are, however, discredited or made invisible by the dominant ways of knowing. Rather than alternatives, therefore, we need an alternative way of thinking of alternatives. Such an alternative way of thinking lies in the knowledges born in the struggles against capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy, the three main forms of modern domination. In their immense diversity, such ways of knowing constitute the Global South as an epistemic subject. The epistemologies of the South are guided by the idea that another world is possible and urgently needed; they emerge both in the geographical north and in the geographical south whenever collectives of people fight against modern domination. Learning from and with the epistemic South suggests that the alternative to a general theory is the promotion of an ecology of knowledges based on intercultural and interpolitical translation.
Boaventura de Sousa Santos is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Coimbra (Portugal) and Distinguished Legal Scholar at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (USA). He has written extensively on globalization, sociology of law and the state, epistemology, and social movements. His most recent publication is The End of the Cognitive Empire: The Coming of Age of Epistemologies of the South (2018).
Maria Paula Meneses, a Mozambican scholar, is currently principal researcher at the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra. At the heart of her research interests are the relations between knowledges, power, and societies. Her most recent book is Mozambique on the Move. Challenges and Reflections (with Sheila Khan and Bjorn Bertelsen 2018).