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Challenging the Lettered City: counter-hegemonic modes of literacy in Latin America

Thursday, 27 February, 2014 - 14:00
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus
Faculty: Arts and Philosophy
Karel Van Miert
Derde Verdieping TTKA - Vergaderzaal
Universiteit Antwerpen / Instituto Cervantes / Casa do Brasil (Brazilian Embassy) i.s.m. Institute for Applied Translinguistic Studies (TTKA - VUB)
academische ontmoetingsdag

From the 16th Century, as a result of Iberian colonialism, the ‘first globalisation’ was characterized by a world system where being literate (‘ser letrado’) became a constituent of colonial power relations. In the colonial context, the notion of literacy took a Eurocentric definition, meaning written literacy in the colonizer’s (Western) language (Rama). This narrow Eurocentric concept of literacy guaranteed the survival of a structural ‘coloniality of power’ (Quijano) even after independence and the end of colonialism. By the end of the 20th Century, a new world order emerged characterized by intensified global mobility and interconnectedness. From a historical Latin American point of view and according to world-system analysis, the current age can be defined as a ‘second globalisation’, coinciding with the emergence of alternative forms of literacy able to challenge and even undo the structural colonial power relations characteristic of the ‘Lettered city’ put in place during the first globalisation. In our symposium we will trace and discuss itineraries from colonial to de-colonial literacies related to Latin America within the context of the new Global City of the 21st Century. A common thread between the presented case-studies – covering most of the Latin American continent- is a trans-disciplinary conceptual and analytical framework informed by Anthropology, Translation and Intercultural Studies.

Introduction: Christiane Stallaert (Antwerp University)

Case studies:

  1. COLOMBIA: ‘Ser letrado’ and the construction of coloniality. A study of 16th Century Franciscan manuscripts of Medellín (Martha Pulido).
  2. BRAZIL: Invisible translations. From colonialism to decoloniality in 19th Century’s Brazil (Sergio Romanelli)
  3. COSTA RICA: Digital literacy and Indigenous empowerment in today’s Latin America. The case of the Boruca (Christiane Stallaert).
  4. MEXICO: Professionalizing oral literacy. The training of indigenous interpreters in Mexico (Cristina Kleinert).
  5. PERU: Rediscovering the language of collective memory. Quechua literacy among Andean migrants in Brussels (Carmen Núñez Borja).