A Space for Decolonialization

In the initial historical evolution of Latin American scholarship, the first step that was undertaken consisted in an effort to identify and delineate the philosophical and epistemological context for Latin American scholarship to develop. Prior to the second half of the twentieth century the only efforts towards considering the notion of a unique Latin America were sporadic and disconnected. Our review of the development of Latin American philosophy and thought takes its’ point of demarcation from the second half of the twentieth century. In this context, it is appropriate that we begin with the classic debate and opposition between Salazar Bondy and Leopoldo Zea on the issue of whether or not there can be a truly unique Latin American philosophy.

The relationship between Latin American scholarship and the Western European modernist ideology of the North American social, political and economic apparatus and structures under which Latin Americans now live, provides us with an initial questioning of the very identity of being that can rightly be attributed to Latin Americans. The debate between Bondy and Zea opens up two separate narrative lines of inquiry with two different calls to action for Latin American scholars to pursue. To better understand these differing calls to action, we must begin with a consideration of each path; it’s differentiating philosophical and epistemological grounds and the proposed identity of Latin American scholarship in contradistinction to existing North American structures of domination under which Latin Americans now live.

Intellectually speaking, the colonial treatment of Latin Americans under structures of domination amount to what can philosophically and epistemologically be considered as aggressive acts of violence. In this context, it should be understood that these ideological modernist structures of domination have themselves provided regrettable descriptions and representations of the indigenous and mestizo populations of the Americas. In fact, we would be better served to understand the established colonial description of indigenous and mestizo people and their reified social and political reality, to be constituted through the use of specific methods for cataloging, analyzing and interpreting gathered data. Such abstract concepts now serve to maintain domination over the consciousness of Latin Americans.

However, the true culprit in such acts of violence and domination are the standards of Western European consciousness under the influence of modernist ideology. Here then is the basis  for  those  that  may  desire  to  identify  and  help  shape  an  authentic  Latin  American philosophy. In this context, we must begin with a point of demarcation that starts apart from Western  European  methodologies  and  consciousness  in  order  to  tell  the  true  history  and evolution of indigenous and mestizo peoples living in the Americas. Additionally, one may also wish to consider the appropriateness of the label “Latin America” with specific regard to the stated referent and its’ subject of investigation (Frege: 1892).