How Can Knowledge Infrastructures Be Decolonized? Epistemic Dialogs at the IAI

News from 09/26/2022

New perspectives on knowledge circulation and library infrastructure were discussed at international workshops held by Mecila (Maria Sibylla Merian Centre Conviviality-Inequality in Latin America) at the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut.

Frauen betrachten eine Grafik auf einem Tisch
bundesfoto/Tanja Marotzke © Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut

From September 12 to 16, 2022, two separate but related workshops were held by the international academic consortium Mecila (Maria Sibylla Merian Centre Conviviality-Inequality in Latin America) at the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut (Ibero-American Institute). One was an institutional workshop named Mecila’s Information Infrastructure, the other a thematic workshop called Latin American Knowledges in Circulation: Mediating Differences in Contexts of Conviviality.

The Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut (IAI) coordinates Mecila’s Medialities of Conviviality research area and is responsible for Mecila’s informationinfrastructure, including the network of libraries within the Mecila consortium. The institutional workshop Mecila’s Information Infrastructure (September 12–14) brought together representatives of these different libraries and members of Mecila’s Research Data Management team to strengthen ties between the project’s knowledge structures. The workshop’s attendees traded stories about their experience with digital transformation, discussed best practices, and developed strategies for working together in the future. Also in attendance were representatives from two different Maria Sibylla Merian Centres – CALAS in Guadalajara (Mexico) and MECAM in Tunis (Tunisia) – and from the library of the John F. Kennedy Institute at the Freie Universität Berlin. A keynote speech by quantum physicist Ana María Cetto (Universidad Autónoma de México) on the topic of Medialisation in Science: From Idealism to Virtualism brought a fresh perspective to the subjects of knowledge production and circulation.

The thematic workshop Latin American Knowledge in Circulation. Mediating Difference in Convivial Contexts (September 14–16) took place in tandem with the institutional workshop. The two workshops had a joint program on the first day, creating a common space where librarians and researchers could exchange ideas. On an interactive tour of the collections of the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, attendees were able to learn more about the processes and challenges of archiving information and providing access to it. These issues were expanded on in a panel discussion titled “Decolonizing Information Infrastructure?” and further illuminated in the public keynote The Encounter of Knowledges: Epistemic Dialogues in Unequal Contexts by anthropologist Margarita Valdovinos (Universidad Autónoma de México).

This was followed by additional panels on topics being studied by the Medialities of Conviviality research area. Mecila’s principal investigators and fellows presented and discussed their latest research, as did researchers from other institutions. This academic component was rounded out by a visit to the Humboldt Forum’s newly opened East Wing. The workshop ended on Friday with a closing session to define future strategies for scientific publishing, outreach and networking within the Medialities of Conviviality research area.

Mecila was established as a center for advanced studies in 2017. It researches past and present forms of social, political and cultural coexistence in Latin America and the Caribbean and aims to contribute to a better understanding of conviviality in diverse and unequal societies. In this consortium of German and Latin American institutions, the IAI works together with the Freie Universität Berlin, the Universität zu Köln, the Universidade de São Paulo (USP), the Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento (Cebrap), the Instituto de Investigaciones en Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales (IdIHCS/Conicet) der Universidad Nacional de La Plata, and El Colegio de México. It receives funding from Germany’s Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (Federal Ministry for Education and Research, BMBF).



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