Practicing the South - How to deal with differences for a better world.” This is a phrase that resulted from a discussion that united Robert F. Reid-Pharr, Selee Wendt, Nana Oforriatta Ayim, Manuel Monster and Feliz Kaputu, around a common objective: to divide knowledges and create a sentence that translated the plurality of their reflections.
The phrase resumes the impressions that came up in the first debate of the Echoes of the South Atlantic Conference, realized at the Goethe Institut, in Salvador. The proposal points to a necessity of rethinking relations in this hemisphere, re-signifying the differences so that the future does not repeat the past and that the North stops acting like the dominating elite.
Each participant had around ten minutes to speak. Afterwards, with the help of the audience and the mediator, a title for the debate was created. In common, the talks approached themes such as the connections of the African culture, the world seen with other eyes that were not those of the colonizers, occidental concepts, knowledges of the South, the necessity to destabilize what we call the North and the West, and the creation of structures of the South.
In his speech, the English professor and Doctor in American Studies, Robert Fitzgerald presented the problematic of Westernized and fantasized representations of Africa, that do not exist, except for in embellished conceptions, such as can be found in the film Black Panther. The result is a tendency to enter the sloppy habit of assuming that there is little space for dialogue, interaction, and cooperation between cultures of the North and South - or even to transform America in a set of sterile practices. For the researcher, it is necessary to shake the incapacitating structures of idealism and arrive at the details of how to privilege similarities without turning them into fetishes.
Independent curator and founder of the Global Art Project, Selene Wendt spoke about examples of curatorships that she developed in Brazil. She cited this work as a possibility of a future in which knowledges are related and there is an interconnectivity between various forms of creative expression.
The writer, filmmaker, and historian, spoke about her experience in researching similarities between Brazil and Ghana, after coming to the Country to do an artist residency the Iraparica Island: “There are so many similarities that I was surprised, in a way that is difficult to express in words,” she affirmed.
The musician, composer, professor, and cultural researcher Manuel Monestel spoke about the role of music in South American culture, as well as the calypso and sounds of African origin as elements of resistence. According to Monostel, the process of creation and the content of the lyrics preserve the relations of difficulty of the subjugated peoples to be recognized as equals, in the past and today.
Professor, Doctor, and researcher in Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies, Felix Kaputu spoke about how the West “fabricated and commercialized” Africans for imperialist use, erasing cultural references. He said, moreover, that it is necessary to point to the North’s responsibility in the models of reinvented occupation and build a future that does not perpetuate these relations.
by Iara Crepaldi
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