Jota Mombaça



Bildrecht: Brooklyn Museum CC BY 3.0

From your point of view, what are the main questions and problems of the Global South?

I think the concept of the Global South is very broad to be able to account for all the localities and places it intends to group together. However complex the perspectives on which the concept is based, making a grand global narrative out of it about contexts pressured by the reproduction of extractivism and neocolonial movements throughout history is oversimplifying it. More than that, the concept of the Global South, to me, seems to dislocate certain possibilities of local emergency. This becomes very obvious when we look at the particular geopolitical situation of Brazil, in which the opposition North/South has an inverse meaning in comparison to the perspective the Global South proposes. How does my Northeastern migrant positionality fit into the boundaries of the Global South?

Further, several attempts to elaborate upon this multiplicity and distortion of the Global South have a watering down tendency, which also concerns me. In other words, many times the South appears to be synonymous with precariousness and political tension and can thus be appropriated by historically dominant positionalities as an instrument of re-articulation in the face of crisis. The biggest problem with this is that, once more, the historically subordinated knowledge, strategies and practices (“of the South”) lays the groundwork for the re-centering of the historically dominant position (“of the North”). This intrigues me especially because, as an analytical category operating on a global scale, the “South” is in conflict and this conflict is sustained by the colonial heritage that casts its shadow on what is called the postcolonial world.

Where are the gaps in the South-South dialog? ?

Supposing that I know what South-South means, I think that these gaps are spaces of circulation and I would say that they are all around, they are what make dialogue possible. Because, given the current definition around what “South” means, there is no space for homogenous readings from any of the contexts mentioned above. And heterogeneity privileges the gap; it is the indefinite updating of this gap space that allows for the realities to shift and for the world to change.

How does Epistemic Risk, in which you participated, relate to these gaps and problems?

I think that Epistemic Risk gave me the chance to perceive the potential alliance between the Brazilian and South African contexts, exactly because, together, we managed to articulate the similarities of our positions without this reducing them to one synthetic image. It was possible to dive into the complexity of our questions without necessarily converging or making unison, but rather by producing together. It was really rich and beautiful. And it is from these risks – which are not only epistemic, but also political, economic, ethical, concrete, living, etc. – that we are able to come into contact with alliances, dialogs and coalitions. Because, in the South, there are many people who are very broken, very divergent, very plural. And if there is any possibility for weaving a web or community, that certainly depends on the ability to be heard without oversimplifying one’s case, without making hasty juxtapositions while preserving the unknown gap space on which our potential for insisting on life depends, in spite of everything.

Jota Mombaça is a non-binary queer, born and raised in the Northeast of Brazil, who writes, performs and carries out academic studies about the relations between monstruosity and humanity, anti-coloniality, redistribution of violence and visionary fiction.