Resignifying Environmental Epistemology through Latin America’s Artistic Representation: A Sustainability Perspective from the Humanities

By Maria Alessandra Woolson.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context

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The complex nature of the transformation needed to disassemble modern frameworks of thought and to reintegrate socio-ecological externalities into new public consciousness, points to the central role of culture in the search for sustainability. This includes a reappraisal of artistic production and their relationship to what spiritual and ethical values we attribute to the natural world. In this paper I explore the transformative power of fictional narratives and plastic art of late 20th and 21st century Latin America that, as creative works, interact with their contemporary realities. The approach observes the production of meaning as interwoven relationships between rationally articulated representations and non-visible performative forces that frame how we act upon our collective imagination. Proposed as an interdisciplinary analytical framework, this viewpoint weaves together environmental epistemology, the language of aesthetics and a study of representations, to place artistic expression as a site of convergence of various forms of signification. With no evident normative impetus, the authors selected expose a cosmology that is holistic, integrated, eco-centric and cyclical, central to many collective identities of Latin America. Sustainability, therefore, emerges as a normative criterion for reacquainting culture and nature.

Keywords: Interdisciplinary Integration, Environmental Epistemology, Environmental Imagination, Culture–nature, Literature, Latin America

The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp.175-188. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 632.982KB).

Dr. Maria Alessandra Woolson

Instructor, Spanish & Portuguese Department, Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont, USA

Maria Alessandra Woolson, of Middlebury College, brings together the world-views of science and humanities through teaching, technology, trans-disciplinary research and mentoring in the areas of sustainability, intercultural studies and foreign language. Current activities include transcultural perspectives in Ecocriticism, work with Digital humanities, collaboration with colleagues and other universities on Sustainability as a Pedagogical Project, and research in Biocultural Diversity.