A Sustainable Future for Latin America?

In the context of the emerging challenges of the 21st century, the task of envisioning and planning for sustainable societies has taken center stage. Sustainability is a complex concept that integrates multiple areas of study, yet it has been conventionally associated with environmental issues, and therefore its intimate connection to culture and the humanities has often been overlooked. In concert with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—also known as the Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs)—we can now highlight the essential role of cultivating intellectual, ethical and social qualities to focus on sustaining quality of life on our changing planet. To that end, The University of New Hampshire’s Sustainability Institute reframes the definition of sustainability as “what sustains us as diverse people and communities, from clean air and water to healthcare, education and art,” and explains how decisions are both individual and collective, while keeping the “big picture” in mind: “sustainability is both local and global. It requires of us that we consider both the past and the future in terms of current and best practices.” This definition’s focus on quality of life as diverse cultural communities affirms the need for knowledge and insights from the humanities and social sciences, as well as diverse native sciences in addressing the grand challenges facing Latin America. With this definition in mind, proposals for a special issue of the refereed journal A Contracorriente  are encouraged to explore, though not exclusively, the following questions:

  1. In these times of volatile political divisions, the ravages of climate change, and endemic poverty and inequality, what does a sustainable future look like for Latin America?
  2. What is unique about Latin American thought in its understanding of the Anthropocene?
  3. How have the humanities and social sciences, indigenous societies and religion, informed an ethics of sustainability for the region?
  4. What are cultures of sustainability through the lens of democratic participation, citizenship, and social movements in Latin America?
  5. How do literature and literacies interrogate the kinds of globalization and mass-culture that marginalize local cultures and communities throughout the continent?
  6. How can the celebration of diversity, creativity, and the arts sustain a people, a nation, or a region’s cultural heritage?
  7. How can de-coloniality and alternatives to capitalism promote sustainability?
  8. How do Latinx-American realities inform sustainable policies and practices regionally and globally?

Areas of inquiry may include:

  • Belonging and identity
  • Changing patterns, cultures of consumption
  • Cosmopolis: local cultures, globalization, diaspora
  • Cultural dimensions of population change, migration, demographics
  • Indigenous peoples: self-government, self-management, and self-representation.
  • Indigenous knowledge and traditional practices of sustainability: other ways of knowing
  • Women and men, children and the elderly, the “familial” as community for sustainability
  • Gender and sustainability
  • The dynamics of production and consumption
  • Free trade and fair trade
  • Development, underdevelopment, sustainable development and sustainability
  • Poverty and its eradication
  • Urbanization and sustaining (mega)cities
  • Needs, wants, and demand: reconfiguring economic models for sustainability

Please email a 150-250 word abstract and title to the special issue’s editor, Dr. Maria Woolson (The University of Vermont) at maria.woolson@uvm.edu, by March 1, 2018. Articles, which may be written in Spanish or English, will be due June 30, 2018 and the journal issue will be published in Spring 2019.

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