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ALICE Report Summary

Project ID: 269807
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Portugal

Final Report Summary - ALICE (Strange Mirrors, Unsuspected Lessons: Leading Europe to a new way of sharing the world experiences)

The main objective of ALICE project was to develop new theoretical and political paradigms for social transformation. Epistemologies of the South was the key analytical concept of the project, that translates into a postabyssal thinking and the correlate concepts of ecology of knowledges and intercultural translation. The project involved comparative research in ten countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, India, Italy, Mozambique, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and United Kingdom), with a core research team of 20 researchers and 109 associate researchers.
The project results confirmed the heuristic potential of the methodology created by the PI, the Popular University of Social Movements, bringing together scholars and activists in the analysed thematic areas: knowledge, health, democratizing democracy, transformative constitutionalism and state reform, other economies, and human rights and other grammars of human dignity.
The Epistemologies of the South concern the production and validation of knowledges anchored in the experiences of resistance of all those social groups that have systematically suffered injustice, oppression, and destruction caused by capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy. From the perspective of the Epistemologies of the South, the North centric, Western centric thinking is an abyssal thinking. It is premised upon an abyssal line separating metropolitan societies and forms of sociability from colonial societies and forms of sociability. As this abyssal line is as basic as it is invisible, it allows for false universalisms based on the social experience of metropolitan societies and sociabilities and aimed at reproducing and justifying the normative dualism metropolis/colony.
Beyond the notion of lessons from the Global South to be to learn by Europe, the research programme emphasizes global learnings, that is, global reciprocal learning. The first global learning concerns knowledge. Epistemological diversity of the world is immense and, in fact, our scientific knowledge captures part of it, but does not capture all of it. So we need, in fact, to look at different ways of knowledge without discarding science. The second global learning is that people are longing for Europe as an emancipatory project. For example, in the possibility of articulation between representative democracy and participatory democracy and the importance of the concept of demodiversity proposed by ALICE project. The third global learning is the human rights richness contained in the indigenous concept of Pachamama, and the need, in a context of climate change, to engage with other concepts of nature.
In the end, the basic ideia of ALICE project is about democratising knowledge and social sciences. ALICE main conclusions are:
- Knowledge production: exposure to pluriversal forms of thinking, from a decolonial, anticapitalist and antisexist perspective, cannot only transform how modern social knowledge is produced, but what it should be.
- Transformative constitutionalism and state reform: ALICE project deepened the understanding of the movements for the refoundation of the State and bottom up’s re-writing of Constitutions.
- Human rights and other grammars of human dignity: Conventional concepts of human rights need to be reinvented in order to serve agendas for change, recognition and translation.
- Democratizing democracy: We proceeded to deconstruct the Western matrix of democracy, analyzing the pluriverse of democratic experiences in the world and proposing the basis for intercultural democracy.
- Other economies: we argue for an ecology of forms of production and of productivities, involving a plurality of knowledges, practices, ethics, aesthetics and political and social connections capable of generating a diversity of meanings of abundance and scarcity.
- Health: Access and recognition are two faces of cognitive justice – a topic which goes beyond current debates on global health -, which may find themselves in tension, but also open up spaces of intercultural translation and ecologies of knowledges and practices in health.

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