Decolonizing Architecture Advance Studies
KKH Royal Institute of Art
By Rodrigo N. Albornoz
During recent decades, terms meaning ‘living well’ or in Quechua: ‘sumaq kawsay’ have become the conceptual centrepieces of ascendant Indigenous social movements, and have encouraged a Latin American polycentric perspective as an alternative way of thinking and doing, in contrast with the Western duality of ‘centre/margin’, ‘developed/un-developed’, and so on. The regeneration of sumaq kawsay as a new geopolitical, cultural, polycentric and multipolar world is examined through the decolonial practices of Indigenous Andean community-based people, especially farmers. Decolonial thinking and ways of doing in Indigenous communities, seen here as dominant criteria for the methodology, production, structure and transfer of knowledge, have been overshadowed by the extension and limits imposed by Colonialism. Coloniality at large – the current national and global neoliberal economics and policies, democracy, and the unchanged nature of the nation/state– has curtailed but not eliminated the breadth and depth of autonomous Indigenous work in contemporary Latin America. The Coloniality of Power – social stratification – and the Coloniality of Knowledge – social sciences – together with Western Globalisation and its underlying Capitalism, have contributed to eroding the balanced Indigenous knowledge systems based in the Andes. However, they have not destroyed them entirely. Various local communities, currently based in different areas of South America, are recovering this ancient Indigenous knowledge, its languages and traditions, and its ways of ‘living well’, as an alternative mode to Western civilisation. The nascence of a multipolar world is rooted in and emerges from the local, albeit from diverse place-based cultures. The wide spread of precolonial Indigenous cultures across regions and continents has made, past and present, their local place a ‘Glocal’ one, in the globalisation of the local. From an Indigenous Andean perspective of cultural affirmation, this new polycentric world is far from anthropocentric and bipolar, but rather an ‘eco-community-centred’ and ‘pluri-local’ scenario that encompasses a nurturing, respectful, and reciprocal relationship between people and local land.
The understanding of nature as a social being, and the world as a multipolar place, can help us to adopt a different way of thinking, living and doing.