Decentralized Knowledge Lab
or: „…the necessity of science for the struggle „*
In the summer of 2021, a delegation of Zapatistas from southeastern Mexico will set out on a world tour, visiting Europe first. „Simply because,“ they say, „this world is only possible if we all fight together to create it.“ In their Declaration for Life, the insurgents made it clear what they are about: „We have agreed to hold meetings, conversations, exchanges of ideas, experiences, analyses and assessments – between us, who from different ideas and from different territories – are committed to life.“
We want to give this exchange of ideas, experiences, analyses and assessments a framework that has the potential to articulate the critique of existing conditions beyond the Zapatista world journey, to advance the construction of a knowledge of the world that strengthens the possibilities for its transformation. To this end, we cordially invite everyone, each and anyone, to communicate about the pressing problems of the present, and to participate in self-determined forms in the testing of solutions. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
* „Without science,“ SupGaleano writes, „we would spontaneously take what we have at hand to provide us with an explanation, that is, a consolation.“ SupGaleano: The Genealogy of the Crime, in EZLN: Critical Thinking in the Face of the Capitalist Hydra. Contributions of EZLN Activists* to the Theory and Practice of the Zapatista Movement. Münster: Unrast Verlag 2016, pp. 237-256, here p. 247.
It is about creating places for a self-determined exchange of knowledge and perception, self-organized associations of teachers and scholars, students and authors, artists and activists…, as well as platforms for the construction of knowledge and the deconstruction of disciplinary boundaries. In doing so, we do not think – not only because of the pandemic – of a central, comprehensive event, but of an open field of tension in which knowledge can be circulated as exchange, process and experience – also virtually. For only the knowledge of the unfinishedness of reality opens up an understanding of the changeability of the world.
In a first approach, we propose to group this exchange around thematic focal points that can be assigned – tentatively – to three different questions:
1) Questions that revolve around the possibilities for a good life for all:
Sumak kawsay – Buen Vivir – Good Life, human rights, children’s rights and social rights, post-growth, de-growth, land ownership and food, climate and environment, social movement and transformation processes, peace research, autarky and autonomy, self-sufficiency and sustainability, gender justice, feminism, living without state, living without money, right to work and migrate, autonomy of migration, legality and legitimacy, net freedom and digital rights….
2) Questions that revolve around the possibility of history, histories and memory:
History/s of Zapatismo, World Systems Analysis and Zapatismo, Collectivity and History, Freedom of Expression, Knowledge Construction as History and Memory, History/s as Scientific and Democratic Narrativity/s, History and Justice, Witnessing and Memory, Truth and Truthfulness, Truth Commissions, Politics of Truth, Decolonization of Theory + Practice….
3) Questions that revolve around the possibilities of other knowledge and experience:
Learning and un-learning, decoupling, collectivity, communality and conviviality of knowledge and experience, theories of senti-pensar – entanglements of thinking and sensing, spirituality and cosmovision, metaphysics, life in resistance, anti-fascism and anti-racism, urban and rural perceptions of the world, entanglements of art and knowledge, knowledge of others, otherness and alterity, the construction of other knowledge – and: can the other be comprehended at all?
The groups of questions outlined here do not aim to create a new, different division of the disciplines of knowledge, but rather to stimulate subjecting the existing scientific division of the sensory to a critical analysis as well. Do we probably need completely new departments, institutes and faculties at our schools, colleges and universities in order to adequately confront the local and global problems of the present? Where is work already being done today on the theory and practice of dignity, hospitality, precondition-free dialogue, or the anticipation of extraordinary activities? And where is the analysis of uncontrollable systems or the exploration of experimental culture being advanced?
For the equal exchange of ideas, experiences, analyses and assessments, many possibilities are conceivable, ranging from learning and unlearning communities, knowledge workshops and science labs to decolonial city walks and knowledge appropriations in public space. You too can contribute your ideas for a possible, necessary and self-determined knowledge community!
As inspiration to think about and explore further, here is a list of initiatives on other types of university currently being explored in various places around the world:
- Unversidades de la Tierra, Earth Universities www.unitierraoax.org
- Universidad sin Fronteras, University without Walls www.swop.net/university-sin-fronteras
- Really Open University www.reallyopenuniversity.wordpress.com
- University of Commons www.universityofcommons.com
- Universidad Nomada www.sindominio.net/unomada
- Université tangente www.utangente.free.fr
- University of Utopia www.universityofutopia.org
- Convivial Research www.cril.mitotedigital.org
- Centre for Civil Society www.ccs.ukzn.ac.za