Cultura y diferencia: la ontología política del campo de cultura y desarrollo

Escobar, Arturo
This article analyzes a growing tension within the concept of culture that could be productive for the field of Culture and Development (C&D). The tension could be described as taking place within two conceptions of culture: culture as «symbolic structure» (CSS) and culture as «radical difference» (CRD). It is argued that despite its commitment to diversity, CSS continues to harbor the belief in the existence of a single world that underlies all of reality – what we will call a universe. At the basis of this belief lies the dualist ontology of modernity. By questioning these constitutive dualisms, CRD posits the radical differences among inter-related worlds, thus making the case for a pluriverse evident. One of the clearest expressions of CRD today is found in the tendency to highlight the profound relationality of all beings. Whether one looks at the field of social theory or at the many forms of political mobilization (such as those of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendents in Latin America), we are witnessing the political activation of relationality. The conclusion discusses how a focus on relational ontologies is potentially crucial for the partial reorientation of the field of C&D ​
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