The End of the Cognitive Empire

The Coming of Age of Epistemologies of the South

Book Pages: 392 Illustrations: Published: August 2018

Postcolonial and Colonial Studies, Sociology > Social Theory

In The End of the Cognitive Empire Boaventura de Sousa Santos further develops his concept of the "epistemologies of the South," in which he outlines a theoretical, methodological, and pedagogical framework for challenging the dominance of Eurocentric thought. As a collection of knowledges born of and anchored in the experiences of marginalized peoples who actively resist capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy, epistemologies of the South represent those forms of knowledge that are generally discredited, erased, and ignored by dominant cultures of the global North. Noting the declining efficacy of established social and political solutions to combat inequality and discrimination, Santos suggests that global justice can only come about through an epistemological shift that guarantees cognitive justice. Such a shift would create new, alternative strategies for political mobilization and activism and give oppressed social groups the means through which to represent the world as their own and in their own terms.


"Santos develops an interesting reflection for a period in which some morally repugnant forms of social inequality and social discrimination are becoming politically acceptable." — Sandra Bustamante, ERLACS

"De Sousa Santos does a commendable job at providing a structured methodological guide for doing research pertaining to the epistemologies of the South and addresses pedagogical challenges anticipated with the advent of the proposed conceptual shift in the thinking of political change." — Dieunedort Wandji, International Journal of Francophone Studies

The End of the Cognitive Empire is an outstanding book that takes forward Santos’s previous Epistemologies of the South by providing a more practical guide replete with real-world examples and experiences, many of them firsthand.”

— Sam Halvorsen, Journal of Latin American Geography

"In what is attractive to both newer readers (like me), as well as those familiar with his work, this book provides an excellent summary of his previous scholarship along with new concepts such as ‘postabyssal pedagogies,’ reinvented pedagogies emergent from the deconstruction and unlearning of pedagogies based solely on epistemologies of the North.”
  — Greg Misiaszek, Comparative Education Review

“An extraordinary compilation of Sousa Santos’ theoretical and practical contributions, The End of the Cognitive Empire, is an addition to discussions about the epistemic foundations of social struggles across the globe. Divided into three parts, each is a profound reflection on how the knowledges questioning the North are articulated to advance an anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal, and anti-colonial agenda…. [This book is] off interest to researchers and students in the social sciences, humanities, postcolonial studies, and empirical philosophers of science….” — Leandro Rodriguez-Medina, Metascience

“Boaventura de Sousa Santos is one of the most brilliant and original thinkers on theories of knowledge. This latest book offers us a further development of what he has been arguing for some time. He leaves the reader (at least, me) breathless in the range and relevance of the issues he discusses and actions he proposes. One does not have to agree with everything to be dazzled, and to rethink many things we assume. A must-read for whoever wants to change the world.” — Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University

“The result of many years of work, this book was written toward the possibility of what I would call ‘una epistemología solidaria,’ an epistemology in solidarity with those who want to change the world as it is hegemonically known. Boaventura de Sousa Santos’s political analysis in The End of the Cognitive Empire offers an alternative that steers political analysis away from the usual alternatives.” — Marisol de la Cadena, author of Earth Beings: Ecologies of Practice across Andean Worlds


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Boaventura de Sousa Santos is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Coimbra (Portugal), Distinguished Legal Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the author and editor of dozens of books, which include If God Were a Human Rights Activist and Epistemologies of the South: Justice against Epistemicide.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface  vii
Introduction: Why the Epistemologies of the South? Artisanal Paths for Artisanal Futures  1
Part I. Postabyssal Epistemologies
1. Pathways toward the Epistemologies of the South  19
2. Preparing the Ground  37
3. Authorship, Writing, and Orality  53
4. What Is Struggle? What Is Experience?  63
5. Bodies, Knowledges, and Corazonar  87
Part II. Postabyssal Methodologies
6. Cognitive Decolonization: An Introduction  107
7. On Nonextractivist Methodologies  143
8. The Deep Experience of the Senses  165
9. Demonumentalizing Written and Archival Knowledge  185
Part III. Postabyssal Pedagogies
10. Gandhi, an Archivist of the Future  209
11. Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Participatory Action Research, and Epistemologies of the South  247
12. From University to Pluriversity to Subversity  269
Conclusion: Between Fear and Hope  293
Notes  303
References  337
Index  365
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0015-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0000-6
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