The Research Programme Alice - epistemologies of the South (alice-ES) is a legacy of the collective work developed under the projects Reinventing Social Emancipation (1999-2001) and ALICE - Strange Mirrors, Unsuspected Lessons: leading Europe towards a new way of sharing experiences (2011-2016) based at the Centre for Social Studies at the University of Coimbra. These challenging projects created conditions for very rich exchanges between researchers and activists from all regions of the world, enabling dialogues that have greatly contributed to the construction of epistemologies of the South.
Epistemologies of the South refer to the production and validation of knowledges anchored in the experiences of resistance of social groups that have been systematically victims of injustice, oppression and destruction caused by capitalism, colonialism and heteropatriarchy. Although the "South" invokes geography and cartography, the light we assign is a metaphor of unjust human suffering and a plural space of epistemological creativity intrinsically connected to the knowledges forged in resistances and struggles. From this perspective, the idea of learning from the South calls us to recognise the infinite experience of the world as a way to overcome the intellectual and political exhaustion of the global North and to overcome the colonisation of hope by fear.
The colonial prejudice, based on centuries of genocide and epistemicide, is the key to understanding the difficulty that the Eurocentric world has in learning from the world, that is to say, in recognising histories, practices, knowledges and solutions beyond history and theories, allegedly universal, produced by its prevalent thought. It is thus important to confront the "abyssal lines of modernity" considering that modern Western thinking is an abyssal thinking deeply marked by the creation of two distinct universes: the universe "on this side of the line" and the universe "on the other side of the line". Among the procedures of the epistemologies of the South that urge us to broaden the present and contract the future, we define as fundamental to post-abyssal thinking the "ecology of knowledges", the "sociology of absences", the "sociology of emergences", "intercultural translation" and the "artisanship of practices".
The alice-ES Research Programme brings together the work of researchers and activists of different generations engaged in valuing the knowledges born from social struggles. The work developed is articulated by a coordination team and by a large number of associated researchers invested in the diversification and demonumentalisation of academic knowledge and in transformative popular education. In a process that we have called "constructing the epistemologies of the South", we collectively seek to broaden a knowledge-emancipation that is committed to overcoming the incommunicability between the university and social struggles, between academic work and the arts, contrasting the vast experience of the world with the narrow ways of thinking about the world from the "epistemologies of the North". This aspiration takes shape in publications, op-eds, seminars, an alternative information platform, Popular University of Social Movements (UPMS) workshops, summer and winter schools, concerts, films, a dictionary, masters of the world, conversations of the world or the Popular University of Commitment and Art (UPEA). Through the alice-ES Research Programme, we intend to mobilise and bring together those who, in different ways, do not relinquish fighting for global cognitive justice as a condition for global social justice.