The ALICE Dictionary’s fundamental challenge is to acknowledge and explore the world’s epistemological and cultural diversity, and to develop a critical contemporary thought supporting the concrete practices that, in specific contexts, are reinventing the processes of social emancipation. With this aim, the dictionary has already an extensive list of contributions from academics, artists, writers, and/or activists, from different countries and different fields of research. Intending to embody a process of collective construction of knowledge, avoiding the simplification of complexity, and a reductive homogenization of diversity, it also aims to contribute to the reconstruction of a world where many worlds are possible. In line with the core philosophy of the Epistemologies of the South, the main objective of the dictionary is to capture, from an intercultural dialogue and ecology of knowledges, the epistemic complexity and richness of the global South, challenging hegemonic and monocultural views about the world.
The ALICE Dictionary undertakes the challenge of deconstructing the distorted and strange images (re)plicated by colonial mirrors, recognizing and valuing the multitude of the original forms that underlie the reflected images. This dictionary aims to amplify our ways of knowing and world making, moving us towards alternative modes of knowledge and action based on four fundamental ideas: (1) the epistemic diversity of the world is infinite and no general theory could apprehend this diversity; (2) knowing the world encompasses far more than eurocentric understandings of the world; (3) there is no lack of alternatives in the world, what we lack is an alternative way to (re)think the alternative, expressed through an ecology of knowledges, combined with interpolitical and intercultural translation; and (4) there can be no global social justice without cognitive justice (Santos, 2018). As several entries indicate, the social, political, and institutional transformation in the global North can benefit from the knowledge traditions and from the innovations that are emerging in the regions and countries with which the North has an increasingly relation of interdependency. In this sense, this dictionary cannot be developed with a conventional approach. Its specificity, on the contrary, consists of being an epistemic-political project that, without renouncing a rigorous and objective analysis, seeks to be at the service of counterhegemonic practices that must attain credibility and respect: non-scientific knowledge, subaltern epistemologies, social practices, and political projects ignored and oppressed by capitalism, heteropatriarchy, and colonialism.
The ALICE Dictionary is an empowering instrument and enhancer of critical and emancipatory thinking, which, obeying the guiding principles of the Epistemologies of the South, implies the epistemological and methodological requirement of “learning from the South and with the South” (Santos, 1995: 508). Thus, the possible contributions of this dictionary to expand our knowledge of the world are twofold. On the one hand, it aims to help in the task of giving visibility and credibility to the experiences and knowledges emerging from the social and popular struggles being carried in the global South; an on the other, and at the same time, it seeks to reveal the contradictions, limits, and possibilities of translation, articulation and mutual enrichment between these experiences and knowledges, striving for other possible worlds, showing alternatives that counteract the current tendencies driving global social injustice and unsustainable development in the global North under the domination of neoliberal globalization.
The ALICE Dictionary is a digital publication included in the results of the project - ALICE Strange Mirrors, Unsuspected Lessons: Leading Europe to a new way of sharing the world experiences, coordinated by Boaventura de Sousa Santos, and received funds from the European Research Council, 7th Framework Programme of the European Union (FP/2007-2013) / ERC Grant Agreement n. .
Santos, Boaventura de Sousa (1995), Toward a New Common Sense. Law, Science and Politics in the Paradigmatic Transition. New York: Routledge.
Santos, Boaventura de Sousa (2018). The End of Cognitive Empire: The coming of age of the epistemologies of the South. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.