Joanna Page – Decolonizing Science in Latin American Art


UCL Press, ISBN-13: 978-1787359765, English, 276 pages, 2021, UK

“Decolonising science is […] to understand that the universal, abstract knowledge Western science has produced […] is only one kind of knowledge among many others that may bring benefits to individuals and communities.” This is probably one of the sharpest and most direct ideas in the vast and occasionally vacuous world of post-colonial discourse. It is also the basic premise of Joanna Page’s study of art and science conducted by Latin American artists at home and abroad. The legitimisation of different approaches, or what Boaventura de Sousa Santos calls an “ecology of knowledges”, is channelled by the different ways in which artworks contribute to science. One of these pathways is the use of “amateur practices”, such as those associated with DIY culture, that become shared knowledge while questioning how knowledge itself is constructed. Another is the critical representation of the relationship between art and science, such as the documentation of corporate climate change denial on social media. More generally, the complexity of science in artworks and its particular significance in Latin America calls for an engagement that reflects on the implications of ‘post-academic science’. The author promotes a post-anthropocentric imaginary and the exquisite artwork selection, embedded in an appropriate theoretical context, is also available as a downloadable pdf.