- Territory/ies from a Latin American Perspective1
Our logic, the logic that allowed us to survive so many centuries of massacres on our continent, is not a monological, monopolistic logic governed by the neurosis of coherence and control, the monotheistic and white logic of the Europeans. Our logic is tragic, in the sense of being able to co-exist with inconsistency, with incompatible truths, with the equation A and not-A, both opposites and truths at the same time. Therefore, it is always, always endowed with the vital intensity of disobedience. A logic that is consistently for something: for conserving life and guaranteeing the continued and improved well-being of more people, for keeping the horizon of history open without a predetermined destiny, for keeping time [and space] moving.(Segato, 2019, para. 2)
moving beyond a eurocentric monologue, could we speak of a Latin American perspective on territory? In other words, is there any unity of thought and/or social practice that would allow us to speak, generically, of a Latin American approach to territory?2 To what extent can the concept of territory and its diffusion in recent decades—to the point that some authors speak of a "territorial turn"—be geo-historically contextualized and analyzed from the prism of Latin American geography?
These questions are difficult to answer, but we can at least outline a preliminary debate. To start, we need some consensus as to what we are referring to when we speak of territory and of Latin America. Territory, beyond the mere designation or name that we use, refers to a concept, or, more broadly, a category that, as such, can be approached in three ways: as a category of practice, a normative category, and a category of analysis.
Inserted into Latin American social space-time, then, three main understandings of territory would be possible. The first, territory as a category of practice, involves a common sense conception of territory, as proposed in the everyday lives of most social groups, similar to what anthropologists call the native category.3 A second reading, of territory as a normative category, is that which, rather than responding to "what is territory," reveals "what it should be." That perspective appears, for example, in the so-called territorial policies of the state. Finally, territory can be seen as a category of analysis, an approach primarily used in the academic sphere, in which territory becomes [End Page 258] a theoretically and methodologically elaborated category through intellectual reflection. The specificity of Latin American thought about territory, as our research attests to, seems most clear in respect to territory as a category of practice, rather than as a normative category, where planning often produces (frequently poorly enacted) copies of European conceptions such as those related to "aménagement du territoire" (territorial planning, in a simple translation). In analytical terms, specific traits can be recognized, depending, for example, on how significantly intellectual investigation enters into dialogue with the use of territory as an everyday term and as a political tool used by diverse social groups, especially subaltern groups.4
It is also interesting to discuss, albeit briefly, the adequacy of Latin America as the expression of a differentiated/articulated spatial whole—a region, ultimately—capable of demonstrating a minimally unified geographical referential basis for addressing our question. We could start with the debate over a Latin American identity itself, but it is a vast and complex issue. Let us stick then to the most strictly geographical dimension of that identity formation.
The designation itself of Latin America carries a colonial connotation, since it refers to a space defined by the type of European colonization, led by the Spanish and Portuguese, thus ignoring the immense ethnic-cultural diversity that brought together Africans and Asians from diverse origins, not to mention other colonizing European groups, Latin or not, such as the French, British, and Dutch. Therefore, some propose a distinction between Latin American and the Caribbean, to which the Guyanas must be included for colonial reasons (though ignoring the Malvinas [Falkland Islands])… Then there is the more serious issue that this designation remains invisible to the vast diversity...