The Co-Constitution of Inequality and Conviviality
Based on detailed analysis of recent studies on conviviality, contributions from decolonial, postcolonial, and posthuman fields, as well as from Amazonian anthropology and convivialist studies, this paper explores the potential of convivial approaches in studying contemporary challenges for living together in/with difference. It identifies a common analytical deficit in these different research fields: the disregard of the reciprocal constitution of conviviality and inequality. To overcome this deficiency, an analytical framework is developed, according to which inequalities, defined along four axes (material, power, environmental and epistemological asymmetries), are always signified, reproduced, and negotiated within convivial interactions. For illustrating the empirical usefulness of this matrix, the paper refers to different studies that have employed it, which have been developed at Mecila, the Maria Sibylla Merian Centre Conviviality-Inequality in Latin America.
Sérgio Costa, trained in economics and sociology in Brazil and Germany, is a professor of sociology and director of the Institute for Latin American Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, as well as co-director of Mecila. His areas of interest are postcolonial theory, inequality research, racism and antiracism, conviviality, and difference. His most recent books are A port in global capitalism (co-authored with Guilherme L. Gonçalves, Routledge, 2019, edition in Portuguese, Boitempo, 2020); Entre el Atlántico y el Pacífico Negro (Between the Black Atlantic and the Black Pacific), co-authored with Manuel Góngora-Mera and Rocío Vera Santos, Verwuert, 2019, winner of the LASA Iberoamericano Book Award 2020); and Global Entangled Inequalities (co-edited with Elizabeth Jelin and Renata C. Motta, Routledge 2018, also available in Spanish, Siglo XXI, 2020).