Taxonomic Ambiguity is a project initiated by the Center of Tropical Malaise that takes a close look at the politics of scientific language, specifically at the ways in which it deploys coloniality, exploitation and epistemic extractivism, with a particular interest in a Latin American perspective.

This project is born as a reaction to the currently standard way of aestheticizing and watering down delicate, conflicting issues, instead of trying to actually create deeper, meaningful, and more nuanced understandings. It is a multidisciplinary project that will be structured around various epicenters: a film, a typeface, sound recordings, and this digital collection of essays. The project operates with a decolonial approach, trying to echo the following principle: there’s no single way to pin down all the aristas and complexities of reality; therefore, a multiplicity of viewpoints and voices are needed to achieve a wider, thicker understanding of our shared world.

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Essay archive

Intended as a public research material, the following essays were commissioned specifically for Taxonomic Ambiguity to foster a dialogue with practitioners in a wide array of fields, hovering around processes of classification and their consequences, questions of translation & migration, epistemic extractivism and related topics, from multiple perspectives and disciplines. All with bespoke translations between English and Spanish.

The project wants to bring to the table experts from different fields, ages and countries which might never get the chance to ping-pong ideas (scientists, designers, botanists, artists, sociologists…), and then try to articulate a multi-disciplinary set of perspectives, sometimes contradicting, sometimes confronting, however always aiming for solidarity.
In order to respect complex topics, a variety of strategies should be invoked and allow readers to form self-created, personal interpretations, that are not simplistic and non-reductible to a single approach. On this idea: translating from English to Spanish, from film to music, from photography to essays, is a gesture for diversifying the reach of ideas and fostering discussions that represent multiple points of view and their locus of enunciation.

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Research log
What is taxonomy?
August 20, 2021
On the binomial nomenclature & scientific names
August 20, 2021
A definition for «epistemic extractivism»
August 20, 2021
Fig. 1

Taxonomic Ambiguity
News and updates
New essay by Tania Hernández Velasco: «The Language of Flowers»
February 28, 2022
«Uninhabitable places to feel where I was carrying my head» by Christopher Rey Pérez translated to spanish
January 9, 2022
New essay by María Paz Amaro: «Personifying the universe»
August 24, 2021
Launch of Taxonomic Ambiguity
August 20, 2021

Ana Cristina Suzina
Journalist & writer · [BR/BE] · based in London

Christopher Rey Pérez

Writer & poet · [MX/US] · based in New York

Flavia Dzodan

Writer & researcher · [AR] · based in Amsterdam

María Paz Amaro
Writer & researcher · [CL/MX] · based in Mexico City

Milton Almonacid
Philosopher · [CL] · based in Chile and Denmark

Tania Hernández Velasco
Film-maker · [MX] · based in Mexico City

Ye Liu

Writer & researcher · based in New York

ILVZ Estudio

Graphic design studio · based in Puebla, Mexico

Ana Cristina Suzina – essay contributor (BR/BE/UK)
Christopher Rey Pérez – essay contributor (MX/US)
Desiree Hof – translator (NL)
Flavia Dzodan – essay contributor (AR/NL)
ILVZ – web design, coding (MX)
Isabel Rubio – translator (CO)
Juan Arturo García – concept, production (MX/NL)
Maité Iracheta – translator (MX/US)
María Paz Amaro – essay contributor (CL/MX)
Mateo Broillet – variable typeface design (CH/ES)
Michelle Mildenberg – illustrations (CO/NL)
Milton Almonacid – contributor (CL/DK)
Tania Hernández Velasco – essay contributor (MX)
Yásnaya Aguilar – essay contributor (MX)
Ye Liu – essay contributor (US)