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.
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.
Writer & researcher · [AR] · based in Amsterdam
María Paz Amaro
Writer & researcher · [CL/MX] · based in Mexico City
Philosopher · [CL] · based in Chile and Denmark
Tania Hernández Velasco
Film-maker · [MX] · based in Mexico City
Writer & researcher · based in New York
Graphic design studio · based in Puebla, Mexico