What future scenarios are currently being developed in Latin America? How does the region’s historical experience with diverse and durable crises affect thinking about the future in and of Latin America? And what conceptions of temporality characterize such thinking?
In early 2019, Jair Messias Bolsonaro’s inaugural speech as newly elected president of the Federative Republic of Brazil outlined a future free from “socialism, inverted values, the bloated state and political correctness”. Bolsonaro’s electoral promise of salvation, authoritarian style, merged Christian values with a neoliberal ideology, anti-Labor Party procedures, and an anti-crime legislative project. Such restoration of antagonistic politics contradicts Francis Fukuyama’s much-cited post-cold war prediction that the global spread of liberal capitalism would ultimately lead to an “end of history” (Fukuyama, 1992). It also demonstrates the deeply political nature of future projects.
Neoliberal positions envision Latin America’s “brighter future” as being dependent on its further integration into global markets by deregulating resource extraction (Freedom Lab, 2018). Technocrats, in turn, observe that despite regional governments’ efforts to project future scenarios, “to date, and despite few exceptions, [Latin America] lacks public institutional capacity to coordinate those tasks” (Bitar, 2014); thus, “over 500 years of unfulfilled promises” (Chinchilla, 2019) characterize the regional history. However, more critical voices claim that such stereotyping obscures Latin America’s durable and historically established inequalities (Mirabal and Laó-Montes, 2007). Future thinking, we learn, must be attentive to the historical roots of present crime, violence, and social inequalities.
Projecting futures has not been, and is not to the present day, a domain limited to the field of politics or economics. Indeed, outlining better and alternative futures has motivated work in a diverse range of disciplines, amongst them fictional writers, historians, planners, anthropologists, geographers, climatologists, and prophetic priests. Chicana theorist Gloria Anzaldúa, for one, expressed the conviction that a mestiza consciousness would ultimately mean “the end of rape, of violence, of war” (Anzaldúa, 1987: 80). Her still much-needed utopia builds on the hope and desire for the emergence of an anti-nationalist collective praxis. This political praxis is more imperative today than ever, questioning historically established exclusive binaries, and with it, cultural and national, territorialized and militarized border regimes of exclusion.
Such an imagination of alternative futures, often amid technological (r)evolution, is also one of the cornerstones of Science Fiction. As a genre and field of study it frequently seeks to address present political, economic, and cultural crises through the lens of a threatening or promising future (Steinke, 2019). From Argentine writer Ladislao Holmberg´s „spiritual fantasy“ (1876), via Gioconda Belli´s Waslala: Memorial del futuro (1996), to Ecuatox® by Santiago Páez (2013), cyberpunk and SF novels project at times alarming, at times empowering scenarios of what the future may hold for Latin America (Fays, 2016).
For the upcoming issue, CROLAR invites reviews and review essays on Latin American research, debates, policies and cultural production that address exploratory, conceptual, and epistemological questions towards Latin America’s Futures. Along with academic monographs, edited volumes, and journal volumes, we also invite reviews that examine other formats, such as blogs, fictional literature, or film. In addition, we invite review essays that, with a specific interest, comparatively discuss a set of at least three sources, including academic books, fictional novels and online resources. For our special section “Interventions”, we welcome essays that critically dissect how the current COVID-19 pandemic is being debated. Due to the timeliness and dynamics of the pandemic and related academic debates, these essays could ideally elaborate on diverse online sources. Lastly, we continue publishing reviews that examine works which are off-topic in our section “Current Debates”. Please visit our website for all further information on formats, styles and prior issues: http://www.crolar.org/
To contribute to this issue, please send an email to crolar[at]tu-dresden.de, mentioning which work(s) you wish to review. We have also prepared a list of relevant publications, which we are happy to share with you upon request.
July 1, 2020: Submission of first drafts
August 15, 2020: Return drafts to authors
September 15, 2020: Submission of final manuscripts
October 1, 2020: Production
November 1, 2020: Publication
Anzaldúa, G. (1987) La conciencia de la mestiza. Towards a New Consciousness. In: Gloriza Anzaldúa: La Frontera/Borderlands. San Francisco: aunt lute books, pp. 77-98.
Bitar, S. (2014) Las tendencias mundiales y el futuro de América Latina. CEPAL, Gestión Pública. Working Paper Series 78.
Chinchilla, L. (2019) Introduction: Latin America. A Pending Assignment. In: M. Binetti and B. Shifter (eds.) Unfulfilled Promises. Latin America Today. Available online: https://www.thedialogue.org/analysis/unfulfilled-promises-latin-america-today/ (last access: January 10, 2020).
De Fays, H. (2016) Utopian/dystopian Thought in Spanish American Science Fiction. In P. Guerra (Ed.). Utopía: 500 años. Bogotá: Ediciones Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia, pp. 221-248.
Fukuyama, F. (1992) The End of History and the Last Man. New York: Free Press.
Freedom Lab (2018) A Brighter Future for Latin America? Available online: http://freedomlab.org/a-brighter-future-for-latin-america/ (last access: January 25, 2020).
Haywood Ferreira, R. (2011) The Emergence of Latin American Science Fiction. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.
Mirabal, N. and Laó-Montes, A. (2007) Technofuturos: Critical Interventions in Latina/o Studies. Lanham: Lexington Books.
Steinke, B. (2019) Reisen durch Zeit und Raum – Neue Blogreihe zur lateinamerikanischen Science Fiction. Blog. Available online: https://fid-lateinamerika.de/2019/06/11/reisen-durch-zeit-und-raum-neue-blogreihe-zur-lateinamerikanischen-science-fiction/ (last access: January 10, 2020).