Online : Mecila Working Papers 43 and 44 – 2022
The aim of this working paper is to foster the concept of “vulnerability” as a critical tool for social theory in general and conviviality-inequality studies in particular. First, to clarify the concept, an analytical distinction is established between vulnerability as either an experiential structure shared by all persons (constitutive vulnerability) or as historical social injustice that detrimentally impacts some more than others (contingent vulnerability). The paper then explores the contrast between approaches to epistemic injustice theory and standpoint epistemology as two opposing views with regard to the political and epistemic potential of vulnerability. From this contrast, finally, a critique of one-sided conceptions shows us that, for vulnerability to have a productive and critical use, it must be grasped as fraught with ambiguity, implying both a contingent risk of subjection and a constitutive opening to otherness. It is this ambiguity that makes vulnerability a useful conceptual tool for grasping conviviality as inextricably connected to inequality.
In the context of the Anthropocene, ecocriticism is gaining an increasingly important role, foregrounding the inextricability of nature and culture, on the one hand, and the postcolonial cultural representation from the Global South on the other. Against this backdrop, the present working paper will focus on the Latin American context, suggesting that conviviality signifies a crucial contribution to the discourse about the Anthropocene and serves as an ideal theoretical framework for the research project on “Postcolonial Resistance and Ecofeminism in the Latin American Jungle novel”, which is outlined at the end of the paper.