Boaventura de Sousa Santos

Boaventura de Sousa Santos is Professor of Sociology at the School of Economics, University of Coimbra (Portugal), Distinguished Legal Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School and Global Legal Scholar at the University of Warwick.

The Statues of our Discontent

Statues look a lot like the past, which is why, whenever they are called into question, we turn to historians. The truth is that statues are a thing of the past only as long as they stand quietly in squares, as indifferent to us as we are to them. At such times, which may actually…

The Tragic Transparency of the Virus

  Today’s cultural, political and ideological debates are imbued with a strange opacity, the result of their remove from the concrete day-to-day experience of the vast majority of people — ordinary citizens, or la gente de a pie, as they say in Latin America. That is especially the case with politics, which is supposed to…

Virus: All That Is Solid Melts into Air

There is a debate within the social sciences about whether it is easier to ascertain the truthfulness and quality of a society’s institutions under normal daily circumstances or in exceptional situations, during times of crisis. One can probably learn from both types of situation, but each of them is certain to bring to the fore…

What now, Brazil?

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The words that come to mind the most are astonishment and perplexity. The Brazilian government has slipped into the abyss of absurdity, into an absolute trivialization of abuse and aggression, into a gross violation of the most basic rules of democratic coexistence — not to mention the law and the Constitution —, while spewing hatred…

The Age of Pardon or the Age of Aggression?

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Throughout the 20th century there were frequent apologies and claims for reparations for the atrocities committed in the context of the relations between peoples and countries, as illustrated by Germany’s initiatives with regard to the Holocaust and by the US response in the case of the Japanese Americans kept under arrest during World War II.…

Brazil in Danger: Three Time Bombs

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Brazilian democracy is on the brink of the abyss. The institutional coup that was set in motion with President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment and led to the unjust imprisonment of former President Lula da Silva is all but complete. The consummation of the coup has acquired a meaning that is quite different from what was initially…

The New Thesis Eleven

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Domination rests to such a degree on the society/nature duality that no liberation struggle will ever succeed unless that duality is overcome. In 1845, shortly after he published the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, Karl Marx wrote his Theses on Feuerbach. The Theses were his first attempt at building a materialist philosophy that was…

The Left and Catalonia

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How a Left position regarding the Catalonia referendum on 1 Oct 2017 could present itself juridically and politically The Catalonia referendum this Sunday will become part of the history of Europe, possibly for the worst of reasons. I will not discuss here the substantive questions, which can be interpreted as being historical, territorial, respecting internal…

To Be Read in 2050: Reflecting on Utopia

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One day, when we finally find we can describe the age we now live in, the greatest amazement of all will come from the realization that we lived it all with no sense of before and after, replacing causality with simultaneity, history with news, memory with silence, the future with the past, the problem with…

The Strange Lightness of History

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The zones of sub-humanity are regions of non-being, where if you are not truly human you cannot claim to be treated as human, that is to say, to be a subject with human rights. Some people are just too small to be human, and maybe that has always been the case. But ever since Western…

The Podemos Wave

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Podemos is is a new kind of party, a movement-party, or rather a party-movement; the end result of a learning process from the South that made it possible to creatively channel the outrage on the streets of Spain. Can a Podemos wave spread to other countries? The countries of Southern Europe are extremely diverse, both…

Brazil: The Price of Progress

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With the election of President Dilma Roussef, Brazil sought to accelerate the pace in turning itself into a global power. Many of the initiatives in this direction came from beforehand, but they had a new impetus: the UN Conference on the Environment, Rio+20 in 2012, the World Cup in 2014, Olympic Games in 2016, the…

Democracy or Capitalism?

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The relation between democracy and capital has always been a tense one, of even total contradiction. Capitalism only feels safe it is ruled by whoever owns capital or identifies with its needs, whereas democracy, on the contrary, is the rule of the majorities who have neither capital nor reasons to identify with the needs of…