Luis Martinez Andrade
Religion without Redemption: Social Contradictions and Awakened Dreams in Latin America (Decolonial Studies, Postcolonial Horizons), London; New York: Pluto Press, 2015; 176 pp.: ISBN 9780745335728, 27.99 [pounds sterling]
Her long-standing tradition of radical grass-roots movements that mobilise libertarian, autonomist, anarchist and Marxist traditions, combined with liberation theology and indigenous insurgency, makes Latin America a constant source of inspiration for emancipatory praxis. The continent is fertile in producing both critical knowledges and genuine philosophical thinking. It provides the world with resourceful forms of resistance to colonial-patriarchal capitalism. Since the 1990s, Latin American movements have been prefiguring alternative politics and social relations with political imagination. Social movements led by women, indigenous people, the landless, the unemployed, rural workers, the marginalised and so on have become the protagonists of a sea of radical organising which is politically and socially oppressed, with some exceptions, by the governments of the region. One of the features of these new mobilisations is that they are undertaking a 'decolonial turn' (Maldonado-Torres 2011). This 'turn', writes Maldonado-Torres (2011), means a new 'shift away from modernization towards decoloniality as an unfinished project that took place in the twentieth century and is still unfolding now' (p. 2; see also Castro-Gomez and Grosfoguel 2007). They are doing so by exposing and contesting in writing and action, what Ani'bal Quijano coined as the 'coloniality of power' (Quijano 2008) in the present post-colonial world. The process of independence in Latin America did not lead to a noticeable democratisation of the political on the bases on which coloniality could be dismantled, argues Quijano. It rather meant 'a re-articulation of the coloniality of power over new bases' (Quijano 2008: 214). The 'coloniality of power' is the practice that penetrates social, cultural, economic, political interactions and relations and exists between countries in the Global North and South, between countries in the North and South of Europe, and between people within European countries, all intertwined by class and gender discriminations. As they embrace the decolonial turn in a greater or lesser degree, today's social mobilisation rejects Eurocentric critical theory and politics, for the latter is detached from real experiences and represent the coloniality of knowledge and power that subaltern subjects reject.
In this context, Luis Martinez Andrade's book Religion Without Redemption: Social Contradictions and Awakened Dreams in Latin America is a must read for those involved in theoretical and practical critiques of capitalist patriarchal coloniality. Grouped in two parts, in this fine compilation of five essays or 'Meditations' on coloniality, emancipation, liberation, religion and Latin America written at different points in the author's career, Martinez Andrade reviews and discusses the work of several authors gathered in the 'decolonial option', a split from the Latin American Subaltern Studies, and from the Latin American philosophical traditions of 'liberation philosophy' and 'liberation theology'. All the essays focus on their critique of Eurocentric interpretations of modernity and neo-colonialism, and their appreciation of existing ontologies and epistemologies other than European, mainly produced in Latin America.
Part I of the book, 'Entelechies and Cathedrals', addresses the critique of the 'fetishised truths' of capitalism, that is, the alienating truths build upon money as religion. In the first essay of this Part (Chapter 1), 'Civilising Paradigms and Colonial Atavisms: Power and Social Sciences', Martinez Andrade challenges mainstream Eurocentric interpretations of modernity-capitalism, by engaging with authors of the decolonial option. These scholars locate the beginning of modernity with the conquest of the Americas around 1492. This original interpretation reveals both the Eurocentric character of Enlightenment and the strategic character of race. Race, argues Quijano, was invented in the 15th century, and in turn it facilitated...