The dominant problems of the contemporary moment are transnational, effecting planetary systems and the plural biotic, abiotic and metabiotic actors that make up this world.1
One of the goals of Euromodernity was to render the Universal legible, a goal that involved standardisation, classification, categorisation, and homogenisation.2 Through these processes, scalable methodologies aimed to be applied to a wide array of different problems, contextualised not by their individual locale, but by an understanding of the universal. As Gerardo Mosquera has demonstrated however, this process of inscribing global legibility is a process of globalisation that flattens meaning, reducing difference, and producing a homogeneity that favours the already hegemonic.3 As Bernard Steigler explains, the epistemology of Euromodernity and its consequent globalisation is a fundamentally entropic process.4
Transnational problems require transdisciplinary solutions due to their complexity. Contemporary problems including climate change, inequality and imperialism may be considered as what C. West Churchman denoted, “wicked problems”, that is to say, because of complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of a problem may reveal or create other problems.5
Whilst responding to transnational wicked problems in a universalist manner may seem appropriate, it risks repeating the same epistemological failings of Euromodernity and their material repercussions. For this reason, we propose a following of what Isabel Plante terms translocality; a response to transnational problems informed by local situated knowledges.
The translocal, being understood as responding to sets of transnational ideas bearing in mind the situated knowledges being produced in networked locales across the globe, offers a radical alternative to the homogenising processes of globalism.6 It asserts that the accumulative local responses permit transnational and transdisciplinary responses that retain heterogenous significance and as such, may be understood to be negentropic (reversing entropy).
Transdisciplinary education, whilst addressing such transnational wicked problems, must bear in mind the translocal in its pedagogy. Whilst it is necessary to foster global education networks, the scale of classrooms, meetings, workshops, and conversation needs to remain relatively small. This is both for the pragmatic reason of the time needed to work through disciplinary differences, but more importantly, a small scale facilitates a consideration and care of the different locales in which the actors have produced their knowledges. Furthermore, it permits a greater integration of the knowledge produced in the educational environment into the locale beyond its walls.
The attention and care that small scale networked pedagogical interventions permits, forms a distinctly counter-hegemonic pedagogical tool that deconstructs the homogenising quality of large-scale disciplinary led education. It focusses on developing productive frictions within a locale, emphasizing not only the exchange of knowledge across disciplinary boundaries but values the geopolitical contexts in which these knowledges are embedded. In doing so, it produces negentropic translocal responses to transnational problems, cultivating small-scale learning environments filled with care for their specificities.
- Clarke, Bruce. Gaian Systems, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2020, 1.
- Segato, Rita. The Critique of Coloniality, London: Routledge, 2022, 40.
- Mosquera, Gerardo. Beyond the Fantastic: Contemporary Art Criticism from Latin America. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996, 1-5.
- Steigler, Bernard. Technics and Time. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.
- Churchman, C. West. “Wicked Problems”, Management Science, 14(4), 1967, 146.
- Plante, Isabel. Between Paris and the “Third World”: Lea Lublin’s Long 1960’s. Artl@s Bulletin 3, no. 2 (2014): Article 4.