Etnobotánica, modernidad y pedagogía crítica del lugar

Translated title of the contribution: Ethnobotany, modernity, and a critical pedagogy of place

Alberto Arenas, Carlos del Cairo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This article explores one of the most complex challenges currently faced by modern schools: The articulation of non-merchandized grassroots knowledge with conventional school curricula. Using the field of ethnobotany as a point of focus, we explain how historically, the modern school has marginalized local knowledge and experiences by emphasizing the rational individual as the basic unit of society, stimulating anthropocentrism, supporting the fragmentation of knowledge, and promoting universal standards and credentialism in the creation of one kind of school. To transcend the monopolistic, exclusionary character of the modern school, we propose a dialogue of knowings between positivist epistemology and alternative forms of knowing. This analysis leads us to conclude that the pluralization of knowings starts with a respectful dialogue in which a parallelism is established between different epistemologies, and the other is viewed as an equal, contingent but valid. Once dialogue is established, the parallelism may remain or it could result in the creation of a syncretic epistemology in which dissimilar traditions of thought fuse to create new forms of knowledge. This dialogue of knowings is opposed to an epistemological nihilism that negatesany possibility for fertile dialogue between scientific knowledge and other forms of knowledge. Regarding the concrete manifestation of this dialog of knowings in schools, we propose a critical pedagogy of place with three axes: cultural decolonization, learning from place, and productive education. A plural school that respectfully recognizes the diversity of knowings that emerges from local and marginalized communities and that articulates them with the development of scientific knowledge could constitute an ideal setting for awakening and channeling the ethical attitudes and corresponding behaviors of students as they face the environmental crisis.

Translated title of the contributionEthnobotany, modernity, and a critical pedagogy of place
Original languageSpanish
Pages (from-to)69-83
Number of pages15
JournalUtopia y Praxis Latinoamericana
Issue number44
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Critical pedagogy
  • Cultural decolonization
  • Ethnobotany
  • Grassroots knowledge
  • Modernity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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