Boaventura de Sousa Santos

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Recent articles

The Anti-System • 2 March 2021 • Critical Legal Thinking

The End of the Portuguese Dream? • 29 January 2021 • Critical Legal Thinking

Trump won’t take cyanide • 11 January 2021 • Critical Legal Thinking

Fascism 2.0: An Intensive Course  • 19 November 2020 • Critical Legal Thinking



Decolonising the University: The Challenge of Deep Cognitive Justice. (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2021).

At each particular historical moment, the university appears as a heavy and rigid structure resisting changes, whereas, throughout time, it has actually undergone profound transformation. Often such changes have been drastic and almost always provoked by factors external to the university, be they of a religious, political or economic nature. This book explores the nature and dynamics of the transformation that the university is undergoing today. It argues that some of the projects of reform currently under way are so radical that the question of the future of the university may well turn into the question of whether the university has a future. A specific feature of this inquiry is the realisation that questioning the future of the university involves questioning its past as well.


Toward a New Legal Common Sense. Law, Globalization, and Emancipation - Third edition (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

Paradigmatic transition is the idea that ours is a time of transition between the paradigm of modernity, which seems to have exhausted its regenerating capacities, and another, emergent time, of which so far we have seen only signs. Modernity as an ambitious and revolutionary sociocultural paradigm based on a dynamic tension between social regulation and social emancipation, the prevalent dynamic in the sixteenth century, has by the twenty-first century tilted in favour of regulation, to the determent of emancipation. The collapse of emancipation into regulation, and hence the impossibility of thinking about social emancipation consistently, symbolizes the exhaustion of the paradigm of modernity. At the same time, it signals the emergence of a new paradigm or new paradigms. This updated 2020 edition is written for students taking law and globalization courses, and political science, philosophy and sociology students doing optional subjects.

Demodiversity: Toward Post-Abyssal Democracies (Ed. with José Manuel Mendes) (Routledge, 2020).

We are living in a time when social and political authoritarianism appear to be gaining ground around the world. This book presents the democratic practices, spaces and processes that engage directly with the theoretical assumptions advanced by the epistemologies of the South, summoning other contexts and empirical realities that attest to the possibility of a renewal and deepening of democracy beyond the liberal and representative canon, which is embedded within a world capitalist system.
The chapters in this book put forward the ideas of demodiversity, of high-intensity democracy, of the articulation between representative democracy and participatory democracy as well as, in certain contexts, between both these and other forms of democratic deliberation, such as the communitarian democracy of the indigenous and peasant communities of Africa, Latin America and Asia.
The challenge undertaken in this book is to demand utopia, imagining a post-abyssal democracy that permits the democratizing, decolonizing, decommodifying and depatriarchalizing of social relations. This post-abyssal democracy obliges us to satisfy the maximum definition of democracy and not the minimum, transforming society into fields of democratization that permeate the structural spaces of contemporary societies.


Knowledges Born in the Struggle. Constructing the Epistemologies of the Global South (Ed. with Maria Paula Meneses) (Routledge, 2019).

In a world overwhelmingly unjust and seemingly deprived of alternatives, this book claims that the alternatives can be found among us. These alternatives are, however, discredited or made invisible by the dominant ways of knowing. Rather than alternatives, therefore, we need an alternative way of thinking of alternatives. Such an alternative way of thinking lies in the knowledges born in the struggles against capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy, the three main forms of modern domination. In their immense diversity, such ways of knowing constitute the Global South as an epistemic subject. The epistemologies of the South are guided by the idea that another world is possible and urgently needed; they emerge both in the geographical north and in the geographical south whenever collectives of people fight against modern domination. Learning from and with the epistemic South suggests that the alternative to a general theory is the promotion of an ecology of knowledges based on intercultural and interpolitical translation.