Boaventura de Sousa Santos

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Paris 8 University distinguishes Boaventura de Sousa Santos with Honoris Causa

The award ceremony of this French public higher education institution took place on May 4, 2022 and, in this context, between May 2 and 6, a series of workshops and roundtables on «The End of the Cognitive Empire» were organized at the institution, whose reflection revolved around the work dedicated by Boaventura de Sousa Santos to the Epistemologies of the South. [Programme HERE].

The Caribbean Philosophical Association’s 2022 Award Winners

Boaventura de Sousa Santos - Frantz Fanon Lifetime Achievement Award

Boaventura de Sousa Santos is a legendary critical theorist, legal theorist, philosopher, sociologist, and activist in struggles not only against material forms of colonization and exploitation but also what he calls “epistemicide.” His work as an activist and institution-builder includes projects such as ALICE: Leading Europe to a New Way of Sharing the World Experiences in his native country of Portugal to many coalition projects with Black and Indigenous peoples across the Global South. An intellectual proud of his humble beginnings among the Portuguese peasantry and one who is well-aware of what is involved in struggles against fascism, Professor de Sousa Santos has dedicated his life to fighting against all forms of oppression while fighting for the affirmation of livable life. His work on southern epistemologies speaks directly to the Caribbean Philosophical Association’s project of shifting the geography of reason and Fanon’s call to build new concepts in the struggle to set afoot a better world. The Awards Committee states his selection as “exemplifying the spirit of Fanon’s commitment to les Damnés de la terre and the urgency of building houses for living, courageous thought.”

President Hanétha Vété-Congolo adds: “For never stopping to teach us that our pluriverse is our shared space capable of elastic expansion at will where we each and all have legitimacy, Professor Boaventura de Sousa Santos is a voice that must never extinguish. Thank you, Professor Boaventura de Sousa Santos, for your resilient commitment. “


Recent articles

Inconvenient complexity • Meer Magazine – 7 May 2022

Europe: the return to the periphery of the world. The beginning of the end of eurocentrism • Meer Magazine – 11 April 2022

Ukraine: complexity and war • Meer Magazine – 10 March 2022

How did we get here? • Critical Legal Thinking – 28 February 2022

Lessons from the general elections in Portugal • Critical Legal Thinking – 11 February 2022

The demise of the World Social Forum • Meer Magazine – 26 January 2022
The International Renewal Group denounces the WSF's irrelevance due to being unable to adapt to changes

UN, Europe and the war in the Ukraine • Other News – 17 January 2022

António Guterres’s hour • 12 January 2022 • Critical Legal Thinking

Hugging • 23 October 2021 • Critical Legal Thinking

Colonialism and the Epistemology of Ignorance: A Lesson from Afghanistan • 30 August 2021 • Critical Legal Thinking

On Israel’s Colonial Occupation of Palestine: The Final Solution Without End17 June 2021 • Critical Legal Thinking

Open letter to two young indigenous Ecuadorians - 15 March 2021

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



The Pluriverse of Human Rights: The Diversity of Struggles for Dignity (Ed. with Bruno Sena Martins) (Routledge, 2021)

The impasse currently affecting human rights as a language used to express struggles for dignity is, to a large extent, a reflection of the epistemological and political exhaustion which blights the global North. Since the global hegemony of human rights as a language for human dignity is nowadays incontrovertible, the question of whether it can be used in a counter-hegemonic sense remains open. Inspired by struggles from all corners of the world that reveal the potential but, above all, the limitations of human rights, this book offers a highly conditional response. The prevailing notion of human rights today, as the hegemonic language of human dignity, can only be resignified on the basis of answers to simple questions: why does so much unjust human suffering exist that is not considered a violation of human rights? Do other languages of human dignity exist in the world? Are these other languages compatible with the language of human rights? Obviously, we can only find satisfactory answers to these questions if we are able to envisage a radical transformation of what is nowadays known as human rights. Herein lies the challenge posed by the Epistemologies of the South: reconciling human rights with the different languages and forms of knowledge born out of struggles for human dignity.


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.