Uses of “the Pluriverse”: Cosmos, Interrupted — or the Others of Humanities

Ostium 15 (2) (2019)
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In this paper, I engage with the motif of “the pluriverse” such as it has increasingly been used in the past few years in several strands of critical humanities pertaining to the so-called “ontological turn”: science and technology studies (Bruno Latour, Isabelle Stengers), critical geography and political ontology (Mario Blaser), cultural anthropology (Marisol de la Cadena, Arturo Escobar, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro), decolonial thought (Walter Mignolo), or posthuman feminism (Donna Haraway). These various iterations of the figure of the pluriverse constitute a loose network of textual traces, a supposedly new scene for ‘humanities’, organized around what is understood as a pluralistic ontology. In political terms, the discourse of the pluriverse presents itself as a strategic response to the violence of universalism. It advocates for a multiversal ethics, a pluriversal cosmopolitics based on interspecies and multi-natural kinships, and more aware of the multiplicity of worlds and world-making practices that make up the post-globalization scene. Based on readings of Bruno Latour, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Arturo Escobar and Marisol de la Cadena among others, I argue that the notion of pluriversality remains self-contradictory and self-defeating as long as it relies on an ontological representation of world/worlds in the form of copresence. Drawing on Derrida’s deconstruction of the concept of world (cosmos, mundus) in his late writings, I propose to think an exorbitant plurality, before the pluriverse and before being. Beyond ontological pluralism, Derrida’s “infinity of untranslatable worlds” also signifies an irreducible interruption, the end of the world, of any “world-in-common”, thus raising the stakes for the ethical demand towards the other.

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Thomas Clément Mercier
University Adolfo Ibañez


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