A dialogue of knowledges? Mexico’s approach to tackling the Grand Societal Challenges

Grantham Scholar Omar Diaz Fragoso’s PhD project focuses on examining the ‘dialogue of knowledges’ in a Strategic National Programmes project in Mexico.

The project

Nowadays, diverse actors develop initiatives to tackle the Grand Societal Challenges (GSCs) which are social and environmental problems that go beyond borders and affect large numbers of people, as well as the Earth as a whole. In Mexico, the government has launched the Strategic National Programmes (PRONACES) that, through research projects, aim to address issues such as climate change, hunger, and poverty which due to their seriousness demand full attention.

Previous research has shown that inhabitants of rural and marginalised territories suffer the worst consequences of the GSCs. Some of the people dwelling in those territories identify themselves as indigenous people and holders of their own forms of knowledge; however, under the guise of modernity some of those forms of knowledge have been suppressed. Acknowledging the presence of other forms of knowledge and their value, the Mexican government exhorts their inclusion in the PRONACES through a dialogue of knowledges.

The dialogue of knowledges is a concept coming from academia and is defined as “the interest to build relationships of respect, horizontality, and collaboration between actors with different knowledge systems to, through dialogue and agreement, achieve common goals with a social orientation and for the collective good” (Pérez Ruiz & Argueta Villamar, 2022, para. 2). Nevertheless, the dialogue of knowledges may exhibit three different scenarios. These are: (1) the ethnocentric and colonising, (2) intercultural integrative, and (3) intellectual collaborative and decolonising.

Adopting a qualitative case study approach, this research aims to examine the performance of the dialogue of knowledges in a PRONACES research project involving the encounter with other forms of knowledge in Mexico.