Dialógica: New Perspectives on Polarization
TWCF Number
Project Duration
December 1 / 2023
- November 30 / 2025
Core Funding Area
Big Questions
South America
Amount Awarded

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Kurt Shaw
Institution Usina da Imaginação

Rita de Cácia Oenning da Silva
Institution Usina da Imaginação

Over centuries of life in one of the most diverse places on earth, the cultures of lowland South America have developed unique practices to understand and relate to alterity. Practices such as exchanges of song and dance, commensality (eating together), dialogue and narrative, and collective ritual create a space designed to mark, understand, and overcome the linguistic and ideological polarization of radically different cultures. 

This project, led by Kurt Shaw and co-directed by Rita de Cácia Oenning da Silva of Usina da Imaginação aims to leverage Usina’s network of diverse communities in Brazil to elucidate new perspectives on polarization. The project team plans to create a research center where Indigenous, Afro-Brazilian, caboclo (rural mixed-culture), and academic intellectuals will dialogue, develop, and test theories of alterity and polarization in modern societies, and suggest how their traditions of dialogue, ritual, and practice may be able to contribute to transcend it. 

To do this they will host both online and in-person events where intellectuals and thinkers from lowland South America will come together with anthropologists and philosophers to debate and discuss polarization and human flourishing. They will also host focus groups, conduct an ethnographic study of polarization in Brazil, and develop a theory of polarization.

They will disseminate their work in popular media, film, and other art through a conference targeted at academics and by creating resources for schools, teachers and practitioners.

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