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Gunther Dietz and Laura Mateos Cortés

Multicultural discourse has reached Latin American higher education in the form of a set of policies targeting indigenous peoples. These policies are strongly influenced by the transfer of European notions of 'interculturality', which, in the Mexican context, are understood as positive interactions between members of minority and majority cultures. In Mexico, innovative and often polemical 'intercultural universities or colleges' are being created by governments, by NGOs or by pre-existing universities. This trend towards 'diversifying' the ethnocultural profiles of students and curricular contents coincides with a broader tendency to force institutions of higher education to become more 'efficient', 'corporate' and 'outcome-oriented'. Accordingly, these still very recently established 'intercultural universities' are often criticised as being part of a common policy of 'privatisation' and 'neoliberalisation' and of developing curricula particular to specific groups which weakens the universalist and comprehensive nature of Latin American public universities. Indigenous leaders, on the contrary, frequently claim and celebrate the appearance of these new higher education opportunities as part of a strategy of empowering actors of indigenous origin or African descent.

Going beyond this polemic, this paper presents the first findings of an activist anthropological and ethnographically-based case study of the actors participating in the configuration of one of these new institutions of higher education, the Universidad Veracruzana Intercultural (UVI), located on the Mexican gulf coast. This article examines the way UVI has appropriated the discourse of interculturality on the basis of fieldwork conducted in the four indigenous regions where the UVI offers a B.A. in Intercultural Management for Development. The study focuses on the actors' teaching and learning practices, which are strongly shaped by an innovative and hybrid mixture of conventional university teaching, community-oriented research and 'employability'-driven development projects.

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Spaces for Transdisciplinary Dialogues on the Relationship between Local Communities and Their Environments

The Case of a Rural Community in the Calchaquí Valley (Salta, Argentina)

Martha Crivos, María Rose Martínez, Laura Teves and Carolina Remorini

Our ethnographic research focuses on the perception and use of components of the natural environment in terms of routine activities carried out by the residents of a rural community in the Calchaqui Valley (Salta, Argentina). Life in this community is characterised by the presence of traditional subsistence activities – agriculture, cattle farming, textile manufacturing and ancestral medical practices – coexisting with business ventures focused on monoculture and export, tourism centred on landscape intervention and promotion of native products, and the growing key role of public policies in the areas of health and human development. In this context, a joint reflection on viability and sustainability of local and global practices and resources must be undertaken. Implementing intersectoral forums and focus-group discussions, governmental and non-governmental actors, researchers and local people must work conjointly to achieve a fresh patrimonial awareness of livelihood strategies based on their long interaction with a specific environment.

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John C. Ryan

Since the eighteenth century, the study of plants has reflected an increasingly mechanized and technological view of the natural world that divides the humanities and the natual sciences. In broad terms, this article proposes a context for research into flora through an interrogation of existing literature addressing a rapprochement between ways to knowledge. The natureculture dichotomy, and more specifically the plant-to-human sensory disjunction, follows a parallel course of resolution to the schism between objective (technical, scientific, reductionistic, visual) and subjective (emotive, artistic, relational, multi-sensory) forms of knowledge. The foundations of taxonomic botany, as well as the allied fields of environmental studies, ethnobotany and economic botany, are undergirded by universalizing, sensorylimited visual structuring of the natural world. As the study of everyday embodied interactions of humans with flora, expanding upon the lens of cultural ecology, "cultural botany" provides a transdisciplinary research approach. Alternate embodied cultural engagements with flora emerge through a syncretic fusion of diverse methodologies.

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History and Transport Policy

The Swiss Experience

Ueli Haefeli, Fritz Kobi and Ulrich Seewer

Based on analysis of two case studies in the Canton of Bern, this article examines the question of knowledge transfer from history to transport policy and planning in the recent past in Switzerland. It shows that for several reasons, direct knowledge transfer did not occur. In particular, historians have seldom become actively involved in transport planning and policy discourses, probably partly because the academic system offers no incentive to do so. However, historical knowledge has certainly influenced decision-making processes indirectly, via personal reflection of the actors in the world of practice or through Switzerland's strongly developed modes of political participation. Because the potential for knowledge transfer to contribute to better policy solutions has not been fully utilized, we recommend strengthening the role of existing interfaces between science and policy.

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Less Than One But More Than Many

Anthropocene as Science Fiction and Scholarship-in-the-Making

Heather Anne Swanson, Nils Bubandt and Anna Tsing

How might one responsibly review a field just coming into being—such as that provoked by the term Anthropocene? In this article, we argue for two strategies. First, working from the premise that the Anthropocene field is best understood within its emergence, we review conferences rather than publications. In conference performances, we glimpse the themes and tensions of a field-to-come. Second, we interpret Anthropocene as a science-fiction concept, that is, one that pulls us out of familiar space and time to view our predicaments differently. This allows us to explore emergent figurations, genres, and practices for the transdisciplinary study of real and imagined worlds framed by human disturbance. In the interplay and variation across modes for constructing this field, Anthropocene scholarship finds its shape.

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Gijs Mom

Using Peter Merriman's recent book as a trigger, this review-cum-polemic argues that mobility history is facing a scholarly crisis in the midst of other mobility-related fields that are blossoming. The core of the diagnosis is a lack of debate on a central question that is painfully missing. The article suggests as a remedy the opening up of the field along the paths of transmodality, transdisciplinarity, and especially transnationality. The national bias of much historical scholarship is a hindrance to its future blooming.

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The Discipline of Discovery

Reflections on the Relationship between Internal and External Conditions of Knowledge Formation

Ulrike Kistner

Starting with Foucault's articulation of factors in the formation of an order of discourse, and Ludwik Fleck's ideas on the structures of thought collectives and thought styles, this article mounts some reflections on the relationship between internal and external conditions of knowledge formation. In particular, it will look at the productive function of thought constraints – discipline – in the formation and transmission of knowledge, and bring this consideration to bear on some perils besetting the humanities not only 'from without', but also 'from within', notably the turn from academic teaching to externally oriented professional training, and an uncritical, general-programmatic proclamation of 'Multi-, Inter, and Trans-Disciplinarity' ('MIT') reorganising discourses, disciplines and orders of knowledge.