College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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Latin American philosophy, Enrique Dussel, Édouard Glissant, 20th century French philosophy, decolonial theory


Modernity is determined by a constitutive forgetting of space as it crafts linear temporal narratives of progress. The forgetting of space, I argue, also means the forgetting of the global and colonial nature of modernity. Modernity is actually carved out in the sixteenth century as a global-spatial process through the invention of the Americas as the New World and only later temporalized as progress, maturity, and development in the eighteenth century. My argument is developed by engaging in a comparative philosophical dialogue with texts from the Latin American, Caribbean, and 20th Century French traditions along with sixteenth-century Spanish theological, juridical, and philosophical texts: from Enrique Dussel to Édouard Glissant, Gilles Deleuze to Michel Foucault, and Bartolomé de las Casas to Francisco de Vitoria. I situate modernity as a global struggle over the production of order for subjects and spaces: the ordering of global and local spaces through the birth of a new political rationality in the sixteenth century, which entailed the constitution of global modernity as a battlefield of space. This battlefield produces techniques of conceptualizing, shaping, and appropriating “empty space” along with new ways of ordering and racializing human bodies and extracting their forces, on the space of the grid. Historically, then, I situate the analysis in the sixteenth century, in the coloniality of modernity, while, methodologically, I consider modernity at large and the role of contemporary Latin American and Caribbean thought in problematizing and decolonizing issues of order, space, and power. As a work engaged in the problematics of decolonial theory, The Invention of Order seeks to trace the history of a global epistemological silencing and excavate spaces where subjugated forms of knowledge have been silenced and covered over.

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