The keynote address at the Global Assembly was given by Prof. Boaventura de Sousa Santos, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Coimbra (Portugal) and a Distinguished Legal Scholar at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Among his many books in English are Law and Globalization from Below: Towards a Cosmopolitan Legality; Epistemologies of the South: Justice Against Epistemicide; and Another Knowledge is Possible: Beyond Northern Epistemologies.

The framing of knowledge democracy, in the particular context of the work of Boaventura de Sousa Santos, indicates a commitment to deeply heterogeneous and emancipatory approaches to knowledge. The idea for an epistemology of the global south guides an understanding of a broader project of transformation, the empowerment of diverse knowledge communities and knowledge systems critical to the long-term sustainment of people and the planet, which sits in the context of the (current) hegemony of West / neo-liberalist knowledge systems. “Cognitive justice,” another term used by Santos, indicates the project of making subaltern knowledges visible and legitimate in this neo-liberal context.

A video of Dr. de Sousa Santos’ keynote address can be found in the overview of the assembly.