See with the others. A dialogic and horizontal proposal in research

Received: February 26, 2018

Acceptance: January 6, 2019

Ver con los otros. Comunicación intercultural

Jesús Martín Barbero and Sarah Corona Berkin (coord.), 2017 FCE, Mexico City, 151 pp.

Ver con los otros. Comunicación intercultural is a reflective work, achieved thanks to a fortunate crossroads that became friendship and intellectual complicity between Jesús Martín Barbero and Sarah Corona Berkin. Four decades later, the crossroads of perspectives and trajectory offers us an important work and a critical platform on: “the hegemony of the West over the ways of seeing through both its science converted into a way of knowing-controlling, as well as its technology - photography, cinema, television, video- turned into a way of seeing-integrating others, other cultures ”(p. 9). The common referents are the sociocultural construction of the image, the visualities and the ways of seeing. Barbero and Corona construct an intercultural proposal elaborated with the people, evidencing the place from which they look and intend to be seen, as well as the theoretical frameworks from which they (re) construct their interpretation.

Epistemic vigilance and double hermeneutics frame the dialogical framework of this book built with research experiences resignified in horizontality, anecdotes that mark the intellectual biographies, theoretical discussions and a firm conviction that it is investigated with solvency and imagination foreshadowing a better world. , everyone is required to participate in the definition of that complex dialogical framework that defines what I have called the condition emtic, (Valenzuela, 2015) where the borders between the etic and emic, the inside and the outside, the researcher who investigates and the object of study, the normalized self and the exotic other, legitimized knowledge and devalued knowledge are violated and blurred.

The general themes defined by the authors themselves arise from the questioning about the factors that affect and define the images that we have and reproduce, as well as the type of communication that we can have with different cultures and groups. To do this, they scrutinize the academic perspectives affected by the the evil eye, a badly incubated in prejudices that prevent recognizing and recognizing oneself in others, the poor, the offspring, the nacos, the indigenous, the popular sectors. As Barbero and Corona point out, the evil eye, in its various versions, is an expression of power and: “a metaphor of the gaze that excludes and makes invisible” (p. 12).

The book consists of three chapters where Barbero and Corona present the trajectories, readings, and experiences that allowed them to redirect their gaze and their places of interpellation in order to see with the others, modify its theoretical and methodological proposals and, finally, redefine the landmarks that identify investigative practices from inclusive, dialogical, horizontal images and perspectives.

See with the others is a work that invites us to deconstruct and restructure our being with others, to feel (ourselves) and explain (ourselves) with them, to (re) create our views from others who also look at us, to dislodge our usual places of observation and interpretation together with those who observe and interpret us, be touched for them, to reposition the multiple meanings from which they name us and are (re) signified when we name them. We are them and they fill us with meaning by inviting us to share their gaze.

Barbero and Corona invite us to unpin ourselves to reinvent the images, the gaze and the modes of perception; invite us to conjure the the evil eye through what Barbero defines as the transformation of the modes of perception, a mutation constructed through visual and epistemological chills. In this intellectual and emotional bet, the mediations of the media are analyzed, but not only that, the authors discuss the changes in the interpretations of cinema, television, childhood and games, radio or soap operas, where, more Beyond the middle, Jesús Martín Barbero emphasizes that what happens there helps people to tell their own lives. For her part, Corona Berkin orients her experience and research trajectory towards the encounter with the other and the search for other forms of communication based on her work on television play, reciprocity with the other, the encounter with the other in writing. and orality, experiences that lead him to conclude that: ´´Every communicative process implies a way of translating the frames of reference to those of the other ”(40).

The investigative agendas proposed by the authors are situated and processual constructions in which the reciprocal dialogue defines and is defined from the horizontality of the process. This is the basis of his proposal for intercultural communication with others, the possibility of which is conditioned to such communication being political: ´´that is, as a company of recognition of the other as he wishes to be conceived in the public space, of listening horizontal and dialogue construction in its most fertile aspect: miscegenation ”(p. 74). Corona's conceptual proposal includes fertile and suggestive terms such as: the founding conflict, the autonomy of one's gaze, discursive equality and authorship between voices.

Corona discusses from fields of cultural diversity the production and consumption of images assumed in the theoretical postulates about looking, remembering and fragmenting, used in the analysis of photography and cinema, and does so by confronting them with his own research work in the Wixárika communities of Nayarit and Jalisco. After recovering the photographic images generated by the Huichol themselves and their interpretations of the photos they took, Corona highlights: “Advertising has made us experts in understanding eyes without faces, legs without bodies, steering wheels without cars, even brands and their logos without objects. . The photographic backdrops that provided dreams and fantasies in studio photos are now dismantled. What the portrait says is limited to the face and gesture of the person and little of the context is exposed. The social page of the newspapers or Facebook prove it. But in the gaze not disciplined by the image, photography registers all possible elements ”. (121) And these possible elements move away from the fragmented image and the dominant, legitimized and normalized frameworks that frame the gaze in Western societies, opting for the broad incorporation of contextual elements, not considered as peripheral, but as constitutive of the identity, not only of the Huichols, but of many indigenous peoples and groups.

The frames highlighted by Corona define the way of seeing, since, through the gaze, the colors that paint the world are built. Corona alludes to this relationship when he points out: “Colors are learned with their social meaning. Among the Huichols the brightest colors are preferred perhaps because they are the ones that most resemble the vision with peyote ... For the Huichols, seeing has a fundamental relevance to know. Children or adults who travel to the sea for the first time and are 'going to meet' it are blindfolded and discovered until they are on the beach, facing the immensity of the Pacific ”(p. 90). This information refers me to an experience that I had some yesterdays ago and that I now incorporate to illustrate the author's position:

In October 1994, from the North Regional Coordination of Popular Cultures, we co-organized with the Yuman groups of Baja California (kiliwuas, k´miai, paipai and cucapá), the meeting Auca Maj quar quar (Good morning or good afternoon, let's talk), where all the indigenous groups from both sides of the US-Mexico border participated. Meeting of cultures, feelings, languages, voices and looks. Rarámuri women and men traveled from the peaks and ravines of the Sierra Madre Occidental; people who had never left places of origin made up of towns and ranches in the Chihuahuan municipalities of Balleza, Batopilas, Bocoyna, Carichí, Chínipas, Guachochi, Guadalupe and Calvo Guazaparez, Maguarichi, Morelos, Moris, Nonoava, Ocampo, Temósachi, Urique and Uruachi. After a long journey of several days, they arrived at night in the magical town of Tecate, Baja California, the host city of the meeting. Then they informed me that the Rarámuri women asked to be taken to see the sea. We informed them that Tecate does not have a beach, but they insisted and argued that they had never left their communities or seen the sea and they knew that there was one near where we were. Faced with such an argument, we mobilized and got a truck that took them that same night to Rosarito, Baja California, so that they could see the Pacific Ocean, but they would have to return first thing in the morning to participate in the work of the meeting. The next day in the morning, the women told deeply impressed by the colors they observed, vivid and intense colors defined from other cultural frameworks and from other ways of looking, and they spoke of polychromatic tones of a sea that, after listening to them, a glimpse of Memory allowed me to recognize that sometime, in my childhood, I could perceive those colors but I had forgotten them, so I incorporated new frames into my way of observing or, simply, I stopped looking at them. The women said that they spent the whole night accompanying the sea and said excitedly: “we were chasing the sea and the sea was chasing us, and we were chasing the sea and the sea was chasing us, and we were chasing the sea and the sea was chasing us. he was chasing us and, you know what, the sea never tires ”. Since then, I have sharpened my gaze trying to recover the strident polychromies of the sea that I knew in my childhood and I imagine the narratives that will surely mark the Rrámuri memory from the voice and testimony of the women who repeatedly have the unforgettable shine in their eyes experience of the day they met the sea.

Barbero and Corona present the risks, traps and dangers of investigative work and methodological bets, and warn about political snares, recovering Ranciere, who distinguishes policies that seek to reproduce the unequal social order and emancipatory policies. At this point, the authors define their position formed from the search for "better ways of living together from the expression of diversity in terms of equality" (p. 136). They also warn about epistemic tricks, assuming a perspective that not only reflects on the knowledge generated, but also on the critical process of construction of that knowledge. Finally, they present the traps of investigative practice, where they question the subject-object relationship or subject that investigates and subject investigated. Faced with these asymmetric and unequal relationships, they propose to work in horizontal dialogue, where both parties to the relationship investigate and are investigated. In this relationship common knowledge is produced. Corona expresses it from his experience of working with the Wixárika peoples inside and outside their communities: “I learned that see with the other, it means recognizing a distance between something they know and I don't understand ”(p. 140). Then he adds its implications: “Listening, seeing the other, even being empathetic, if it doesn't destabilize me, it doesn't transform me; my knowledge does not stop being iterative of mine. Seeing with others, understanding with others, requires being touched by others; when our vision has changed, it means never seeing the same thing again ”(p. 140). Seeing with others and being touched by others, from this perspective, entails an explicit positioning from which the meanings of seeing, feeling, building, understanding and explaining are redefined: “To be touched means to be shaken, to suffer a chill, to be dragged on the other by his side. The experience of being on the other side is not possible without the other. Seeing with him, understanding with him, building with him… Seeing with others has to do with feeling and also with explaining ”(p. 141).

Ver con los otros. Comunicación intercultural is a powerful work that breaks new ground in academic debates concerned with the role of academia in the (re) production of the colonial order and social inequality. It is also committed to critical research that aims to transform the world together with those who are subalternized in the research process, and made invisible from a supposed condition of objects or mere transmitters of knowledge. They, from the horizontal research proposal presented by Barbero and Corona, become producers of knowledge that foreshadows worlds in which the problems, concerns, knowledge and feelings of others are truly incorporated, complicity that will allow us to understand that, beyond the peripheral power games in which we participate, in the sociocultural frameworks that define the human condition, we are the others and the others are ourselves.

I highly recommend reading this book of interest to anyone with a sensitivity and interest in social and cultural issues, and especially those working in the fields of social sciences and humanities.


Valenzuela Arce, José Manuel (coord.) (2015). El Sistema es antinosotros. Cultura, movimientos y resistencias juveniles. México: edisa/UAM/El Colef, p. 508.


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