Learning from the Interior Sea (1940-1984): Facing Coloniality of Urbanisation through Travesías de Amereida's Geo-poetics

This doctoral research explores the ontological and epistemological decolonial implications of the South American geo-poetic approach developed by the Valparaiso School through the Travesías de Amereida (1964-1984) for learning design (architecture and urbanism). The project investigates how the link between situated design, poetry and the question of Latin/South American embedded in the Travesías –collective pedagogical experiences performed across the continent– became the ground for a design approach that enables to question the Modernity/Coloniality rationale rooted in the urbanisation of the continental hinterland poetically named the Mar Interior.

In recent years, a significant debate in urban design studies has been the question about the alienation and erosion of nature and borderline cultures triggered by the modern urbanisation processes of the hinterlands, especially in the Global South. This scenario, critically highlighted by the discourses of the Anthropocene, the Capitalocene, the Planetary Urbanisation and Decolonial Studies, requires to question the role of design as the means to return to the ground, namely, to re-encounter human and non-human others and explore other modes to see, know, and act with multiple realities that co-exist beyond the metropolis. Furthermore, it challenges design studies to overcome the Modernity/Coloniality rationale embedded on its epistemological and ontological bases.

Aiming to contribute to this subject with a focus on the South American region, this research explores the geo-poetic design approach developed by the School of Valparaiso-PUCV (Chile) in the Travesías de Amereida: collective and situated architecture and design studies performed across the vast South American hinterland poetically named Mar Interior. Therefore, this study traces how the association of poetry, design and ontological questions about South American identities became the basis for developing an original focus towards design studies in the School for questioning the Modernity/Coloniality rationale embedded in the historical urbanisation of the continental hinterland on a regional and planetary scale (16th-20th century). Besides, the investigation unfolds how the design experiences of being (travelling), studying (mapping), and working (building) during the Travesías became the means for learning from the Mar Interior, thus offering forms to delink from epistemological Modernity/Coloniality rationale.

Through the compilation, analysis and recomposition of historical archives about the Travesías de Amereida (1940-1984), this research seeks to put forward the geo-poetic design approach and practices as relevant contributions to the discussion for new critical and decolonial groundworks for and by design.