The Home of the Witch

Published

Through these drawings associated to a text that make tales dialogue with a predominantly Latin American decolonial and feminist scholarship, Alina Paias presents A Casa da Bruxa (The Home of the Witch), a political and poetic manifesto in the form of an architecture.

Article published in The Funambulist 23 (May-June 2019) Insurgent Architectures. Click here to access the rest of the issue.

The Home of the Witch is a work of architecture theory in five chapters and five tales. They all work together as an open-ended description of an architecture, illustrated in key images.

The first chapter deals with the false equation between the global modern system (as a concrete reality) to a supposedly universal global condition (as an abstract reality) according to Enrique Dussel (“Europe, Modernity, and Eurocentrism,” 2005). There is no “universal condition” that is advanced in modernity, yet in the name of such advancement great violence is committed against bodies and cultures.

If violence committed in the name of modern civilization is always morally unfounded, where does that leave us in our relationship to it? There are, in fact, ways to cannibalize modernity: to do so, alternative realities need to be co-produced with its historical Others.

Freedom from Euro-centered modernity can be attained without abandoning modernity. Enrique Dussel calls for a trans-modernity, a constructive project to create a new reality where historically marginalized groups have their agency recognized. The Home of the Witch is a place of freedom in practice that embraces alterity, where modernity and its Others in terms of gender, sex, knowledge, race, and faith are co-created.

The European mind wished to frame the world and explain it completely under the guise of scientific method. The complexity of the Other outside the frame was lost in translation and purposefully misrepresented. A global system of expropriation began forming with the Great Navigations and violence against other cultures had to be justified with the aid of their de-characterization.

Those de-characterizations changed and evolved over time, and today permeate the dominant global culture. That means, as Arturo Escobar explains, that the decolonial struggle, against coloniality (a state that remains after colonization), happens considerably in the realm of culture (Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World, 2005).