Author: Magda Vicini
As Mauss reveals, “it is clear that, in Maori rights, the bond of right, bond of things, is a soul-bond, because the thing has a soul by itself, it is the soul. Meaning that “to present something to someone is to present something about yourself” (Mauss, 2003, p.200). These forms are included in what he calls “total prestation”: “The system that we propose to call the system of total prestation, from clan to clan - the one in which individuals and groups exchange everything between themselves - constitutes the oldest system of economy and law that we can observe and conceive. It forms the fund on which it stands out the morality of the gift-exchange” (Mauss, 2003, p. 299).
The term reciprocity seems to be in evidence in this period of the Corona Virus Pandemic, in the sense of solidarity between people, nature, art, science, and technology. At the same time, we experience the uncertainty of ideological truth (or truths), in the sense of reciprocity in different senses of communication between people. The understanding of what is presented in terms of the production of scientific knowledge in relation to the public that receives it is being evidenced from a virus, which, just as it is promoting many deaths, suffering, and uncertainties, is bringing scientific knowledge in medicine, sociology, statistics, public health, and technology closer in the common world. The news around the world emphasizes that the everyday world needs researched and analyzed information to learn or relearn how to live.
What we are currently living in is founded on the reciprocity of scientific knowledge production that, before this virus, seemed to live for itself and in itself, removing the knowledge of the other - Nature/Culture. This knowledge remained for the Academy (in this text I do not intend to go into the economic aspect involved in scientific research and its possible problems), and especially for the medical sciences, which are our total support to live with the Coronavirus. We realize this in the current situation in which we find ourselves: we need scientific knowledge and the reciprocal is unequivocal. Therefore, we have to ask ourselves, What is the sense of reciprocity between Nature/Culture and scientific knowledge for the production of post-human knowledge?
In the research with the Kaingang Indians in Brazil, already in progress, it was revealed to us that the democratic and shared form has provided an integration between the “subjects” of the research. The non-hierarchical dialogue, reflected among the group's participants, has expanded itself among the research participants in the needed time. It is important to emphasize that the opening to dialogue is also a learning process among the research subjects because, for the indigenous people, their voices have always been the last to be considered. The voices of researchers and teachers, for the indigenous subjects participating in the research, represented the decisive voice, not always open to dialogue, historically speaking.
Therefore, I consider it necessary to think about post-humanism from Braidotti (2013) and her view that post-humanism means thinking about community and the interconnections between ethics, people, and the environment. In other words, to be posthuman does not mean to be indifferent to humans, or to be dehumanized: “On the contrary, it rather implies a new way of combining ethical values with the well-being of an enlarged sense of community, which includes one’s territorial or environmental inter-connections” (Braidotti, 2013, p. 190). Furthermore, “Becoming-posthuman consequently is a process of redefining one’s sense of attachment and connection to a shared world, a territorial space - urban, social, psychic, ecological, planetary as it may be. It expresses multiple ecologies of belonging while it enacts the transformation of one’s sensorial and perceptual coordinates in order to acknowledge the collective nature and outward-bound direction of what we still call the self” (Braidotti, 2013, p.193)
I would like to expand the meaning, questioning the forms of reciprocity between Nature and Culture, which imply human, environment, science, technology, subjectivity (individual/conscious/unconscious/social/collective) and underline the collective aspect undertaken in the Shared Production of Knowledge (Bairon; Lazaneo; 2012). In the proposal of this methodology, subjects live together, donate knowledge to one another, and provide gifts, which I can call the joy of sharing, turning both the researcher into the subject and the subject into the researcher. It transforms the indigenous people since they perceive themselves as protagonists in their own culture when teaching the researcher to see and experience the indigenous cultural sense. Thus, the indigenous look does not need the researcher's filter; and, on the other hand, the researcher, using his tools of scientific knowledge, shows the possibilities of systematization and appropriation of traditional knowledge based on the actions of the indigenous people themselves, who are involved in this process of communication and sharing. In the moments shared on the Kaingang land in Palmas (PR), I understand the joy of this exchange of knowledge for the students and this researcher, without trying to explain this emotion scientifically. But I can connect this exchange from this experience with the indigenous people to the relationship that the philosopher Gadamer (1999) presents concerning the aesthetic experience the viewer undergoes when facing a piece of art: the joy of knowledge.
To what extent do we think of reciprocity in the production of knowledge, to go beyond Humanism?
In this sense, we are experiencing the concepts of the shared production of knowledge and post-humanist reflections, and, therefore, feeling, experiencing first-hand, that the dominant position of the white, European researcher - as cited by Braidotti (2013) and Ferrando (2012; 2016) - or the subject who has scientific knowledge - cited by Bairon (2019) and Lazaneo (2015) - is deeply rooted in the perception of the indigenous native. But I believe that it is possible to predict, with situated inclusivism (Ferrando, 2012), the opening of knowledge and revelations - reciprocity - in which we envision an experience between different cultures, between subjects that try to live according to “post” humanism.
Therefore, I propose thinking about scientific knowledge as a form of sharing, as a form of reciprocity between the ordinary world and the scientific world, providing such knowledge to the ordinary world, however, and acknowledging it. I believe it is a way of offering gifts, offering knowledge in a broad way to the built world and the given world, going beyond humanism and towards posthumanism.