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Stephanie Rivera-Berruz

Dr. Stephanie Rivera Berruz is an associate professor at Marquette University. She received her PhD in philosophy from SUNY Buffalo in 2014. She is the recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship (2017-18) and The Way Klinger Young Scholar Award (2021) for her work on Latinx feminisms, Caribbean, and Latin American philosophy. Her research is inherently interdisciplinary and explores historiography, social identity, and current political issues. She has published a co-edited anthology, Comparative Studies in Asian and Latin American Philosophies (2018), and her work has been featured in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Genealogy, Hypatia, the Inter-American Journal of Philosophy, and Essays on Philosophy. When she is not writing, she is ardent lover of oceans, travel, and dance.

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“Morir-Vivir Beyond the Human: Partial Ecological Connections, the Reconceptualization of Life, and Puerto Rican Futures”

At the heart of de-colonial, anti-colonial, and anti-imperial critique lies the human – non-human distinction; a distinction that is Man-made, artificial, and hierarchical.  In fact, the colonial project and its effects rely on the production of the human as a biological racialized, sexed/gendered, and sexualized category that participates in the rational production and progress of history. The human is counterposed to the non-human, barbaric/monstrous, the savage whose status is hierarchically positioned at the level of the natural world. The non-human exists in a so called “state of nature” in the space of flora/fauna and as object of domination, exploitation, domestication; existing in a space prior to the now. Recent scholarship that aims to resist colonial constructions of self, being, and human centers the importance of nature, land, and place to shift the metaphysics of the human to one that can appreciate the porousness of the human body as well as the ecologies that make life possible.  These resistant theories call into question the colonial human construction vis-à-vis the non-human. In this spirit, this project explores the ways in which nature is always already constructed and interpellated with the human at its center. Drawing on the work of Eduardo Kohn who argues that forests can think as well as the scholarship of Marisol de la Cadena, which draws attention to Andean ways of knowing-being where the Earth is Being, I suggest that our relationship to the status of nature, even in resistant resonances, must take seriously that ideas about futurity, in this context, Puerto Rican futures, might not or should not have the “proverbial” us at its center. Drawing on the insights of the mori-vivi as a model for life processes, I gesture toward the possibilities of shifting our metaphysics and ontology to reckon with the partial, but no less important, connections that we dwell in/with/of the natural world.

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