Words carry the weight of civilisations, of ways of seeing, being, and understanding but also of classifying, categorising, simplifying, homogenising, and even controlling.
‘Latin America’ is a clear example. With this name, idea, and term, came a politics of geopolitical intention: to erase the specificities of peoples, territories, knowledges, and the lived histories/‘herstories’ of civilisations (pre-invasion), and to impose a perspective – a modern European perspective – of ‘discovery’, Western capitalist expansion, and racism (with regards to Europe but also, after 1898, with respect to the US). As Walter Mignolo (2005) has clearly argued, ‘Latin America’ gave substance and foundation to the projects of global capitalism and modernity/coloniality, all intertwined.
While there is certainly much that could be said about this idea and the geopolitics of naming, terms can erase, shroud, and simplify the specificities of peoples, territories, knowledge(s), and lived histories/‘herstories’ and realities, and of ‘mobilities’ and movements that, in Latin America, are neither – or not simply – socially, culturally, nor value-based. Rather they are tied to the continuation and savage advance of global capitalism and the re-engineering of the colonial matrix of power.