Page, Joanna;

Published On


Page Range

pp. 137–163


  • English

Print Length

27 pages


  • Artists and researchers
  • re-performing journeys
  • Paraná Ra’anga expedition
  • temporalities
  • riverine culture
  • environmental destruction
  • Anthropocene critique
  • global capitalism
  • megascale engineering project
  • Western construction of time
  • ecological apocalypse
  • subjugation of regions

4. Retracing Voyages of Science and Conquest

  • Joanna Page (author)
This chapter focuses on how artists and researchers have re-performed journeys and expeditions as a form of epistemological and aesthetic practice. This allows them to highlight changes and continuities in landscapes and relationships with the natural world, staging a complex interplay of temporalities. A major interdisciplinary and collaborative project discussed here is the Paraná Ra’anga expedition (Argentina, 2010), led by Graciela Silvestri and others. Around sixty Spanish and Latin American artists and researchers from different fields retraced the journey undertaken by Pedro de Mendoza in 1536, sailing from the new settlement of Buenos Aires to the interior of the continent, up the rivers Paraná and Paraguay, to found Asunción. Rather than a voyage of conquest, theirs was one that aimed to reinvigorate the riverine culture of Argentina’s Litoral region, a socionatural landscape that has been significantly transformed since that first Spanish expedition and is being further changed as a result of a megascale engineering project. My reading of the texts and images produced by participants in the Paraná Ra’anga expedition highlights how they engage with the divergent temporalities of the river. These works carry a critique, I argue, not only of the collusion between global capitalism and environmental destruction, but also of the temporality of the Anthropocene itself. In its linearity and apocalypticism, Anthropocene time as it is constructed in the West often ignores past environmental catastrophes that have already produced the extinction of whole communities and livelihoods. The future tense employed to describe ecological apocalypse also furthers the interests of globalism and economic liberalism by deepening the subjugation of those regions that have already experienced cataclysmic changes to Western technology and scientific rationalism.


Joanna Page

Professor of Latin American Studies at University of Cambridge

Joanna Page is Professor of Latin American Studies and the Director of CRASSH (the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities) at the University of Cambridge. She is the author of several books on cinema, graphic fiction, literature and visual art in Argentina, Chile, and Latin America more broadly. Many of her research projects focus on the relationship between science and the arts, but her interests also include posthumanism, new materialism, decoloniality and environmental thought in Latin America. Her most recent monograph was Decolonizing Science in Latin American Art (UCL Press, 2021). Other books published in the past few years include Geopolitics, Culture, and the Scientific Imaginary in Latin America (co-edited with María del Pilar Blanco, University Press of Florida, 2020) and Posthumanism and the Graphic Novel in Latin America (co-authored with Edward King, UCL Press, 2017).