In 2018, I found myself, for the first time, in the situation of presenting a book by Professor Boaventura de Sousa Santos in an event of the publisher itself (Morata) in Madrid. On several occasions afterwards, I have found myself in the situation of making brief presentations of the author and his work. I have always found these situations disturbing. The idea of carrying out the survey process is preceded by the impression of an effort that is almost impossible to achieve without causing some unforgivable omission. How do you synthesise without deleting some basic component of the essence in a vast and exuberant work where nothing is superfluous or decorative?

A processually vital work whose impulse from the beginning has been "to go". Boaventura de Sousa Santos has always been going. To know, to seek, to find, to unveil, to demonstrate, to discover, to understand, with the restlessness of bringing, translating, and sharing what he has found. I have understood this, as I have come to know him more in the course of 14 years, as being the result of his original nature, the constituent matrix of his human being, which I have imagined pre-existent to the performing that entails the very experience of becoming an academic. The initiation in the ministerial office in the academy presupposes a transformation of the being, a forging. An alteration of difficult return where, however, the originality, when it occurs, is probably due to the persistence of some primordial component. Knowing oneself to be different is different from feeling unequal.

The ministerial baptism in the 1970s must have been an indelible experience for him. We Iberians can imagine it well. We have a similar socio-historical cultural imprint. So he has been going non-stop in search of jewels for a collective horizon built by all for all. Perhaps because of a deeply rooted innate longing that all differences are singularities in a fertile thriving society. Anyone who knows him well knows of this incombustible impetus that keeps him in perpetual motion. To these impressions from his writing is added the strange coincidence of a certain concordance between physical stature and mental and intellectual stature. Which is not usual. At his age he preserves this atypical concordance.

On this new occasion, I relive such an experience.

It is impossible that a thinker whose overwhelming trajectory of public and institutional recognition is linked to the excellence of his impressive creative activity can be considered a mirage of chance. On the rare occasions when a peerless figure in his generation emerges in a society or human group, there is no doubt that the extensive shadow he casts belongs to the solidity of the projecting organism. Therefore, when the giants are recognized, it is also evident, in the transgenerational that has the present, the extensive projection into the future. This is an evidence in this case. Societies have something in their behavior of organic nature, in the processes that occur in the identification of these fundamental specimens for the progress of the whole. In all cultures and societies, as in our own, the rituals of consecration of the great beings have as a fundamental object the identification of the major creative minds without which it is not possible to advance. This is the anthropological function of these ceremonial rituals, which in the academic field that concerns us is equivalent to identifying exemplary producers of milestones of knowledge without whose contribution new frontiers of science could not be glimpsed.

I remember now, perfectly well, in the debate with the public attending that publishing house event, that I pointed out, at the request of a participant, that I considered that the thought of Boaventura de Sousa Santos meant for social and cultural anthropology—the discipline in which I work - one of the contributions, if not the most outstanding, for its scientific advancement. The question for me is very clear: the interdisciplinarity of his thought and production ends up placing the recognition of the creative diversity of people and human groups, and the immateriality of specific culturally and socially situated knowledge at the center of all possible progress for humanity. This obviously includes collective struggles, since knowledge and knowledge are both the driving force and the consequence. So that the abstract humanity, which abounds so much in intellectual rhetoric, ceases to be possible without the specificity and diversity of worlds that it contains throughout the length and breadth of the world that we as a species have colonized. Something that, since the last decades of the twentieth century, in unison with the global push of neoliberalism and the songs of its cybernetic sirens, the very discipline due to that foundational objective has ceased to proclaim and champion. That is to say, beyond nationalist interests that confuse the depth of a fact that is well framed in the work of Boaventura de Sousa. In a remarkable way that surpasses the production of contemporary anthropology itself. That is why, possibly, while for some it is a reinforcement for others it is somewhat difficult to fit into an anthropology of priesthood without risks.

Reviewing his trajectory and some of the biographies found on the internet, his interdisciplinary profession stands out. Sociology, anthropology, sociology of law, epistemology, political science, history, philosophy, economics, education, and the so-called Postcolonial Studies recognize and appropriate his contributions in broad debates in their fields. In the field of artistic creativity, he is recognized as a poet and a rapper. All this contributes to an image that is transgressive of corsets, to a certain aroma of reserved humanism in what he self-defines as "tragic optimist," which is completed with his self-education in rebellion against scientific fragmentations.

Few academics have in their curricula 23 Doctor Honoris Causa investments in prestigious universities in countries on three continents. More than 20 academic awards and distinctions in national and international cultural, artistic and political fields. More than 34 international research projects have been conducted, and more than 144 books have been produced with scientific content that has been translated into six different languages. There are dozens of articles in scientific journals. Hundreds of press articles. I still suspect that, in what I present here, I am possibly leaving behind important data.

If we look at his contributions to contemporary thought, we can observe a process of maturation towards the refinement that characterizes the final product of his work: the epistemologies of the South.

Putting on the toga with O direito dos oprimidos in the early 1970s is a sign of fire that augurs the site of a lighthouse that will rise on the horizon. Cognitive justice will merge with social justice in the discovery of the systematically marginalized and invisibilized knowledge produced by the inhabitants of the Jacarezinho favela in Rio de Janeiro. The Brazilian mirror will accompany him forever. At CIDOC (Mexico), he was imbued with ecological awareness and criticism of the progress/development paradigm. In 1978, he founded the Center for Social Studies (CES) of the University of Coimbra, of which he will be director from then until his appointment as director emeritus on his retirement. The concern for the transformation of society imprinted in his emerging scientific production permeates and will distinguish the CES, where innovation, critical approaches to contemporary social challenges, democratization of knowledge, revitalization of human rights, and a sense of science as a public good have forged the prestige of the institution.

The 1980s saw his interest and dedication to the struggles of social movements in Brazil, where in 1989 he engages in research on participatory budgeting and participatory democracy. The third millennium inaugurates his activism in the World Social Forum, from which arises his decisive commitment to the Popular University of Social Movements (UPMS) with dozens of offices developed in countries of three continents. The coherence between his intellectual activity and his political activism has consolidated a trajectory and an exceptional scientific work. Hence, his work observed as a whole is a production in permanent revision of his contributions, in incessant back and forth between the analytical reflection and the direct contact with the bustle of the collectives in struggle. Involving itself in the search for viable alternatives for the construction of other possible worlds by experimenting with practical stakes for the present needs of the participants in the action.

The collaboration in the formulation of the Bolivian and Ecuadorian Constitutions leaves its mark in the defense of plurinationality and the right of nature. But in spite of the level of these influences, or precisely because of them, the authoritarianism promoted by neoliberalism has taken root in the governments and institutions of the United States in a trend that seems to be globalizing, degrading human rights, democracy, and the diversity of life on the planet in a broad sense. Boaventura de Sousa's thought and its close articulation with political activism and struggles are threats to far-right positions in many countries in the EU, Europe, the Americas, and Africa, where his production and political action have spread in recent decades.

In understanding the paradoxes of the bankrupt present, and the ways in which the abyssal line of the pattern of domination of global capitalism seems to reinforce it, the perspective of the Epistemologies of the South and its theoretical-methodological formulation of a double complementary sociology is one of the most relevant contributions to contemporary thought. Its sociology of absences to unveil and decode the forms of invisibilization and production of non-existences, and its sociology of emergencies that reinforces and articulates with alternative social struggles for life, bridging wasted knowledge with those arising from the very struggles for existence. With them, his ecology of knowledge, as an alternative rationality to that which capitalist developmentalism has imposed, proposes a balanced development based on equity, the distribution of wealth, and sustainability.

The pillars of his work are articulated in three axes that are woven both in theoretical reflection and in the proposals for transformative action: education, law, and knowledge production. The commitment to education as a fundamental weapon for struggle and liberation, to social justice and democracy, and to cognitive justice, which necessarily involves the decolonization of knowledge and universities, weaves the whole of his work. Unveiling the crucial nature of institutions in dispute for global interests.

If we focus on universities, as institutions where they are interlinked, we see the process in the very timeline of his writings. Between Democratizing the University (1975) and Decolonizing the University: the Challenge of Global Cognitive Justice (2021) we find the challenges of the social expansive process of public universities up to the transnationalization and commodification of knowledge. These productions illustrate this permanent revisionist system in the surveillance and diagnosis of the social dynamics contained in his work. The university is a public good in dispute, a reflection of what is happening with the state itself.

A problem that, in reality, is but one in the counter-hegemonic disputes and struggles, since it is a good linked to the project of the nation. For this reason, his ecology of knowledge and his notion of cognitive justice are also part of the alternative and decolonizing proposals for the university. Given that the ecologies of knowledge imply an epistemological revolution within the university, and are in themselves a revulsion against the project that puts the knowledge produced at the service of global capitalism, It embraces the challenge of putting in dialogue scientific knowledge and the lay knowledge circulating in society.

Although indolent reason in its raison d'être and existence, in all the spheres and collectives where it is installed, tends to throw the baby out with the bath water, taking the part for the whole and the whole for the part, the name of Boaventura de Sousa Santos cannot and will not be separated from the epistemologies of the South. Just as he who invented the wheel for the service of all may have made the mistake of not foreseeing the wear and tear of rolling on the axles of the cart, this did not determine that it should be dispensed with.

The epistemologies of the South are a constituent current of thought in the social sciences. A hallmark of sociology and the humanities in the 21st century.