Michela Coletta is Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Warwick. She holds a PhD in History from University College London, where she specialized in cultural and intellectual history with a focus on Latin America. She has held positions at King’s College London, the University of Bristol, the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies of the University of London, and the Universidad Pablo de Olavide in Seville, Spain. She has also been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Aalborg, Denmark, and at the Rachel Carson Centre in Munich. Currently, she is working on a history of the South American eco-social concept of ‘Buen Vivir’ (Living Well). The project is funded by a two-year Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship in Global History at Freie Universität Berlin.
Coletta’s first monograph, Decadent Modernity: Civilisation and Latinidad in Spanish America, 1880-1920 (2018), shows the relevance of cultural frameworks of modernity in the emergence of Latin America as a geo-political region. She has also co-edited the volume Provincialising Nature: Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Politics of the Environment in Latin America (2016) and has published articles on the intersections between environmental governance, decolonial thought, race and indigeneity. Her work approaches the issue of eco-centric futures from the perspective of the history of knowledge and explores the possibility of tracing anti-extractivist epistemologies across north-south boundaries.
Affiliated Project 2022-24
The vision that drives Coletta’s research is the urgency to expand eco-critical knowledge across global north and global south boundaries in order to imagine and build new futures. Neo-colonial realities are increasingly diffused through phenomena such as financialization and migratory flows, which makes the case for crossing geo-political and epistemic borders ever more compelling. A further level of entanglement regards the diverse genres and languages that Coletta considers as repositories of eco-social knowledge, defying neat divisions between disciplines.
Within this framework, Coletta is currently writing a transnational history of Andean and Amazonian cultures of ‘Buen Vivir’ – ‘Sumak Kawsay’ in Quechua, and ’Suma Qamaña’ in Aymara. ‘Buen Vivir’ (Living Well) is rooted in indigenous cosmovisions and is a community-centred and bio-centred approach to sustainable living first formulated in the 1960s and extending to its most recent eco-feminist interpretations. Based on a long-time logic, ‘Buen Vivir’ fosters inter-generational and inter-species responsibility by focusing not on ‘living better on the earth’ but rather on ‘living well with the Earth’.