This past 9 March 2017, after several months of joint work, the editorial team of Digithum was pleased to present the nineteenth issue of the journal before the academic community of the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences of the Universidad de Antioquia (UdeA). This issue is a special one, not only because it keeps promoting the relational perspective as a productive basis for sociological enquiry – as made manifest in the articles, each one in its own particular way – but also because it is the first one coedited by the aforementioned institution and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). Besides presenting this most recent issue, the purpose of the endeavour has been to show how Digithum is a viable project which allows both faculties to meet their goals in terms of teaching, research, publishing processes and international quality standards.
Along with Natalia Cantó Milá (UOC), editor-in-chief, four scholars from the UdeA presented their current research fields, emphasizing how they have defined the subject matters they deal with based on the relational perspective.
Cantó Milá offered an interesting overview of the intellectual history of the relational perspective to explain her different standpoints when dealing with sociological research. Georg Simmel’s relationism, as it is explained in his digression on how society is possible, is the theoretical grounds on which she has cultivated her explanation of the way human beings structure their imaginaries of the world in times of crisis. In closing, she prompted the audience to think about how this perspective may be highly useful for understanding the current Colombian post-conflict situation.
Gabriel Vélez, head of UdeA’s Social and Human Research Centre, presented a critical approach to the notion of communication based on networks analysis. Vélez emphasized the ways the term communication has been theorized by different sociologists and philosophers and how network analysis would permit a dynamic and, above all, situational definition of it.
Jaider Otálvaro, professor in the Sociology Department of UdeA, showed how a relational standpoint helps researchers define an accurate object for the sociology of public health. Otálvaro asserted that the relational goal of avoiding substantial conceptions of phenomena has helped him to redefine the concept of health beyond those coloured with structural conceptions. He went on to state that using a relational perspective for subjects like those of public health implies recognizing that human relations take place in biological realms.
Simón Puerta, professor in UdeA’s Anthropology Department, presented his article, included in our recent issue, Essay and autonomy in Latin America. The role of Hispanic-American modernism in critical thinking in the region. As can be read in the paper, his aim was to point out some elements concerning the importance of the essay in shaping Latin American critical thinking. Particularly suggestive, in relational terms, was the debate proposed on the notion of humanism. Since it is one of the standard elements used to characterize European heritage, Puerta sees the process of refining that notion in Latin America as a possible example for shaping the critical dimension of its way of thinking.
Finally, Alba Lucía Pérez, another professor in UdeA’s Sociology Department, shared how one of the outstanding representatives of the relational perspective, Erving Goffman, provided the theoretical grounds for her research. Pérez suggested that the methodological approaches involved in the presentation of the self and frame analysis are a way of engaging in historical photography studies in Medellín. Based on photographs from a community archive, she is working on a proposal to study the visual memory of
The aim of each presentation was to fuel everyday discussions among our academic community, such as those on the importance of theory and its relation to research processes or the importance of founding authors and contemporary ways of reading them. All of them are, without a doubt, lines of enquiry that underlie our faculty’s undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.