One might say that thirdspaces or thirdplaces (based in FLACSO) as developed by María Belén Albornoz and Gaudys Sanclemente (2019) and Maka Suarez and Jorge Nuñez (2019a, 2019b, 2019c), are the inverse or negative space of NatureCulture. The first is politically and ethnographically located; the latter is largely located in the cloud. Thirdspaces also contrasts with informal networks of the kinds described in Turkey and Kenya. Thirdspaces build incrementally with political-institutional purpose (“to change the social system”); the others work as discussion spaces or networked NGOs. The place of online work is an important tool, but not always a primary one in thirdspaces. Other digital tools such digital data sets will become more and more important as state statistics become more available and debatable.
Three readings are possible of the current Ecuador STS situation: FLACSO as a creation of thirdspaces (multiple campuses across Latin American countries); state capture of the political mobilizing slogans of pluri-nation and sumak kawsay, the fate of Yachay Technical University and Knowledge City; and indigenous media and investigative journalism.
The model of thirdspaces is one of creating learning communities at the local level (which the Kibera example might also be); then evolving epistemic-moral communities that can be stabilized through academic programs, centers, and summer schools; and then insert themselves in government policy making and Ministry deliberations (both as a form of recognized expertise, and through networks of former STS students in government). The Ecuadorian thirdspaces model also draws upon regional Latin American research traditions (including collective rather than individual research and journalism), as well as enrolling scholars from Europe and the United States. For an important overview of Latin American STS programs in the first issue of the new Latin American journal, Tapuya (see Kreimer and Vessuri 2018).
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