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My main research interests are philosophy of perception, Latin American and Latinx philosophy, phenomenology, and social epistemology.

My research is in social philosophy, intersecting work in social epistemology and social ontology (with a focus on social identities), Latin American and Latinx philosophy, and philosophy of perception. My research crosses the boundaries of traditional areas of philosophy, engaging continuously with ethical and political questions. I keep an active interest in Husserlian and contemporary phenomenology. My research is supported by a broad and solid formation in the history of philosophy, and an interdisciplinary education that allows me to do collaborative and interdisciplinary research.

The intersection between perception and social epistemology is a guiding thread in my work. In this work that I have come to see as a long-term project on the social epistemology of perception. I combine specific inquiries in the metaphysics and epistemological aspects of perception (e.g., directness, veridicality, aspectuality) and in the social epistemological aspects of our living together, especially about social identities.

My under-contract book, A Social Theory of Perception: From Action to Practices, is devoted to exploring and understanding how our perceptual mode of knowing is embedded in our living with others and our knowing others, and in what aspects of our living with others and knowing others are the way they are  because of this perceptual basis. In this moment, I am particularly interested in the perceptual basis of social identities, and in both the epistemological implications of such perceptual basis for our living with others, as well as the ontological implications for the very notion of a social identity.

One of the issues I am interested in is in making sense of bringing normative considerations, ethical and political in kind, into a field of work like that is often understood as merely descriptive of our social identity and relations, and our knowing of them. This is partly a question about the normative element in our philosophizing about perception: what type of philosophy should philosophy of perception be? What are the horizons of a philosophy of perception that takes perception as a central way of being human, of being a human social being? What can we learn from the social epistemology of perception for the projects of emancipation of oppressed groups?

My current work in Latin American and Latinx philosophy has two main targets. One of them concerns the question of the identity of Latinx folks in the United States. From this project an article was just published in the Journal of Social Philosophy, and a monograph project is currently under peer-review at Columbia University Press. In this work, a collaborative project, I explore how the embodied, pragmatically situated social identity of Latinx folks in the U.S. should be understood, since the categories of race and ethnicity, we argue, are insufficient to do this job. This work elaborates and applies some of my own work in the perception of social identities to the case of Latinx folks in the US. I contend that a social reality as fluid and contextual as this social identity requires some conceptual resources that are not found in the race and ethnicity framework. Other aspects currently at work include, for instance, the questions that Afro- and Black- Latinx folks present to the idea of Latinidad, and in relation to a critical genealogy of the concept. 

An illustrative example of how my work in phenomenology feeds my work on social identities (race and ethnicity included) is the proposal that social identities are best understood as a type of social affordance: that to be embody a social identity in the public space is to carry with oneself a domain of possibilities for action with others, and for others. Methodologically, this work draws from my engagement with the social aspects of perception, particularly our perception of others, contemporary phenomenological developments in this area, as well as the kind of insight that is gained by theorizing from the margins, as it were. In this case, engaging with the questions of the identity of Latinx folks gives my work on social identities a distinct perspective that comes from an identity fluid, plastic and “mixed.” One of the distinct contributions of phenomenology and other trends in 20th century continental philosophy to this work is, for instance, the overcoming of the subjective-objective distinction which in this case is put to work through the notion of affordances. Initially proposed in ecological psychology, affordances articulate the subjective and the objective, and are sensitive to the notion of embodied subjects, situated in particular social environments. Enriching those social environments with the peculiar dynamics of social identities, raises new challenges for the very conceptualization of those identities.  

I am also interested in the development of Latin American thought about the social dimension of our lives and the way this debate engages with the phenomenological orthodoxy. In particular, I want to look carefully at the conceptualization of sociality along the lines of the phenomenological category of intersubjectivity, and how the reception in some Latin American thinkers outlines a particular heterodox phenomenology. I contend that, particularly in the philosophies of Jorge Mañach and Jorge Portilla, we can trace a sense that “intersubjectivity” was insufficient to capture essential elements of social life, and that the answer is to that gap is to add elements that can be identified as pragmatist in nature. I argue, further, that Portilla’s approach gives us tools to insist that the Husserlian notion of intersubjectivity falls short of explaining adequately many a social phenomenon, pointing to the need to theorize sociality in a different way.

Current projects in my main areas of research

  • “Reconsidering Latinidad: A Social Identity Beyond Race and Ethnicity.” This is a monograph project, now under consideration at two publishers. Columbia University Press has sent it out for peer-review. This project includes chapters now under development and being presented at conferences.
  • “The Social Identity Affordance View: A Theory of Social Identities.” Under-review at journal. This is a first approach at the broader, more capacious claim that social identities in general are properly understood as a specific type of social affordance. This is a novel position within the social constructionist camp.
  • Under-contract book project, “A Social Enactive Theory of Perception: From Action to Practices.” I argue for a version of Social Enactivismthat brings the social and the perceptual together by casting traditional individual-only concepts of perception in socially pragmatic terms. The theory attempts to make good, on a direct realist view, that there is a sort of “match“ between the social world and perception, such that perception is equipped to deal with the social world. 
  • “More than Intersubjectivity: Jorge Mañach and Jorge Portilla on Sociality.” In this work I explore how the Latin American philosophers Jorge Mañach and Jorge Portilla have approached the social dimension of our lives. I am paying particular attention to how these two thinkers’ analysis help us push the limits of the concept of intersubjectivity, a concept that made its way into Latin American thought via phenomenology. In particular, I propose that Portilla’s overcomes the limitations of Husserl’s account of intersubjectivity.
  • “Resting Content: Unclarity in Everyday Perception” (under review at European Journal of Philosophy). Prominent accounts of the normativity of perception hold that perception necessarily eschews lack of clarity to achieve distinct, well-defined perceptions. We call these the better grip views. We object to the better grip views by addressing, first, the notion of better or optimal at work in it and, second, its dependence on object perception. Resting content with unclear, undefined perceptions is a common, properly working, appropriate, and necessary feature of perceptual engagement with the world.
  • “The two-way road between high-level perception and direct social perception.” Under revision. I offer an argument backing the direct social perception (DSP) theory: that per considerations of parity if it is plausible that we perceive more than low-level properties in general (a metaphysical feature of perception), it is also plausible that we perceive more than low-level properties in others. These high-level properties would be features like persons’ humanness, their being animate being, their faces, some of their moods and mental states, and their social identities.
  • “Afro-Latinidad, Affordances, and Anticolonialism” (conference stage). If Latinidad is to be retained as a meaningful category of social identity, it is essential that it includes a critical analysis and an account of Afro-Latinidad. Doing so entails paying attention to the role of racist, antiblack, and colorist histories within the emergence and construction of Latinidad, up to the present.

“And for this reason all plants seem to be alive, since they evidently have in themselves this sort of power and source, through which they have growth and decay in opposite directions, for they do not just grow up upward but not downward, but in both directions alike, and in every direction, all of them that are continually nourished and live for the sake of their ends…”

Aristotle, De Anima, II, 2, 413a25-30