Higher Education

, Volume 77, Issue 1, pp 115–133 | Cite as

Advancing a knowledge ecology: changing patterns of higher education studies in Latin America

  • Carolina Guzmán-ValenzuelaEmail author
  • Carolina Gómez


Drawing on de Sousa Santos’s work on Epistemologies of the South (2014), this paper critically examines the patterns of publication in higher education studies in mainstream and non-mainstream journals in Latin American between 2000 and 2015. An analysis of 1370 papers—130 indexed in the Web of Science (WoS) core collection indexes and 1240 indexed in the Scientific Electronic Library Online index (SciELO)—indicates that Latin American academics are engaged in lively practices of publication. However, a dual pattern of publication is identified, characterised by researchers extensively publishing in non-mainstream journals and also maintaining a presence in mainstream journals. Issues related to language, rankings and prestige, the North/South divide, the distinction between hard/basic and soft/applied sciences and the nature of higher education studies are used to explain such a pattern. Although there is a tense process of securing a dual epistemic recognition, there is also a positive tension that involves collaboration across a plurality of knowledges. Finally, this paper offers the concept of zones of epistemic influence, which opens spaces for an ecology of knowledges in which knowledges from both the North and the South constitute a new assemblage that accords due weight to a plurality of epistemic interests.


Higher education studies Latin America Web of Science Scientific Electronic Library Online Geopolitical dimension Production of knowledge Ecology of knowledges 



This work was supported by Conicyt-Chile, Fondecyt project 1170374 and PIA-CONICYT (Chile) Basal Funds for Centers of Excellence Project BF0003. We greatly appreciate the help provided by research assistants Ricardo Zavala and Benjamín Gareca.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Advanced Research in EducationUniversity of ChileSantiagoChile

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