Text by Felipe A. de Lima, Jayani I. Sudusinghe, and Biman D. Hettiarachchi.

Aquarelle by Felipe A. de Lima.

Transformation (noun): an act, process, or instance of transforming or being transformed [1].

Various authors have taken advantage of the meaning of transformation to express change, alteration, or metamorphosis.

Brazilian writer Rubem Alves, for example, said that the transformation of hard corn kernel into soft white popcorn resembles the great transformation that human beings must undergo so that they become what they should be. Accordingly, we are like corn kernels: hard, difficult to eat, and by the power of fire, we can suddenly turn into something appreciated by everyone. Popcorn! The transformation only happens by the power of fire (to lose a love, to get sick, to face a challenge). Those people who do not go through the power of fire will be the same forever because they think their way of being is the best. In other words, they will remain on the bottom of a pan as unpopped corn kernels that will be thrown away [2].

Alves’s metaphor implies a lesson to be learned, and transformation is key.

Likewise, we show how transformation in our mindset can contribute to tackling the social and ecological issues we have witnessed so far. It is noteworthy that whether these trends are not responsibly and collectively managed, the future generations will collapse by a scarcity of natural resources, the earth’s biodiversity will be depleted, and the climate will be dramatically changed. Though, the future is today since our society is already paying the price in that sense.

Our purpose is, therefore, to quicken the transformation of such challenges through critical reflection.

Instead of adventuring ourselves with poetry, as Alves did, we draw on a critical philosophy approach that takes us out of an inert position. A caveat deserves attention. By critical, we do not mean expressing disapproval but facing the current problems through critical reflection, which is in favor of and strives to collective action.

In line with Argentinean philosopher Enrique Dussel, we believe that overcoming domination over nature (and other actions that engender social injustice and environmental devastation) can be achieved through realizing the attitudes, interpretations, sense-things inherent in our daily life. Such everydayness is not noticed because we have always been close to it since we were born. In Dussel’s words: “This ‘not noticing’ is like an unseen prison. We see the world through the bars of our cells, and we believe they are the bars of cells in which others are imprisoned. Our life, because it is ‘natural’ and ‘obvious,’ is lived in an acritical naivety with very great consequences. Our way of facing beings is conditioned by this everydayness that is our own being, our second nature, our ethos, our cultural and historical character.” (p. 32) [3].

As Dussel suggests, the essence of critical philosophy is based on our critical perception about our actions in relation to the others (animals, plants, human beings, air, water, soil, and more).

A transformation regarding the way we perceive the beings is thus needed so that we will be able to develop awareness, sensitivity, and care.

We now turn our focus to an example. Indigenous communities throughout Brazil have struggled to preserve their culture, traditions, and mainly territories. Amid the collectives that have elucidated such struggles, we would like to cite “Martírio,” a 2016 documentary by French Brazilian Vincent Carelli, and “Indigenous lands in Ceará [Brazil]: A history of struggles and resistance,” research authored by Brazilian scholars Felipe Lima and Fábio Marquesan [4]. Although these works have different approaches (audiovisual and scientific evidence), both show worldview disputes regarding “territory” and “land.” Indigenous people see the territory as a common good in its interdependence with nature and a locus for (re)producing their cultural identity. No one owns the territory but the Mother Earth. Importantly, the territory is vital and must be respected since it is a source of food, shelter, and cultural creation for all its residents. On the other hand, following a capitalist viewpoint, rather than territory, one would refer to land because it is a mere commodity that can be bought or sold, as Brazilian researcher Maria Misoczky notes [5].

So, what can we learn from the indigenous people’s viewpoints? Several reflections can be derived. Scholars Bill Hopwood, Mary Mellor, and Geoff O’Brien stress that many of the indigenous movements in the South are some of the most energetic to counter current social and ecological injustices [6]. Further, we ought to transform the utilitarian way of seeing beings into a respectful and harmonious manner. Our pace is undoubtedly harmful to our own existence. As another source of inspiration for realizing such a transformation, we offer the following song excerpt by Brazilians Lenine and Dudu Falcão [7]:

Is time missing for you to understand?

Do we have this time to lose?

And, who wants to know?

Life is so rare

So rare…


[1] Merriam Webster (2019). Transformation. Retrieved from (last accessed 26 October 2019).

[2] Alves, Rubem (2019). A pipoca. Retrieved from (last accessed 2 November 2019).

[3] Dussel, Enrique (1985). Philosophy of liberation (A. Martinez & C. Morkovsky, Trans.). Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

[4] Lima, Felipe A. de; & Marquesan, Fábio F. S. (2017). Terras indígenas no Ceará: Uma história de lutas e resistência. Rebela – Revista Brasileira de Estudos Latino-Americanos, 7(3), p. 488-509.

[5] Misoczky, Maria C. (2010). Desenvolvimento: Conflitos sócio-ambientais e perspectivas em disputa. In Maria C. Misoczky, Rafael K. Flores, & Joysi Moraes (Orgs.), Organização e práxis libertadora (pp. 153-184). Porto Alegre: Dacasa Editora.

[6] Hopwood, Bill; Mellor, Marry; & O’Brien, Geoff (2005). Sustainable development: Mapping different approaches. Sustainable development, 13(1), 38-52.

[7] Translated excerpt of Lenine and Dudu Falcão’s Paciência song.

Authors’ information

Felipe holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Fortaleza, Brazil, with a focus on the dynamics of food production, marketing, and consumption in Alternative Food Networks (AFNs) located in the Brazilian Semiarid region. He is an ESR and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Kassel, Germany.

Jayani holds a Master’s Degree in Supply Chain Management from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. She also worked as an Instructor and a visiting lecturer in the Department of Transport and Logistics, University of Moratuwa Sri Lanka, teaching Sustainable Supply Chain Management. She is an ESR and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Kassel, Germany.

Biman holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Science and a Bachelor’s Degree in Transport and Logistics Management from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. He is a Research Assistant and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Kassel, Germany.