I was under the impression that Oscar Guardiola-Rivera must be an interesting guy. He has written a book entitled What If Latin America Ruled The World?, regularly attends talks about South American culture in London, and was now appearing at the Hay Festival in Cartagena. In reality, his talk followed the same path as his book – which I’m currently reading – in that it never even attempted to answer the question that his book tempts you in with. Instead he delivered rhetoric after rhetoric with an academic glee, picking apart quotes from great thinkers in a last ditch attempt to show he had something to say.
Essentially the talk represented everything wrong about academia. Here was someone with great knowledge using that knowledge to prove that he had a lot of knowledge. Surely the only point of knowledge is in it’s application. Instead Rivera revels in it’s intricacies, using it to flatter the crowd who are pleased when in agreement, which considering he’s just dressing up history, is no real surprise. Not once did he even contemplate the question “What If Latin America Ruled the World?” which was the title of the talk. His book – which you can see here – follows a similar path, rich in history, low on insight. If Rivera simply referred to himself as a historian rather than a thinker and author he would gain a lot more respect from me.