Empire, Global Coloniality and African Subjectivity

Empire, Global Coloniality and African Subjectivity

Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Empire, Global Coloniality and African Subjectivity
    Book Description:

    Global imperial designs, which have been in place since conquest by western powers, did not suddenly evaporate after decolonization. Global coloniality as a leitmotif of the empire became the order of the day, with its invisible technologies of subjugation continuing to reproduce Africa's subaltern position, a position characterized by perceived deficits ranging from a lack of civilization, a lack of writing and a lack of history to a lack of development, a lack of human rights and a lack of democracy. The author's sharply critical perspective reveals how this epistemology of alterity has kept Africa ensnared within colonial matrices of power, serving to justify external interventions in African affairs, including the interference with liberation struggles and disregard for African positions. Evaluating the quality of African responses and available options, the author opens up a new horizon that includes cognitive justice and new humanism.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-952-7
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. iii-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xiii)
    Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni
    • Chapter 1 Empire and Global Coloniality: Towards a Decolonial Turn
      (pp. 3-44)

      Empire, Global Coloniality and African Subjectivityis a study of global imperial designs, colonial matrices of power and technologies of subjection that produced African subjectivity as that of a being constituted by a catalogue of deficits and a series of ‘lacks’. It is study of both global and African history as an inextricably intertwined narrative of production of both the ‘Cartesian subject’ (superior Western subject) and African subjectivity (inferior African beings). The analysis is situated within the broader unfolding of the current modern world order since the dawn of modernity and the unfolding of colonial encounters in the fifteenth century....

    • Chapter 2 Global Imperial Designs and Pan-africanism
      (pp. 45-74)

      In his seminal bookThe Curse of Berlin: Africa after the Cold War(2010) Adekeye Adebajo boldly traced the roots of the present-day African problems to the Berlin Conference of 1884 to 1885 that was hosted by Otto von Bismarck, the Chancellor of Germany from 1871 to 1890. He stated that ‘Africa suffers from a curse invoked in Berlin’ (Adebajo 2010: 2). He characterized Bismarck as ‘the Grand Wizard of the Berlin Conference’ and a ‘German sorcerer’ who assembled his ‘European apprentices’ while employing ‘Western wizardry of the technology of the industrial revolution of the Victorian age’ that included the use...

    • Chapter 3 Coloniality of Power and African Development
      (pp. 75-98)

      It is not clear yet if development is really about human beings, not about things that professional economists call macroeconomic indicators or aggregates that serve no purpose other than to confuse the uninitiated (Adedeji 2007: 23). The anonymous Somali elder of Baidoa cited above revealed an excellent grasp of the essentials of human life that development is expected to fulfil. But since the Enlightenment’s harping on human progress, and Harry Truman’s inaugural address as the president of the U.S.A. on January 20, 1949, promised to ‘make available to peace-loving peoples the benefits of our store of technical knowledge in order...

    • Chapter 4 The Ticklish Subject in Africa
      (pp. 101-131)

      The question of the subject, subjection and subjectivity has dominated African thought and struggles since the time of colonial encounters. The contours of the debate on African subjectivity revolve around how events and processes of slavery, imperialism, colonialism, and apartheid resulted in three-layered memories and the realities of the emergence of African subjectivity. The first layer is that of alienation of the African subject from the ‘original Self’ that led to ‘a loss of familiarity with self’ and the ‘estrangement’ of Africans from their ontological identities – relegating them to objecthood and nothingness (Mbembe 2002a: 241). The second is that of...

    • Chapter 5 Subjection and Subjectivity in South Africa
      (pp. 132-155)

      The post-apartheid South African Constitution that was officially adopted in 1996 re-constructed various ethnicities and races into non-racial citizens called South Africans. The erstwhile natives and citizens were expected to metamorphose quickly into equal citizens through constitutional interpellation and subjectivation. Blackness and whiteness had been badges of exclusion and inclusion that had to be removed and a badge of a ‘New South Africa’ had to be put on. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) had been unrolled as a therapeutic means separating the dark days of apartheid from the birth of the bright days of the ‘rainbow nation’. A new...

    • Chapter 6 Nationality of Power in Zimbabwe
      (pp. 156-174)

      In Zimbabwe coloniality of power has given birth to nationality of power. Both ‘powers’ are colonizing and violent, perhaps indicating beyond doubt the salient point that ‘a substantial part of the history of Homo Sapiens could be seen as the history of colonization and of its ideological, institutional and political legitimations’ (Ribeiro 2011: 289). It is perhaps time for us to accept the idea pushed forward by Gustavo Lins Ribeiro (2011: 289) that ‘Human beings could well be called the “colonizer animal”’, an argument which is also articulated by Arif Dirlik (2002: 443), whose core thesis was that many of...

    • Chapter 7 Coloniality of Knowledge and Higher Education
      (pp. 177-195)

      The discourses of cultural transformation of higher education have a long pedigree in liberation history. At its centre is the quest for decolonization, not simply understood as political struggle ranged against formal colonial relations but as confrontation with the colonization of consciousness that inhibits African self-direction for the purpose of self-benefit (Maldonado-Torres 2007: 240–270). Western education emerged in Africa as one of the technologies of subjectivation. Instead of higher education becoming a medium to transfer the needed technological skills from the West into Africa, it became largely a laboratory for Westernization that produced Africans who were alienated from their...

    • Chapter 8 The African National Project and National Question
      (pp. 196-218)

      What would an unsententious historiographical study of the nature and conflicted agendas of the national project(s) to inform future African political trajectories yield? This is a pertinent question today because the global crisis of modernity has ignited the need to re-launch national project(s) and rethink the national question at a time when neo-colonialism, which privileged market forces as central organizers of the modern world order, is failing. The neo-liberal assault backed up by postmodernist and cosmopolitanist discourses, which had submerged issues of national project(s) and the national question, has unraveled, opening the way for the return of the repressed issues...

    • Chapter 9 Global Crisis and Africa Today
      (pp. 221-233)

      This book has been primarily concerned with three related themes of empire, global coloniality and African subjectivity. It demonstrated the intricate embeddedness of Africa within global power structures and how this embeddedness produced a particular kind of African subjectivity. The book unfolded as a major critique of how Western modernity, which was marketed as civilizational and emancipatory, was underpinned by complex technologies of subjectivation that continuously reproduced global coloniality. Since its expansion over the non-Western world, modernity became de-territorialized, hybridized, contested, uneven, multiple and universal. In the twenty-first century, this modernity plunged into multi-layered crisis/crises of which the current financial...

  8. References
    (pp. 235-258)
  9. Index
    (pp. 259-272)