Abstract in English:Abstract In this article, I examine the writings of the 18th-century Italian thinker Giambattista Vico and the 19th-century Indian thinker/social reformer Jyotiba Phule about myths, temporality, and the past. Both these thinkers turned to historicising myths in order to engage with debates in the present. Both viewed myths as reflecting social relations of power and domination, and sought to understand their material realities, emphasising human agency, collective change, and the social construction of language and practices. Both pointed to the limits of history, albeit in different ways: Vico by introducing the notion of providence, and Phule by rewriting the myths he had rationalised, using the same mythological figures, in order to intervene in the politics of the present from a marginal perspective (that of being low-caste). I juxtapose these two disparate thinkers in terms of their similarities in historicising myths, and analyse why Phule goes further than Vico in exceeding the boundaries of history. I argue that Phule’s cultural context allowed him to return to myths more easily than Vico, although the latter revered them as well.
Abstract in English:Abstract Abstract: Historicism has shaped global politics by projecting multiple images of development. Specifically, it has served to legitimise Western forms of hegemony by naturalising the schema of ‘First in the West, then in the Rest,’ thereby damning non-Western Others to the ‘waiting room’ of history (Chakrabarty 2000). In this light, decolonising international relations must likewise complement efforts to decolonise the stagist views of historicism implicit in civilisational history. However, this focus on stagism neglects the ways in which historicism has also been employed to assert non-Western agencies in the name of culture, and to legitimise colonialism, as it was in the case of Japan. The case of Japan thus raises the question of whether limiting the critique of historicism to that of being a stagist civilisational discourse is sufficient or not. This article argues that there are not just one but two problems with historicism in international relations: first, that the stagist view of history legitimises the civilising mission; and second, that the romantic turn to culture as a means of resisting Eurocentric history may actually underwrite a colonialist discourse as well. If this is correct, the debate on historicism must not only engage with the concept of civilisation, but also with the concept of culture as a site through which sovereignty is projected.
Abstract in English:Abstract Abstract: Léopold Sédar Senghor’s 1961 Speech at Oxford University is a provocative and critical intervention during what is generally considered to be a decolonisation period. It is a speech that engages across eras, and one from which we can glean insights on how to nourish ideas and modes of thinking that may be needed in this historical moment. With it, Senghor illustrates the importance of humanism for interlocutory dialogue, which is necessary to transcend delimiting and violent kinds of relations. This article deploys the idea of surreptitious speech to examine how Senghor makes these arguments in a crevice moment. I present a homologous reading of Senghor’s speech using the lecture itself as a base with its three sections: ‘Negritude as a Form of Humanism’, ‘The African Mode of Socialism’, and ‘Conclusion’. Atop the speech, this essay develops in five sections that mirror the re-imagining and the future imagining that Senghor accomplishes with his words. I suggest that this speech represents a vision of a humanistic, decolonial future that keeps alive the idea and the hope of a more universal universalism.
Abstract in English:Abstract Abstract: How does it feel when one’s wound is an exhibit for an academic who investigates what is scripted as defeated life practices? How does it feel to deal with texts announcing victorious life practices such as human rights and progress while life is being threatened by the modern technologies of violence? How is it possible to read the texts in any hermeneutic fashion while so many familiar ‘coloured’ bodies are being targeted and slaughtered? These are the questions that haunt me in my academic journey. I will attempt to answer them by exploring how the project of Westernised education (developmental time) is entangled with a deeper understanding of the political that poet Murid al-Barghouti captures in his reflection: ‘[politics] is your memories that you fear to gaze at but you gaze at it despite it all.’ I wonder how much the festering wounds and the prominence of the familiar invoke a different temporality that can be but too aware of the crimes committed against humanity in the name of progress and development. I wonder how that political act of the unwilling gaze at one’s wounds and one’s memory reaffirms a notion of time thought to be over, but is not.
Abstract in English:Abstract Abstract: This paper examines the possibilities and limitations of an emergent global discourse of indigeneity to offer an oppositional praxis in the face of the depredations of settler colonialism in post-apartheid South Africa. Self-conscious articulations of indigeneity, we argue, reveal the fraught relationship between increasingly hegemonic and narrow understandings of the indigenous and the carceral logic of apartheid. We examine this by focusing on the meanings and attachments forged through indigenous plants in two realms: the world of indigenous gardening practised by white suburban dwellers and that of subsistence farming undertaken by rural black women. This juxtaposition reveals that in contrast to the pervasive resurrection of colonial time that defines metropolitan indigenous gardening, the social relations of a subsistence cultivator challenge the confines of colonial temporality, revealing a creative mode of dissent structured around dreams, ancestral knowledge, and the commons. Our exploration of struggles around botanical indigeneity suggests that anticolonial modes of indigeneity do not necessarily inhere in recognisable forms and that studies of the indigenous need to proceed beyond those that bear familial resemblance to emergent global understandings.
Abstract in English:Abstract Abstract: Recent international relations (IR) scholarship has developed a growing awareness of this discipline’s colonial roots, prompting a search for decolonising approaches. This article is about indigenous sovereignties and how they have been occluded in the currently globalised European system of states. The method employed is a case study of two of the most impoverished and brutalised Indigenous Peoples in Brazil: the Guarani and the Kaiowa. In an attempt to transit between the world of Westphalia and non-European worlds, it starts by engaging in a conversation with Guarani and Kaiowa knowledge. Then, through a long-term historical analysis, it examines the main colonial processes that caused the occlusion of Guarani and Kaiowa sovereignty. Finally, it provides a broader perspective on how the diffusion of the European model of sovereignty, confronted with Indigenous resistance, has led to the social exclusion of Indigenous Peoples worldwide.
Abstract in English:Abstract Time has been the forgotten dimension in the debate on the post-secular, originated by the philosopher Jürgen Habermas in the Social Sciences two decades ago. This article proposes a study of post-secularity from the temporal dimension and concludes that it is possible to affirm that post-secularism is a way of colonialism by other means. The article also inquires into the capacity of the post-colonial approach to offer a critical reading of political religiosity that would include the underlying cultures of time. In response to this question, it explains the controversial nature of post-colonial thought with respect to this task. However, it argues that post-colonial and de-colonial perspectives are nonetheless useful for apprehending cultures of time among religious actors.
Abstract in English:Abstract Abstract: Dipesh Chakrabarty’s Provincializing Europe uses Martin Heidegger’s Being-with to ground his defence of a decolonial historiography. In this essay I show that Heidegger’s broader aims within Being and Time nullify Chakrabarty’s hopes for recovering fragile political spaces. In contrast to Heidegger, I propose Hannah Arendt’s writings on Jewish politics as an alternative for students of decolonisation. Arendt’s focus on plurality and new beginnings complement Chakrabarty’s critiques of historicism and political belonging in a way that more fully realises the broader ambitions of Provincializing Europe.