The Dummy Men! The Decolonial Anthropology of Asmerom Legesse

Discussion

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Going up a day later than it should have is our second entry into the dummy men series which will consist of one-to-one chats on the topics of decoloniality, white supremacy and antiblackness as they relate to the particular experience and position of the the speakers’ background. In this pod we speak on the seminal 1973 text written by Harvard Emeritus Professor Asmerom Legesse on his expansive study of the Oromo in Southern Ethiopia entitled Gada: Three Approaches to the Study of African Society.

In what will run for a few consecutive sessions, we will attempt to introduce the text to new readers and hope to offer an accessible conversation to complement the reading of the text by weaving in points of interest for the broader discussion on decoloniality. For instance, Ato Asmerom’s highly critical position on the practice of applying eurocentric disciplines of anthropological study on colonized peoples as informed by Frantz Fanon whose writings were in fresh circulation during the decade Ato Asmerom conducted his field research in Ethiopia; the influence his explication of the concept of liminality had on Sylvia Wynter in her study on blacks in the U.S; and his stretching of Claude Levi-Strauss’ and Victor Turner’s structuralist models of the study of indigineous peoples considering their implementation under the paradigm of coloniality.

Please refer to the material below for the relevant texts by Professor Asmerom and Wynter and click on this link for an introduction to the work of Levi-Strauss .

 

Don’t fall for the dummy man!

 

 

https://zelalemkibret.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/gada-asmerom-legese.pdf

No-Humans-Involved-An-Open-Letter-to-My-Colleagues-by-SYLVIA-WYNTER

 

 

A Genealogy of the Emergence of Decoloniality

Discussion

In today’s podcast Vitamin D reached out to Dr. Roberto D. Hernandez of San Diego State University to talk about the concept of decoloniality and the history of its emergence within the context of his own political formation as a Chicano activist raised in San Ysidro – blocks from the U.S.-Mexico border and the site of the busiest port of entry in the world. In what is hoped to be the first segment of a two-part discussion we touched on the post-1992 quincentenary protests of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas as a rife period for reformulating questions of colonization. Roberto talks us through the novel and radical sentiments informing the political movements of that time and how they tie in with emergent theories of European Modernity as coloniality. We also discuss Chicana/Chicano identity, the thought of Anibal Quijano, the synthesis of major third world theories into an analysis of decoloniality, and Roberto’s work on border logic and indigenous knowledge systems.

This podcast constitutes as part of Vitamin D’s commitment to introduce the concept of decoloniality to listeners who may or may not be actively studying or engaged in the politics of liberation through a colonial lens. Roberto helps us think through the differences between decolonial thought emerging out of the Latin-American context in the late 1980s and the existing schools of South Asian subaltern studies and theories of Orientalism, as well as between colonialism as a relationship between a colony and its mother nation predicated on notions of territorial sovereignty and coloniality as a globally operating logic of power. We learn that decoloniality as a novel theory of liberation of oppressed people emerges as a synthesis of existing models of liberation such as dependency theory, internal colonialism and world systems theory – all of which are defined and explained by Roberto in today’s pod. Lastly, we touch on the colonial knowledge systems that have given us, among other things, national borders and how mainstream discourses of immigrant/emigrant serve to perpetuate and further entrench the logic of borders. This latter area is what will be the topic for our second part of the conversation in the near future.