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

 

 

The End to a Means‏

Audio Documentary

‘And if they reject such an empire, it can be imposed on them by way of arms, and such a war would be just according to the declarations of natural law […] In sum: it is just, convenient, and in conformity with natural law that those honorable, intelligent, virtuous, and human men dominate all those who lack these qualities.’ – Ginés de Sepúlveda

‘The starving fellah, Fanon pointed out, does not have to inquire into the truth. He is, they are, the truth. It is we who institute this ‘Truth’. We must now undo their narratively condemned status’ – Sylvia Wynter

‘I don’t think I ever claimed, or meant to claim, that Afro-pessimism sees blackness as a kind of pathogen. I think I probably do, or at least hope that it is, insofar as I bear the hope that blackness bears or is the potential to end the world.’ – Fred Moten

‘I knew that no matter how far from home I traveled, I would never be able to leave my past behind. I would never be able to imagine being the kind of person who had not been made and marked by slavery. I was black and a history of terror had produced that identity. Terror was “captivity without the possibility of flight,” inescapable violence, precarious life. There was no going back to a time or place before slavery, and going beyond it no doubt would entail nothing less momentous than yet another revolution.’ – Saidiya Hartman

Today Vitamin D is happy to share a recent audio documentary entitled ‘Ending The World’ which was produced to contribute to an exhibition entitled ‘Visions of the Future’ hosted by OOMK (www.oomk.net). Members of the Decoloniality London (DL) network were asked what the titular phrase means to them and how they see it being made manifest. The last three quotations above are in some shape or form responding to Sepúlveda’s historical justification for the earth to be governed by colonial means. Moreover, they are building on the early clarion calls made by Aime Cesaire and Frantz Fanon to move towards a total transformation of the world and so the voices in the recording attempt to speak to this demand while also extending and elevating it to contemporary discourse.

The people heard here will also be organising and facilitating an upcoming study programme on decoloniality which is due to have its launch day on 14 March.  As a part of DL, Vitamin D will be releasing additional information about this project in the near future and will also link to the relevant website as things get finalised.

In the mean time, check out this short piece on what it might mean to take the cry to ‘end the world’ as a serious strategy of liberation from the colonial matrix of power.

Do get in touch if you’d like to register for the launch event.