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Epistemic Decolonization: A Critical Investigation into the Anticolonial Politics of Knowledge [1st ed.]
 9783030499617, 9783030499624

Table of contents :
Front Matter ....Pages i-xiii
Introduction (D. A. Wood)....Pages 1-26
An Epistemography of the Anticolonial Politics of Knowledge (D. A. Wood)....Pages 27-53
Anti-Janus: Or, Impasses of the Differential Approach (D. A. Wood)....Pages 55-79
The Fanonian Alternative (D. A. Wood)....Pages 81-117
Becoming-Grounded: The Cabralian Option (D. A. Wood)....Pages 119-154
Forging Alliances: Fanon, Cabral, and Contemporary Feminist Epistemology (D. A. Wood)....Pages 155-169
Back Matter ....Pages 171-188

Citation preview

Epistemic Decolonization A Critical Investigation into the Anticolonial Politics of Knowledge D.A. Wood

Epistemic Decolonization

D. A. Wood

Epistemic Decolonization A Critical Investigation into the Anticolonial Politics of Knowledge

D. A. Wood Dillard University New Orleans, LA, USA

ISBN 978-3-030-49961-7    ISBN 978-3-030-49962-4 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49962-4 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover illustration: Maram_shutterstock.com This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG. The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland

For Claire

Acknowledgments

This book is the result of over eight years of research, travel, workshops, false starts, indelibly frank conversations, revisions, and love. The end result would not have been possible without the constant support, patience, and generosity of so many friends, family members, mentors, and colleagues, not all of whom I can mention here. For everyone who had a hand in shaping and supporting this work, I offer my sincerest gratitude. To my parents, without whom I would not have been able to pursue those intellectual endeavors about which I am most passionate. To my spouse and friend, Claire, who has supported me in every respect since we met. To Zack Hugo, for being an incomparable, constant friend and for always challenging me to grow both philosophically and personally. To Yannik Thiem, who helped to guide my teaching and research during my time at Villanova in innumerable, selfless ways. To Reiland Rabaka, whose work has inspired my own, whose generosity and kindness have been unparalleled, and whose words of wisdom and encouragement have always been timely. To Gabriel Rockhill, for his critical eye and practical guidance on earlier versions of this book and throughout my studies. To Olukunle Owolabi and Nelson Maldonado-Torres, for generously allowing me to audit their graduate courses and for challenging me intellectually. To those at the summer school Decolonizing Knowledge and Power in Barcelona for all of their support and suggestions. vii

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

To all of my friends and colleagues whose comments, criticisms, and advice helped to shape this book. A version of Chap. 2 was published as “Descolonizar el conocimiento: una mise en place epistemográfica.” Tabubla Rasa: Revista de Humanidades Numero 27 (Diciembre, 2017): 301–337. A version of Chap. 4 was published as “Immanence, Nonbeing, and Truth in the Work of Fanon.” CLR James Journal 23: 1–2 (Fall, 2017): 211–44.

Contents

1 Introduction  1 1.1 Three Stories  2 1.2 Purpose, Scope, and Methodology  9 1.3 Thesis Eleven Revisited 15 References 21 2 An Epistemography of the Anticolonial Politics of Knowledge 27 2.1 An Eclipse between Greece and Guatemala 28 2.2 Modelling Various Approaches to Epistemic Decolonization 37 References 50 3 Anti-Janus: Or, Impasses of the Differential Approach 55 3.1 The Ontological Aporia 59 3.2 The Aporia of Religious Transcendence 65 3.3 The Aporia of Double Truth Doctrines 70 References 78 4 The Fanonian Alternative 81 4.1 Fanon’s Critique of Religion and Priestly Classes 82 4.2 To Be and Not to Be 90 4.3 On the Dynamics of Truth and Falsity 95 References112

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Contents

5 Becoming-Grounded: The Cabralian Option119 5.1 Against Magical Interpretations of Reality120 5.2 Cabral’s Dialectical Materialism126 5.3 Decolonizing Luso-African Mesology132 References149 6 Forging Alliances: Fanon, Cabral, and Contemporary Feminist Epistemology155 References168 Appendix171 Conceptual Glossary179 Index185

About the Author

D. A.  Wood  teaches philosophy at Dillard University and works as a patient care technician at Ochsner Hospital in New Orleans. He is the editor and translator of Cabral’s Resistance and Decolonization and has published and presented internationally on social and political philosophy. After finishing a Master’s in Theological Studies at Loyola University Chicago, he completed his Master’s and PhD in Philosophy at Villanova University.

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List of Figures

Fig. 2.1 Fig. 2.2

Basic alternatives in debates concerning epistemic decolonization 40 Heuristic cube for understanding debates about epistemic decolonization45

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CHAPTER 1

Introduction

Taken as a whole, European colonization has transformed the political, legal, social, gendered, economic, environmental, and cultural dimensions of the world more than any other set of historical processes in the past half-millennium. “Whereas in 1800 Europe and its colonies covered around 55 per cent of the globe, in 1878 they covered 67 per cent and in 1914 84 per cent.”1 Laws, customs, racial geographies, ecologies, desires, and political borders around the world harbor their own colonial histories. In some cases, these realities serve as signs of successful resistance to past forms of conquest and domination. At other times, they endure as scars— reminders of wounds that have never fully healed and which remain tender, or, even worse, which threaten to reopen. Due to modern colonialism’s vastness and deep entrenchment in so many different spheres, it is hard to imagine anyone currently living whose existence has not been affected or shaped by it in one way or another. Well-aware of this state of affairs, many theorists and activists have striven to better comprehend those colonial realities that have shaped and continue to structure our world—however hidden and ugly they might be. This book critically examines and evaluates a variety of different approaches to one such reality among others, namely, the relation between modern colonialism and knowledge. To demonstrate the types of problems with which this book concerns itself, I begin with three short stories that have different characters and settings, yet which share some common themes. Despite the centuries that separate them, the examples below highlight episodes in which © The Author(s) 2020 D. A. Wood, Epistemic Decolonization, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49962-4_1

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colonialism and colonialist ideology, on the one hand, and the pursuit and production of knowledge, on the other, bear upon one another. The first story concerns Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, the second recounts moments from the history of the Manhattan Project, and the third pertains to contemporary biocolonialism. After recounting each story, I will note some of their shared patterns to introduce this book’s overarching themes.

1.1   Three Stories During the lifetime of the philosopher Francis Bacon (1561–1626), mercantile capital had begun to generate substantial competition between rival European powers. Along with the Dutch and the French, England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries set out to curb Spanish colonialism through state-sanctioned privateering, smuggling, and raiding in the Americas. To these forms of extraction were added the conquest and establishment of overseas settler colonies and plantation systems in the early seventeenth century. The ensuing regular encounters between British forces and Indigenous groups resulted in the marginalization and decimation of the latter, most notably in the burgeoning Atlantic slave trade, the first voyage of which set sail from England the year after Bacon’s birth. Already by the middle of the seventeenth century, over one million slaves had been imported into Anglo-America.2 Bacon served as Lord Chancellor under James I and was an active member of the Commons during the initial emergence of the British Empire. He referred to colonies as ‘heroical works’ and appropriated the Emperor Charles V’s expansionist motto plus ultra (further yet) for his natural-philosophical schemes. Nonetheless, Bacon remained unsatisfied with some of James I’s policies, and toward the end of his life he began to write a utopian novella entitled New Atlantis in which he implicitly criticized the king’s underestimation of the importance of using empirical research for England’s increased international-political empowerment. New Atlantis depicts a ship of Spanish sailors who come across an island called ‘Bensalem’ west of Peru in 1612. The crew learn from Bensalem’s governor that one night in the distant past, the canonical and non-­ canonical works of the Bible (even those which had not yet been written) came to the island amidst a bright pillar of light. On this island, there exists the ideal institution of scientific learning, Salomon’s House, whose research is in part supported by camouflaged ships of men who set sail to

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obtain new knowledge every dozen years. And, the House’s overt, central purpose of investigating the “Causes, and secret motions of things” operates in conjunction with the “enlarging of the bounds of Human Empire, to the effecting of all things possible.” Well on its way to such an ideal, Salomon’s House excels in the acquisition and production of unrivaled forms of knowledge, medicine, and futuristic technology. Bacon’s vision of this ideal natural-philosophical institution, which would later be taken as a model by “mid-century republicans and the monarchist founders of the Royal Society,” united the ends of science with those of empire in such a way that both could mutually reinforce each other.3 The elements of patriarchy and racism both inside and outside of Salomon’s House suggest that the expansion of the bounds of ‘Human Empire,’ to Bacon’s mind, would not do away with the hierarchical subordination of some types of human being to others. Bensalem in general and Salomon’s House in particular are both governed exclusively by men, and different rituals serve to entrench this utopia’s androcracy. The author depicts the greatest achievement attainable by a woman as being the bearer of a long lineage of men, for which she can be seated in a lofted chair during the celebration of the family, but where she must nevertheless remain concealed, able to see through a window but not be seen. Such social and political views infuse Bacon’s natural philosophy as well, and he often describes the investigation of nature in gendered and sexualized terms or through analogies involving heterosexual marriage. Similarly, negative racial prejudices continue to circulate freely within the novella’s imaginary. For example, mention is made of “a little foul ugly Æthiop,” and terms of disparagement are marshalled to distinguish some of Bensalem’s policies from those of the Orient: “It is true, the like law against the admission of strangers without licence is an ancient law in the kingdom of China, and yet continued in use. But there it is a poor thing; and hath made them a curious, ignorant, fearful, foolish nation.”4 A little over three centuries later, in October 1941, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt was informed about the potential for constructing a nuclear weapon. The US had entered an arms race with the Germans to develop a super bomb, and its ensuing Manhattan Project culled together some of the most powerful minds in science. Italian émigré Enrico Fermi undertook the task of creating a chain reaction by fission at the University of Chicago. “He built a small reactor, called an atomic pile, under the stands at the west of Stagg Field in a space that had previously been squash quarts. It was constructed of blocks of graphite (a kind of carbon that

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absorbed neutrons, uranium, and uranium oxide.” The success of his experiments marked the beginning of the “atomic age.”5 Arthur Compton was another member involved in the possibility of creating a nuclear bomb. Present at Fermi’s successful test, he called James Conant at Harvard University to secretly relay the results, “The Italian navigator has landed in the New World,” said Compton. “How were the natives?” asked Conant. “Very friendly.”

Following this famous exchange, those of the Manhattan Project set their sights on producing an uncontrolled chain reaction. An unprecedented amount of uranium would be required for such a large project, and because “the best known sources in Europe and the Belgian Congo were under the control of Germany, new mines were needed.”6 Such resources were uncovered in northern Canada, where aboriginal laborers were used to mine and haul radioactive materials to supply the Manhattan Project, which led to a variety of chronic illnesses and cancers among these workers. Abandoned uranium mines in Colorado and nuclear tests conducted in New Mexico and Nevada have also led to serious, lasting health problems for many different Native American groups.7 After the first nuclear test which created an “implosion with conventional explosives that compressed the fissionable material and set off the uncontrolled chain reaction,” the Scientific Director chosen by Brigadier-General Leslie Groves, Robert Oppenheimer, quoted the Bhagavad-Gita, saying, “…now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds…”8 The lands of Native American peoples in North America were not the only colonized spaces in the twentieth century where Western powers unleashed toxic chemicals. Contemporary transnational corporations have used various forms of scientific knowledge to foist chemically-based industrial agriculture onto former colonies. After the two World Wars, factories which possessed the capacity to fixate nitrogen to build explosives were transformed into plants for the production of synthetic fertilizers. Throughout much of the Global South, US-led corporations then played and continue to play the leading role of economic missionaries for these fertilizers, as well as for genetically modified seeds and herbicides (some of which have been named ‘Pentagon,’ ‘Prowl,’ ‘Assert,’ and ‘Avenge’). In addition to the immensely destructive effects of nitrate-based fertilizers on the atmosphere, their very production has come to devastate former

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colonies. “In 1984, the worst industrial disaster killed 3000 when a gas from a pesticide plant of Union Carbide leaked in Bhopal. 30,000 have died since then, hundreds of thousands have been crippled for life, and the Bhopal victims are still fighting for justice.”9 In order to increase profit margins, contemporary transnational corporations appropriate forms of knowledge from previously colonized spaces in order to patent (and so to ensure the exclusive rights to) such knowledge. This phenomenon has been referred to as ‘bioprospecting,’ ‘biopiracy,’ and ‘biocolonialism.’ To give but one example: Neem is a type of evergreen tree native to India. The US Department of Agriculture and the transnational corporation W.R. Grace took out a patent “for a method of controlling fungi on plants by the aid of an extract of seeds from the Neem tree.” However, Dr. Vandana Shiva, the European Parliament’s Green Party, and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture challenged the novelty of such a patent since the fungicidal qualities “of the Neem and its use has been known in India for over 2000 years and used to make insect repellents, soaps, cosmetics, and contraceptives.” While this patent was eventually revoked by the European Patent Office, many others still receive recognition as constituting genuine innovations. Such patents not only legalize theft and the ownership of types of living beings, but also encourage artificially inflating the prices of GMO varieties and their affiliated pesticides, thereby forging exploitative relations of economic dependency and criminalizing sustainable farming practices (such as saving seeds). Where such economic exploitation has become deeply ensconced, as in India’s Bt cotton belt, farmer suicides have risen exponentially (300,000 from 1995–2015)—many of which occur by ingesting the very pesticides upon which said farmers have been made dependent.10 The three previous stories exemplify some of the common dynamics involved in colonization and colonialist ideology. In a wide sense, ‘colonization’ names those processes whereby a foreign group arrogates the individuals, lands, and/or resources of another group in a durable, regular fashion. Colonization involves the appropriation of (1) human beings themselves, for example, through chattel slavery, (2) the lands used and inhabited by others through occupation, settlement, and the drawing of borders, and (3) the abstract and concrete resources of foreign groups (such as their knowledge about medicinal plants as well as the tangible products of their labor) through theft and/or unequal exchange. But unlike sporadic banditry, colonization occurs in a durable and regular fashion. Colonization involves sustained practices of ‘taking from’ and ‘taking

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over,’ such that these practices become institutionalized, systemic impositions of one group upon another. The more a colonial power takes from and takes over the lives of those who are colonized, the stronger and more entrenched its power becomes. Additional connotations of the concept ‘colonization’ will be discussed in the following chapter. ‘Colonialist ideology’ signifies the idealist obfuscation or inversion of the actual bearing of historical-material processes on the formulation and flow of ideas in such a way that only the ideas of the ruling colonial classes are legitimated and sanctioned. Ideologies, in this sense, constitute particular, shared propositional attitudes and discourses that are neither justifiable nor true, and which bolster colonialist ends. The reigning ideology of a colonial power ensures, motivates, and justifies its day-to-day operations. Ideology makes people march (fait marcher), in the multiple senses of making them fall in line, work, and function, as well as in the sense of deluding them.11 For example, Bacon portrays the foundational religious, moral, and legal norms of Bensalem as literally descending from heaven to earth, and not as the imperialist-oriented products of humans operating within particular historical contexts. Bacon’s own role in promoting England’s colonialist ideology precludes him from even being able to fathom, in the best of all possible worlds, an egalitarian community of natural-philosophical research not directed toward imperial aggrandizement. Similarly, the secret exchange between Compton and Conant connects the period of mercantile capitalism to that of the atomic age through the traditional euphemism of landing and discovery. The nuclear physicists code that which is successfully controlled and manipulated in the realm of nuclear fission by means of the hackneyed ‘friendly native’ mythology that so closely resembles ‘noble savage’ discourses. ‘Friendly,’ here, means ‘able to be mastered and controlled.’ No sooner does nature become socialized under the idea of ‘friendly natives’ subject to experimentation than actual Native Americans and their lands become naturalized as exploitable and expendable resources for uranium mining and nuclear testing. Such reversals are clear symptoms of ideology at work. Finally, whereas the Manhattan Project harnessed something like Death itself, the biopiracy of contemporary corporations sets its sights on the colonization of Life itself.12 As Laurelyn Whitt has shown so well, the roseate and inconsistent discourses of progress, development, and invention rehearsed by such transnational corporations elide the most basic issues of ecological sustainability and mental wellness, and so again amount to little more than colonialist ideology.13

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Yet the foregoing stories do not only betray the workings of colonialist ideology. The duplicities, fictions, delusions, and lies of colonialist ideology that fly under the radar of general self-awareness also relate to knowledge in highly complex ways. The stories above demonstrate different ways in which (1) elements of different groups’ systems of knowledge have been and are colonized, and that (2) certain knowledge systems rely upon and/or buttress processes of social, economic, cultural, and political colonization. For example, even in the realm of literary imagination, the imperial goals of Bensalem (and Bacon) motivate the technical and medical research conducted in Salomon’s House. Nor did colonialist ideology hamper the scientific tests and goals of the Manhattan Project. The Project succeeded in part because of the exploitation of the labor, health, land, and resources of Indigenous peoples. And, contemporary biocolonialist corporations seize elements of Indigenous knowledge precisely in order to thrall and dominate new Global Southern markets. Many organic intellectuals who have repeatedly observed these and similar historical processes have begun to explore their connections with assistance from work conducted in the history of science, anthropology, epistemology, critical ethnic studies, sociology, cultural studies, and related fields. Such work has generated a number of important questions, for instance: What is the relation of modern processes of colonization to ‘knowledge’? Does or can knowledge remain impervious to colonialism? If not, how does colonization impinge upon matters of justification, truth, belief, and their systematic organization within the sciences? Must scientific knowledge be tied to colonialism and imperialism? And, are there ways in which knowledge—as well as its production, acquisition, organization, dissemination, and remuneration—might be decolonized? Taken broadly, there have been a variety of approaches to decolonizing knowledge, as well as an exponentially increasing number of investigations into the decolonization of disciplines, thinking, methodologies, and the mind. Theorists such as Seloua Luste Boulbina, Lewis Gordon, Amita Dhanda, Archana Parashar, and others speak explicitly about decolonizing knowledge. Some scholars have even spoken of decolonizing not just knowledge but also the politics of knowledge, which is presumably a distinct project.14 On the other hand, various people engaged in political processes of decolonization have oriented their actions with assumptions about what counts as knowledge, and how one should understand the relation of knowledge to broader anticolonial concerns. For instance, while Léopold Senghor might not use the phrase ‘decolonizing

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knowledge,’ he nonetheless—at least early on—endorses a form of negritude in which rationality functions as a specifically Western characteristic in contrast to Africa’s putative rhythmic essence. Here, “Emotion, rhythm, and sympathy with the object are themselves processes of knowing that are more effective, if only because they are more ethical, than the invasive dissection which the Enlightenment represented as the only means of true knowledge.”15 This belief inevitably impinged upon Senghor’s other political, theoretical, associational, and artistic commitments—commitments not always shared by others involved in African political, cultural, and economic decolonization. The problems surrounding epistemic decolonization thus do not only concern the intended objects of analysis and transformation, but also the very means and methods for doing so. Highlighting such issues during a speech in Johannesburg, Achille Mbembe noted that, the questions we face are of a profoundly intellectual nature. They are also colossal. And if we do not foreground them intellectually in the first instance; if we do not develop a complex understanding of the nature of what we are actually facing, we will end up with the same old techno-bureaucratic fixes that have led us, in the first place, to the current cul-de-sac…The harder I tried to make sense of “decolonization” that has become the rallying cry for those trying to undo the racist legacies of the past, the more I kept asking myself to what extent we might be fighting a complexly mutating entity with concepts inherited from an entirely different age and epoch. Is today’s university the same as yesterday’s or are we confronting an entirely different apparatus, an entirely different rationality—both of which require us to produce radically new concepts?16

To the extent that those concepts of ours which used to map more or less adequately onto the world have been abrogated by changes in the world itself, we must alter our concepts or produce new ones. Taking stock of how the terms ‘knowledge,’ ‘colonization,’ and ‘decolonization’ have been used over time in an attempt to understand how we might alter and improve our understanding of them proves especially difficult. Each of these concepts often act as a large pocket, “into which now this and now that has been put, and now many things at once.”17 The intension and extension of these terms are often elusive, sometimes even over the course of a single argument. And, even when treated by themselves, the concepts at hand are nearly always contentious and invidious, such that their combination further increases their affective charge.

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1.2   Purpose, Scope, and Methodology This book concerns itself first and foremost with the philosophical issues that surround questions of epistemic decolonization. It is likely that the term ‘decolonization’ was first used by Henri Fonfrède in his work Decolonization of Algiers in 1836, in which he “called on his homeland, the kingdom of France, to end its six-year occupation of territory in North Africa.”18 Today the term often connotes the period following World War II in which European powers began to lose their grip on their colonies, and in which colonized peoples began to assert their independence. But the concept of decolonization has also been extended beyond concerns with twentieth-century nationalism to include questions about how cultural, mental, linguistic, gendered, social, and other legacies of colonialism might be undone or superseded. Since colonization did not take place only at the level of the state, the thought goes, neither should decolonization be restricted to this realm. Much has been written on the ways in which knowledge has either been colonized or operates with colonialist assumptions and toward colonialist ends. This book contributes in a small way to these endeavors. But my goal does not primarily consist in adding to this important and growing literature. Rather, my purpose will be to parse out and clarify some of the distinct approaches to epistemic decolonization, taken as a particular goal, so that those of us concerned with this general project might become more critically self-aware about what successful epistemic decolonization might look like. While my methods are rooted in philosophical analysis and critique, my concerns are largely pragmatic. My guiding question can be formulated as follows. Given that many share the goal of epistemic decolonization, and given the different available systems of ideas, values, and practices directed toward the attainment of that goal, what aspects of which systems should an individual or group adopt and enact in order to increase their chances of success? In order to circumscribe the previous question, this book focuses primarily but not exclusively on the ways in which some contemporary decolonial theorists—that is, scholars working largely within the Modernity/ Coloniality Research Program’s sphere of influence—approach epistemic decolonization. Such a choice of delimitation means leaving aside much of the important work conducted in the traditions of postcolonial theory and subaltern studies. However, because decolonial theory continues to increase in popularity, a critical evaluation of some of its most basic

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philosophical commitments constitutes a timely intervention. Ultimately, I contend that the predominant contemporary approach to epistemic decolonization rests upon philosophical bases that lead into various avoidable and intractable problems, both practically and theoretically. I call this family of orientations ‘the differential approach’ since the distinctively poststructuralist notion of difference from which it draws guides and influences many of its corollary commitments. While a number of theorists working within the ambit of the Modernity/Coloniality Research Group clearly exemplify the differential approach to decolonizing knowledge, this approach should not be thought of as confined to this tradition, but rather as a diffuse group of attitudes, leanings, and predilections that cut across a number of different traditions. Fortunately, there exists an overlooked tradition of epistemic decolonization that has been undertheorized and which does not succumb to the same issues as the differential approach. I call this alternate tradition the ‘revolutionary-socialist approach’ since it was directly engaged in and shaped by the armed overthrow of the colonialist state in the name of radically egalitarian social, political, and economic programs influenced by Marxist theory and practice. This book will focus specifically on the work of Frantz Fanon and Amílcar Cabral as exemplary of this enacted orientation. By contrasting this tradition with the differential approach, I demonstrate how the philosophical bases of the work of Fanon and Cabral exhibit a parsimoniousness, practicability, and consistency worth preserving and developing further. I then argue that a number of contemporary feminist epistemologists have done the most to corroborate and advance the insights uncovered by the revolutionary-socialist approach, and note but a few of their concepts and arguments germane to the present topic. For present analytical purposes, I use the term ‘revolution’ in a specific and relatively narrow sense. The following characterization does not set limits to ‘revolution in itself,’ but constitutes a way of using the term which highlights the many similarities between revolutionary Algeria and Guinea-Bissau. By ‘revolution’ I mean the organized and sustained attempt to destroy and reconstruct a state’s entire constellation of authoritative relations, with a high degree of focus on institutional transformation. Revolutions must be organized, so as to be differentiated from revolts, mutinies, rebellions, insurgencies, and protests—all of which may be moments of broader revolutionary struggles, or, conversely, relatively isolated instances which are not moments of a larger revolutionary process. The revolutions with which I am here concerned are also

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endogenously organized in the sense that those involved have a strong, prior sense of affinity to the space to be transformed. As I will use the term, revolutions are temporally extensive or sustained, and so should not be conflated with coups, depositions, putsches, or other regime changes only at the upper echelons of state authority, in which only one or a few authoritative relations are altered (and relatively quickly). This is why one can speak of a coup occurring within a revolution, but not vice versa. Finally, revolutions attempt to wholly undo and recompose authoritative relations at a comprehensive and structural level of sociopolitical ordering, and this requires at least a minimal attention to institutions, patterns, customs, and norms. Thus, seeking and organizing new forms of de jure and de facto independence, revolutions for political decolonization consist of the endogenously organized and temporally extensive attempts to undermine the physical, legal, institutional, customary, and economic guarantors of the control of an entire region and its population by foreign agents. The present investigation draws from a number of different philosophical currents. It adopts a predominantly critical orientation, and it does so in a number of senses. First, it is critical in the early Marxist (and anarchist) sense of foregrounding the need to be unafraid of the conclusions of ruthless critique, that is, of “putting religious and political questions into self-­ conscious human form.”19 Continuing the critique of mystical consciousness, the present critical theory begins by inverting classical monotheist concerns about the origins of falsity in a world created by an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being. That is, when examining imbrications of colonialism and knowing, I am not concerned with how a perfect creator could have allowed for falsity and lies to appear within the best of all possible worlds, but am rather interested in analyzing how instances of truth and knowledge in fact appear in the worst of all possible worlds—the hell of the colonized world. What will perhaps surprise some is that forms of truth and knowledge do appear within spaces so suffuse with colonialist ideology. The question of how truth and knowledge function within colonialist and anticolonialist frameworks remains to be seen, and the tools of philosophical analysis, clarification, and critique prove particularly useful for such a task. Were there a necessary correlation between truth and goodness in themselves, one would only need to look for truth on that side of the colonial divide that one considers good. But there is no determinate relation between the true and the good as such, and to claim that truth and knowledge are limited to one or another side of colonizer-colonized

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relation involves abiding by an unspoken dogmatic commitment which itself has not undergone philosophical scrutiny. But such a commitment misses many of the most important questions relevant to political and epistemic decolonization, questions that should be explored rigorously rather than passed over in silence. The “sad truth seems to be that cruelty can coexist fairly easily with ‘good science,’”20 and that at times the most virtuous and praise-worthy of people can fail to grasp the most concrete and simplest of facts. The present critical inversion of theism also entails a normative differentiation from other anti-imperialisms. For example, while Hardt and Negri think of Empire as “good in itself but not for itself,”21 as though it were good merely by virtue of having been created, I understand empire to be good only for itself and not in itself. Next, the present work asks, “How is epistemic decolonization possible?” It is critical in the broadly Kantian sense that it is concerned with those contemporary programs of epistemic decolonization that make claims that seem to far exceed what one could possibly understand, thereby stoking rather than resolving real, concrete problems. Insofar as certain activists and theorists beg the question about what counts as knowledge, and do so inconsistently, the present sense of critique will call into question whether or not such claims are really grounded and sustainable, or whether they rather tend to fall into paralogisms and avoidable aporias. But, as will be seen in the next chapter, this book does not begin so much from the comfortable wonder felt in contemplation of the starry heavens above as with a concern for overcoming the particular forms of injustice that take place between and because of rival knowledge systems of the starry heavens above. Finally, the present work is critical in the sense that it is in principle opposed to naïveté. To not ask whether those beliefs, stories, and morals that surround and infuse one’s life are literally true and/or good simply amounts to being naïve. And critical theory is, among other things, practiced and restive anti-naïveté. The present study is not value-neutral but overtly anticolonial, and attempts to think aspects of the anticolonial politics of knowledge philosophically, skeptically, and reflectively. By the ‘politics of knowledge’ I mean the general contestation over what counts as knowledge, where the role of authority and processes of (de)authorization in judging whether or not something counts as knowledge receives greater emphasis than questions which fall within the purview of epistemology proper. When ‘politics of knowledge’ is qualified as ‘anticolonial,’ I am referring to the widespread set of debates and discourses wherein the

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authoritative status of a type of knowledge or knowledge system is contested because of its suspect relation to historical processes of colonization. A critical theory of the anticolonial politics of knowledge helps to make explicit the practical repercussions of different anticolonial approaches to knowledge, and does so in order that anticolonial programs might increase their chances of success. My argument proceeds in five basic steps that build off one another. The next chapter further explains why the issue of epistemic decolonization has arisen in the first place through an interpretation of Augusto Monterroso’s short story, “El eclipse.” I begin by providing a ‘prima facie reading’ of the story which captures some of the common responses to issues concerning the relation between colonialism and epistemology. I then pose a number of critical questions that complicate the derivation of any simple moral from the story, and argue that a more nuanced approach will be required. The chapter then offers two heuristic models to help parse out some of the various approaches to the topic at hand. While Chap. 2 remains largely descriptive, it brings to light the fact that a number of strategies differ in important respects, and that in some instances they may not be compatible with one another. In order to grasp the underlying differences between alternative traditions of decolonizing knowledge, I argue that one should unearth their divergent philosophical commitments. Chapter 3 examines some contemporary theories whose philosophical positions share identifiable family resemblances with one another. I name their shared orientation ‘the differential approach’ to decolonizing knowledge. I first provide a very brief account as to why the poststructuralist concept of difference has gained so much traction, and then explain why I have chosen the domains of ontology, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of truth as the sites of critical inquiry for this chapter. Ultimately, Chap. 3 discloses a number of the contradictions, paradoxes, and aporias that lie at the heart of the differential approach. Chapters 4 and 5 jointly explore two exemplars of the ‘revolutionary-­ socialist approach’ to decolonizing knowledge, a tradition which does not succumb to the same philosophical issues as do the theories examined in Chap. 3. Chapter 4 unpacks the domains of ontology, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of truth in Fanon’s work. The chapter takes up a number of current readings of these aspects of Fanon’s corpus, and I argue that such interpretations miss the mark before offering new

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interpretations of his philosophy, focusing largely on his lesser-known psychiatric work. Chapter 5 distills the ontology, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of science that one can find in the work of Amílcar Cabral. Although Cabral does not hold the exact same theoretical predilections as Fanon, their views share important and identifiable similarities. I first show how Cabral balances a complex set of commitments, namely, his overt atheism, his revolutionary political program, and his desire for the people of Guinea and Cape Verde to have the freedom to express religious or non-religious beliefs. I then summarize Cabral’s ontological views, distinguishing his dialectical materialism from other revolutionaries. Lastly, Chap. 5 examines Cabral’s conception of science, specifically, soil science, as a key tool in his struggle to decolonize knowledge. The final chapter takes stock of the outcomes of the analyses of the previous chapters. It assesses some of the main issues entailed in adopting the differential approach and articulates those elements worth retaining from the revolutionary-socialist tradition, such as this tradition’s distinct understanding of decolonization, knowledge, truth, justification, common knowledge, and knowledge systems. I first expound upon these concepts within the limits of the revolutionary-socialist approach, and then show how some contemporary feminist epistemologists lead the way in developing such concepts in new and better directions. The Appendix broaches the difficulties faced in identifying something as colonialist. While Chap. 2 analyses this issue in regard to some of the extant literature on decolonizing knowledge, the Appendix offers seven theses of my own, and brief justifications for each thesis. My reader can also find a Conceptual Glossary toward the end of the book in which I provide a list of my argument’s working definitions. The structure of this book might be better elucidated metaphorically. Those involved in the anticolonial politics of knowledge can be thought of as travelers whose shared destination is ‘epistemic decolonization.’ Chapter 2 begins to sketch an orienting map with which to get a particular lay of the conceptual land. Like all maps, it necessarily involves a simplification of the terrain.22 The cartographer and thinker have this shared usefulness and inevitable shortcoming, namely, that they know “how to make things simpler than they are.”23 Nevertheless, working to attain a critically self-­aware sense of direction strikes me as more desirable than either wandering in circles or choosing, as Descartes suggests, one path and sticking to it.24 Chapter 3 is one of problematization. It argues that some theorists

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15

have taken one general course, navigating along a similar current of thought. No theorist who has followed this current has stepped in the same river twice, nor does the route have clear and distinct boundaries. However, this route encounters a number of recurring obstacles, like impassable sand bars and dead ends. By looking at the riverine confluences that flow into this current of thought, one can begin to see which sources contribute most to those theoretical sedimentations that hinder the journey. Even though such concourses can be alluvial and murky, disallowing perfect vision of the riverbed through the current, this does not forestall identifying real convergences and influences. Chapters 4 and 5 argue that another, brush-covered path toward the goal of decolonizing knowledge exists. These chapters first attempt to show that this alternative path actually exists. They also begin to delineate some of its unique features. At times, this path appears to cross or run alongside the aforementioned current of thought. It nonetheless constitutes a unique way of its own. Chapter 6 takes stock of the differences between the two paths analyzed and draws conclusions from their comparison. Looking ahead, it also briefly notes some of the work conducted by allies traveling in the same vicinity. At the end of the day, creating and analyzing maps can help to orient one, but they in no way guarantee that one will reach one’s desired end, toward which one must inevitably walk. It is to this final issue that I now turn.

1.3   Thesis Eleven Revisited If decolonizing knowledge is a practical, political issue, a problem confronted in the field, a set of conflicts and contradictions that cannot be dispelled by merely thinking them away, then why reflect on the matter with the aid of philosophical tools at all? In his famous eleventh thesis on Feuerbach, Marx states, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.”25 If parts of the present argument draw inspiration from Marxism, then why engage in analysis and interpretation of epistemic decolonization at all? Even assuming that it is true that philosophers before Marx only engaged the world interpretatively, whereas they should have sought to intervene in and alter the world, it does not thereby follow that interpretation does not make up a real aspect of the world, or that one could purposefully alter the world without any interpretation of it. No conscious, purposeful change takes place outside of a horizon of interpretation, and every horizon of

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interpretation is mutable and subject to forces that exceed it. While it is trivially true that one can change the world accidentally, unintentionally, and that we cannot become fully aware of the ultimate sources and effects of our actions, nonetheless, when Marx speaks of ‘change,’ he is primarily thinking of purposeful change. And to the extent that we pursue an end with some modicum of intent, we always act by means of an interpretation of the world. Thesis eleven thus does not present two exclusive alternatives—contemplation versus activism—but proposes a torsion of philosophical emphasis away from idle speculation toward political action. It does so by offering a new interpretation of what philosophy has been and what it should be. To my mind, practical philosophy takes up Marx’s eleventh thesis in a productive way. Insofar as we are consciously entangled in and engaged with the world, altering both it and ourselves, we have no choice but to act, opting in relative ignorance for one alternative because it seems better, or, more often than not, less bad than another. When a particular goal proves elusive, however, our concerned dealings with the world grind to a halt, bringing the conspicuousness, obtrusiveness, or obstinacy of our practical engagement to the fore.26 The question, “What should I or we be doing differently?” arises. And, in an attempt to address such problems, one usually tries out new approaches and looks for new resources. The practice of thinking attempts to reorient itself in order to get back on track. The struggle to end colonialism, including epistemic colonialism, has proven to be an elusive goal. Among others, its elusiveness raises the question, “What should I or we be doing differently?” In response to this problem, struggling to attain more critical self-awareness strikes me as better, politically speaking, than avoiding or neglecting it. This ‘more’ has no unshakeable ground or providential culmination. The complexities of geopolitics and the geopolitics of knowledge leave no room for comforting, absolute certainties or foundations. Instead, insofar as one wants to think about and try out different answers to this question, practical philosophy seems particularly well-suited, since it borrows the rigor of theory for the sake of addressing a problem become present-at-hand. The present work wagers that anticolonial projects of liberation are more likely to succeed if they are able to critically deliberate about truth and falsity, filtering out certain weaknesses and embracing the strengths offered by the two predominant approaches to epistemic decolonization under consideration. This point can be further clarified by means of analogical and etymological reflection. First, liberation can occur without one

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knowing how to liberate oneself, for instance, when a jail guard opens an otherwise perfectly sealed cell and releases a prisoner who, regaining consciousness after a blow to the head, has no knowledge of his or her environment, or why they are there in the first place. However, in distinction from this, an overt project for liberation, in which one tries to minimize reliance upon chance and favorable contingencies, would seem to significantly improve its chances of success were one to know certain basic things. For example, a plan for liberation from jail requires that one know that one is in jail, that guards regularly arrive at such-and-such a time, that one needs a key to open the door or that the walls are weak at a certain point, that So-and-so is likely to be a reliable ally, that there exist two viable escape routes, and so forth. In this and similar scenarios, one should take the possibility of intentional and unintentional misinformation into account for the sake of liberation; this is the reasonable orientation of a hermeneutics of suspicion. But since the strategy is escape, whether or not one has inadvertently acquired bits of justifiable information from those who placed one in jail or who want to keep one in jail does not prove sufficient in and of itself to override the liberatory goal. Attaining the desired outcome requires suitably and sufficiently distinguishing knowledge from non-knowledge, and marshalling this distinction in a way consistent with one’s end. There are always numerous factors that go into deliberation on the truth-value and relevancy of information directed toward liberatory ends. For instance, intuitions about a guard’s personality type given past intersubjective experiences, whether or not a piece of information was or would normally be intended for the imprisoned, and whether or not other evidence confirms or detracts from the likelihood of this information’s truth all require reflection on origins and causes. But it would be unreasonable and self-defeating to ignore or dispose of such knowledge only because of its origin, rather than to deliberate on the plausibility and relative usefulness or uselessness of such information given the other things that one knows or reasonably surmises to be the case. To abandon tactically relevant information incurs the risk of foregoing the potency of knowledge to influence and direct means-ends relations and considerations. But to forego the potency of knowledge to influence and direct means-ends relations and considerations constitutes a step away from constructing a project for liberation toward reliance upon contingent factors playing the decisive role in achieving some goal. The costs greatly and typically outweigh the benefits of the risk of foregoing knowledge where strategy itself demands a

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certain modicum of consistent attunement to facts. Even ‘strategic ignorance’ requires that an oppressed individual or group know that another does not know that one knows something, that is, knowledge is in fact central to such a strategy.27 My argument for the need to reflect on the relation of knowledge to liberation can also be clarified by considering the etymological relation of ‘liberation’ to ‘deliberation.’ The Latin prefix ‘de-’ (as in denounce, defrost, or decompose) often means reversal or involves an ‘undoing’ of some sort. If we interpret the prefix of ‘deliberation’ this way, then reflection and analysis are understood as in some sense opposed to ‘liberation.’ Deliberation in this light might be understood as reflection that, because it is only reflection, hinders liberating praxis: de-liberation here signifies an insufficient condition for real, practical liberation. This is no doubt often true, and a point frequently emphasized by those who consider theory to be relatively superfluous to action. Countless dilemmas that one cannot ‘reason oneself out of’ clearly exist. As Mephistopheles puts it, The man who lives in his head only’s Like a donkey in the rough Led round and round by the bad fairies, While green grass grows a stone’s throw off.28

But the prefix ‘de-’ can also mean ‘to intensify.’ For example, the adjective ‘decomplex’ does not signify something simple, but rather something made up of many different, compound parts. Similarly, the verb ‘delineate’ does not mean to erase a set of lines but rather to draw them in a pictorial or sketch-like fashion. Or again, ‘declaiming’ does not mean to take back or renounce some former exclamation. Understood in this second sense, one might interpret the prefix of ‘deliberation’ as suggesting a form of intensification. For instance, one might liberate oneself from an abusive relationship by weighing and orchestrating one’s reliable information into a well-executed plan to leave the other to find safety and security. While there are always elements beyond one’s possible consideration and control, such an inevitability in no way entails that deliberation on liberatory possibilities is therefore always and everywhere doomed. The possibility of being a Goethean ass should not give way to hasty or haphazard judgments. My argument can be understood as combining both understandings of the prefix of ‘deliberation.’ Deliberation constitutes a necessary and insufficient condition for the intentional intensification of an emancipatory

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project. Reflection and the reasoned consideration of viable alternatives constitute a defining feature of a project for liberation (deliberation as a necessary condition for a project of liberation), and yet reflection and reasoned consideration remain powerless if one does not make a judgment and act on that judgment, or if that judgment is mistaken (deliberation as an insufficient condition for a project of liberation).29 To exaggerate the status of deliberation’s role as an insufficient condition for a liberatory plan fails to take seriously its equally important function as a necessary condition for emancipatory projects. To consider all possible information and different, often contradictory claims to knowledge as viable, equal, or irrelevant eschews the emancipatory potential of deliberation. The predictive and explanatory power to emerge out of trial, error, reflection, and justification is neither just another form of domination nor a grandiose form of salvific potentiality. But explanatory power is a form of power nonetheless, however trammeled by imperial misology and life’s tragedies. In Cabral’s terms, “If it is true that a revolution can fail, even though it be nurtured on perfectly conceived theories, nobody has yet successfully practiced Revolution without a revolutionary theory.”30

Notes 1. Cope, Divided World Divided Class, 7. There has been much debate on the periodization of colonialism, modernity/coloniality, and postcolonialism. Dussel has written a large amount on colonialism and first/second modernity. For an example of the periodization of postcolonialism, see Comaroff and Comaroff, “Naturing the Nation”, 125ff. For present purposes, I leave debates concerning periodization aside. 2. Streets-Salter & Getz, Empires and Colonies in the Modern World, 114–17; Williams, Capitalism & Slavery, 30; Lange, Lineages of Despotism and Development, 22. 3. Klein, “Francis Bacon”; Jowitt “‘Books will speak plan?’ Colonialism, Jewishness and Politics in Bacon’s New Atlantis”; Bacon, The Great Instauration and New Atlantis, 48 & 70; Ede & Cormack, A History of Science in Society, 131; Colcough, “Ethics and Politics in the New Atlantis”, 61. 4. Aughterson, “‘Strange things so probably told’: Gender, Sexual Difference and Knowledge in Bacon’s New Atlantis”, 156; Godfrey-Smith, Theory and Reality, 138–39; Bacon, The Great Instauration and New Atlantis, 55–65. The foregoing recapitulates work from Wood, “Philosophy and Imperialism.”

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5. Ede & Cormack, A History of Science in Society, 308–09. 6. Ede & Cormack, A History of Science in Society, 309. 7. Russ et  al., “Native American Exposure to Iodine-131 from Nuclear Weapons Testing in Nevada”; Moore-Nall, “The Legacy of Uranium Development on or Near Indian Reservations and Health Implications Rekindling Public Awareness”; and Frohmberg et al., “The Assessment of Radiation Exposure in Native American Communities from Nuclear Weapons Testing in Nevada.” 8. Ede & Cormack, A History of Science in Society, 309–10. 9. Shiva, “War Against the Earth”, 109–11. 10. Shiva, Biopiracy, xii & xvi. 11. Marx, The Marx-Engels Reader, 154, 172–74 and Althusser, On the Reproduction of Capitalism, 42n27, 180–81. 12. See Shiva, Biopiracy. For a similar ideological reversal involving Aristotle’s political philosophy, see Wood, “Philosophy and Imperialism.” 13. Whitt, Science, Colonialism, and Indigenous Peoples. 14. If one includes not only those texts that mention the decolonization of knowledge, but also relevant claims to decolonizing disciplines, theory, thought, methodologies, reason, and the mind, one can see how vast such a literature is becoming. For a non-exhaustive set of examples, see Boulbina, “La décolonisation des saviors et ses théories voyageuses”; Morgensen, Spaces Between Us; Dhanda and Parashar, “Introduction: Decolonisation of Knowledge: Whose Responsibility?”; Gordon, “Fanon on Decolonizing Knowledge”; Gordon, “Problematic People and Epistemic Decolonization”; Diversi and Moreira, Betweener Talk; Wiredu, Conceptual Decolonization in African Philosophy; Marglin, Decolonizing Knowledge; Santos et al., “Introduction: Opening Up the Canon of Knowledge and the Recognition of Difference”; Ortiz, Descolonizar las ciencias sociales; Dussel, “Meditaciones anticartesianas”; Mills, Decolonizing Global Mental Health; Sandoval et  al., “Aboriginal Knowledge Systems”; Oland et  al., Decolonizing Indigenous Histories; Mignolo, Local Histories/Global Designs; Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies; Kangas and Salmenniemi, “Decolonizing Knowledge”; Wood, “Descolonizando las Historias Biopolíticas con Amílcar Cabral”; Wood, “Political Philosophy and the Vestiges of Colonialism”; Harrison, Decolonizing Anthropology; Thiong’o, Decolonizing the Mind; Ndlovu-­ Gatsheni and Zondi, Decolonizing the University, Knowledge Systems and Disciplines in Africa; Viveiros de Castro, Cannibal Metaphysics; Viveiros de Castro, The Relative Native; Mignolo and Escobar, Globalization and the Decolonial Option; Oduwole, The Concept of Truth in an African Language; Young, White Mythologies, 158; Geniusz, Our Knowledge is Not Primitive; Pieterse and Parekh, The Decolonization of Imagination; Santos, Epistemologies of the South; Adjei,

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“Decolonising Knowledge Production”; Simpson, “Aboriginal Peoples and Knowledge”; Bitter, “Decolonizing Ecology through Rerooting Epistemologies”; Bañales, “Decolonizing Being, Knowledge, and Power”; Garcia, “Encounters with Interculturalidad”; Whelshula, Healing through Decolonization; Fernandes, Ruptura epistêmica, decolonialidade e povos indígenas; Arowosegbe, Decolonising the social sciences in the global South; Boulbina, Décoloniser les savoirs; Estrada, “Indigenous Maya Knowledge and the Possibility of Decolonizing Education in Guatemala”; Eudey, “Decolonizing Knowledge”; Sherwood, Do No Harm; Vergès, “To Cure and to Free’”; and Denzin and Giardina, Ethical Futures in Qualitative Research. 15. Adeeko, “Trends in African Literature”, 306. 16. Mbembe, “Decolonizing Knowledge and the Question of the Archive”, 8. 17. Nietzsche, Basic Writings of Nietzsche, 160. 18. Shepard, Voices of Decolonization, 8. 19. Marx, The Marx-Engels Reader, 13–15. 20. Proctor, “Nazi Science and Nazi Medical Ethics: Some Myths and Misconceptions”, 335. 21. Empire, 42. 22. All maps—except for those such as can be found in works like Borges’ “On Exactitude in Science”. 23. Nietzsche, The Gay Science, §189. 24. Descartes, A Discourse on the Method, 22. 25. Marx, “Theses on Feuerbach,” 145. 26. Heidegger, Being and Time, section 16. 27. See Bailey, “Strategic Ignorance.” 28. Goethe, Faust, 1860–64. 29. For what it’s worth, Fanon understood Les Damnés as a necessary “deliberation.” See Cherki, Frantz Fanon: A Portrait, 160. Dussel similarly writes, “Liberation does not imply only one proyecto and one enthusiasm, but planned, effectual, viable mediations that are technologically efficient.” Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 152. 30. Cabral, “Presuppositions and objectives of national liberation in relation to social structure”, 123.

References Adeeko, Adeleke. 2002. Trends in African Literature. In Africa Vol. 4: The End of Colonial Rule: Nationalism and Decolonization, ed. Toyin Falola. Durham: Carolina Academic Press. Adjei, Paul Banahene. 2007. Decolonising Knowledge Production: The Pedagogic Relevance of Gandhian Satyagraha to Schooling and Education in Ghana. Canadian Journal of Education 30 (4): 1046–1067.

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Althusser, Louis. 2014. On the Reproduction of Capitalism: Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. Translated by G.M. Goshgarian. New York: Verso. Arowosegbe, Jeremiah O. 2008. Decolonising the Social Sciences in the Global South: Claude Ake and the Praxis of Knowledge Production in South Africa. Working Paper. http://www.ascleiden.nl/Pdf/workingpaper79.pdf. Aughterson, Kate. 2002. ‘Strange things so probably told’: Gender, Sexual Difference and Knowledge in Bacon’s New Atlantis. In In Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis: New Interdisciplinary Essays, ed. Bronwen Price. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Bacon, Francis. 1980. The Great Instauration and New Atlantis. Edited by J. Weinberger. Arlington Heights, IL: AHM Publishing Corp. Bailey, Alison. 2007. Strategic Ignorance. In Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance, ed. Shannon Sullivan and Nancy Tuana. Albany: State University of New York Press. Bañales, Samuel. 2012. Decolonizing Being, Knowledge, and Power: Youth Activism in California at the Turn of the 21st Century. Doctoral Dissertation, University of California at Berkeley. Bitter, Lauren M. 2013. Decolonizing Ecology through Rerooting Epistemologies. Pitzer Senior Thesis, Paper 41. http://schlarship.claremont. edu/pitzer_theses/41. Borges, Jorge Luis. 2004. On Exactitude in Science. In The Aleph and Other Stories. New York: Penguin. Boulbina, Seloua Luste. 2013. La décolonisation des savoirs et ses théories voyageuses. Revue Collège International de Philosophie 78: 19–33. Boulbina, Seloua Luste, and Jim Cohen. 2012. Décoloniser les savoirs: Internationalisation des débats et des luttes. Mouvements 72 (Winter): 7–10. Cabral, Amílcar. 1997. Presuppositions and Objectives of National Liberation in Relation to Social Structure. In Unity and Struggle: Speeches and Writings. New York: Monthly Review Press. Castro, Eduardo Viveiros de. 2014. Cannibal Metaphysics: For a Post-Structural Anthropology. Minneapolis: Univocal. ———. 2015. The Relative Native: Essays On Indigenous Conceptual Worlds. Chicago: Hau Books. Cherki, Alice. 2006. Frantz Fanon: A Portrait. Translated by Nadia Benabid. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Colcough, D. 2002. Ethics and Politics in the New Atlantis. In Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis: New Interdisciplinary Essays, ed. Bronwen Price. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Comaroff, Jean, and John L.  Comaroff. 2005. Naturing the Nation: Aliens, Apocalypse, and the Postcolonial State. In Sovereign Bodies: Citizens, Migrants, and States in the Postcolonial World, ed. Thomas Blom Hansen and Finn Stepputat. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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Cope, Zak. 2015. Divided World Divided Class: Global Political Economy and the Stratification of Labour Under Capitalism. Montreal: Kersplebedeb. Denzin, Norman K., and Michael D. Giardina. 2007. Ethical Futures in Qualitative Research: Decolonizing the Politics of Knowledge. London: Routledge. Descartes, René. 2006. A Discourse on the Method. Translated by Ian Maclean. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Dhanda, Amita, and Archana Parashar. 2009. Introduction: Decolonisation of Knowledge: Whose Responsibility? In Decolonisation of Legal Knowledge, ed. Amita Dhanda and Archana Parashar. London: Routledge. Diversi, Marcelo, and Claudio Moreira. 2009. Betweener Talk: Decolonizing Knowledge Production, Pedagogy, and Praxis. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, Inc. Dussel, Enrique. 2003. Philosophy of Liberation. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock. ———. 2012. Meditaciones anticartesianas: sobre el origen del antidiscurso filosófico de la modernidad. In Lugares Descoloniales: Espacios de intervención en las Américas, ed. Ramón Grosfoguel and Roberto Almanza Hernández. Bogotá: Editorial Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Ede, Andrew, and Lesley B. Cormack. 2012. A History of Science in Society: From Philosophy to Utility. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Estrada, Vivian Michelle Jiménez. 2012. Indigenous Maya Knowledge and the Possibility of Decolonizing Education in Guatemala. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Toronto. Eudey, Betsy. 2014. Decolonizing Knowledge: Social Justice Aims of Women’s and Gender Studies. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Women’s Studies Association, Oakland Marriott City Center, Oakland, CA. Fernandes, Estevão Rafael. 2014. Ruptura epistêmica, decolonialidade e povos indígenas. Ensino de Filosofia, Gênero e Diversidade: Pensando o Ensino de Filosofia na Escola 12: 52–72. Frohmberg, E., R. Goble, V. Sanchez, and D. Quigley. 2000. The Assessment of Radiation Exposure in Native American Communities from Nuclear Weapons Testing in Nevada. Risk Anal 20 (1, Feb.): 101–111. Garcia, Maria Elena. 2014. Encounters with Interculturalidad: (Un)Learning Indigeneity and Decolonizing Knowledge in the Andes. In Indian Subjects: New Directions in the History of Indigenous Education, ed. Brian Klopotek and Brenda Child. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press. Geniusz, Wendy Makoons. 2009. Our Knowledge is Not Primitive: Decolonizing Botanical Anishinaabe Teachings. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. Godfrey-Smith, Peter. 2003. Theory and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. 2014. Faust: A Tragedy. Parts One and Two. Translated by Martin Greenberg. New Haven: Yale University Press.

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Gordon, Lewis. 2007. Problematic People and Epistemic Decolonization: Toward the Postcolonial in Africana Political Thought. In Postcolonialism and Political Theory, ed. Nalini Persram. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. ———. 2010. Fanon on Decolonizing Knowledge. In Fanon and the Decolonization of Philosophy, ed. Elizabeth A.  Hoppe and Tracey Nicholls. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. 2000. Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Harrison, Faye V. 1997. Decolonizing Anthropology: Moving further toward an Anthropology for Liberation. American Anthropological Association. Heidegger, Martin. 1962. Being and Time. New  York: Harper and Row Publishers, Inc. Jowitt, Claire. 2002. ‘Books will speak plan?’ Colonialism, Jewishness and Politics in Bacon’s New Atlantis. In Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis: New Interdisciplinary Essays, ed. Bronwen Price. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Kangas, Anni, and Suvi Salmenniemi. 2016. Decolonizing Knowledge: Neoliberalism Beyond the Three Worlds. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory 17: 210–227. Klein, Jürgen, and Francis Bacon. 2016. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N.  Zalta. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/ entries/francis-bacon/. Lange, Matthew. 2009. Lineages of Despotism and Development: British Colonialism and State Power. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Marglin, Stephen A. 1996. Towards the Decolonization of the Mind. In Decolonizing Knowledge: From Development to Dialogue, ed. Frédérique Apffel-­ Marglin and Stephen A. Marglin. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. 1978. The Marx-Engels Reader. Edited by Robert Tucker. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. Mbembe, Achille. 2015. Decolonizing Knowledge and the Question of the Archive. http://wiser.wits.ac.za/system/files/Achille%20Mbembe%20-%20 Decolonizing%20Knowledge%20and%20the%20Question%20of%20the%20 Archive.pdf. Mignolo, Walter. 2000. Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Mignolo, Walter, and Arturo Escobar. 2010. Globalization and the Decolonial Option. New York: Routledge. Mills, China. 2014. Decolonizing Global Mental Health: The Psychiatrization of the Majority World. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. Moore-Nall, Anita. 2015. The Legacy of Uranium Development on or Near Indian Reservations and Health Implications Rekindling Public Awareness. Geosciences 5 (1): 15–29.

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Morgensen, Scott Lauria. 2011. Spaces between Us: Queer Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Decolonization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Sabelo J., and Siphamandla Zondi. 2016. Decolonizing the University, Knowledge Systems and Disciplines in Africa. Durham: Carolina Academic Press. Nietzsche, Friedrich. 2000. Basic Writings of Nietzsche. Edited and translated by Walter Kaufman. The Modern Library: New York. ———. 2001. The Gay Science: With a Prelude in German Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs. Edited by Bernard Williams and translated by Josefine Nauckhoff. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ocaña, Ortiz, and Alexander. 2017. Descolonizar las ciencias sociales: Hacia una investigación decolonial. Balti, Republic of Moldova: Verlag and Editorial. Oduwole, Ebunolua. 2011. The Concept of Truth in an African Language: An Exercise in Conceptual Decolonization. Saarbrüken: LAP Lambert Academic Publishing. Oland, Maxine, Siobhan Hart, and Liam Frink. 2012. Decolonizing Indigenous Histories: Exploring Prehistoric/Colonial Transitions in Archaeology. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press. Pieterse, Jan Nederveen, and Bhikhu Parekh. 1995. The Decolonization of Imagination: Culture, Knowledge and Power. London: Zed Books. Proctor, Robert N. 2000. Nazi Science and Nazi Medical Ethics: Some Myths and Misconceptions. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 43 (3, Spring): 335–346. Russ, Abel, Patricia George, Rob Goble, Stefano Crema, Chunling Liu, and Dedee Sanchez. 2005. Native American Exposure to Iodine-131 from Nuclear Weapons Testing in Nevada. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal 11 (5): 1047–1063. Sandoval, Cueponcaxochitl, D.  Moreno, Rosalva Mojica Lagunas, Lydia T. Montelongo, and Marisol Juárez Díaz. 2016. Ancestral Knowledge Systems: A Conceptual Framework for Decolonizing Research in Social Science. AlterNative 12 (1): 18–31. Santos, Boaventura de Sousa. 2014. Epistemologies of the South: Justice against Epistemicide. London: Routledge. Santos, Boaventura de Sousa, João Arriscado Nunes, and Maria Paula Meneses. 2008. Introduction: Opening Up the Canon of Knowledge and the Recognition of Difference. In Another Knowledge is Possible: Beyond Northern Epistemologies, ed. Boaventura de Sousa Santos. New York: Verso. Shepard, Todd. 2014. Voices of Decolonization: A Brief History with Documents. New York: Bedford and St. Martin’s Press. Sherwood, Juanita. 2010. Do No Harm: Decolonising Aboriginal Health Research. Doctoral Dissertation, University of New South Wales. Shiva, Vandana. 1997. Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge. Boston, MA: South End Press.

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———. 2012. War against the Earth. In The State of Things, ed. Marta Kuzma, Pablo Lafuente, and Peter Osborne. London: Koenig Books. Simpson, Leanne. 2001. Aboriginal Peoples and Knowledge: Decolonizing Our Processes. The Canadian Journal of Native Studies 21 (1): 137–148. Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 1999. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. New York and London: Zed Books. Streets-Salter, Heather, and Trevor R.  Getz. 2016. Empires and Colonies in the Modern World: A Global Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Thiong’o, Ngugi wa. 1981. Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. Suffolk: Boydell and Brewer Ltd. Vergès, Françoise. 1996. To Cure and to Free: The Fanonian Project of ‘Decolonized Psychiatry’. In Fanon: A Critical Reader, ed. Lewis R. Gordon, Denean Sharpley-Whiting, and Renée T. White. Oxford: Blackwell. Whelshula, Martina. 1999. Healing through Decolonization: A Study in the Deconstruction of the Western Scientific Paradigm and the Process of Retribalizing among Native Americans. Doctoral Dissertation, California Institute of Integral Studies. Williams, Eric. 1994. Capitalism & Slavery. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. Wiredu, Kwasi. 1995. Conceptual Decolonization in African Philosophy. Ibadan: Hope Publications. Wood, Dan. 2014. Descolonizando las Historias Biopolíticas con Amílcar Cabral. Tabula Rasa: Revista de Humanidades 20 (Enero–Junio): 69–87. ———. 2016. Political Philosophy and the Vestiges of Colonialism: A Critical Analysis of Žižek’s Leftist Plea for Eurocentrism. Radical Philosophy Review 19 (3): 653–677. ———. 2017. Descolonizar el conocimiento: Una mise en place epistemográfica. Tabubla Rasa: Revista de Humanidades 27 (Diciembre): 301–337. ———. 2018. Philosophy and Imperialism. In The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-imperialism, ed. Immanuel Ness and Zak Cope, 2nd ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Young, Robert J.C. 1990. White Mythologies. New York: Routledge.

CHAPTER 2

An Epistemography of the Anticolonial Politics of Knowledge

The present chapter provides introductory answers to two foundational questions: Why do theorists and activists seek to decolonize knowledge in the first place? And, what is epistemic decolonization?1 To begin to answer these questions, I make use of a method that I have come to call ‘epistemography.’ An epistemography maps and charts different approaches to knowledge by individuals and groups. While epistemographies cannot isolate themselves from epistemological issues and presuppositions, the two forms of understanding nonetheless remain distinct from one another. Specifically, the normative emphasis peculiar to epistemography differs from that of epistemology. In epistemology, some candidate for knowledge X is either included or excluded from counting as knowledge given various conditions that one sets forth. In such theories, X should or should not be understood as an instance of knowledge provided certain criteria. The normative concerns that guide epistemography, on the other hand, have more preliminary, orienting, and comparative aims. Mapping and distinguishing between the different conceptions of knowledge that theorists and activists endorse not only aids in grasping how they differ, but also why they do so. The present epistemography, then, in part sets the stage for critical inquiry into the two strategies of epistemic decolonization to be examined in later chapters, namely, the differential approach and the revolutionary-socialist approach. Since in most cases projects of decolonizing knowledge begin from a hermeneutics of suspicion—in which some forms of or claims to © The Author(s) 2020 D. A. Wood, Epistemic Decolonization, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49962-4_2

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knowledge are variously understood to be directly connected to processes of colonization and criticized or contested on cultural, epistemological, ethical, sociological, geopolitical, and/or other relevant grounds—one should come to understand why such suspicions and intuitions arise in the first place. I propose that an interpretation of Augusto Monterroso’s short story, “El eclipse,” provokes some of the central issues that such theorists and activists face. The questions that arise from this narrative exceed its imagined sociohistorical context, and its depth and merit in large part derive from its ability to speak to issues that arise in a variety of contexts. Rather than privilege one author or method of epistemic decolonization as exemplary, I begin by exploring some of the basic, interpretive possibilities faced by most interested in such problematics.

2.1   An Eclipse between Greece and Guatemala A short story of historical fiction by the Guatemalan writer Augusto Monterroso, “El eclipse,” brings to the fore numerous issues pertinent to the anticolonial politics of knowledge. The story might be thought of as a parable concerning colonial epistemic geopolitics, yet, like all parables, it will prove to not only have one definitive interpretation. Reading and analyzing this story foregrounds the many motivational and conceptual issues that give rise to attempts to decolonize knowledge in the first place. It offers a vividly depicted scene concerning the use of knowledge in a colonial confrontation, opening an introductory space for hermeneutical experimentation. In this sense, reading “El eclipse” allows one to grasp the “Why” that subtends projects of epistemic decolonization. When Brother Bartolomé Arrazola felt that he was lost, he accepted the fact that now nothing could save him. The powerful jungle of Guatemala, implacable and final, had overwhelmed him. In the face of his topographical ignorance he sat down calmly to wait for death. He wanted to die there, without hope, alone, his thoughts fixed on distant Spain, particularly on the Convent of Los Abrojos, where Charles V had once condescended to come down from his eminence to tell him that he trusted in the religious zeal of his work of redemption. When he awoke he found himself surrounded by a group of Indians with impassive faces who were preparing to sacrifice him before an altar, an altar that seemed to Bartolomé the bed on which he would finally rest from his fears, from his destiny, from himself.

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Three years in the country had given him a passing knowledge of the native languages. He tried something. He spoke a few words that were understood. Then there blossomed in him an idea which he considered worthy of his talent and his broad education and his profound knowledge of Aristotle. He remembered that a total eclipse of the sun was to take place that day. And he decided, in the deepest part of his being, to use that knowledge to deceive his oppressors and save his life. “If you kill me,” he said, “I can make the sun darken on high.” The Indians stared at him and Bartolomé caught the disbelief in their eyes. He saw them consult with one another and he waited confidently, not without a certain contempt. Two hours later the heart of Brother Bartolomé Arrazola spurted out its passionate blood on the sacrificing stone (brilliant in the opaque light of the eclipsed sun) while one of the Indians recited tonelessly, slowly, one by one, the infinite list of dates when solar and lunar eclipses would take place, which the astronomers of the Mayan community had predicted and registered in their codices without the estimable help of Aristotle.2

While Monterroso’s story is admittedly one of historical fiction, it proves important, among other reasons, because processes of colonization as well as their victor histories often render invisible past encounters in which knowledge has been colonized. I first want to offer what the moral of this story would seem to be at face value, which I take to capture some of the commitments of those implicitly or explicitly engaged in epistemic decolonization. I will refer to this reading as the ‘prima facie reading,’ and will generalize this naming to include any similar understanding of the problems presented by the interaction of (de)colonization and knowing. After this, I argue that many questions remain that point to the need to engage this narrative at another level. This set of questions will suggest the need to rethink the problems involved in the links between colonization and knowledge beyond this story’s ostensible lesson. Taken at face value, Monterroso’s short story enacts a creative exercise in cultural memory and tragicomic irony. It allows one to remember the violence and arrogance of Spanish colonization, which was not only physical, social, and economic, but also an imposition and theft of elements of different systems of knowledge. The Mayans already had (astronomical) systems of knowledge prior to European colonization. The missionary, Fray Bartolomé, makes use of the only two forms of knowledge that the reader knows he possesses—passing knowledge (dominio) of the native

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languages and knowledge of Aristotelian astronomy—to trick his captors. Knowledge here is deployed for the sake of the preservation of the life of a colonial, Spanish, and Catholic authority (1) with the intent to mislead the Indigenous individuals present, (2) with the presumption that these Indigenous individuals do not have an equally effective system for the prediction of certain sidereal phenomena, and (3) with the assumption that the Indigenous individuals do not and will not recognize the deception at play. In many respects these three dimensions summarize the experience of the role of knowledge in European colonization in general. Much taught to Indigenous individuals was directed to the end of conversion or ‘civilization,’ with the prior colonialist assumption that such individuals needed such knowledge and, furthermore, did not know that they needed such knowledge. But such colonial pedagogy was in every instance only about the preservation-enhancement of Europeans and the control of non-­Europeans. Knowledge was but one more means to the end of blood-­ soaked mercantile capital. Moreover, both astronomical systems were able to predict eclipses.3 In the plot’s dénouement, and after having likely misinterpreted the Mayans’ ‘disbelief,’ Fray Bartolomé turns out to be ignorant, arrogant, and powerless. The universality of European culture and knowledge is revealed to be a sham, and the typical relation of knowledge and power in the colonial world reverses with the irony of retributive justice. Monterroso’s story reveals that what the colonizing missionary brings and conveys as good and true is in fact false and malignant. The author demonstrates through literature what Frantz Fanon refers to as the general “lie of the colonial situation.”4 Bartolomé conveys his knowledge of Aristotelian astronomy through a self-deifying lie, namely, that he can and will make the sun darken on high (a scandalous claim for a clergyman). Astronomically accurate predictions are thus filtered through an arrogance that changes the meaning and social function of the claim, which crosses the sociopolitical boundary separating the colonizer from the colonized in the form of covert dissimulation. In the terms of José Medina’s epistemology of resistance, Bartolomé’s utterances and sense of entitlement would likely count as betraying an underlying vice of epistemic arrogance.5 In colonial contexts, knowledge wielded by the colonizer functions to bolster various colonialist systems. One can see this everywhere from the Americas in the sixteenth century and India in the nineteenth century to Africa in the twentieth century. But it turns out that Fray Bartolomé’s knowledge is doubly useless because it finds an equal contender in Mayan astronomy.

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On this reading, the moral of the narrative consists in the need to resist colonization, and to do so by virtue of local knowledges since these are already equal to the knowledge of the colonizers. The killing of Bartolomé symbolizes the longed-for sacrifice of colonial oppression in general and the triumph of Indigenous knowledge—thereby establishing a form of cognitive justice.6 Bartolomé’s intent and presumptions are turned on their head. The foregoing engagement with Monterroso’s microcosmic parable is largely accurate in regard to really existing relations between knowledge and power in colonial situations. The foregoing prima facie reading is so powerful and persuasive precisely because it corresponds to so many experiences of the lie of European colonization around the world from the fifteenth century onward. European colonialism from the fifteenth to twentieth centuries, through a whole variety of echelons of authority, fundamentally altered the political, legal, racial, social, gendered, economic, environmental, and cultural dimensions of the world in long-lasting, material ways. The development of new ways of collecting, categorizing, speaking about, and analyzing objects and phenomena within different realms of inquiry has been one of the most significant ways in which modern racial colonialism has altered the world. Whether through the development of English studies and comparative literature for the sake of quelling rebellions in India, or in regard to the anthropological investigations of so-called primitive peoples, the construction of entire disciplines emerged in tandem with processes of European imperialism. As Sir Henry Maine, the chief theorist of indirect rule, noted in his 1875 lecture at the University of Cambridge, “India has given to the world Comparative Philology and Comparative Mythology; it may yet give us a new science not less valuable than the sciences of language and of folk-lore.”7 Similarly, the study of biology is intricately bound to empire, “After Linnaeus, the collecting sciences of the eighteenth century became the biological sciences of the nineteenth. This was deeply connected to the notion that classification and understanding were part of the process of controlling and exploiting, and, so, were bound up with the imperial project.”8 A colonial imaginary can even inform the observation languages of scientific theories themselves, as one can see in Auguste Marie’s description of children’s physiologies as developing via “cellular colonialism.”9 For those interested in epistemic decolonization, imperialism as well as the production or acquisition knowledge do not only happen to emerge alongside one another, but instead serve as mutually reinforcing and causally interrelated forms of

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domination. The ‘power’ of colonial knowledge systems’ ‘explanatory power’ turns out to have a connotation far closer to ‘coercion,’ ‘exploitation,’ and/or ‘repression’ than to ‘ability.’ Similarly, ‘justification’ of true belief often functions in a manner closer to ‘rationalization’ than to the unbiased provision of coherent reasons for a particular position. These are the central, fundamental insights of the prima facie orientation to the anticolonial politics of knowledge in general. As an historical hypothesis and as a guide for research, these intuitions are legitimate and correct. But one should also subject the face-value reading of Monterroso’s text to critical scrutiny in order to prevent it from conveying a moral as would a nursery tale. Like all good pieces of literature and philosophy, there are in fact fewer simple morals to be derived from this story than complex issues that it only begins to intimate. A host of questions should be posed against this text in order to negate, preserve, and elevate its prima facie interpretation to a new level. For example: 1. How should one understand and evaluate the different relations of power operative in the confrontation between colonizing and colonized semiotic systems, and knowledge systems in particular (here, Mediterranean and Mayan astronomical systems)? 2. Do moral failures or biases (such as arrogance or ethnocentric presumptions of universality) always and everywhere affect the relation of a knowledge system to its purported object(s) of study? 3. Does effective resistance to colonial power require at least equal abilities in regard to prediction of events in what have come to be known as the natural and social world(s)? If so, are there cases in which one must use parts of the colonizer’s knowledge system against him, as a slave might liberate herself by means of the master’s tools, or like the women of the Tupac Amaru rebellion gathered the best of rocks to be launched at the ruling classes from one of the very sources of oppression, namely, the mines?10 4. Are there advantages to distinguishing between the degree of plausibility of statements, beliefs, and/or information within lived semiotic systems in regard to anticolonial resistance? 5. In scenarios where coercion, power, and force are not, as in Monterroso’s story, organized in favor of the colonized (however provisionally), but in fact radically asymmetrical in the colonizer’s favor, and where such asymmetrical relations in turn alter one’s relations to past and present knowledge systems, can self-determination

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and self-defense be sought in the same way as might occur in more relatively equal power relations? 6. What are the different ways in which truth and falsity might be conceived in the colonial world? 7. What roles do institutions and priestly classes play in the colonization and decolonization of knowledge? 8. Does it make a significant difference for a project of epistemic decolonization if one were to qualify a Mayan (or Incan, or Chinese) astronomical knowledge system as ‘Indigenous’ or ‘traditional’? 9. How do narratives about colonization affect the ways in which one contests contemporary colonialism, and should one derive (or presume the legitimacy of) various ‘oughts’ from such narratives, whether historical or historical-fictional? Far from being trivial, these questions take us well beyond the affects of satisfaction that accompany the retributive dimension of Monterroso’s historical fiction to the incredibly important yet opaque realm of debates about the colonial and anticolonial politics of knowledge. In order to think of ways to deal with such important issues, one must be willing to move beyond enjoyment of the prima facie interpretation of this story—or any simplistic and universal moral derived therefrom—and grapple with the many important questions it raises and does not answer. The critical questions above negate and preserve our first reading of “El eclipse.” The prima facie reading is negated insofar as the real complexity of the questions posed regarding power, decolonization, truth-value, transcendence (as allegedly mediated by priestly classes), normativity, and so forth have moved the text well beyond a simple parable of good versus evil, right versus wrong, and virtue versus vice. One cannot both hold to the prima facie reading of this story and acknowledge that the questions pertinent to a rigorous understanding of the entanglement of knowledge and (de)colonization do not have immediately self-evident answers. After all, “noble savage” myths can often serve as ignoble lies.11 But the original sense of the story is also preserved insofar as the aforementioned questions further plumb the general lie of the inherently exploitative and violent colonial situation. Without the recognition of the general lie of the colonial situation—that goodness and correctness tend to pass over into their opposites when crossing divisive lines of race, class, and gender between the colonizer and the colonized—one could not then hope to accede to a

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grasp of the complexities of decolonizing knowledge with the deserved analytical and strategic attention. The insufficiency of the prima facie approach to decolonizing knowledge can be further elaborated by means of two examples. First, consider the following complexities of colonial life highlighted by Mahmood Mamdani. In colonies governed by indirect rule, colonialist authorities imposed ethnic and tribal divisions where such forms of organization by identity often had not necessarily existed before. In such cases, the colonial state instituted ‘native authorities’ whose social function consisted in deciding and administering ‘customary law,’ thus mediating between racialized/tribalized subjects and white citizens. Customary law was divided from civil law, and the former comprised a mixture of past customs and practices as well as new arbitrary innovations of a particular native authority’s opportunistically fused power. ‘Customary law’ thus comes into existence as a hybrid set of rules that is understood as ‘really belonging to’ newly compartmentalized social units. Yet if so many of the mechanisms for collective memory and the transmission of customary law are filtered through native authorities and colonial governance, then such colonized groups can in no simple way combat colonial exploitation through a re-appropriation and use of knowledge of customary law (as the prima facie moral of Monterroso’s story might suggest). The group itself and its understanding of customary law are both recent and strategically exploitative fabrications of colonial authorities in conjunction with arriviste native authorities. In other words, if the ‘our’ and the ‘knowledge’ of a traditional form of ‘our knowledge’ are both functional elements of an exploitative colonial system, then the presumption that that which constitutes a group’s traditional knowledge can serve as the sole or most effective reservoir for decolonizing knowledge only begs the question. Whether such knowledge might be wielded strategically cannot be determined only through certain assumptions about its presumed owners, but must also take into account other relevant tactical concerns. To not take such problems seriously, I suggest, amounts to assuming the risk of directly supporting the institutions one wishes to change or undermine.12 It is important to not only see the previous example as a rare possibility or thought experiment, but as an instance of the labyrinthine relations of power and knowledge in the colonial world. For example, there are ways in which the construction of modern nation-states involved the folklorization of Indigenous pasts as a constitutive part of the state’s attempt to establish its hegemony. Such constructions should never be accepted

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uncritically. This does not mean that all customary knowledge or all forms of historical representation are mere colonial fabrications. But the very fact that at least some forms of knowledge considered to be local and customary are in fact part and parcel of colonialist decentralized despotism and modern nation-state formation means that one must critically approach any facile notions of identity, power, knowledge, and liberating strategy in order to be effectively anticolonial. Secondly, similar difficulties arise when empire and colonization are considered as enduring layers of different historical struggles, and not only as binary conflicts between contemporaneous and discrete civilizations. Not all forms of colonization involve the wholesale destruction of a particular colonized group (genocide), and some groups that are incorporated into new colonial relations were established through their own formative role in prior expansion, conquest, and consolidation of power. For example, a particular Indigenous priestly class might function as an institution that has merely digested and assumed the privileges of its group’s prior expansion, conquest, and consolidation of power at the great expense of other internal and external groups. During the Late Postclassic era of Mayan civilization in Guatemala (the setting of “El eclipse”), certain “priestly positions were also of high rank and were inherited by the elites, such as Aj Tohil, Aj Q’ukumatz, and Aj Awilix.”13 The far more brutal imperial domination of the Spanish typically renders similar locally and historically absorbed privilege and power less palpable after European colonization begins. But at times new colonialisms do imbricate with and overlay past forms of expansion, conquest, and power consolidation, and do not simply erase the historically constituted divisions among a newly colonized people. In regard to “El eclipse,” this raises the following questions: Might not a confrontation between an Iberian member of a priestly class and Indigenous Mayan members of a priestly class be read not only as a confrontation between colonizer and colonized, at one level, but also as a conflict between current colonizers and past colonizers, at another? Are those of a particular, doubly colonized group (e.g., migrants and subaltern women previously forcefully incorporated into a broader group, which then itself becomes colonized from without) at any point able to claim this priestly knowledge as their own?14 Or should one not speak of knowledge as belonging to whole societies but rather to smaller social units? At least in some cases, those who beg the question about the ‘our’ of ‘our knowledge’ benefit from some unspoken form of patriarchal privilege.

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The forgoing questions complicate any excessively binary approach to colonization and decolonization. The pathbreaking work of Gloria Anzaldúa in Borderlands/La Frontera clarifies why such an orientation misses the mark. In the history of pre-Colombian Mexico that she offers to explain the collapse of the solidarity between men and women, noble and commoner, Anzaldúa describes the rise of the Aztec Empire as a “military, bureaucratic state where male predatory warfare and conquest were based on patrilineal nobility.”15 By exploring the growing internal divisions within the Aztec world under rulers such as Itzcoatl as well as the predatory practices of the Empire on neighboring groups such as the Tlaxcalans (who joined the Spanish to help defeat the Aztec rulers), Anzaldúa complicates a facile interpretation of Spanish colonization. She argues that emergent patriarchal practices and ruling strata disrupted the earlier “balanced duality” between men and women before the Spanish arrived in Mesoamerica. These practices—such as military conquest, rape, the creation of self-validating mythologies, and predation on external groups—fall within the ambit of colonization considered broadly.16 Linda Tuhiwai Smith concurs when she rightly notes, “The binary of colonizer/ colonized does not take into account, for example, the development of different layerings which have occurred within each group and across the two groups.”17 I highlight such knotty historical possibilities here not (again, not) in order to argue for a defeatist view of societal expansion and conquest as inevitable or homogenous across different social groups—capitalist or non-capitalist. Rather, I note the analytic advances made by Anzaldúa and Smith because if one is concerned with advancing contemporary anticolonialism and anti-imperialism, one cannot pretend that the formations of new webs of authoritative interactions can be dealt with in merely moralistic and binary terms. In regard to epistemic decolonization, this second issue challenges the prima facie approach to decolonizing knowledge insofar as it forces one to question the assumption that colonization considered broadly (i.e., any form of conquest, domination, and consolidation of power over one group by another group) can only be imagined as a confrontation between two poles.

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2.2   Modelling Various Approaches to Epistemic Decolonization In contemporary discussions regarding the decolonization of knowledge, the term ‘decolonization’ often functions vaguely rather than clearly. Yet, to the extent possible, concepts should be made clear in order to help one handle real theoretical and practical problems, since “Concepts orient us to the world.”18 In order to gain clarity about the concept of decolonization, then, I propose to begin with a prior analysis of the phrase ‘colonizing knowledge.’ This investigation will then set the stage for the ensuing epistemography. The phrase ‘colonizing knowledge’ contains both semantic and syntactic ambiguities, and these should be examined in order to avoid conceptual equivocations and practical dead-ends. In much contemporary discourse, ‘colonizing’ has a number of distinct but not necessarily mutually exclusive senses. First, ‘colonizing’ connotes expropriation. Colonization amounts to a shift in relations of ownership, where the colonizer expropriates something (or sometimes nearly everything) from the colonized. In regard to epistemic colonization, this semantic variation of ‘colonizing’ emphasizes that those who were or are now colonized possess(ed) a knowledge or set of knowledges appropriated by their colonizers. Secondly, the term ‘colonizing’ carries with it resonances of power, where power signifies force or domination. To colonize is to dominate by force. For those who study epistemic colonization, this means that the colonization of knowledge largely amounts to the forceful imposition of one knowledge system upon another, the destruction of various Indigenous knowledge systems, forced re-education, and so forth. Boaventura de Sousa Santos and Bob Scholte refer to such processes as ‘epistemicide.’19 Thirdly, the term ‘colonizing,’ has been used by Michel Foucault to refer to a specific type of disciplinary power that slowly begins to abrogate the predominance of sovereign power in both Europe and in various European colonies (most notably in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries). In this sense, colonization involves the disciplining of bodies, making them docile in order to more effectively produce scientific knowledge.20 Next, the word ‘colonizing’ carries overtones of compartmentalization. Reiland Rabaka’s provocative phrase ‘epistemic apartheid’ captures the full force of this sense. Historical-material processes of colonization not only entailed the creation of work camps, migrant hostels, bidonvilles, native reserves, and other Manichean divides, but these remained

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variously tied to the conceptual divisions of the colonizer.21 Whether in regard to the many fine-grained hierarchical divisions between civilized natives, aboriginal natives, and whites imposed by British colonizers in Malaya or in the de jure and de facto splits between customary and civil law, really existing colonization was and remains inseparable from colonial conceptual distinctions.22 One of the most significant divisions is that of race. Questions of race suffuse modern connotations of colonization, and modern European epistemic colonization is typically and correctly understood to be entangled with white supremacist practices and presuppositions. As Albert Memmi notes, racism is a consubstantial element of colonialism.23 Finally, even where multiple people understand the idea of ‘colonizing’ under the same dimensions mentioned above, nevertheless the historical processes and experiences of these same aspects are often quite heterogeneous. To put the point succinctly: Amerindians under Spanish rule and Indians under British rule might describe colonization using the previous categories, and yet there are many crucial differences between fifteenth and sixteenth-century Spanish colonialism and nineteenth-­century British imperialism. In addition to semantic issues that arise with the phrase ‘colonizing knowledge,’ the locution also harbors a number of revealing syntactical ambiguities. Knowledge can be understood as the object being colonized, where knowledge operates as a direct object of the action. In this case, epistemic colonization amounts to the colonization of knowledge, where the subject of the action remains unspecified. The question ‘Who or What?’ colonizes or decolonizes knowledge remains, and how one answers this question of the subject will lead to significant differences in the conception of these processes. On the other hand, ‘colonizing’ can also be understood as an adjective, where there is a form of knowledge that is qualified as engaged in (and whose specific difference consists in) the act of colonization in contrast to knowledge that is not so involved. In this case, forms of knowledge are understood to differ from one another as types, insofar as one performs the function of colonizing and one does not: knowledge of type A colonizes, whether in a specific instance or essentially, whereas knowledge of the sort B does not. These grammatical distinctions show two different ways in which the phrase ‘colonizing knowledge’ can be used. The first suggests that ‘colonizing’ be understood verbally, as a process. The verb ‘to colonize’ would always seem to be transitive; it must have an object. The latter use of the term suggests

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that ‘colonizing’ is a predicate and quality—whether accidental or essential—of some type of knowledge. The foregoing syntactical and semantic distinctions found within the phrase ‘colonizing knowledge’ might—but need not—be taken as mutually exclusive alternatives. One will often find a range of such meanings operative in works that deal with epistemic decolonization. That said, making these distinctions explicit proves quite elucidating insofar as the phrase ‘decolonizing knowledge’ harbors many of the same ambiguities. In regard to knowledge, is ‘decolonizing’ a relation, an action, a quality, or some combination of these? One can speak of qualities or properties, after all, as acting. For instance, one’s frenetic demeanor arouses anxiousness in another, or, the heaviness of one’s suitcase weighs on and slows one down. And, both claims name relations that obtain between differently individuated things. Moreover, does the main target consist in confronting colonizing knowledge’s expropriative, dominative, divisive, disciplinary, or racist dimensions? While these dimensions are typically related, the question of how they are related, whether one relation is more important than another, and what tactics would serve to best undermine such relations remains an open question. I now want to explore a number of the possibilities that emerge in regard to the subject and direct object of epistemic decolonization. Where X decolonizes Y, Fig.  2.1 constitutes one possible way of representing some of the most basic conceptual decisions made by activists and theorists of epistemic decolonization. Figure 2.1 presents some of core options that lie before—or the decisions already implicitly made regarding—projects to decolonize knowledge. While both interconnected decision trees offer a simplified set of alternatives, this simplification allows one to grasp some of the structural issues faced by those involved in the anticolonial politics of knowledge. One should proceed through the algorithms above by asking the following questions: Is X (or Y) a form of knowledge? Is such knowledge or non-knowledge colonialist or not colonialist?24 Finally, is the knowledge or non-knowledge, whether colonialist or not, essentially or not essentially so constituted? The two connected decision trees of Fig. 2.1 only pertain to debates specifically concerned with epistemic decolonization. The heuristic model aids in grasping some of the initial, rudimentary disjunctions faced by activists and theorists of epistemic decolonization, but it by no means resolves the many relevant difficulties to be studied later (this, after all, is not the functional, simplifying role of decision trees). The alternative

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X K

~K

C

~C

C

~C

E

~E

E

~E

E

~E

E

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Y K

~K

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~E

E

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E

~E

9

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11

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13

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15

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K ~K C ~C E ~E

= knowledge = not knowledge = colonialist = not colonialist = essentially = not essentially

Fig. 2.1  Basic alternatives in debates concerning epistemic decolonization

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variables are dealt with synchronically because it proves useful to comprehend some of the basic reasons for the wide array of differences that exist before understanding how they do or might change over time (intension determines extension). One can better understand Fig. 2.1 by inputting some of the different interpretations of “El eclipse” that are possible when one specifies the variables X and Y above. For example, a reader might understand the moral of Monterroso’s story to suggest that the object to be decolonized (Y) is Aristotelian astronomy. This reader might approach Aristotelian astronomy as a form of essentially colonialist knowledge (9), since its only role within the story is to preserve the hegemonic authoritative relations of the colonizer over the colonized. Or, another reader might understand Aristotelian astronomy to be an accidentally colonialist form of knowledge (10), distinguishing some of the truth-content of the knowledge system from its use for colonialist ends. This second reader might argue that since such knowledge has been deployed in non-colonialist settings, it therefore cannot be considered colonialist in and of itself. Perhaps a third reader would disagree. She might argue that Aristotelian astronomy is best understood as an essentially colonialist element of Iberian ideology, where ideology is understood as a theoretical expression of historical-material class interests which has little to do with correspondence to reality (13). Being geocentric, Aristotelian astronomy is not really a form of knowledge at all, but is nevertheless essentially colonialist insofar as the ideas of the ruling (colonizing) class cannot but wield such a constellation of ideas for their own benefit. These three readers might also take any number of different positions on X, where a plethora of options subtend the alternatives between knowledge and non-knowledge. As that which decolonizes, for example, non-knowledge might be understood as local spirituality, political fictions, ‘extraordinary remedios transcending ordinary knowledge,’25 storytelling, thinking otherwise, and so on. Or, Mayan astronomy and the practical knowledge that Bartolomé is lying might be taken as the knowledge needed to decolonize Y. Just as our hypothetical readers disagree on what needs to be decolonized, so too might they disagree on the agent of decolonization, and on whether this agent primarily involves, or is, knowing or something else. The most commonly held positions would seem to be: 3 decolonizes 9, 3 decolonizes 13, and 7 decolonizes 9. In the first case (3 decolonizes 9), an essentially non-colonialist form of knowledge is understood to be directed toward the decolonization of a form of essentially colonialist

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knowledge. Such a position frequently arises in contemporary discourse out of an engagement with or indirect influence from Foucault’s various approaches to knowledges. To be far too succinct, in the mid-70s Foucault conceived of regimes of truth as those forms of power that produce and sustain “system[s] of ordered procedures for the production, regulation, distribution, circulation, and operation of statements.”26 This social and political-philosophical approach to knowledge does not investigate typical epistemological concerns, but examines regimes of knowledge in their historical emergence, production, and transformation. Many contemporary scholars of Indigenous studies, postcolonial philosophy, and decolonial theory likewise approach knowledges in a Foucauldian vein, at times partially bracketing questions of truth-value and justification to understand how systems of statements emerge, function, and interact within networks of power. It is in this sense that a variety of authors speak of the decolonization of colonialist knowledges by non-colonialist knowledges. From such a perspective, speaking of ‘knowledge’ in the plural is a methodological presupposition of sociohistorical and political analysis. The second case (3 decolonizes 13), in which an essentially non-­ colonialist knowledge decolonizes an essentially colonialist non-­ knowledge, makes a more explicit commitment to a classical distinction between truth and falsity than the Foucault-influenced approach. In this perspective, one contrasts non-colonialist truth with colonialist falsity. For example, many Indigenous peoples had and have a knowledge of plants, seeds, farming techniques, weather cycles, and so forth (what Vandana Shiva calls ‘metaknowledge’) that colonists did/do not.27 When colonists or imperialists presume that they themselves have adequate ways of knowing such things and in fact do not, and when this latter presumption combines with systematized forms of domination, the decolonization of colonialist non-knowledge by non-colonialist knowledge can take the form of ideology critique, consciousness-raising, and arguments for why such non-colonialist knowledge should indeed be understood as knowledge proper. Following this line of thought, part of what must be decolonized is the colonialist ignorance that directly contributes to the domination of forms of knowing that are damaged or destroyed as a result of such ignorance. The third most common approach (7 decolonizes 9), in which one attempts to decolonize an essentially colonialist knowledge by means of an essentially non-colonialist non-knowledge can be found, on the one hand, in the theories and practices of those who hold spiritual, surrealist,

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poststructuralist, mythological, or related commitments. In such approaches, one contrasts the machinic scientific rationality of the West with non-­ Western beliefs and practices that in some sense transcend (instrumental) knowledge in their depth or insight. For example, Martin Savransky argues that to make the distinction between epistemology and ontology, knowledge and reality, itself falls prey to an underlying Eurocentrism. Enrique Dussel’s notion of the veritas prima of the Other beyond being and most religiously based attempts at epistemic decolonization might be thought to exemplify this strategy. Similarly, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s thought experiments in which correspondence to a single natural world does not play a role offers a unique example of the attempt to decolonize knowledge through Indigenous conceptual worlds. On the other hand, since ‘non-knowledge’ as a sub-variable within Fig. 2.1 remains quite underdetermined, it might also be understood to include, for example, Mbembe’s argument for the removal of the busts of colonialists from university campuses and Boulbina’s argument that forms of migration can contribute to the decolonization of knowledge.28 The formal possibilities of Fig.  2.1 are important because they allow one to notice crucial strategic and tactical differences that are easily glossed over at the level of everyday language. For instance, recall the Mamdani-­ inspired example concerning customary law provided above. In such a case, we can imagine an individual arguing that knowledge of customary law is an essentially non-colonialist form of knowledge that can decolonize an essentially colonialist form of knowledge (e.g., a white lawyer’s erudite familiarity with the civil law of urban areas) (3 decolonizes 9). But we can also imagine another individual who considers customary law to be an essentially colonialist form of non-knowledge, insofar as the recent fabrication of customary law only benefits colonialist aggrandizement and insofar as this knowledge has no correspondence to said “group’s” history. Such an individual might then argue that a study of the history of colonial civil law provides strong reasons to demand the decolonization of customary law (2 decolonizes 13). Here, both hypothetical individuals are concerned with juridical and legal decolonization. They may share many social and political goals. But insofar as both interlocutors remain only at the indeterminate discursive register of “decolonizing law” and do not proceed to consider the actual differences in their respective positions and strategies, both end up talking past one another. They do not realize that their strategies and tactics are in fact the inverse of one another. One should not ignore such substantial, strategic differences.

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Just as the variables X and Y contain a number of positions concerning knowledge and colonization within them, so too does the result of the process represented in Fig. 2.1 contain a number of alternatives. One of the more interesting and yet unfortunately often overlooked matters regarding the possible alternatives presented above pertains to the outcome of epistemic decolonization. What should the result of epistemic decolonization be—knowledge, non-knowledge, freedom from exploitation, love, or something else? By what criteria should one judge the efficacy of this process? And can decolonized knowledge in turn be coopted for new colonialist or imperialist ends? The answer to these questions largely depends on the variables chosen. For those who think that “knowledge is power,” where the copula is one of identity, and where power means domination and oppression, if the decolonization of knowledge involves the cessation of knowing, then all the better. In such cases, one might judge epistemic decolonization as efficacious to the extent that mythological thinking without recourse to invasive scientific practices replaces forms of knowing the natural world by controlling it and prying it open. This position has a Wordsworthian air to it, Sweet is the lore which Nature brings; Our meddling intellect Misshapes the beauteous forms of things:— We murder to dissect.29

On the other hand, those for whom historical-material processes of colonization lead to wholly untenable and colonialist forms of value-laden observation might conceive of epistemic decolonization as the systematic critique and removal of biases. Here, coming to identify and effectively contest such biases itself constitutes a form of knowing empowerment. The success of such a program would be gauged to the extent that biases are removed from systems of knowledge, and to the extent that specifically colonialist forms of harmfully value-laden observation are precluded from future research and epistemic production/discoveries. Understanding the desired goal of a theorist’s or group’s project of epistemic decolonization can help to elucidate why certain tactics are chosen rather than others. Figure 2.1 aids in mapping a number of the basic alternatives that activists and theorists face in projects of epistemic decolonization. But the core of many of these debates also includes presuppositions about morality, values, and normativity. Moreover, not all theorists accept a bivalent

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conception of truth-value. First, one can come to better understand the divergences between those engaged in epistemic decolonization as occurring on continua rather than through disjunctions. And secondly, one can reach greater precision by distinguishing between discrete units of truth and falsity, on the one hand, and theoretical wholes, on the other hand. To these ends, one can begin to plot and compare approaches to epistemic decolonization through a heuristic cube (Fig. 2.2). The above heuristic cube adds a dimension of normativity to the present considerations, and charts truth/falsity and coloniality/anticoloniality as continua rather than as binary alternatives. Positions within debates on epistemic decolonization can be compared on continua because the contextual analysis of such positions often reveals important gradations. Within this heuristic cube, one should imagine that points represent individualized signs or propositions whose determinate meaning is recognizable within a certain context and by some social group. Spheres, on the other hand, should be understood to represent theoretical wholes whose determinate meaning is recognizable within a certain context and by some social group. Whether or not the different parts of a particular whole (i.e., points within a sphere or a smaller sphere within a larger sphere) are considered separable or inseparable from one another without compromising this whole determines whether or not said spheres are properly systemic or Fig. 2.2  Heuristic cube for understanding debates about epistemic decolonization

n enig

nt/B

a align

Colonialist/Anticolonialist

M

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more heap-like. Figure 2.2 opens a synchronic space for the comparison of debatable stances concerning epistemic decolonization, and one can use this cube to chart alternatives 1–16 derived from Fig.  2.1, whether in regard to particular signs/propositions (points) or knowledge systems (spheres). The cube is currently divided into eight smaller subsections for the sake of simplification, but the three-dimensional space contains a virtual infinity of positions. As with Fig. 2.1, however, it should be used as an epistemographical starting point, a simplifying tool that orients one until nuanced positions can be fleshed out in more detail. The function of Fig. 2.2 becomes clearer by means of an example. Take, for instance, a range of concerns with colonial psychology. Frantz Fanon would represent the psychiatrist Octave Mannoni’s claim that the dependency complex of the colonized is natural and essential to the colonized as a point squarely in the Colonialist/False/Malignant octant above. In Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon argues that Mannoni’s claim bolsters and justifies colonial domination, is not true, and furthers the malignant dehumanization of the colonized. But aside from this proposition, psychiatry itself for Fanon would not neatly occupy this same octant. As a scientific knowledge system, psychiatry would rather comprise a sphere toward the center of the above heuristic cube, since it harbors colonial/anticolonial potential, has certain malignant/benign aspects, and contains a number of both true and false propositions. But Fanon would chart Mannonian psychiatry as a sphere that remains far closer to the Colonialist/False/ Malignant corner than to the Anticolonialist/True/Benign corner. Nevertheless, some space within the representation of Mannonian psychiatry would overlap with other sectors, and so his psychology in fact contains some aspects of verisimilitude and minor virtues. Fanon writes, “Before going into detail, let us say that his analysis is intellectually honest. Having experienced firsthand the ambivalence inherent in the colonial situation, Monsieur Mannoni has managed to grasp the psychological phenomena—albeit, unfortunately, too exhaustively—that govern the colonizer-­native relationship.”30 Mannoni in fact accurately and honestly describes some psychological phenomena of the colonial situation, but wholly misunderstands their causes. Shifting focus to current debates, one can compare the prior mapping to the work of contemporary critiques of colonialist psychiatry. For instance, critical psychologist China Mills would situate the sphere of psychiatry itself much closer to—and probably entirely within—the Colonialist/False/Malignant octant than would Fanon. The extent to

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which Fanon and Mills’ spherical representations of psychiatry overlap in a three-dimensional Venn diagram would represent their space of theoretical convergence on this matter. Using Figs. 2.1 and 2.2 in conjunction can also aid in critical assessment. For example, consider the following claim by Mills, “Fanon vigorously fought for Algerian independence and decolonization, and so, to take the reading of psychiatry as colonial to its full conclusion would be to decolonize it.”31 This argument assumes that (1) psychiatry itself should be identified as essentially colonialist, and that (2) such an identification would have better assisted Algerian political decolonization. Yet Figs. 2.1 and 2.2 allow one to see that, for Fanon, psychiatry certainly has colonialist dimensions but is not itself essentially colonialist. The ‘as’ involved in the different identifications of psychiatry as colonialist are in fact significantly different—both analytically and in terms of implied political strategy. Fanon’s reasons for rejecting (1) and (2) will be considered in more detail in Chap. 4. For now, the above figures assist one in grasping a basic, orienting point: Mills and Fanon exhibit different strategies in regard to epistemic decolonization. Distinguishing between both approaches proves important for facilitating productive exchanges between anticolonialists. To the extent that some engage with claims or belief systems beyond truth/falsity, colonialism/anticolonialism, and the malignant/the benign, they should be understood as literally ‘thinking outside the box.’ For instance, the central thought experiment of Castro’s Cannibal Metaphysics consists in large part in bracketing questions of truth-value, normativity, and the immediate direction of the book’s analyses to politically charged anticolonial ends. The advantages of such an approach lie in its avoidance of moralization and common prima facie assumptions about determinate linkages between coloniality, falsity, and malignancy. Other approaches often simply presume—but do not demonstrate—that nothing could possibly exist in the colonialist/true/benign or colonialist/true/malignant octants. And one could not easily object, on moral grounds, that Castro simply consumes and cannibalizes Indigenous thought for himself, since his concerns effectively bracket questions about the ethics of cannibalism. But if we represent the thought experiment of Cannibal Metaphysics as a sphere that exceeds the boundaries of the above heuristic cube, nonetheless certain propositions that frame this experiment still fall within the heuristic cube, and so the text as a whole can be understood as pertaining to debates about epistemic decolonization. For example, insofar as the description of Amerindian concepts is relatively accurate and not a mere

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fabrication, and insofar as the decolonization of thought/knowledge is an explicitly desired goal, the text as a whole continues to overlap with portions of Fig.  2.2.32 In the case at hand, then, the whole of Cannibal Metaphysics would be represented as a sphere that largely falls outside of Fig. 2.2. Those sections of this sphere that fall within the heuristic cube might contain the set of the text’s correct factive claims, for instance, while the book’s speculative statements in which truth-value, goodness, and coloniality have been bracketed would make up points within the sphere but outside of the cube. * * * The foregoing epistemography began to analyze some of the myriad conceptual tools available for orienting oneself and navigating within the anticolonial politics of knowledge. Rather than just beginning to use all of the silverware ready-to-hand in the literature, I have tried to give a layout of the kitchen, preparing an initial mise en place, one might say, so that one can reflect on what things will best assist one in the messy, trial-and-error processes that inevitably occur when clear and distinct recipes meet practice, time, and human need. The next chapter will begin to describe issues that arise when incompatible conceptual tools and/or techniques are used simultaneously, as if, in the attempt to roll out dough, one tried to knead in a forward and backward motion at the same time—leaving the ultimate goal unachieved.

Notes 1. An earlier version of this chapter was published as “Descolonizar el conocimiento: una mise en place epistemográfica.” Tabubla Rasa: Revista de Humanidades Numero 27 (Diciembre, 2017): 301–337. 2. Monterroso, Complete Works and Other Stories, 29–30. 3. See also, Bricker and Bricker, Astronomy in the Maya Codices. The constitutive and ironic arrogance of Iberian colonialism is best exemplified in Cortes’ sincere and repeated pronouncements against theft and anthropophagy to autochthonous Amerindians. He and his men typically set out after ritually consuming the body and blood of their own human-god, had in fact dedicated their lives to piracy and expropriation, and removed the “hideous” sacred statues of natives only to demand the worship of an instrument of torture (a cross). One should also not forget the astrology

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brought into the heart of Tenochtitlan by the earliest conquistadors. See Díaz, The Conquest of New Spain, 301–302. 4. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 14; Fanon, A Dying Colonialism, 128; and Fanon, “Rencontre de la société et de la psychiatrie”, 442. 5. Medina, The Epistemology of Resistance, 57. 6. Santos, Nunes, and Meneses, “Introduction”, xlix and Santos, Epistemologies of the South. 7. Mamdani, Define and Rule, 12. 8. Ede and Cormack, A History of Science in Society, 204. 9. Keller, Colonial Madness, 127. 10. Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion, 43. 11. See Williams, Jr., Savage Anxieties and Ellingson, The Myth of the Noble Savage. 12. Mamdani, Citizen and Subject and Mamdani, Define and Rule. See also Mamdani, “Historicizing Power and Responses to Power.” For more on legal decolonization see Pahuja, Decolonising International Law; Esmeir, “On the Coloniality of Modern Law”; and Dhanda, Decolonisation of Legal Knowledge. 13. Foias, Ancient Maya Political Dynamics, 100. 14. A variety of studies exist that pay attention to the double colonization of women. See Urdang, Confronting Two Colonialisms; Petersen and Rutherford, A Double Colonization; Knauss, The Persistence of Patriarchy; Sankara, “The revolution cannot triumph without the emancipation of women”; and Lazreg, The Eloquence of Silence. 15. Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera, 53. 16. Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera, 55. See also Berdan et. al., “Introduction”: “Cortes’ general methods of conquest and control were, indeed, not so very different from those used by the prior Aztec conquerors themselves: conquest by force of arms, alliance with the promise of mutual benefit through mutual risk, presentations of gifts and rewards, and nurturing close relationships with local rulers and high-ranking nobles.” 17. Decolonizing Methodologies, 28. 18. Mills, “White Ignorance”, 27. 19. Santos, La globalización del derecho”, 208; Santos et al., “Introduction”, i; and Castro, The Relative Native, 7. 20. See Taylor, “Fanon, Foucault, and the Politics of Psychiatry”, 57 and Foucault, Psychiatric Power, 66–73. 21. See Rabaka, Against Epistemic Apartheid. Consider also Mills’ claims about conceptual decolonization via bio-psychiatric categorization, Serequeberhan’s claims about colonialism and ideas, and Gordon’s claims about the colonization of reason by rationality. Mills, Decolonizing Global Mental Health, 56; Serequeberhan, “Decolonization and the Practice of

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Philosophy”, 150; and Gordon, “Fanon on Decolonizing Knowledge”, 6. For an example of the use of the word colonization in a sense which almost exclusively seems to mean ‘compartmentalization,’ see Shani, “De-colonizing Foucault.” 22. Mamdani, Define and Rule, 33. 23. Portrait du colonisé, 93. 24. Some scholars/activists advance positions such as the following, “Whether we currently identify as the colonizer or the colonized, we are never completely one or the other.” See Sandoval et  al., “Ancestral Knowledge Systems”, 21. This may often be the case, but for decolonization to mean anything it must identify something either as colonized or as colonialist in a particular time and in a particular sense. 25. See DiPietro, “Hallucinating Knowing.” 26. Foucault, Power/Knowledge, 133. 27. Shiva, Biopiracy, 71. 28. Savransky, “A Decolonial Imagination”; Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 117–18; Castro, Cannibal Metaphysics; Castro, The Relative Native; Mbembe, “Decolonizing Knowledge and the Question of the Archive”; and Boulbina, “La décolonisation des saviors et ses théories voyageuses.” 29. Wordsworth, The Major Works including the Prelude, 130. 30. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 64. Fanon is largely engaging with Mannoni, Prospero and Caliban. 31. Mills, Decolonizing Global Mental Health, 138. 32. Castro, Cannibal Metaphysics, 18, 40, 47–48, and 92 and Castro, The Relative Native, 75.

References Anzaldúa, Gloria. 2012. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books. Berdan, Frances F., et  al. 1996. Aztec Imperial Strategies. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Boulbina, Seloua Luste. 2013. La décolonisation des savoirs et ses théories voyageuses. Revue Collège International de Philosophie 78: 19–33. Bricker, Victoria Reifler, and Harvey M.  Bricker. 2011. Astronomy in the Maya Codices (Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society). American Philosophical Society. Castro, Eduardo Viveiros de. 2014. Cannibal Metaphysics: For a Post-Structural Anthropology. Minneapolis: Univocal. ———. 2015. The Relative Native: Essays on Indigenous Conceptual Worlds. Chicago: Hau Books.

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Dhanda, Amita, and Archana Parashar. 2009. Introduction: Decolonisation of Knowledge: Whose Responsibility? In Decolonisation of Legal Knowledge, ed. Amita Dhanda and Archana Parashar. London: Routledge. Díaz, Bernal. 1963. The Conquest of New Spain. Translated with an introduction by J.M. Cohen. London: Penguin Books. DiPietro, Pedro J. 2019. Hallucinating Knowing: (Extra)ordinary Consciousness, More-Than-Human Perception, and Other Decolonizing Remedios within Latina and Xicana Feminist Theories. In Theories of the Flesh: Latinx and Latin American Feminisms, Transformation and Resistance, ed. Andrea J.  Pitts, Mariana Ortega, and José Medina. Oxford University Press. Dussel, Enrique. 2003. Philosophy of Liberation. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock. Ede, Andrew, and Lesley B. Cormack. 2012. A History of Science in Society: From Philosophy to Utility. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Ellingson, Ter. 2001. The Myth of the Noble Savage. Berkeley: University of California Press. Esmeir, Samera. 2015. On the Coloniality of Modern Law. Critical Analysis of Law 2 (1): 19–41. Fanon, Frantz. 1967. A Dying Colonialism. New York: Grove Press. ———. 2004. The Wretched of the Earth. Translated by Richard Philcox. New York: Grove Press. ———. 2008. Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove Press. ———. 2015. Rencontre de la société et de la psychiatrie. In Écrits sur l’aliénation et la liberté. Réunis par Jean Khalfa et Robert Young. Oeuvres II.  Paris: La Découverte. Foias, Antonia E. 2013. Ancient Maya Political Dynamics. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. Foucault, Michel. 1980. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972–1977. New York: Pantheon Books. ———. 2003. Psychiatric Power: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1973–1974. Edited by Jacques Lagrange and translated by Graham Burchell. New York: Picador. Gordon, Lewis. 2010. Fanon on Decolonizing Knowledge. In Fanon and the Decolonization of Philosophy, ed. Elizabeth A.  Hoppe and Tracey Nicholls. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Keller, Richard C. 2007. Colonial Madness: Psychiatry in French North Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Knauss, Peter R. 1987. The Persistence of Patriarchy: Class, Gender, and Ideology in Twentieth Century Algeria. New York: Praeger. Lazreg, Marnia. 1994. The Eloquence of Silence: Algerian Women in Question. New York: Routledge. Mamdani, Mahmood. 1996. Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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———. 1999. Historicizing Power and Responses to Power: Indirect Rule and Its Reform. Social Research 66 (3, Fall): 859–886. ———. 2012. Define and Rule: Native as Political Identity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Mannoni, Octave. 1990. Prospero and Caliban: The Psychology of Colonization. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. Mbembe, Achille. 2015. Decolonizing Knowledge and the Question of the Archive. http://wiser.wits.ac.za/system/files/Achille%20Mbembe%20-%20 Decolonizing%20Knowledge%20and%20the%20Question%20of%20the%20 Archive.pdf. Medina, José. 2013. The Epistemology of Resistance: Gender and Racial Oppression, Epistemic Injustice, and Resistant Imaginations. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Memmi, Albert. 1985. Portrait du colonisé: précédé de Portrait du colonisateur. Paris: Gallimard. Mills, Charles W. 2007. White Ignorance. In Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance, ed. Shannon Sullivan and Nancy Tuana. New  York: State University of New York Press. Mills, China. 2014. Decolonizing Global Mental Health: The Psychiatrization of the Majority World. New York: Routledge and Taylor & Francis Group. Monterroso, Augusto. 1995. Complete Works and Other Stories. Austin: University of Texas Press. Pahuja, Sundhya. 2011. Decolonising International Law: Development, Economic Growth and the Politics of Universality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Petersen, Kristen Holst, and Anna Rutherford. 1988. A Double Colonization: Colonial and Post-Colonial Women’s Writing. Inland Book Co. Rabaka, Reiland. 2010. Against Epistemic Apartheid: W.E.B.  Dubois and the Disciplinary Decadence of Sociology. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Sandoval, Cueponcaxochitl D.  Moreno, Rosalva Mojica Lagunas, Lydia T. Montelongo, and Marisol Juárez Díaz. 2016. Ancestral Knowledge Systems: A Conceptual Framework for Decolonizing Research in Social Science. AlterNative 12 (1): 18–31. Sankara, Thomas. 2007. The Revolution Cannot Triumph Without the Emancipation of Women. In Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983–1987, ed. Thomas Sankara. New York: Pathfinder Press. Santos, Boaventura de Sousa. 1988. La globalización del derecho: los nuevos caminos de la regulación y la emancipación. Universidad Nacional de Colombia. ———. 2014. Epistemologies of the South: Justice against Epistemicide. London: Routledge. Santos, Boaventura de Sousa, João Arriscado Nunes, and Maria Paula Meneses. 2008. Introduction: Opening Up the Canon of Knowledge and the Recognition

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of Difference. In Another Knowledge Is Possible: Beyond Northern Epistemologies, ed. Boaventura de Sousa Santos. New York: Verso. Savransky, Martin. 2017. A Decolonial Imagination: Sociology, Anthropology and the Politics of Reality. Sociology 5 (1): 11–26. Serequeberhan, Tsenay. 2012. Decolonization and the Practice of Philosophy. In African Intellectuals and Decolonization, Ohio University Research in International Studies, ed. Nicholas M. Creary. Athens: Ohio University Press. Shani, Giorgio. 2010. De-colonizing Foucault. International Political Sociology 4 (2): 210–212. Shiva, Vandana. 1997. Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge. Boston, MA: South End Press. Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 1999. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. New York and London: Zed Books. Taylor, Chloë. 2010. Fanon, Foucault, and the Politics of Psychiatry. In Fanon and the Decolonization of Philosophy, ed. Elizabeth A.  Hoppe and Tracey Nicholls. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Urdang, Stephanie. 1979. Fighting Two Colonialisms: Women in Guinea-Bissau. New York: Monthly Review Press. Walker, Charles F. 2014. The Tupac Amaru Rebellion. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Williams, Robert A., Jr. 2012. Savage Anxieties: The Invention of Western Civilization. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Wood, Dan. 2017. Descolonizar el conocimiento: Una mise en place epistemográfica. Tabubla Rasa: Revista de Humanidades 27 (Diciembre): 301–337. Wordsworth, William. 2008. The Major Works including the Prelude. Edited by Stephen Gill. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

CHAPTER 3

Anti-Janus: Or, Impasses of the Differential Approach

The previous chapter demonstrated that there exist a variety of different approaches to epistemic decolonization and began to map ways in which such orientations make use of different tactics. I also argued that some strategies differ from others quite significantly, and that clarifying these differences has a practical import. However, the previous epistemography really only scratched the surface. The present chapter deepens and hones the investigation into the anticolonial politics of knowledge, briefly touching on issues of epistemology proper. Divergences in the realm of knowledge politics can arise from purely epistemological concerns. But the sources of such divergences often have many other sources as well, for example, cultural differences, class position, taste and style, academic rivalry, upbringing, historical milieu, and so forth. Whereas epistemology proper often brackets or leaves aside such ‘background noise,’ focusing on those necessary and/or sufficient conditions for something to count as knowledge, the politics of knowledge involves far more than mere disagreements about what knowledge is. While an analysis of the different positions of postcolonial and decolonial theorists on purely epistemological grounds would have its merits, I am interested in exploring those deeper and less obvious philosophical stances that have a determinative bearing upon decolonial theorists’ epistemic commitments. The present chapter examines some contemporary theories whose philosophical positions share identifiable family resemblances with one another. Because one central, identifiable resemblance concerns the notion © The Author(s) 2020 D. A. Wood, Epistemic Decolonization, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49962-4_3

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of difference, I call this diffuse group of attitudes, leanings, and predilections which cut across a number of different traditions the ‘differential approach’ to decolonizing knowledge. While the differential approach should not be thought of as confined to a single school of thought, this chapter will only focus on a select few arguments, many of which fall within the Modernity/Coloniality Research Group’s gravitational pull. I argue that the interrelated aporias that complicate some contemporary programs of epistemic decolonization arise from a general internal inconsistency that Mariana Ortega highlights. She notes that “the decolonial move is the move away from dichotomies in the first place,” and yet expresses her dismay as to why so much of decolonial theory in fact ends up reproducing and reinforcing dichotomous ways of thinking.1 Seeking to develop her insight in a different direction, I argue that the inconsistencies between what some postcolonial and decolonial theorists intend and what they produce often arise not primarily from failings on the part of individual theorists themselves, but rather from their similar philosophies of difference and otherness. To make my argument, I first provide a very brief story about why the poststructuralist concept of difference has gained so much traction, and then explain why I have chosen the domains of ontology, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of truth as the sites of critical inquiry for this chapter and for the next two chapters. In the 1960s and the decades to follow, theoretical orientations commonly referred to as ‘poststructuralism,’ ‘postcolonialism,’ and ‘liberation philosophy’ began to question many of the assumptions of Enlightenment thought. While such philosophical currents harbor numerous differences, what unites them is the centrality of the idea of difference itself. During this late Fordist period, sameness became an enemy both practically and theoretically, buttressed on either side by widespread processes of standardization and homogenization. Practically speaking, globalization continued to consume all forms of diversity and difference into itself like an amoeba. Capital found new ways to make the world in its own image. And cultural imperialism spread its tentacles into hitherto unconquered domains. In some circles, thinkers began to ask whether or not certain forms of thought replicated these selfsame processes. In Steinbeck’s words, “When our food and our clothing and housing all are born in the complication of mass production, mass method is bound to get into our thinking and to eliminate all other thinking.”2 Many others shared similar intuitions and struggled to find the appropriate words and concepts to give them expression. For present purposes, I will only make brief note of the

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influential work of Emmanuel Levinas (1906–1995) and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1942–) as exemplary theorists of difference. In response to the totalitarianism of the twentieth century, Levinas began to question totalizing concepts within various philosophical systems. Some of his guiding questions might be formulated as follows: Does philosophy itself not amount to the reduction of external reality and otherness to nothing but the categories and frameworks that it accepts, and according to rules that it gives to itself from itself? Do not philosophy’s absolute and transcendental aspirations betray a drive to grasp the totality of what is through a radical and violent simplification? If so, how could an ethical relation with the other person even be possible? And, why should metaphysics have any ultimate primacy over ethics? Seeking to provide an account for why ethics should be considered first philosophy, Levinas began to develop a body of work that redeployed the Platonic notions of transcendence and the beyond. Most notably, Levinas adopted the categories of Sameness and Otherness from Plato’s Sophist (254b–256b) in his attempt to conceive of a relation that surpasses the totalizing concept of being, especially as it appears in the work of Heidegger.3 By doing so, alterity (whether human or divine) assumed the role of challenging the inherently narcissistic tendencies of the self, the state, and philosophy itself. In her famous essay from 1988, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” Spivak responds to currents in French poststructuralist thought by analyzing some of the constitutive ironies to be found in its discourse, focusing on an exchange between Foucault and Deleuze. For example, she challenges the way that these theorists’ critiques of representation (in the sense of Darstellung) occlude their roles in political representation (i.e., Vertretung). She also notes that their critique of the sovereign subject inadvertently reinstates a new sovereign subject, namely, the subject of the West. Such ironies provoke her central questions, such as, “How can we touch the consciousness of the people, even as we investigate their politics?” “Can the subaltern speak? Can the subaltern (woman) speak?” and, “What must the elite do to watch out for the continuing construction of the subaltern?”4 In exploring such questions, Spivak turns poststructuralist questions about alterity back on themselves, arguing that to speak about the Third World while ignoring really existing imperialism and the global division of labor amounts to preventing the subaltern from having a voice. Spivak’s influential essay thus continues the problematization of alterity. She does not abandon the thematic, but rather takes it in new, postcolonial directions.

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Theorists working in liberation philosophy, postcolonial theory, and decolonial theory have drawn heavily from the aforementioned currents of thought, sometimes explicitly, and often implicitly.5 Few, to my knowledge, have overtly broken from poststructuralist and postcolonial theorizations of difference and alterity. In order to demonstrate the ramifications of this inheritance, the subsequent sections of this chapter examine three aporias into which the differential approach to decolonizing knowledge falls, namely, those concerning ontology, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of truth. I argue that these three fundamental domains have a determinative bearing upon decolonial theorists’ epistemic commitments, and that they therefore merit close, preliminary attention for a few reasons. First, epistemologies presume and depend upon ontologies. The concept ‘ontology’ signifies that realm of philosophy which deals with basic questions concerning reality, being, existence, and existents. Everyone has at least an implicit ontology by means of which they orient themselves to the world. But philosophers seek to become critically self-reflective about such orientations. Who or what knowers are, what constitutes that which is known, and whether or not it is possible for knowledge to exist at all are in fact ontological questions, the answers to which particular epistemologies often take for granted. So, rather than jumping into a comparison of decolonial theorists’ epistemologies, I want to step back and examine the more basic realm of ontology in order to compare it with that of the revolutionary-­ socialist tradition. The different ontological commitments of revolutionary-­ socialist and decolonial theorists is a prerequisite to understanding their radically different approaches to decolonizing knowledge. Secondly, one’s philosophy of religion sheds light on the nature, scope, and liberality of one’s ontological and epistemological commitments. Understanding decolonial theorists’ philosophies of religion reveals just how paradoxical, expansive, and liberal their ontologies and epistemologies really are. They allow for certain things to exist and to be known that Fanon and Cabral do not think could possibly exist or be known. This is a crucial difference between them. Furthermore, the domain of philosophy of religion provides a good, if somewhat indirect litmus test in regard to the problem of justification. Traditionally, many philosophers have identified knowledge as justified true belief. But rather than enter into extensive epistemological debates about justification, studying whether and what types of religious or mythological discourse one considers to count as ‘knowledge’ gives a good sense of just how liberally one understands the term ‘knowledge.’

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Finally, epistemologies harbor philosophies of truth. While some epistemologies call into question the necessity of criteria such as justification, few if any abandon the concept of truth. Speaking of ‘false knowledge’ appears tantamount to speaking of ‘married bachelors’—the notion succumbs to a conceptual confusion. Understanding what the notion of truth amounts to in some circles of decolonial theory serves as another precursor to understanding how the differential approach to epistemic decolonization contrasts with that of revolutionary socialists.

3.1   The Ontological Aporia The present section examines the ‘ontological aporia’ that emerges in the differential approach to decolonizing knowledge. The notion of ‘aporia’ signifies a certain paradox, puzzle, or contradiction to appear within some discourse, especially that of a theory or dialogue. Traditionally, speculative forms of philosophy have uncovered and presented particular aporias. For example, the penultimate line of Plato’s Parmenides contains a number of aporias, “It seems that, whether there is or is not a one, both that one and the others alike are and are not, and appear and do not appear to be, all manner of things in all manner of ways, with respect to themselves and to one another.” Or, consider the aporia formulated by the ancient Chinese philosopher Gongsun Long, “White horse is not a horse.”6 Presented with such paradoxes, one faces the question of whether or not they are true as they stand. In terms of practical philosophy, however, where one asks “What should one do?” it is not clear how these and similar aporias could prove useful. For instance, if someone tells me, “You should be yourself and not be yourself,” it remains entirely unclear how I should or could follow such advice without specifying matters of sense or time, thereby dissolving the paradox. One engaged in critical and practical philosophy, in other words, appears to be faced with the task of resolving apparent contradictions presented by speculative thought if she desires to use such sentences as guides for action. In what follows, I draw from speculative philosophy in bringing certain aporias and paradoxes to light. But I do so precisely in order to demonstrate the way in which these aporias prove difficult once the rubber hits the road. The ontological aporia amounts to the paradoxical commitment to the absolute difference between individuals or spaces—either as beings or beyond being—that nevertheless retain an obscure relation to being or beings. This aporia can be found in the contemporary work of a number

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of theorists working within the ambit of the Modernity/Coloniality Research Program. In addition to dependency theory and critical social theory, this group draws inspiration from the work of Enrique Dussel. In his early work Philosophy of Liberation, Dussel offers a robust ontological argument defending the existence of beings beyond being. Since contemporary scholars rely upon and draw from his conclusions, the soundness or unsoundness of his argument has widespread implications. In Dussel’s Philosophy of Liberation, the terms ‘totality’ and ‘system’ interchangeably indicate various wholes grounded on being. And “Being (esse) is the foundation of all systems.”7 Totality is always the ‘totality of X,’ and this implicit or explicit X can be world, cosmos, nature, culture, signification, or many other wholes grounded upon being. For instance, political systems are described both as historico-institutionally structured totalities and as “systems of systems,” insofar as they condition cultural, military, and other systems.8 While Dussel cautions his reader that when he speaks of totality without further qualification he is referring to totality in the phenomenological sense of ‘world,’ when either ‘system’ or ‘totality’ are further qualified, they function synonymously as concepts. For instance, when ‘system’ and ‘totality’ are qualified as ‘political system’ or ‘political totality,’ these concepts are interchangeable, and this applies to all other systems/totalities throughout Philosophy of Liberation. Examples of such totalities/systems include the totalities/systems of sense (the world), of noncultural beings (nature), of beings mediated by human production, such as signs or artifacts (culture), and of significant moments formed by elemental units that phonetically express part of the totality of sense (language).9 An ontological ambiguity appears, however, when totalities and systems qualify themselves in the form of genitive superlatives. That is, there are a variety of contenders for the status of ‘totality of totalities’ and ‘system of systems.’ On the one hand, it would seem that for Dussel the cosmos is clearly the totality of totalities. He writes, “The level of beings is the proxemic or ontic; the level of Being (esse) is that of totality—whether worldly, natural, economic, artistic, and the like—the ontological.”10 While the phrase “the level of Being is that of totality” remains a bit unclear, the list that follows it would seem to indicate that totality in the broadest sense as an ontological category signifies the sum existence of, or ontological foundation for, all other subsystems or minor totalities. Totality in its most expansive sense for Dussel is named the cosmos, which is “the totality of real things, whether or not any human being knows them.”11 Ostensibly,

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the many subsystems and minor totalities (world, language, politics, culture, etc.) are real things whether or not one knows about them, or else one would need an explanation for why an organized totality of real things (e.g., culture-things and sense-things) would not itself, taken as a whole, be a real thing.12 For example, Annamese semiotic, political, and social systems really exist(ed) regardless of whether or not Western Europeans were at one time unaware of such systems. Annamese and European worlds are thus smaller totalities/systems within the cosmos. The interpretation of the cosmos as the de facto totality of totalities also finds confirmation in Dussel’s later descriptions: “All the physical cosmos, even before being included as nature or modeled as universe, is in reality a macrosystem with its own unity, coherence, and substantivity.”13 Thus, it would seem that the totality of totalities, or the system of systems, would be the cosmos, that is, that macrosystem founded on being without which no other system would exist, and regardless of human knowledge. However, Dussel also describes the phenomenological totality of sense, that is, the world, as the fundamental totality, as the horizon of horizons, as the system of systems, and as “the totality of totalities.”14 But here a semantic ambiguity leads to conceptual confusions. The concept of totality might signify ‘world’ when it is not qualified by terms such as ‘semiotic,’ ‘political,’ ‘cultural,’ and so on, but when the interchangeable concepts of totality or system are qualified by themselves in the form of genitive superlatives, an unresolved conflict arises between the various contenders for superlatively foundational status within Dussel’s ontology. While being serves as the foundation of the totality of totalities and the system of systems, the way in which different systems/totalities might be considered superlative is left undetermined and ambiguous. This indeterminate superlative qualification of totalities/systems sets up a basic and continuous tension between whether the phenomenological world or the cosmos is most fundamental. That is, incompatible commitments to both idealism and realism haunt the Philosophy of Liberation. This latent ontological ambivalence in fact gives rise to an equivocation when such ambiguities leave descriptive/definitional settings and enter arguments. And it is this equivocation (i.e., the ontological ambiguity of Dussel’s superlative qualification of systems/totalities) that will engender the basic aporia at the heart of the entire system of liberation philosophy, and whose traces can be still found in contemporary decolonial theory more than four decades later.

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The central conceptual repercussion of the previously assessed semantic complication occurs most clearly in Sect. 2.4.3, “Being, Reality, and Distinction” in Philosophy of Liberation. One should read this passage closely. Dussel writes, If Being (esse) is the foundation of all systems, and of the system of systems that is the daily world, there is also reality beyond Being, just as there is also cosmos beyond the world. Being is like the horizon toward which and from which the phenomena of the world manifest themselves. It is the ontological foundation and identity; it is the light that illuminates the totality of the world. But beyond Being, transcending it, there is still reality. If reality is the order of the cosmic constitutions of things that are resistant, subsistent, “of themselves,” it is evident that there is reality beyond Being. How many cosmoses have never been incorporated into any world! Did not the reality of the primate come millions of years ago and then later the appearance of the world, of Being?15

The first sentence constitutes an argument that attempts to link Dussel’s ontological categories to those proper to metaphysics, which for Dussel consists in “knowing how to ponder the world from the exteriority of the other.”16 But this first argument is incorrect given Dussel’s own ontology. It does not follow that “there is also reality beyond Being” from the claim that being is the foundation of all systems. If being is the foundation of all systems, and the cosmos is a macrosystem more expansive than and inclusive of all other systems, then being is (also) the foundation of the cosmos. And if all systems, including the “system of systems that is the daily world” exist (within or grounded on being), then that which is beyond the phenomenological world is not beyond being, but merely beyond human sense and signification. Yet that which is beyond the totality of human sense and signification is, according to Dussel, the cosmos, or “the totality of real things, whether or not any human being knows them.”17 In Dusselian ontology, the cosmos indeed exists beyond the world, but both are totalities/systems grounded on being. Converted into consistent form, the argument’s core premise runs as follows: If being is the foundation of all systems, and the (phenomenological) world is a system, then being is the foundation of the (phenomenological) world. Here we see that the analogy in which some reality is posited as existing beyond being just as there is a cosmos beyond the (phenomenological) world is not really an analogy at all, but in fact a soberer conclusion that not only does not establish any reality beyond being, but that also does not add any new

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content to Dussel’s configuration of the relation between being, cosmos, and world. Even if one accepts Dussel’s distinction between being (esse) and beings (entia), his analogy concerning the cosmos and the world nevertheless remains unpersuasive. While beings can have beings beyond them (epistemologically, physically, perceptually, and temporally, for example), beyond being (esse) “is” nothing. An analogy or “simile must be the simile for something,” but beyond being nothing “exists.” Or, in Spinozan terms, “Things that have nothing in common with one another also cannot be understood through one another,” that is, one cannot understand being’s putative beyond by use of the concept of being.18 So when Dussel says, “If reality is the order of the cosmic constitutions of things that are resistant, subsistent, ‘of themselves,’ it is evident that there is reality beyond Being,” he makes an incorrect inference. What does follow is that, given his premises and the meaning of his concepts, there is reality beyond the phenomenological world. But this is the case, for Dussel, by definition. Dussel’s argument betrays an ontological aporia. The aforementioned argument constitutes the only one in Philosophy of Liberation for the existence of certain entities beyond being. Elsewhere this conclusion is merely assumed and “described.” But what exists beyond being according to Dussel? “Among the real things that retain exteriority to Being, one is found that has history, a biography, freedom: another person.”19 For Dussel, the other, or the other person, forms the basic unit of alterity and exteriority beyond being. The other constitutes a blend between the Levinasian other who calls the ego and philosophies of the same into question and the oppressed in general. On the one hand, Dussel writes, “As other than the system, that one [the other] is beyond Being. Inasmuch as Being is and non-Being is not, the other is not. If the other speaks, provokes, or demands, it is the verbal expression of non-Being.”20 Here Dussel seems to be agreeing with the Parmenidean principle of ontology that he associates with war, violence, empire, and the reduction of peripheral beings to non-beings. The phrase “Inasmuch as…” remains ambiguous, however, and it is not clear here whether or not Dussel believes that being admits of degrees. On the other hand, Dussel claims that “the ‘wretched of the earth’ (who are not nonbeing) are also real” and, “Only a person, and each person, is really a thing, res eventualis, a thing that has a history.”21 The other is a real thing, a being, and ostensibly only that which exists can be reduced to nonbeing, as Dussel claims that others can be.22 Perhaps Dussel means

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that the other exists insofar as X, and does not exist insofar as Y. But he does not formulate his argument along these lines. So, one cannot assume that this is what he means without fundamentally reworking the entire metaphysical and analectical framework of Philosophy of Liberation. Moreover, were he to make such a claim, it would significantly reduce the all-or-nothing status of the same vs. the other and the center vs. the periphery that he preserves and maps onto geopolitical spaces. Thus, one is left with the aporetic claim that the other is and is not beyond being. The problems do not end here, however. If “affirmation of absolute Exteriority is the affirmative and definitive precondition for liberation,”23 and yet the exteriority that is the other person does not remain absolute insofar as she in fact exists, and exists as part of certain economic, semiotic, political, and cultural systems, then Philosophy of Liberation does not consistently affirm the absolute exteriority of the other that is the sine qua non of liberation. The Philosophy of Liberation thus grinds to a halt given its own criteria. The aporia of an individual’s being beyond yet in relation to being (like Lucretius’ lance, as it were) is in a sense a corollary of the basic equivocity of Dussel’s superlative qualification of systems/totalities. The concepts of ‘alterity’ and ‘exteriority’ thus carry in their wake the issues that arose in the faulty argument for the existence of beings beyond being. Drawing inspiration from Dussel, Walter Mignolo also develops a notion of ‘colonial difference’ which, as Linda Alcoff correctly notes, has a metaphysical status within Mignolo’s theoretical work. For him, the coloniality of power “produces, evaluates, and manages the colonial difference”—an orchestration which essentially involves forms of signification and representation.24 Such a conception bears upon Mignolo’s conception of the geopolitics of knowledge. He states, for example, “To describe in ‘reality’ both sides of the border is not the problem. The problem is to do it from its exteriority (in Levinas’s sense).”25 And, “World-system analysis operates from inside the system, while dependency theory was a response from the exteriority of the system—not the exterior but the exteriority.”26 Here one can see how Dussel’s Levinasian ontology influences Mignolo’s epistemic commitments. Many of the latter’s arguments represent an extreme version of standpoint theory. Standpoint theorists typically hold that one’s position in the world can give one certain epistemic advantages and privileges. An African American woman, for example, will almost certainly have a deeper and more comprehensive familiarity with the intricate, day-to-day workings of racial and gendered oppression than a white man. Mignolo’s epistemology goes much further than such views, however,

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falling prey to the genetic fallacy. The central reason in his argument for why dependency theory proves better than world-systems analysis concerns claims about the origins of such theories. Dependency theory arises from a space that seems at once to be and not to be beyond being. In such an argument, the geographic dimensions of Philosophy of Liberation’s arguments become even more pronounced. Yet, insofar as Mignolo’s views about exteriority and the way this concept bears upon knowers and what can be known relies upon the ontological arguments of Philosophy of Liberation, such views do not in fact have solid ground on which to stand.

3.2   The Aporia of Religious Transcendence A second paradoxical stance that I call the ‘aporia of religious transcendence’ also constitutes a fundamental element of the differential approach to decolonizing knowledge. Said aporia is related to but not identifiable with the ontological aporia. By the ‘aporia of religious transcendence’ I mean the turn to religious or mythic resources in order to mediate and preserve hypostatized differences.27 The aporia of religious transcendence often involves a binary spatial imaginary between two incommensurable spheres, for example, between the natural and the supernatural, between being and its beyond, between those with a certain type of body and those without this form of embodiment, or between persons and metapersons. Again, the examination of this specific aporia serves as an indirect but productive way of broaching the knotty epistemological issue of ‘justification.’ In what follows, I will highlight this aporia in the work of a number of different authors, beginning again with Dussel’s philosophy. Dussel not only provides an argument for the existence of beings beyond being, but also time and again makes use of religious language such as epiphany, faith, and revelation to describe the other person’s paradoxical relation to being. As with Levinas’ reclamation of Plato’s ‘good beyond being,’ Dussel locates the origin of the good in the other: “Only the implorative provocation of the other, of the poor, unsettles the established order and the easy conscience of the dominator. The questioning of the oppressed, the protest of the poor, is the epiphany of the revelation of the Absolute.”28 Both the other and divinity are beyond being, beyond all possible systems, and one should only be an atheist, according to Dussel, vis-à-vis the center and fetishized forms of Western domination/divinization. While Dussel does not say that the other is God, he nevertheless claims “that the divine is other than all possible systems.”29 And since only

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the human other and oppressed peoples (as far as the philosophy of liberation goes) are extra-systemic realities,30 and since atheism for Dussel is only validly applied to that which is this-side of exteriority, one can assume that the other is divine in at least as equally ambiguous a sense as in Totality and Infinity. Moving between these spheres requires a form of faith, Faith means to accept the word of the other because the other reveals it— with no other motivation. What someone reveals to me has no criterion of certitude other than the very reality of the other as other. I do not accept what the other reveals to me because of the evidence of its content or because it is true…To believe is to fling oneself into empty space because the other has stated that at the bottom of the abyss there is water and there is no danger. This is metaphysical relationship par excellence—proximity, revelation, and faith.31

Here one can see that philosophy of liberation maintains a fideistic understanding of intersubjective relations and communication between human beings. Others speak in terms of revelation, according to Dussel, and one should not consider the truth-value or evidence of such claims, but accept them on faith as one would divine revelation. Such a position is aporetic, among other reasons, insofar as Dussel is offering a philosophy of liberation. At the very least, philosophy requires considering whether what one has been told is acceptable or unacceptable, and yet this critical reflection is precisely what Dussel would have one consign to the abyss when encountering another person. Earlier I argued that one could find traces of Dussel’s reading of Levinas mapped onto geographical spaces by Mignolo. Similarly, Dussel’s fideism bears a number of affinities to Mignolo’s ‘border gnosis,’ in which thinking in the uncertainties of the border finds its closest analogue in ancient Christian Gnosticism. Mignolo writes, “the relationship between faith and knowledge, a distinction we owe to the modern and secular conception of epistemology, needs to be rethought.”32 He describes ‘gnosis’ as a concept that includes both doxa and episteme, and thus effectively does away with the distinction between mere opinion and knowledge, arguing that the goal is not “to tell the truth over lies, but to think otherwise, to move toward ‘an other logic.’”33 On the one hand, there is an advantage to gnoseology, which “has no a priori commitments to placing the borders of knowledge in any given way,”34 namely, that the empirical question about how justification and truth operate in a specific context are left open for

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further inquiry, while normative assessments concerning justification and truth are tabled to prevent epistemological prejudices from taking root. On the other hand, gnoseology entails no general suggestions for distinguishing knowledge from non-knowledge, and in fact advises against such distinctions. But the necessities and trials of life do not allow for such detachment. To survive, even the skeptic must act upon what they presume to know. Furthermore, there are cases in which anticolonial struggles demand that one attempt to articulate why colonized knowledge is in fact knowledge, as occurs in cases of contemporary biopiracy. Abandoning epistemic criteria altogether does not suffice. In sum, Mignolo’s views, like those of Dussel, at best prove paradoxical. Both theorists ask their readers to accept the conclusions to their arguments which involve truth-­ claims and forms of justification, and they do so by suggesting that their readers at times elide basic questions about truth-value and justification. In this way, intersubjectivity in Dussel’s work and border gnosis in Mignolo’s work are better understood as theological categories rather than as philosophical ones. As with the genre testimonio, the aporia of religious transcendence re-­ emerges in decolonial theory in part because of an underlying evangelical sense of truth. One recent example among others can be found in the work of An Yountae.35 Yountae writes, (Theo)politics of creolization thus leads us ineluctably to cosmopolitics. If this cosmopolitics offers some kind of theological possibility, it indicates perhaps the possibility of conceiving the name of the divine right at the site where the cosmopolitical struggle of the creolized masses creates, uncreates, and recreates itself and its ground for a future of cosmopolitan justice and solidarity.36

Here again alterity pertains to specific types of individuals, namely, the creolized masses, and not to others as such. And such alterity opens up certain privileged theological possibilities, such as indicating the site where divine right might be conceived. Moreover, this cosmic and theological site grounds future political struggles for justice and solidarity. Yountae’s political theology in many ways serves as a culmination of the views of Dussel and Mignolo. Certain moral motivations lead to the elision of questions about justification by recourse to religious language. A moral concern for the disenfranchised motivates the consideration of the other, of those who inhabit

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exteriorities, and of the creolized masses as (quasi-)divine. But eliding questions about justification also harbors moral consequences. Take, for example, João Paulo Borges Coelho’s conception of the role of knowledges in contemporary rural Mozambique. Coelho argues that contemporary state formations have hampered and forestalled certain forms of popular, local, or common knowledge, such as the belief that, “Rain is a common good that can only be obtained by a (political) territorial chief who, for that purpose, calls on the spirit medium. Thus…rain ceremonies include recognition of the powers of the chief and of the people’s dependence on him. Only the chief and no one else can call for rain.”37 Suggesting that this form of popular knowledge has perhaps become less reliable due to recent transformations of state power, Coelho argues that such popular knowledge complements the predictive capacities of certain professional meteorologists. “The incorporation of [popular knowledge], besides ensuring popular participation in prevention, complements formal academic knowledge, which, in the field of forecasting, is far from being infallible or absolute, and thus needs to move away from a positivist and exclusivist posture so as to be able to welcome new perspectives and interpretations.”38 Here, Coelho overrides questions about evidence and justification by means of a moral critique of academic meteorological knowledge. He calls to mind a caricature of meteorological knowledge to condemn it, and does not actually compare the efficacy of chief-mediated rain rituals with meteorology. The argument does not demonstrate the possible or actual reliability of the evidence provided by chiefs, but instead rests on the mere hope that the reader will accept the complementarity of popular views and meteorological models for the moral reason that being epistemically inclusive here outweighs being epistemically discerning. Yet it would be unethical to believe a spirit medium over a well-trained meteorologist’s predictions because of the type of evidence and form of explanation each is able to provide in principle. If one does not believe the evidence provided by a meteorologist tracking a destructive storm because a chief has not called for rain, and if one thereby refuses to insist that others take necessary precautions for this storm, then one acts unwisely and unethically. It is not the case that the possible or actual evidence provided about a chief’s relation to weather via a spirit could be complimentary in regard to the meteorological prediction of weather. The modes of explanation are not at all similar, as were the forms of astronomical explanation and prediction in Monterroso’s “El eclipse.” To call both rain rituals as well as contemporary meteorological models ‘knowledge’ amounts to

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stretching the term so far that it can no longer differentiate between known and unknown claims. In this regard, Coelho’s arguments might be considered gnoseological. The views examined above demonstrate that, at least among some exemplars of the differential approach to epistemic decolonization, the aporia of religious transcendence either leads one to accept an undiscerning concept of justification or to occasionally do without it. Such positions overlook a number of glaring problems. Certain important questions are delegitimized or set aside, for example: How could humans know anything about that which is beyond being or about divine right? What would justify one group’s claims about divine right over another group’s assertions? (It is not as though disenfranchised others all agree with one another). Can revelations or epiphanies be false, and if not, what reasons could support such a belief? And, should one join the newest violent millenarian movement or not? The aporia of religious transcendence effectively depoliticizes such questions, brushing them under the rug. And yet these questions may involve matters of life and death. Secondly, the theories of Dussel, Mignolo, and Yountae (among others) rely upon Christian theology, and in more ways than I have noted above. But Christianity in general has deeply united and motivated colonialist ventures for centuries on end, especially those from the fifteenth century onward. It has a bad track record, to put it lightly. Prior to the emergence of Christianity, many Near Eastern empires, such as that of the Hittites, did not perceive the foreign gods of newly acquired domains as conquered, nor were their images destroyed. Rather, foreign gods often became incorporated into an empire’s pantheon itself. The rivals of the Hittite Empire in New Kingdom Egypt likewise adopted (and sometimes confused) goddesses like Astarte and Asherah from subject domains like Canaan (Retenu) for their own purposes.39 When Christianity joins forces with empire after the time of Constantine, however, its evangelical propensities find universalizing outlets. A new imperial iconoclasm supersedes older imperial syncretisms. The penultimate line of the Gospel of Matthew hereby takes on a real, global-political aura, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Matt 28: 19–20). Nor has Christianity’s attempts to fashion the world in its own image ceased today. To cite just one contemporary example, Christianity was an obvious ideological component of the Bush administration’s imperialism, which has continued not only through

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military occupation, but also through the work of corporations. Hobby Lobby recently pilfered over 5,500 Mesopotamian artifacts from US-occupied Iraq, actions which it avowedly and correctly considered to be “consistent with the company’s mission and passion for the Bible.”40 While Christianity might not be inherently colonialist, the imperial history of Christendom raises a number of red flags about turning to it as a viable ally. But uncritically turning to Indigenous religious conceptions will not resolve the underlying aporia either. To provide one example, some religious conceptions emerge among Indigenous populations in which colonists in fact become deified.41 How should one act in contexts where Fray Bartolomé’s lie has not been rejected but instead has become deeply ensconced? It would be quite difficult to accept such views and be effectively anticolonialist at the same time. The very possibility of such problems intimates the need to seek another route out of the present aporia.

3.3   The Aporia of Double Truth Doctrines I call the final aporia to be examined the ‘aporia of double truth doctrines.’ By this concept I mean an acceptance of the possibility that two different spheres of thinking can arrive at logically incompatible propositions which are nonetheless both true at the same time and in the same sense. The two different spheres of thinking might be those of philosophy and religion, reason and faith, sameness and alterity, the etic and the emic, one culture and another, and so forth. As with the previous aporias, theorists accept the aporia of double truth doctrines in part for moral reasons. One accepts a diversity of different claims to truth and falsity just as one accepts different cultural customs and tastes, and this norm extends so far as to include logically incompatible claims. In “Towards the Decolonization of the Mind,” Stephen A.  Marglin attempts to establish a framework for a new theory of truth and falsity, drawing from a hypothetical example involving Aztec individuals. A portion of his argument merits quoting at length, Imagine the priestess called upon to explain the consequences of a failure to sacrifice the requisite virgins in the requisite manner. She might well say, ‘Society will fall apart. Our women and our land will become barren because our men will become impotent as lovers and ineffective as cultivators.’ And she will be right. Believing themselves to be impotent in the hammock and

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ineffective in the field, the men will be unable to perform in either context. The birth rate will decline, and the harvest will fail. Society will fall apart. Believing is seeing: beliefs bring about the very conditions that will make these beliefs come true. Ah, but if you changed their beliefs? Ah, but if you change their beliefs, they won’t be Aztecs anymore. Precisely what is at stake is the power of belief to affect the world, so it will not do to modify the thought experiment to eliminate this factor. It is precisely belief which creates the necessity of sacrifice; sacrifice is efficacious within a particular cultural framework because people believe in it. By contrast, the natural world is not six thousand years old regardless of who may believe it. Thus propositions like ‘the gods require human sacrifice’ are culturally contingent in a way that propositions like ‘the earth is flat’ are not: there is no way of assessing their truth or falsity apart from people’s beliefs; it is as if the earth cared whether you or I thought it was flat or six thousand years old… Evidently we need a terminology for distinguishing, not science from ethics, but the roles of belief in two classes of interaction of agents with the world, or more simply, between belief in two classes of propositions. Borrowing from Keynes (1921), I propose to use the label organic for propositions the truth of which depends on the beliefs of agents, and the label atomic for propositions the truth of which is independent of these beliefs. It is my assertion that propositions about the world of things and plants are atomic, while many if not all propositions about the world of human beings, the world of social relationships, are organic. (Note that the world of animals is an ambiguous one. The belief that my dog can point birds may be efficacious in training her; the belief that your elephant can fly is probably not similarly efficacious.) This being the case, there is no way of assessing the truth or falsity of organic discourse apart from people’s beliefs. There is not only no objective truth in this realm, there is no objective falsehood either.42

In this passage, Marglin provides a thought experiment, answers possible objections, and distinguishes between different types of propositions. I want to proceed through each portion of the argument and assess its central claims in order to evaluate his conclusion. First, Marglin’s argument opens with a thought experiment in which a priestess gives an explanation for her belief in the social, cultural, reproductive, and economic repercussions of a failure to make sacrifices to the gods, to which Marglin responds emphatically that she will be right about these predicted effects. To begin, I agree with Marglin that different beliefs can have different effects, and the case at hand concerns something like ‘self-fulfilling prophecies.’ If a soccer player does not believe in her

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ability to strike the ball well, then she will likely strike the ball with less accuracy than a confident player with equal skill. But the situation of the priestess does not fall within the category of self-fulfilling prophecies. Rather, the inference on offer involves reasoning by means of a slippery slope, a variety of the false cause fallacy.43 It is not at all likely that failing to perform human sacrifice would produce the effects listed. And it is not likely that alterations in religious perceptions of the world would override a sizeable group’s basic drives for sex, forms of social cooperation, and the acquisition of sustenance. Some beliefs certainly have a strong influence on behavior and social institutions, but human beings and whole societies are simply too adaptive and desirous to let alterations in particular religious beliefs entirely override sociobiological needs and drives. Even if this need not be the case for every individual, its being the case for most would mean that one need not accept the prediction about the collapse of the empire under question as at all likely. One can fully accept Marglin’s idea that certain beliefs can affect and/or bring about social realities (for example, all institutional facts) without accepting the slippery slope on offer.44 One can see why the inference at hand proves unlikely if one entertains an analogy, however imperfect. Take a different case understood to involve human (and divine) sacrifice ritually mediated by priests. Roman Catholics have long considered the doctrine of transubstantiation, in which bread and wine are thought to transform into the body and blood of Jesus, to be a central and highly important sacrament. Catholics believe that the Eucharist brings certain graces with it. One can imagine a medieval European Catholic priest arguing, like Marglin’s priestess, that to do away with such a belief and practice would lead to the collapse of European society as a whole—as people will become devoid of divine grace, fail to fulfil a command of the Son of God, and thereby likely incite God’s wrath. Yet the Protestant Reformation challenged this very doctrine, among other things, and European cities did not collapse as a result of this one alteration. Religious worldviews as a whole prove incredibly malleable and resilient. Such malleability and resilience might be thought of as one reason why religions have such long lifespans. For all of their differences, I see no reason why one should think that Aztec worldviews would not be similarly pliable, adaptable, and durable. For Marglin, the priestess’ explanation is right in happening to provide a correct prediction regardless of the reasons she gives in support of her prediction. In such a case, the priestess holds an inadvertently true belief. If one holds that her belief amounts to ‘knowledge,’ then other cases of

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inadvertently true belief, regardless of the reasons that support such a belief, would also seem to count as knowledge. But there are many cases in which such a position seems counter-intuitive, to say the least. When someone guesses how many people live in a distant, unfamiliar city, even if her guess happens to be correct, it would seem strange to label her guess ‘knowledge.’ Similarly, if a priestess claims to know that ceasing the practice of human sacrifice will lead to the destruction of her civilization, even if the former event actually seemed to bring about the latter, one would still typically ask how one could know such things. If the reasons given increasingly beg newer and greater questions, then the epistemological problems will have not been resolved, but have multiplied. The second paragraph of Marglin’s argument introduces a response to an imaginary interlocutor who objects to the necessity of human sacrifice. Marglin’s response consists in claiming that such a ritual is constitutive of the sociocultural identification at hand: being-Aztec. The normative consideration of whether or not Aztecs should sacrifice humans is thus delegitimized because such a belief, Marglin claims, upholds the social, political, reproductive, and economic fabric of the Aztec empire. He argues that one cannot inquire into the truth or falsity of such a belief because the belief stabilizes the Aztec world. But there is at least one reasonable objection to this argument, namely, that Marglin conflates the felicitousness of statements with their truth-value. But the efficaciousness of a statement and its truth-value are not the same thing. For example, the statement “The meeting is now in session” might in one case be felicitous as a performative utterance, making it the case that the meeting really has begun with such a pronouncement, in part because all present believe this to be the case. Here, and at this time, a description of the situation from an outside observer, “The meeting is now in session” would be true. Yet at any time in which said meeting was not in fact in session, and an outside observer utters this latter claim, such a claim would be false. So, it does prove possible to assess the truth or falsity of socially efficacious propositions. Lastly, Marglin distinguishes between two types of propositions, one (organic) pertaining to propositions “the truth of which depends on the beliefs of agents,” and another (atomic), “the truth of which is independent of these beliefs.” There are certainly examples of cases where such a distinction might prove useful. For instance, “The earth is a few thousand years old” would exemplify a proposition whose truth is not dependent on the beliefs of human beings. The statement is false. On the other hand, a

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claim like “You can buy a one-way train ticket for $6” would seem to comprise an organic proposition. If no one believed that currency had value, then currency would have no value. Marglin then restates a key premise, namely, that “there is no way of assessing the truth or falsity of organic discourse apart from people’s beliefs.” Such an idea is entailed in his definition of ‘organic proposition.’ However, Marglin then concludes that “There is not only no objective truth in this realm, there is no objective falsehood either.” If by “this realm” he means the realm of organic propositions, then the conclusion does not follow. First, it is not the case that the truth of organic propositions depends on any particular individual or even many individuals. The truth of the statement “You can buy a one-way train ticket for $6” does not depend upon any particular individual after the emergence of monetary institutions. My friends and I cannot decide that the value of a one-­ way train ticket is really $4 as if the former organic proposition were dependent upon our beliefs. While one must specify the context in which the statement occurs, within that context, a one-way train ticket either costs $6 at a particular time and place or it does not. When speaking about the future, like the priestess, one needs to take probability into consideration. For example, I might make a claim about who will be the president of Sierra Leone tomorrow, and do so by qualifying my statement with greater or lesser likelihood. In this case, the social role in question could not have been instituted without the large-scale coordination and maintenance of certain collective beliefs, norms, and institutions. Nevertheless, unless one holds that all instances of knowledge must amount to certain knowledge à la Descartes, in which no degree of probability can be admitted, then some propositions concerning future social realities can indeed count as knowledge. The foregoing argument inhabits the aporia of double truth doctrines because Marglin first argues that an Aztec priestess’ organic proposition is true, and concludes that one cannot speak of objective truth or falsehood in the realm of organic propositions. Here one can see how the aporia of double truth doctrines harbors a corollary paradox. One often accepts the aporia of double truth doctrines for practical reasons, namely, in order to deescalate and mitigate conflicts between what seem to be incommensurable spheres of life. For example, one of Marglin’s goals seems to consist in finding a way to prevent the intercultural politics of truth from escalating into acts of intercultural political violence (a noble cause). But practicality demands that one evaluate the truth-value, coherence, and predictive likelihood of claims. If one priestess says that ceasing to sacrifice humans

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will lead to complete societal collapse and another priestess says that it will not, they cannot both be right. Nor can one take both claims as true and then act accordingly. Practically speaking, one must still request their reasons for such beliefs and then assess those reasons, working through the contradiction at hand. It is my sense that many people around the world— not just salaried epistemologists—ask for such reasons on a daily basis, especially when the claims on offer appear extreme, counter-intuitive, or potentially dangerous. I do not think this should be discouraged. * * * The foregoing sections examined a number of central aporias that one can uncover among the presuppositions of those who adopt what I call the differential approach to decolonizing knowledge. ‘Decolonization’ for such theorists and activists largely consists in maintaining, restoring, or reviving differences between the colonized and the colonizer—what Mignolo calls “the colonial difference.” In an attempt to address such issues, thinkers have adopted a particular notion of difference from poststructuralist and postcolonial theory. And because of its centrality, said concept of difference impinges upon the realms of ontology, religion, and truth as discussed by contemporary thinkers. One positive outcome of such endeavors has been to increase awareness about the cultural origins and limits of various forms of philosophical expression. The differential approach to decolonizing knowledge also highlights the way in which seemingly abstract philosophical issues actually have a bearing on issues with global political import. Such advancements should not be taken lightly. Nonetheless, many problems and questions remain. These problems are both deeply theoretical and pressingly practical. The aporias analyzed in this chapter are not negligible toy problems. They are rather core philosophical positions with a notional magnetism between themselves and which orient their proponents to the world in very specific ways. Where one aporia emerges, others tend to be drawn toward it in order to lend it support. Yet, an increasing number of paradoxes does not facilitate making practical choices but only renders them more difficult. In the next two chapters, I will explore the work of two organic intellectuals whose views on ontology, religion, and truth differ radically from the theories explored in this chapter. These philosophies of a revolutionary-socialist orientation demonstrate an approach to epistemic decolonization which succumbs to fewer problems than that of the differential orientation.

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Notes 1. Ortega, “Decolonial Woes and Practices of Un-knowing”, 511. Castro would agree: “The flourishing industry of criticisms of the Westernising character of all dualisms has called for the abandonment of our conceptually dichotomous heritage, but to date the alternatives have not quite gone beyond the stage of wishful unthinking.” See Castro, The Relative Native, 197. 2. Steinbeck, East of Eden, 131. 3. Peperzak, To the Other, 91. 4. Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” 80, 92, & 90. 5. For a brief history of the emergence of the Modernity/Coloniality Research Program, see Escobar, “Worlds and Knowledges Otherwise.” For an incredibly informative history of philosophy in Latin America in the twentieth century, see Dussel, “Philosophy in Latin America in the Twentieth Century.” 6. Plato, Parmenides, 166b and Fraser, “School of Names”. 7. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 48. 8. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 68–69. 9. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 22–23, 107, 117, and 119. 10. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 22. 11. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 23. 12. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 30. Things for Dussel are substantive realities “whose constitutive notes are closed or really independent as a whole… A thing is read ‘of itself,’ from within itself, a moment of the cosmos.” The cosmos is described by Dussel as one thing, with an essence, and existing of itself. Insofar as the cosmos functions as a macrosystemic thing, and insofar as its smaller systems/totalities form independent and closed wholes within the cosmos, they are also (highly complex) things. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 37 and 109–110. 13. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 109. 14. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 23 and 41. 15. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 41. 16. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 48. 17. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 23. On the following page he writes, “Against idealism, I claim the cosmos is a partially real anteriority.” But this move toward realism, which is affirmed elsewhere, remains entirely ambiguous. How is the cosmos only a partially real anteriority, and anterior in regard to what? In effect, Dussel cannot answer this question because the other will become absolute anteriority in its divinization, and so contends with the cosmos as the “anteriority of anteriorities.” 18. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Occasions, 42–43 and Spinoza, Ethics, A5.

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19. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 41. 20. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 51. 21. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 10 and 102. 22. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 55–56. 23. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 99. 24. Alcoff, “Mignolo’s Epistemology of Coloniality”, 99 and 87. 25. Mignolo, Local Histories/Global Designs, 18. For a brief characterization of Dussel’s influence on Mignolo’s thought, see Castro-Gómez, “(Post) Coloniality for Dummies”, 273. 26. Mignolo, “The Geopolitics of Knowledge and the Colonial Difference”, 230. 27. For some examples of ways in which I understand mythology to be usable for the sake of critique, see Wood, “Sylvan Passages.” 28. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 102. 29. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 99. 30. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 69. 31. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 47. Dussel’s argument far exceeds other more reasonable alternatives to questions of epistemic exploitation, in which trust plays a key role in relations between individuals who inhabit different identities and circumstances, yet which does not amount to anything like fideism. See, e.g., Berenstain, “Epistemic Exploitation.” 32. Mignolo, Local Histories/Global Designs, 8 and 12. 33. Mignolo, Local Histories/Global Designs, 69–70. 34. Alcoff, “Mignolo’s Epistemology of Coloniality”, 96. 35. Beverly, Testimonio, 80. 36. Yountae, The Decolonial Abyss, 7. 37. Coelho, “The State, the Community, and Natural Calamities in Rural Mozambique”, 230. 38. Coelho, “The State, the Community, and Natural Calamities in Rural Mozambique”, 236. 39. Trimm, Fighting for the King and the Gods, 397–399 and Wilson, Women of Canaan. Egypt even once requested a statue of Ishtar from Nineveh, probably for her healing powers. See Liverani, The Ancient Near East, 285–286. 40. Maddox, “The ‘Crusade’ against Evil: Bush’s Fundamentalism”; Gettlemen, “Americans’ Role seen in Ugandan Anti-Gay Push”; and Feuer, “Hobby Lobby Agrees to Forfeit 5,500 Artifacts Smuggled Out of Iraq”. 41. See Dennett, Breaking the Spell, 99–100; López, “Interactions between ‘Colonial’ and ‘Indigenous’ Astronomies”, 207; and Trompf, Cargo Cults and Millenarian Movements.

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42. Marglin, “Towards the Decolonization of the Mind”, 13–15. 43. Hurley, A Concise Introduction to Logic, 146. 44. I draw my understanding of institutional facts from Searle, The Social Construction of Reality.

References Alcoff, Linda Martín. 2007. Mignolo’s Epistemology of Coloniality. CR: The New Centennial Review 7 (3): 79–101. Berenstain, Nora. 2016. Epistemic Exploitation. Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 3 (22): 569–590. Beverly, John. 2004. Testimonio: On the Politics of Truth. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Castro, Eduardo Viveiros de. 2015. The Relative Native: Essays On Indigenous Conceptual Worlds. Chicago: Hau Books. Castro-Gómez, Santiago. 2008. (Post) Coloniality for Dummies. In Coloniality at Large: Latin America and the Postcolonial Debate. Latin America Otherwise, ed. Walter D. Mignolo and Arturo Escobar. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Coelho, João Paulo Borges. 2008. The State, the Community, and Natural Calamities in Rural Mozambique. In Another Knowledge is Possible: Beyond Northern Epistemologies, ed. Boaventura de Sousa Santos. New York: Verso. Dennett, Daniel. 2006. Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. London: Penguin Books. Dussel, Enrique. 2003a. Philosophy in Latin America in the Twentieth Century: Problems and Currents. In Latin American Philosophy: Currents, Issues, Debates, ed. Eduardo Mendieta. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ———. 2003b. Philosophy of Liberation. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock. Escobar, Arturo. 2010. Works and Knowledges Otherwise: The Latin American Modernity/Coloniality Research Program. In Globalization and the Decolonial Option, ed. Walter D. Mignolo and Arturo Escobar. London: Routledge. Feuer, Alan. July 5, 2017. Hobby Lobby Agrees to Forfeit 5,500 Artifacts Smuggled Out of Iraq. New York Times. Fraser, Chris. 2017. School of Names. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Spring Edition, ed. Edward N.  Zalta. Zalta. https://plato.stanford.edu/ archives/spr2017/entries/school-names/. Gettlemen, Jeffrey. January 4, 2010. Americans’ Role seen in Ugandan Anti-Gay Push. New York Times. Hurley, Patrick J. 2012. A Concise Introduction to Logic. Boston, MA: Wadworth Publishing. Liverani, Mario. 2014. The Ancient Near East: History, Society and Economy. Translated by Soraia Tabatabai. London: Routledge.

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López, Alejandro Martín. 2015. Interactions Between ‘Indigenous’ and ‘Colonial’ Astronomies: Adaptation of Indigenous Astronomies in the Modern World. In Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy. New York: Springer. Maddox, Graham. 2003. The ‘Crusade’ Against Evil: Bush’s Fundamentalism. Australian Journal of Politics & History 49 (3): 398–411. Marglin, Stephen A. 1996. Towards the Decolonization of the Mind. In Decolonizing Knowledge: From Development to Dialogue, ed. Frédérique Apffel-­ Marglin and Stephen A. Marglin. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Mignolo, Walter. 2000. Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ———. 2008. The Geopolitics of Knowledge and the Colonial Difference. In Coloniality at Large: Latin America and the Postcolonial Debate. Latin America Otherwise. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Ortega, Mariana. 2017. Decolonial Woes and Practices of Un-knowing. Journal of Speculative Philosophy 31 (3): 504–516. Peperzak, Adriaan. 1993. To the Other: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press. Plato. 1961. Parmenides. In The Collected Dialogues of Plato Including the Letters, ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Searle, John. 1995. The Construction of Social Reality. New York: The Free Press. Spinoza, Benedictus de. 1994. Ethics. In A Spinoza Reader: The Ethics and Other Works. Translated by Edwin Curley. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. 1988. Can the Subaltern Speak? In Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, ed. C. Nelson and L. Grossberg, 66–111. Macmillan Education: Basingstoke. Steinbeck, John. 1992. East of Eden. New York: Penguin Books. Trimm, Charlie. 2017. Fighting for the King and Fighting for the Gods: A Survey of Warfare in the Ancient Near East. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature. Trompf, G.W. 1990. Cargo Cults and Millenarian Movements: Transoceanic Comparisons of New Religious Movements. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co. Wilson, Eleanor Amico. 2013. Women of Canaan: The Status of Women at Ugarit. Whitewater, WI: Heartwell Productions. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 2009. Philosophical Investigations. Translated by G.E.M.  Anscombe, P.M.S.  Hacker and Joachim Schulte. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Wood, Dan. 2017. Sylvan Passages. Azure: A Journal of Literary Thought 2: 4. Yountae, An. 2007. The Decolonial Abyss: Mysticism and Cosmopolitics from the Ruins. New York: Fordham University Press.

CHAPTER 4

The Fanonian Alternative

This chapter and the next examine the work of Frantz Fanon and Amílcar Cabral as representatives of what I call the ‘revolutionary-socialist approach’ to epistemic decolonization.1 I give their approach this name because both organic intellectuals were revolutionaries who were concerned with the armed overthrow of the colonial state and because both endorsed radically egalitarian social, political, and economic programs significantly influenced by Marxist theory and practice.2 Further nuances peculiar to this tradition will become clearer as the argument develops. In what follows, I examine the same three philosophical domains explored in the previous chapter, namely, those of ontology, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of truth. I examine Fanon and Cabral’s ontologies because knowers, knowledge, and that which is known presumably exist in some particular fashion and so getting a better sense of the ontological leanings of the revolutionary-socialist approach will in part clarify their epistemological commitments. I examine their philosophy of religion since this sphere provides a helpful litmus test for grasping the liberality of a theorist’s epistemological conception of justification. Finally, I explore Fanon and Cabral’s conceptions of truth since truth constitutes a necessary condition of knowledge. If Stuart Hall was correct to label Les Damnés de la terre the “Bible of decolonisation,”3 this is less because of its unquestionable sacredness than due to the innumerable incompatible interpretations to which it has given rise. There are at least three central, apparent contradictions of profound © The Author(s) 2020 D. A. Wood, Epistemic Decolonization, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49962-4_4

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philosophical relevance in Fanon’s work. These apparent contradictions pertain to matters of immanence, ontology, and truth-value. While much of what he wrote was not merely rhetorical, Fanon was nevertheless a powerful rhetorician, very widely read, and a deeply original organic intellectual. The apparent contradictions of Fanon’s work alongside his numerous implicit references and knack for explosive rhetoric have given rise to a variety of interpretations in regard to these three themes, some of which I—respectfully—consider to miss the mark. In this chapter I dissolve these apparent contradictions and provide more adequate approaches to interpreting their theoretical significance in such a way as to highlight the coherence, parsimoniousness, and practicability of Fanon’s philosophical vision. Each apparent contradiction can be put in terms of questions. In regard to immanence, or the secular “affirmation of the powers of this world”4 in contrast to a divine or supernatural realm, the aporia that Fanon would seem to fall into can be summarized in this way: (1) How can Fanon both criticize and claim to defend certain groups that he considers to be unreasonably religious while using religious terms, phrases, and imagery for his own arguments? The ontological question can be framed as follows: (2) How is it that Fanon can speak of a “zone of nonbeing,” and of the colonized as a different species from the colonizers, and yet at the same time strongly disavow the notion of ontological separatism between races as outrageous?5 And the alethic question can be phrased thus: (3) How is it that, for Fanon, it is possible that “Consciousness stumbles upon partial, finite, and shifting truths” on both sides of the colonial divide while at the same time the colonial situation itself functions as a generalized lie in which even medical objectivity is nearly always-already vitiated?6 In the subsequent sections, I dissolve these apparent contradictions in Fanon’s work, and thereby offer a critical contribution to the various extant discussions regarding religion, ontology, and truth in Fanon’s work.

4.1   Fanon’s Critique of Religion and Priestly Classes Fanon speaks of hell, of the last becoming first, and uses the religion of Manicheanism as a central metaphor for grasping the reality of colonialism. But he also harshly criticizes religious beliefs and the ways in which such beliefs deter from the more important task of social, political, and economic transformation. Can this seemingly contradictory orientation be

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shown to be consistent? In this first section I argue that one can indeed show a general consistency in Fanon’s critiques of claims and practices concerning transcendent realities. While Fanon does not refer to his own position as one of immanence, nevertheless such a concept provides a helpful metaphor for gathering together his various critiques of priestly classes, religious beliefs, and his ironic reversals of theological tropes. Fanon was an atheist. And the fact that Fanon was an atheist really matters. His atheism not only matters because of the parsimoniousness it gives his philosophy of immanence, but also because atheists and religious individuals typically have vastly different background modal assumptions (i.e., concerning what is possible, necessary, and/or contingent), and because said background modal assumptions often lead to immensely different factive and normative assessments of political realities. But even by beginning to define his views on transcendence negatively, one has already struck on a central problem of which he was well-aware. Atheism is defined by its hegemonic theist other not unlike blackness is characterized by its hegemonic white other. The atheist is someone whose very identification evinces that she is socially defined as a negation of the (poly-, heno-, myria-, mono-, etc.) theistic norms of a particular dominant group. The status quo of various sorts of theism and its effect on language means that at the outset, one is limited to stating what Fanon was not. That is, entrance into the question of Fanon’s philosophy of immanence has no choice but to address itself to the gatekeeper that is religion. Likewise, blackness, as Fanon notes, is understood as the impure privation of alleged white fullness, beauty, and divinity. Thus the black atheist (Fanon) finds himself in the predicament of being doubly identified by hegemonic negations before any conversation has begun at all. And, as one can see from his engagement with Hegel’s Master-Slave dialectic and his critique of Sartre’s dialectical presentation of negritude in Orphée Noire, Fanon was not fond of being told how he would inevitably respond to dialectical negation.7 Just as the slave is not beholden to an a priori Hegelian scheme, so too is Fanon no more an “atheist” and “non-white” at core, or in himself, than he is an “a-unicornist” or a “featherless biped.” But the generalized lie of the colonial situation, because of its Manichean structure, produces such negative (in the moralizing sense and in the sense of determination/delimitation) identifications. Immediately, then, one should reaffirm Fanon’s correction of Fichte’s conception of the I in regard to the former’s atheism, insofar as the human being is not only a negation but also an affirmation.8 Fanon was a black atheist, but also and always-already

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more than the sum of such negative determinations as these are variably articulated in milieus where gods and racism reign. Being black and being an atheist are not privations. How did Fanon orient himself in regard Roman Catholicism, (Sunni) Islam, Judaism, and other local forms of religious expression in the Francophone world in which he frequently moved? I will first consider two current hypotheses on this topic, and then will offer an alternative. First, Michael Lackey argues that the critique of the underlying theological and religious aspects of colonization was central to Fanon’s conception of decolonization. I think this is correct and I would add that said critique is not only important for Fanon’s approach to political decolonization but also to epistemic decolonization. That said, Lackey’s main argument concerning Fanon’s approach to theology and “theological culture” is mistaken. The former posits that, according to Fanon, without the sophisticated structures of theology, colonization would not exist…Colonization leads inevitably to various forms of psychosis, neurosis, and alienation, so merely existing as a colonized person within a colonized land would lead to some form of mental illness. Given this logic, if it can be shown that theology is the basis and foundation for colonization, then the theological culture would be primarily responsible for the culture’s mental illness.9

Lackey’s first premise here is mistaken. Fanon never claims that colonization would not exist without theology, however broadly understood. That he considered Christianity to be of a piece with colonialist oppression is undeniable. But this is a claim about one aspect of actuality, not about possibility. I do not think that he would defend the idea that ‘theological culture’ would have been ‘primarily responsible’ in the etiology of mental illness or distress in the colonial world or elsewhere. There are many causes of mental illness and distress for Fanon—social, cultural, political, economic, hereditary, and so forth—and he is attuned to cases of mental distress/illness in which religious beliefs become heightened and much more intense.10 But, to my knowledge, he nowhere suggests that theological culture or colonial Christianity would have been the basic cause of mental illness when compared, for instance, to processes such as trauma or the constant economic oppression of the colonized. In regard to Lackey’s corollary premises and conclusion, while Fanon does argue that colonization plays a major causal role in neuroses among the colonized, the claim that

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“merely existing as a colonized person within a colonized land would lead to some form of mental illness” is also too strong. For example, Fanon spent time in colonized Algeria, Ghana, Mali, and Angola, and his own existence can be understood as colonized in a variety of tangible ways. Yet while he certainly experienced alienation in the Marxian sense (Entfremdung), it is not clear that he would have considered himself to exhibit a diagnosable mental illness or form of psychological alienation (aliénation). Would Fanon really argue that every member, for example, of the anticolonial movements in the aforementioned states exhibited a mental illness? The universality of such claims strikes me as an over-extension of Fanon’s psychiatric and political arguments. Federico Settler, on the other hand, suggests that Fanon’s approach to religion is best characterized as ambivalent. On this reading, Fanon struggled to bring into consistency his belief that religions are often “primitive, terrifying and pre-modern” and his conviction that the colonized individuals who live by such traditions are in no way ‘savage’ or ‘barbarian’, but human beings with inalienable dignity. While in large part a descriptive account, Settler’s underlying critical point is that, “Ultimately his ambivalence towards religions leaves Fanon unable to expel colonial representations of the black as superstitious, primitive and child-like from his theories of transformation.”11 The implication of this account expresses a fundamental liberal-multiculturalist maxim: Fanon is exclusionary of certain cultural and religious practices/beliefs where he in fact should have been in some way more open to and tolerant of them. But if Settler’s imagined reader interprets Fanon’s critique of religion as an infantilization of Black individuals, then said reader has made a hasty generalization that Fanon himself never makes. Colonized peoples are not primitive and puerile for Fanon, but to an extent forced by colonialism into cultural mummification and muteness.12 And insofar as various religious beliefs and practices are themselves cultural or inseparable from cultural conventions, practices, and forms of life, said religions are not immune to the aforementioned process. Rather than portray Fanon’s position in regard to religion as ambivalent, oscillating between two opposed goals, one should instead understand his approach to religion as a nuanced and consistent orientation that is in part a response originating out of his own negatively determined subject position as an atheist, and thereby socially coded as abnormal. To criticize religion for a variety of political, scientific, and practical reasons and to simultaneously promote different forms of liberation does not

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amount to an ambivalence, but is perfectly consistent with an anticolonial atheist humanism. Fanon considered religion in countless ways to inhibit freedom, equality, and prosocial intersubjective relations, and so his criticism of religion should be understood as part and parcel of his advocacy of liberation, not as a set of prejudicial slippages. Aside from offering analyses and arguments, Fanon avowedly wrote to affect others, and this methodological choice also extends to his critique of religion. One can understand the apparent ambivalence of Fanon’s critical orientation toward matters of religious transcendence by using a distinction he provides. In Les Damnés de la terre, Fanon distinguishes between concession (compromis) and compromise (compromission).13 The former designates certain advantages won by a people from a colonialist power in an anticolonial struggle. Fanon cautions that such concessions are to be understood as won by the struggle, and not as gifts from a colonialist power indicative of any real, fundamental change on their part. ‘Compromise,’ on the other hand, denotes any negotiation between colonialist and anticolonialist forces whereby the positions of the latter are watered-down, allowing for clandestine in-routes for the establishment of neocolonial relations. Fanon notes that while the former are acceptable, given that they are understood as achieved through struggle, the latter should never be accepted. I argue that Fanon’s critical approach to religious discourses and practices can be understood not as fundamentally ambivalent but as the careful mobilization of this distinction. To the extent that aspects of religion can be separated from their subordination to the fused power of religious authorities and reoriented toward disalienating ends, one can make certain circumscribed concessions to religious discourses and practices. Because the average atheist inhabits a world which for others seems to be populated or influenced by divine agents of one sort or another, she must make certain concessions in order to effectuate a variety of desired normative changes. For instance, in the culturally relativist reforms carried out in the Hôpital Blida-Joinville, Fanon instituted the celebration of Muslim holidays and celebrations, and showed a great concern to understand madness from the perspective of Muslim Algerians. In the hospital’s newspaper he reminds his staff, Whatever the religious attitudes that one adopts, daily life is given rhythm by a certain number of sounds, and church bells represent an important element of this symphony. There is a poetry of the Angelus in France that the peasant attached to the earth lives in a very profound way. It is very probable

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that in Algeria, in the small urban areas, there also exists this sonorous melody.14

Indeed, at least in an upper room of a typical house in the Tangiers’ Casbah during Ramadan, with windows open to the neighborhood’s rebounding acoustics, calls to prayer echo from and between the labyrinthine neighborhood alleyways such that the song seems to come from everywhere at once. Fanon understood that one could not neatly separate the religious aspects of the lives of his Muslim patients from the attempt to assist them in recovery and return to life outside of the hospital. He also became familiar with Kabyle exorcisms and ceremonies that celebrated local saints in his trips to the Algerian interior while working in Blida, and one of his doctoral students was studying “the role of djnoun (djinns) in Algerian psychopathology.”15 But the concessions made within the hospital were largely ritual and aesthetic. Fanon does not, for example, concede that djinns might actually exist and be causally related to madness. Instead, he notes that “If the doctor begins to implore the gods or to conduct magic to excise madness, he is no longer a doctor.”16 Fanonian concessions thus do not amount to an epistemic relativism or to a compromise with otherworldly agencies. However, to the extent that aspects of religion remain inseparable from religious authorities, and thus acquire a political dimension, one must refuse to compromise with religious discourses, practices, claims, and authorities. In a world in which religious beliefs of one variation or another are the norm, this maxim is of course easier said than done. While one might conceive of authorities as individual or group agents, the quality of being-authoritative nevertheless applies to many aspects and objects of religious life, disallowing any neat break in the non-ideal world between religion in itself and religion as authoritatively or authoritarianly mediated. As Jean Khalfa observes, for Fanon, “Whereas religion is a form of consciousness’ incapacity to act, political action will be an alternative to this constriction or metaphysical pathology.”17 Fanon did not harbor an arbitrary prejudice against religions, but had many pertinent and justifiable reasons to refuse compromise with certain religious beliefs and authorities. For example, there existed a “near-symbiotic alliance between French political and marabout religious authority” which was not merely surface-­ level, but a key component of French decentralized despotism in North Africa.18 Enthrallment with magical and supernatural powers invigorates the colonized ego, and this affectively subordinates one to those

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individuals who allegedly communicate with or best understand such powers. The colonized subject thus becomes subjected not only to the fused economic, legislative, executive, and judicial powers of native authorities under French indirect rule, but also affectively subjected.19 In terms of anticolonialism, however compromising, this gives rise to a variety of different yet equally undesirable alternatives: sectarianism, theocracy, tribalism, and/or millenarianism. Fanon, however, was not only concerned about Islam but also with Christianity, [W]e should place DDT, which destroys parasites, carriers of disease, on the same level as Christianity, which roots out heresy, natural impulses, and evil. The decline of yellow fever and the advances made by evangelizing form part of the same balance sheet. But triumphant reports by the missions in fact tell us how deep the seeds of alienation have been sown among the colonized.20

Christianity, Europe’s conception of its self-bestowed mission civilisatrice, and colonizing violence go hand in hand. And as in colonization elsewhere, violence and evangelization were not only often inseparable, but the relation of one to the other was also typically only a matter of the arbitrary judgments of religious authorities. In the context of Fanon’s time, the conjunction of violence and evangelization is perhaps best expressed by a chaplain of the Catholic Student Association in Algeria who suggested that, “when it came to Arabs, the machine gun was a far superior tool to the word.”21 In regard to both post-independence Algeria and pre-revolutionary Iran, Fanon was entirely correct in his suspicions and criticisms of the role of religion in political transformation. Numerous aspects of many societies include patriarchal and androcratic dimensions, and religious institutions are in no way exempt from such gendered, asymmetrical, and unjust relations of power. In the case of Algeria, dimensions of Islam express forms of patriarchy. The myriad nuances of this brief argument cannot be explored here, but I consider patriarchy to be so widespread (not universal) among world cultures as to be substantially ubiquitous. Minimally, then, one can say that there exists a complex yet identifiable connection between religion and androcracy/patriarchy that Fanon rejected in an attempt to thickly describe and encourage progressive elements of the Algerian Revolution in his essay “Algeria Unveiled.”22 A number of revolutionary Muslim leaders disagreed with Fanon on such matters, and “The

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official [post-independence] leadership was irked by [Fanon’s] atheism and by his views on women…”23 For example, Messali Hadj, whom Fanon berates in Pour la révolution africaine, and who founded the Etoile Nord Africaine (ENA), thought that all questions of women’s emancipation should be postponed until after independence. And Algeria’s first president, Ahmed Ben Bella, once stated, “I am for the liberation of women but not in the economic sense,” which is another way of saying that he was not in favor of the liberation of women. As Peter Knauss notes of the Soummam Platform, crafted during a decisive underground meeting of The National Liberation Front (FLN) leaders, “No provision was included in the Soummam Platform for women to enjoy any political or military responsibilities in the FLN, however, military exigencies soon forced ALN officers to use some women combatants, although the overwhelming majority of those who served in the war were nurses, cooks, and laundresses.”24 These various imbrications of patriarchal norms and their relation to a background of lived religious practices and discourses set the stage for the FLN’s institution of The Family Code in Algeria in 1984. According to Ranjana Khanna, this Code “instituted some forms of Shar’ia law and produced laws for women that violated family-related elements of the 1976 revised Algerian Constitution;” it “reinforced what was constructed as traditional Islamic law, and was concerned in particular with women’s status and access to public space.”25 Fanon was and would have continued to be opposed to such regressive politico-religious decisions, and the FLN acted in counter-revolutionary ways by not heeding Fanon’s critique of religion. Fanon also distanced himself from the overtly religious elements expressed by some who would later influence the Iranian Revolution. For example, in his late letter to Ali Shariati—soon to be a highly influential defender of a progressive political Islam—one can again see Fanon employing the distinction between concession and compromise in regard to his critical approach to religion and politics. He begins by praising the Islamic world for having fought Western colonialism more than Africa and Asia, conveying his respect for such struggles and calling for this world to continue to employ its immense cultural resources in the creation of a new humanity. Such are Fanon’s concessions. But he also criticizes the religious and sectarian energies which preclude the unification necessary for a robust and consistent international anticolonialism. He ends by criticizing Shariati’s interpretation of the “renaissance of the religious spirit” as a folding back or withdrawal into oneself (repli sur soi) comparable to the

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cultural politics of Senghor and others. It is as though Fanon were anticipating and anachronistically responding to Foucault, who would also work in Tunis a few years later and be energized by the possibility of a new ‘political spirituality’ that seemed to characterize the Iranian Revolution. But where Fanon might grant certain minimal concessions to aspects of Shariati and Foucault’s excitements, he does not accept the theocratic (and androcratic) implications that a complete compromise would likely entail. Rather than ambivalence, stubbornness, or mere prejudice, the regressive elements of post-independence Algeria and revolutionary Iran confirm the practical wisdom of Fanon’s political philosophy of immanence.26

4.2   To Be and Not to Be Fanon speaks of being and nonbeing in a variety of different ways without providing precise definitions for how he plans to use such concepts. He even considered his dissertation to be conducted not only from a psychoanalytic angle, but also from an ontological one, and he notes that “Analyzing the real is always a delicate task.”27 His use of the concept of ‘being’, like his use of the term ‘truth’, at times approximates poetry rather than philosophy. Such multivocity, while often expressively beautiful and moving, leads to certain hermeneutical difficulties. For instance, how is it that Fanon can speak of a “zone of nonbeing,” and of the colonized as a different species from the colonizers, and yet at the same time strongly disavow the notion of ontological separatism between races as outrageous?28 Does he not contradict himself in saying that black individuals inhabit a zone of nonbeing while also stating that the last two chapters of Peau Noire, Masques Blancs attempt “to explain psychopathologically and philosophically the being of the black man”?29 In this section I analyze one approach to Fanon’s ontology that I consider to miss the mark, followed by an argument that, for Fanon, beyond being nothing ‘exists.’ Early in Peau Noire, Masques Blancs, Fanon makes use of the phrase ‘zone of nonbeing,’ “There is a zone of nonbeing [non-être], an extraordinarily sterile and arid region, an incline stripped bare of every essential from which a genuine new departure can emerge. In most cases, the black man cannot take advantage of this descent into a veritable hell.”30 Given the context, this passage has often been understood as generally applicable to the situation of the colonized. Fanon’s use of the term ‘nonbeing’ in conjunction with the subsequent religious imagery has given rise to a

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number of reflections.31 In what follows, I will focus on Nelson Maldonado-­ Torres’ interpretation of this passage in his essay “On the Coloniality of Being: Contributions to the Development of a Concept,” and then argue that this passage does not harbor the ontological implications that he suggests. Borrowing a number of concepts and frameworks from Dussel’s philosophy, Maldonado-Torres argues that to conduct Fanonian meditations requires three basic categories: (1) trans-ontological difference (i.e., the “difference between Being and what is beyond being; or Being and exteriority”), (2) ontological difference (or the Heideggerian distinction between Being (Sein) and beings (Seiendes), and (3) the sub-ontological or ontological colonial difference (i.e., the “difference between Being and what lies below Being or that which is negatively marked as dispensable as well as a target of rape and murder”). The first category takes inspiration from Levinas as well as from Dussel’s reading of Levinas.32 The second distinction is a leitmotif of Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit. And the final category derives from Fanon’s use of the concept ‘nonbeing.’ In basic agreement with Dussel and Levinas, Maldonado-Torres argues that, “The trans-ontological is the foundation of the ontological.” But he goes even further than this, ascribing this basic position to Fanon, stating that, “He was doing a war against war oriented by ‘love’, understood here as the desire to restore ethics and to give it a proper place to trans-ontological and ontological differences.”33 According to Maldonado-Torres, what is beyond (au delà) being in Fanon’s view is more basic and originary than relations between beings (les étants) or between being (l’être) and beings. Here the ontological aporia unearthed in the previous chapter reappears. Fanon was indeed primarily concerned with how to create a world in which ethical relations between different races and peoples could be actualized. A concern to establish a world in which ethical humanism predominates is at the core of Fanon’s work. But Maldonado-Torres is mistaken to speak of a trans-ontological difference in regard to Fanon’s thought. The ‘non-’ of Fanon’s non-être is in fact (onto-) logically incompatible with the ‘au-delà’ of Levinas’ ‘au-delà de l’être’ and the ‘más alla’ of Dussel’s ‘más alla del ser.’34 For Fanon, X cannot both exist and not exist beyond Y at the same time and in the same sense. Aside from being an atheist, this is one reason why Fanon does not adopt and repurpose religious notions such as ‘revelation,’ ‘epiphany,’ ‘mystery,’ and ‘faith’ (as do Levinas and Dussel) in order to describe and explain intersubjective relations. What, then, does Fanon mean by the ‘zone of nonbeing,’ where it would seem

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that the colonized exist and do not exist? Fanon’s phrase draws inspiration not from Levinas but from Césaire and Sartre. In the work of Fanon’s teacher in Martinique (Césaire), one finds similar poetic-ontological descriptions, “The colonial society is better than a hierarchy, an ontology: at the top, the white—being [l’être] in the full sense of the term—, at bottom, the black [le nègre]…; the thing, that is to say, nothing [le rien].”35 But this poetic influence on Fanon does not help one to move beyond the initial apparent contradiction. Black individuals are of course not ‘nothing’ simpliciter, or else it would have been strange for Césaire and Fanon to have written so much about nothing. As Fanon notes, “That which does not exist can hardly have an effect on reality or even influence it.”36 Fanon’s deployment of the concept of ‘nonbeing’ begins to make more sense when it is considered within the context of the host of Sartrian references made throughout Peau Noire, Masques Blancs. For Sartre, nothing exists ‘beyond’ being in Levinas’ Platonic sense of this spatial metaphor. Rather, nonbeing and nothingness are moments of being itself, and given to consciousness in different ways. Because it would appear that Fanon only possessed Levinas’ De l’existence à l’existant (which he does not cite in Peau Noire, Masques Blancs), and because his discussion of the ‘zone of nonbeing’ is surrounded by references to Sartre’s L’Être et le néant, one has no reason to assume that Fanon meant such a concept in a Levinasian rather than a Sartrian way.37 It is of course by all means possible to prefer Levinas’ metaphysics to that of Sartre, but this does not mean that Fanon thought along these lines, or that Fanonian meditations must begin from this Levinasian orientation. If the colonized live in a zone of nonbeing, if this notion of nonbeing as used by Fanon is heavily influenced by Sartrian existentialism, and if for Sartre, “A being is fragile if it carries in its being a definite possibility of non-being,”38 then one should characterize Fanon’s claims about nonbeing as follows. To say that the colonized live in a zone of nonbeing does not mean that they can be restored to a trans-­ontological relation with that which is beyond being. Much less does it mean that they do not exist simpliciter, as centaurs do not exist. Rather, to say that the colonized live in a zone of nonbeing means that they live in a generalized and actual state of persistent fragility. The zone of nonbeing is populated by the racialized precariat. Whereas being-fragile is a possibility to which the stable subject may succumb, the stability of life sought by the colonized can only come about through the nihilation of their actual and generalized state of fragility and precarity. Such is the task of revolution.

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Following Hegel’s Logic, Sartre considers the real to not only consist of the positivity of being itself, but also to consist of negativity and nothingness. The concept of being in itself is entirely full, broader than any structural consideration, and also completely empty. Experiences of anguish, the non-presence of the future, and negative delimitation of spatial representations all constitute the real. The non-presence of a future possibility of mine does not itself exist here-and-now, but this mode of nonbeing is wholly different from a centaur’s non-existence. In regard to the present discussion, then, one need not overemphasize the positivity of the colonized’s zone of nonbeing, but should come to understand the ways in which groups are determined from without, evacuated of certain possibilities by the colonist, and forced to differently experience the possibility of the end of all possibilities, that is, death. While there is not sufficient space to provide such an analysis here, I nevertheless think that such an analysis can and should be conducted without any notion of trans-ontological difference—as Fanon himself demonstrates. Thus, the ‘non-’ of Fanon’s concept of nonbeing is not only dissimilar from the ‘au-delà’ of Levinas’ first philosophy, but in many ways its opposite, as Maldonado-Torres would likely agree. That is, Fanon’s ontological remarks about the colonized do not give a trans-phenomenological account of the origination of ethics, but show why ethical relations prove basically impossible in the colonial situation. Nevertheless, Fanon cannot be read as advocating a decolonial ‘love’ which “gives priority to the trans-­ ontological over the claims of ontology”39 because, for Fanon, beyond being nothing exists. It would be more accurate to say that, for Fanon, the nihilation (1) of the zone of nonbeing (2) involves the violent and dialectical double negation of colonial realities. The specific moments of this double negation were not predictable via Sartrian or Hegelian dialectics, yet Fanon does not abandon dialectical thinking even in his late works. The aforementioned double negation likely involves and is motivated by love in various ways. But it also involves hatred and other affects as well.40 Fanon’s claims can be understood by means of an analogy from the history of Christian theology. For some medieval theologians, God is being itself, and while those who are damned are separated from God, they never cease to exist, since hell is an eternal state of affairs which exists. Similarly, when Fanon speaks of the damned of the earth as inhabiting a realm of nonbeing in which a black individual cannot even descend of their own volition à la Dante, he does not mean that they have thereby ceased to exist, but just that their existence is cut off from a life without constant,

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painful fragility. As Walter Benjamin notes, “That things are the ‘status quo’ is the catastrophe. It is not an ever-present possibility but what in each case is given…[H]ell is not something that awaits us, but this life here and now.”41 For Fanon, the crucial difference between hell as conjured up by religious representations and his use of the trope is that the situation of the damned of the earth is real and yet not necessarily permanent. Because Fanon does not defend the existence of something beyond being, he does not need to resort to religious concepts such as ‘revelation,’ ‘mystery,’ ‘epiphany’ or ‘faith’ in order to uphold a Platonic conception of sameness and otherness.42 One should instead understand Fanon’s polemical descriptions of the colonized as another species and as part of nonbeing as functionally similar to Eduardo Galeano’s ‘nadies,’ or nobodies, “que no son aún que sean.” Fanon does not actually think that the oppressed do not exist or need to reestablish relations with that which is beyond being, but that they do not have a chance to flourish in a way proper to human beings. The subjunctive existence of Galeano’s nadies designates a possibility for liberation beyond the ‘nothingness’ (i.e., misery, wretchedness, hell) inhabited by the world’s ‘nobodies.’ To interpret Fanon as really offering a separatist ontology here would be entirely inconsistent with his humanism and critique of negritude, would overlook his avowed inability to resist the “sting of a word or the vertigo of a question mark,” and would ignore his statement to the contrary: “there is nothing ontological about segregation. Enough of this outrage.”43 For Fanon, the violence of colonization comprises a particular form of meontologization in the Sartrean sense—that is, it comprises a particular form of making-­ fragile, removing possibilities, producing anxiety, pushing others closer to death, and so forth, negations which occur along predominantly racialized lines. On the other hand, it would also seem that for Fanon races are not ontologically “separate but equal” in and of themselves, in the sense that, for example, races would represent some sort of natural kinds with their own essences and cultures. In sum, Fanon’s ontology and philosophy of race can be interpreted as consistent when his Sartrean conception of nonbeing is not conflated with nonbeing simpliciter or subjected to the ontological aporia.

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4.3   On the Dynamics of Truth and Falsity How is it that, for Fanon, it is possible that “Consciousness stumbles upon partial, finite, and shifting truths” on both sides of the colonial divide while at the same time colonialism’s “everyday reality is a tissue of lies” in which even medical objectivity is nearly always-already vitiated?44 In this section, I give an account of this seeming contradiction in order to demonstrate what a Fanonian sociodiagnostics of the dynamics of truth and falsity entails. Truth, falsity, and other epistemological concepts that share a family resemblance to these terms (e.g., lies, objectivity, honesty, and justification) occur throughout Fanon’s oeuvre. In what follows, I briefly focus on the dynamics of truth and falsity considered in their propositional, scientific-theoretical, gestural, behavioral, and sociopolitical domains. Such analyses allow one not only to understand the third paradoxical question, but also to glimpse an approach to decolonizing knowledge that avoids epistemic relativism. The argument contributes to an ongoing discussion of the politics of truth in Fanon’s work.45 For Fanon, descriptive propositions constitute one form of signification with true or false dimensions. In the context of analyzing the role of the radio in revolutionary Algeria, he writes, Under these conditions, claiming to have heard the Voice of Algeria was, in a certain sense, distorting the truth, but it was above all the occasion to proclaim one’s clandestine participation in the essence of the Revolution. It meant making a deliberate choice, though it was not explicit during the first months, between the enemy’s congenital lie and the people’s own lie, which suddenly acquired a dimension of truth.”46

Here Fanon offers a contextual sociopolitical analysis of the meaning of the statement, “I have heard the Voice of Algeria broadcast,” or some similar claim. If one considers that this statement is meant to correspond to an actual experience of the individual in question, then the statement is a lie. From this vantage, a falsehood is knowingly uttered. By saying that such statements distort the truth in a sense, Fanon acknowledges that the prima facie grasp of this statement is inaccurate to the extent that it is considered from a non-contextualized vantage. The statement at hand, he argues, really means and would have been understood to mean, “I am in solidarity with the Revolution,” or some similar associational avowal. This contextualized meaning within the language-game at hand functions

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performatively, and the proposition thereby assumes a dimension of truth. To the extent that one takes the former proposition at face value, it distorts the truth, but to the extent that one correctly interprets the meaning of the proposition as a true claim about one’s commitment to the revolution, and the speaker really has such a commitment, the sentence acquires a dimension of truth. Fanon does not argue that the proposition “I have heard the Voice of Algeria broadcast” is true and false at the same time and in the same sense. On the contrary, his analysis suggests that utterances can serve purposes of which those belonging to other semiotic systems (such as language-games) may go unaware. For instance, if everyone in a Shilluk royal installation ceremony understands utterances such as, “You are our Dinka slave, we want to kill you,” to mean “You are our chosen reth [king], we want to install you in Fashoda,”47 then even while this proposition will sound like a death threat to an outsider that is not involved in this language-game, such an outsider would first have to comprehend the contextual meaning of the statement before assessing its truth-value and function. Truth and falsity, then, are aspects or properties of contextualized statements which can have diverse social functions. Scientific theories offer another example of significations whose dimensions of truth and falsity Fanon analyzes. In regard to Mannoni’s psychology of colonization, Fanon writes, Before going into detail [concerning Mannoni’s Prospero and Caliban], let us say that his analysis is intellectually honest. Having experienced firsthand the ambivalence inherent in the colonial situation, Monsieur Mannoni has managed to grasp the psychological phenomena—albeit, unfortunately, too exhaustively—that govern the colonizer-native relationship. The basic characteristic of current psychological research seems to consist in exhausting every possibility. But we should not lose sight of reality.48

The colonialist psychology of Mannoni does not fail to grasp the psychological realities to which he attends. He successfully describes that of which many colonial pathologies consist. In fact, he grasps them all too well according to Fanon. In addition to this, Mannoni is described as being intellectually honest—as possessing an epistemic virtue, however circumscribed. To the extent that Mannoni’s colonialist psychiatry consists in the honest and accurate description of certain psychic phenomena, then, it contains a dimension of truth.49 However, Mannoni’s theory goes

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beyond description and pretends to explanatory adequacy. In this latter endeavor, he fails to understand the social, political, and economic causes of psychosocial distress in the colonial world. He describes pathologies as naturalized, inherent complexes rather than ascribing them to colonial conquest and brutality. He thus fails to understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of such pathologies despite in part grasping their ‘what.’ Moreover, insofar as Mannoni himself occupied a colonialist role in Madagascar, his enactment of said function cannot be neatly distinguished from the subjects/objects of his studies, since “the colonist is right when he says he knows ‘them’ [« les » connaître] [i.e., the colonized]. It is the colonist who fabricated [fait] and continues to fabricate the colonized subject.”50 In the case at hand, one can see, to quote Bachelard, that “un fait est fait.”51 That is, social, political, and economic facts do not exist out-there in the world ready-­ made. Rather, the experience (l’expérience) of the colonized is in many ways made by colonialist experimentation (fait par des expériences), which purports to deal only with facts (les faits) in an impartial manner, that is, as if not in a real sense having made (fait) them. Colonialist ignorance of the pragmatic character of such experimentation and experience-creation leaves said colonialist less (self-)aware than one who sees such processes in their fleshed-out historical and political meanings. Scientific experimentation and abduction played an important role in Fanon’s own psychiatric theories and practices. There is a plethora of examples to choose from among his political and professional psychiatric writings, but I will examine just one. Take, for example, Fanon’s initial implementation of a number of ergo- and sociotherapeutic reforms at the Hôpital Blida-Joinville between 1953–1954. Such reforms initially involved the creation of mandatory open forums, the celebration of various festivities and holidays, and the creation of a weekly paper (Notre Journal) as well as groups for music, film, and knitting/sewing.52 Such an experiment in sociotherapy did not produce the desired results, however, because such reforms only appealed to those of European ancestry. To correct this, Fanon instituted a café maure, initiated the celebration of Islamic holidays, planned the construction of a new theater and soccer stadium in 1955, and created non-Eurocentric Thematic Apperception Tests for North Africans. He also assisted in the building and opening of a clinic which (1) did not fall under the “coercive 1838 law mandating the hospitalization of the mentally ill” and in which (2) there was no differentiation made between Europeans and Muslims.53 Insofar as psychiatry is

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scientific, such reforms (whose results were unknown at the outset) should be considered scientific experiments. I argue that one can interpret the foregoing scientific experiments in at least two ways, the first of which would lend weight to Fanon’s function as a scientist, the second of which would highlight the extent to which he understood the “labour of the negative”54 to be operative in the hospital context as much as at the national level. That is, one can interpret the Blida experiments summarized above as (1) scientific adjustments and experiments, and not just as humanitarian interventions à la Pinel myths,55 and/or as (2) the intentional establishment of practices to be negated in the political-dialectical movement of psychiatry. If (1), then one could argue that Fanon realized the hospital’s need to become more culturally relativist, making changes accordingly. In this case, one can see a measure of fallibility and revision inherent to the changes made after the first trials, which could only be made by paying attention to empirical results. Were there no element of fallibility or defeasibility in Fanon’s approach to science, he could not have noticed the shortcomings of his implementation of ergo- and sociotherapeutic reforms, thereby allowing him to revise such methods and practices in a culturally relativist vein. On this interpretation, the claim that Fanon was simply naïve to conduct these Blida experiments at all is mistaken.56 Instead, it would seem that hindsight criticisms are obviated because failed experiments can be immensely useful for the development of any science. Having a strong sense of what might follow from an experiment and the public demonstration of the inadequacy of certain hypotheses to a scientific community are not the same thing. Moreover, Fanon and Azoulay were self-critical of the implementation of these experiments at the Blida Hospital at least immediately after their trial, Could our judgments have been more impaired than when we proposed to implement a Western-based sociotherapy program that disregarded an entire frame of reference and neglected geographic, historical, cultural, and social particularities in a pavilion of mentally ill Muslim men? Are we not guilty of having thoughtlessly embraced a policy of assimilation?57

Such a question is simply one of the final stages of scientific methodology as classically conceived, namely, a review of various contingent factors that might have affected an experiment’s outcome. Self-criticism and fallibilism in regard to experimentation are just minimal requirements for psychiatry

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to be considered scientific at all. Fanon suggests as much when he describes self-criticism as a criterion of truth.58 But one can also interpret the Blida ergo- and sociotherapeutic experiments as Fanon’s pedagogical establishment of practices to be negated in the dialectical movement of a political psychiatry. When Charles Géronimi pressed Fanon on such failed experiments the following year, surprised “that the author of Black Skin, White Masks and ‘The North African Syndrome’ could have been so wide off the mark, Fanon reportedly smiled and said,” You can only understand things with your gut, you know. It was not simply a matter of imposing imported methods that had been more or less adapted to the native mentality. I also had to demonstrate a number of things in the process: namely, that the values of Algerian culture are different from those of colonial culture; that these structuring values had to be embraced without any complexes by those to whom they pertained—the Algerian medical staff as well as the Algerian patients. I needed to have the support of the Algerian staff in order to incite them to rebel against the prevailing method, to make them realize that their competence was equal to that of the Europeans. The burden of suggesting appropriate forms of socialization and integrating them into the sociotherapy process had to be placed on the Algerian staff. That’s what happened. Psychiatry has to be political.59

Here again, one can see why the charge that Fanon was simply naïve to conduct the Blida experiments at all falls short. In this passage, Fanon describes the reforms at Blida not as scientific experiments but as the institution of the first, immediate, and abstract moment of a political-didactic transformation of the hospital staff. In this sense, the reforms were less intended as experiments the results of which could only be conjectured from a distance, but instead served as part of a larger pedagogical process in continuity with Fanon’s implementation of “a curriculum for a degree in psychiatric nursing” and creation of reading groups with interns to absorb more psychoanalytic and psychological works.60 The hospital staff were to unite in their negations of the empty universals first posited by the unmediated implementation of Eurogenic psychiatry. Patients and staff alike needed to incorporate (gut knowledge) basic yet still abstract notions of cultural difference and psychiatric theory. And such a pedagogical demonstration is no more a matter of deceitful cunning than is any thought experiment through which a teacher plays the role of the devil’s advocate in order to help her students reach insights on their own. To the extent

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that such a demonstration fulfils one of the pedagogical functions of transmitting psychiatric science, it can be considered a moment of ‘normal science’ in the Kuhnian sense. To the extent that it contradicted the hegemony of the Algiers School psychiatry of the day, it contrasts with the ‘normal’ science of his context. Yet, whether normal or ‘abnormal,’ it would be mistaken to think that Fanon’s explicit linkage of politics with psychiatry makes the latter unscientific. Psychiatry always-already functions politically—as those currently tortured with the aid of US colonialist psychologists at Guantánmo Bay and elsewhere well know.61 The dynamics of dimensions of truth and falsity can also be discerned in the analysis of behavior and gestures in the colonial world. Early in Les Damnés de la terre, Fanon observes, The question of truth must also be taken into consideration. For the people, only fellow nationals are ever owed the truth. No absolute truth, no discourse on the transparency of the soul can erode this position. In answer to the lie of the colonial situation, the colonized subject responds with a lie. Behavior toward fellow nationalists is open and honest, but strained and indecipherable toward the colonists. Truth is what hastens the dislocation of the colonial regime, what fosters the emergence of the nation. Truth is what protects the “natives” and undoes the foreigners. In the colonial context there is no truthful behavior. And good is quite simply what hurts them most.62

Vivaldi Jean-Marie reads this passage as an exhibition of Fanon’s pragmatic approach to truth, a characterization with which I am in partial agreement, and David Macey understands it as indicative of Fanon’s merely instrumental and propagandistic conception of truth, a position which I will try to continue to show misses the mark.63 First, as with other texts of Fanon, the extent to which he implicates himself in this passage is not unequivocal. Fanon, as he himself would have been aware, occupies an ambiguous position in regard to the subject of this passage: the Algerian people. He certainly identified with the Algerian people, but this identification would never have amounted to an equalization,64 since he did not speak Arabic, was not born in Algeria, and was racialized differently than most North Africans. This passage, then, is descriptive of other individuals and only partially implicates Fanon to the slight extent that he perhaps once held similar positions whose simplicity mirrored that of the colonized intellectual, to whom he critically and repeatedly refers in the third

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person. The passage at hand describes others in the third person plural. Were Fanon to wholly agree with this approach to truth alone, he would not have shied away from first person expression, whether singular or plural. One can find such authorial shifts time and again in Peau Noire, Masques Blancs, as well as in Les Damnés de la terre. Consider, for example, his shifts between second, third, and first person in the following passage, “In guerilla warfare, in fact, you no longer fight on the spot but on the march. Every fighter carries the soil of the homeland to war between his bare toes…Now it is we who are in pursuit. Despite all his technology and firepower the enemy gives the impression he is floundering and losing ground. We never stop singing.” Such authorial shifts do not occur in the passage in which Fanon discusses the nationalist’s approach to truth, an approach that really characterizes the nationalist’s immediate approach to truth prior to the actualization of “the dialectical truth of the nation” through “the labour of the negative.”65 Secondly, given that later in Les Damnés de la terre Fanon criticizes seeing decolonization in terms of “the bad on one side and the good on the other,” in which the greenhorn colonized intellectual “draw[s] up a list of the bad old ways characteristic of the colonial world,” only to miss important analytic and political nuances to be discovered through a dialectical engagement with the people, it is mistaken to think that Fanon agrees with this intellectual’s initial naiveté. In fact, Fanon explicitly criticizes the colonized intellectual and artist’s simplistic approach to goodness and “knowledge frozen in time,” a set of orientations which can only be dialectically negated through humility, by integration with the rural masses, and in recognition of the living reality of the nation. This is why Fanon describes the “truth of the nation” as dialectical; there are negations through which individuals and groups must pass in overcoming prima facie and crude approaches to anticolonialism.66 Finally, Fanon (1) speaks of truth in many ways and in many places, and (2) makes claims that he would consider to be true, so one must continue analyzing other passages to get a fuller sense of his sociodiagnostics of truth and falsity and not pigeon-­hole his position on the matter. In the foregoing passage, one can see that forms of honesty and intentional deception are at play between the colonizer and the colonized— both of which involve knowledge of the other’s semiotic games as well as the intention to mislead another by virtue of such knowledge. Sentential examples such as lies are quite easy to imagine. But what does it mean to speak of truthful behavior? First, consider the following, simpler example

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involving gestural signification. An ALN (Armée de Liberation National) militant encounters a white individual in a village after the former had gotten lost in the desert. Everything about this militant’s comportment, demeanor, and facial expression conveys an unbearable thirst. If the other then points to a bottle (and the militant understands this gesture), then the gesture in this case can be reasonably assumed to mean, “There is something potable in that bottle for you.” In this case, the silent act of signification is functionally equivalent to a declarative proposition addressed to another. If the individual points to the bottle knowing that it is empty, understanding and deceiving the other’s expectations, then this individual lies. Fanon elsewhere notes a similar paradox, “The liar himself exists because he constantly poses the problem of truth to himself.”67 This act of ostension is different from the case in which I point to a bottle while teaching language to another and say, “bottle.” The latter case merely conveys an arbitrary nominal convention while the former either accurately or inaccurately relays a particular message. The relevant horizon of the latter is a specific, public language-game, while the relevant horizon for the former involves instruction in the elements of a natural language. Fanon can thus be read as in conceptual agreement with the Philosophical Investigations to the extent that the term ‘language’ is used rather broadly to include physical signs/gestures and not only words. This is why, elsewhere, Fanon describes words as “signals of signals.”68 The wide meaning of Fanon’s idea of language helps to explain why truth and falsity require the rigorous and extensive contextualization of meaning. To understand the case in which someone points to a bottle in the previous example may or may not require a certain amount of political background knowledge. But one would most certainly need requisite social and political background knowledge to understand the connotations of euphemistic metonyms such as “giving the bottle” to someone in the context of rape and torture in mid-twentieth century Algeria.69 But even if gestures can be spoken of as true or false, as Fanon does, how can more complex sets of actions such as behaviors be true or false? As each previous contextual analysis has intimated, one will not be able to understand behavior as true or false if it is considered in abstraction from social relations. If behaviors are frequent enactments of particular durable dispositions, and if linguistic and gestural patterns play a role in the formation of durable dispositions, then behaviors can be contextually understood in part as the result of the consumption, digestion, and expression of more basic propositional and gestural truths and lies. For example, the

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Algerian woman who time and again dresses as a European woman in order to smuggle explosives past guards at the edge of the Casbah deceives these paratroopers by her behavior, and not by one or two isolated actions. Similarly, the colonial professor or psychiatrist who adopts the politics of assimilation into their daily practices and expectations of the colonized expresses a lie in embodied, repetitive, and non-discursive terms.70 Fanon also considers the fundamental situation of colonialism itself to be a lie (mensonge).71 The “lie of the colonial situation” serves as the ultimate background from which to understand all other relevant instances of the politics of lying and veridiction in his analyses. How should one understand this social and political claim? Can one really say that gestural and propositional lies aggregate to levels beyond an individual’s consciousness? After all, if comportment is not typically determined by conscious reflection, and if lying requires that one be conscious of signifying in a false way, then how could comportment (let alone the whole colonial situation) be considered a prevarication? To understand Fanon, one must first note that ‘being-true,’ considered at the most general level of the colonial milieu itself, at times is closer in meaning to ‘prosocial intersubjectivity,’ in the sense that one says, “Be true to your friends.” At other times, ‘being-­ true’ means something akin to ‘correspondence to reality.’ The colonial situation is fundamentally one of infidelity and behavioral deception between colonized and colonizing individuals and groups. Forms of colonialist (self-)deception and anticolonialist deceptions at propositional, gestural, behavioral, and theoretical levels give rise to the generalized situation in which colonizer and colonized can not ‘be true’ to one another, despite any good intentions. The fundamental situational lie is a basic, structural form of antisocial existence—at times more active, at times more passively expressed—which is locatable within all of the colonial world’s micro-­ deceptions and dimensions of falsity mentioned previously. Fanon thus goes a step further than Adorno, who states that, “The whole is the false.”72 Naming the colonial situation a lie rather than simply false undercuts the ways in which rationalized colonialist (self-)deception pleads ignorant innocence. In Fanonian terms, one cannot understand dimensions of truth and falsehood without grasping the background of the more fundamental lie of the colonial situation, which colors all instances of signification as these cross colonial divides. The foregoing characterization notwithstanding, it would seem that Fanon would understand the claim, “The colonial situation is a lie,” to be a true statement. Thus the belief that the colonial situation is a generalized

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lie does not entail that everything in the colonial world—including Fanon’s writings—participates equally in some Form of Dissimulation, or that truth in all of its manifestations in the colonial world has completely absconded. Truth and knowledge both appear in everyday dimensions of the colonizing and colonized spheres of existence, and context determines the function of certain claims, theories, behaviors, and signs. For instance, in his discussion of the weaponization of medical knowledge by French colonists, Fanon notes that, “The truth objectively expressed is constantly vitiated by the lie of the colonial situation.”73 In colonial Algeria as elsewhere, untruth-as-infidelity—in its embodied, enacted, and normalized modes—vitiates instances of truth-as-correspondence. Perhaps one could sloganize Fanon’s approach to this particular set of alethic concerns as follows: Popper is to the falsification of scientific theories as Fanon is to the vitiation of colonial-scientific theories. In sum, the colonial lie does not falsify all claims, but casts a shadow over even the hardest of facts, vitiating ethical and alethic cases of ‘being-true’ that only those negligent of political realities could miss. In a Fanonian sociodiagnostics of truth and falsity, then, honesty, knowledge, lies, and false belief—perhaps surprisingly—all arise within different moments of the generalized lie that is the colonial situation. Truth and falsity do not correspond to only one or another side of the colonial relation. “Nobody has a monopoly on truth…”74 Fanonian analysis itself aspires toward an accurate portrayal of the colonial world. Fanon holds that self-criticism is one criterion for understanding what is true, and also believes that “Peoples have a right to the truth…Nothing solid and constructive develops on lies and duplicity.”75 Fanonian sociodiagnostics of dynamics of the colonial world—including the dynamics of truth and falsehood—is primarily oriented toward concretely and accurately analyzing colonial states of affairs in order to pursue various liberatory options and dangers. In this respect, Fanon’s conception of fallibilism is opposed to the epistemic relativism of some arguments arising from the differential approach to decolonizing knowledge. The Fanonian approach to the politics of truth and falsity allows him as well as others to say and really mean, “I was mistaken.”76 To the extent that being-mistaken can be extended to the other realms of truth and falsity analyzed above, Fanon’s inclusion of an element of fallibilism in his analyses proves to be epistemically virtuous, allowing one in principle to turn a critical eye toward and revise Fanon’s work itself, including both his psychiatric theories and practices.77 After all, one would be hard-pressed to imagine how further concealing (rather

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than disclosing) the generalized colonial lie and its variegated dynamics of truth and falsity could in any way support a concrete program for anticolonial liberation. This is why Fanon identifies the worst of Africa’s enemies as stupidity.78 * * * By dissolving what at first seemed to be contradictions, aporias, or double standards on the part of Fanon, this chapter has offered novel interpretations regarding Fanon’s positions on immanence, nonbeing, truth, and their respective contraries. My analysis of his use of various philosophical concepts allows one to grasp the coherence, parsimoniousness, and practicability of Fanon’s work, and to see how he was in fact constantly concerned with issues of fundamental philosophical importance. But perhaps this fact should be less surprising than one might assume, given that Fanon characterized philosophy as “the risk that the spirit takes to assume its dignity.”79 Fanon’s work—in the sense of his oeuvre and his political and scientific labor—offers an exceptional example of what a consistent orientation of the concepts of immanence, nonbeing, and truth toward the ends of dignity entails.

Notes 1. An earlier version of this chapter was published as Wood, Dan. 2017. Immanence, Nonbeing, and Truth in the Work of Fanon. CLR James Journal 23: 1–2 (Fall): 211–244. 2. For a specific reading of Fanon’s corroboration and advancement of Marxist theory, see Wood, “Fanon and the Underside of Commodity Fetishism.” 3. Cited in Bhaba, “Foreword”, xvi. 4. Negri and Hardt, Empire, 71. 5. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, xii and 163 and Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 1. 6. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 95; Fanon, “Rencontre de la société et de la psychiatrie”, 442; and Fanon, A Dying Colonialism, 128. 7. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 191–197. See also Turner, “On the Difference between the Hegelian and Fanonian Dialectic of Lordship and Bondage.” Fanon also notes that the aforementioned double negations are at times dealt with simultaneously, “La religion est souvent conçue comme un moyen de se ‘blanchifier.’” In Fanon, “Rencontre de la société et de la

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psychiatrie”, 441. For an excellent expansion of Fanon’s critique of Sartre, see Rabaka, Concepts of Cabralism, 97–113. For an attempted positive redefinition of atheism begun about forty years after Fanon’s passing, see Dennett, “The Bright Stuff.” 8. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 112 and 197. 9. Lackey, “Frantz Fanon on the Theology of Colonization”, §5. 10. Given that maladie de Friedreich was often accompanied by sentimental exaggeration manifested in religious ideas, and given that Fanon wrote his dissertation on this topic, such studies may have led him to associate certain forms of religiosity with mental illness, as other psychiatrists also did. Fanon pays close attention to the relation between the breakdown of one’s corporal schema and increases in mysticism. See Fanon, “Altérations mentales, modifications caractérielles, troubles psychiatriques et deficit intellectual dans l’hérédo-dégénération spino-célébrelleuse. À propos d’un cas de maladie de Friedriech avec délire de possession”, 176 and 203; Fanon, “Sur quelques cas traités par la méthode de Bini”, 240; and Khalfa, “Fanon, psychiatre révolutionnaire”, 151. Nonetheless, a monocausal relation between theology (or theological culture) and psychological alienation would not have persuaded Fanon. 11. Settler, “Fanon’s Ambivalence towards Religion”, 1. 12. See Fanon, Toward the African Revolution, 34 and 115. Such arguments are not peculiar to Fanon. Memmi, for example, speaks of the culture of the colony in terms of sclerosis, enkystement, corset imposé, and catalepsie. And Cabral employs the language of stagnation, arrest, and paralysis to describe culture under the yoke of imperialism. See Memmi, Portrait du Colonisé, 120; Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 128; and Cabral, Resistance and Decolonization, 170. 13. Fanon, Les Damnés de la terre, 136–137. 14. See Fanon, “Notre Journal” and “Attitude du musulman maghrébin devant la folie” and Fanon, “Notre Journal”, 266. 15. Cherki, Frantz Fanon: A Portrait, 74 and 82. 16. Fanon, “Notre Journal”, 292. 17. In Fanon, “Altérations mentales, modifications caractérielles, troubles psychiatriques et deficit intellectual dans l’hérédo-dégénération spino-­ célébrelleuse. À propos d’un cas de maladie de Friedriech avec délire de possession”, 182n2. 18. Mamdani, Citizen and Subject, 86. See also Slisli, “Islam: The Elephant in Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth”, 101. 19. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 18ff. Fanon mentions difficulties that arise due to the authority of the caïds in “La vie quotidienne dans les douars”, 318n4 and in The Wretched of the Earth, 51, 65, and 86. A literary study of such phenomena could be also conducted, for example, by

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a­ nalyzing characters such as Ülgas the Sage, and his relation to Tambet, in Kiviräk’s The Man Who Spoke Snakish. 20. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 7. 21. Cherki, Frantz Fanon: A Portrait, 43. For other examples of Catholic colonialist oppression in alternative contexts, see Minh, “Report on the National and Colonial Questions at the Fifth Congress of the Communist International”, 74ff; Urdang, Fighting Two Colonialisms, 210; and Díaz, The Conquest of New Spain. 22. In Fanon, A Dying Colonialism. Islam is only partially the focus here because of context; patriarchy and androcracy can be found in countless other religions as well. As the attentive reader knows, “Algeria Unveiled” has almost nothing to do with typical normative polemics regarding veiling. 23. Cherki, Frantz Fanon: A Portrait, 187. 24. Knauss, The Persistence of Patriarchy, 67, 75, and 98. See also Jackson, The FLN in Algeria: Party Development in a Revolutionary Society, 32–43. Marnia Lazreg notes, “It is clear that women’s participation in the war was instrumental to its success. Yet, with few exceptions, the nature of this participation fit in a ‘traditional’ pattern of gender roles, where men held positions of responsibility and command, and women executed orders.” In The Eloquence of Silence, 124. 25. Khanna, Algeria Cuts, 9 and 71. Whole books, of course, have been written on the history of the FLN, the details of which add layers of contradictions, progressive and regressive movements, intrigue, successes and failures, and so on to the story. Since my brief argument only concerns Fanon, and since space is limited, I cannot go into the intricacies of such history here. To begin, see Jackson, The FLN in Algeria and Stone, The Agony of Algeria. It should also be noted that while I take religion and patriarchy to be significant causes of the institution of The Family Code in ’84, I am not arguing that these are the only relevant causes. 26. Axworthy, Revolutionary Iran, 65–68; Fanon, “Lettre à Ali Shariati”, 542–544; and Foucault, “What are the Iranians Dreaming About?”, 209. 27. Renault, Frantz Fanon: De l’anticolonialisme à la critique postcoloniale, 67 and Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 145. 28. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, xii and 163 and Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 1. 29. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, xvii. 30. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, xii. 31. See, for instance, Gordon, “Through the Hellish Zone of Nonbeing” and Gordon, “Through the Zone of Nonbeing.”

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32. Maldonado-Torres, “On the Coloniality of Being”, 107–108. For an analysis of Levinas’ continued influence on Dussel’s philosophy, see ParadisoMichau, “The Widow, the Orphan, and the Stranger.” 33. Maldonado-Torres, “On the Coloniality of Being”, 107–112. 34. Dussel, Filosofía de liberación, 78. 35. Césaire, Toussaint Louverture, 31. Cited in Renault, Frantz Fanon, 77. 36. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 177. 37. See Fanon, “Altérations mentales, modifications caractérielles, troubles psychiatriques et deficit intellectual dans l’hérédo-dégénération spino-­ célébrelleuse. À propos d’un cas de maladie de Friedriech avec délire de possession”, 225; “La bibliotèque de Frantz Fanon”, 613–614; and Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, xii. 38. Sartre, Being and Nothingness, 40. For an analysis of relevant distinctions in Being and Nothingness, see Aquila, “Two Problems of Being and Nonbeing in Sartre’s Being and Nothingness.” 39. Maldonado-Torres, “On the Coloniality of Being”, 114–115. Aside from these technical hermeneutical disagreements, I must express much sincere gratitude for the numerous insights which Maldonado-Torres’ lectures, conversations, and writings have afforded me. We agree on far more than that on which we disagree. 40. Fanon certainly speaks of love in Peau Noire, Masques Blancs, but he also speaks of affective ankyloses, affective tetanization, affective erethism, exogamous affects, and phobic affects. And which affects one could (or Fanon would) conceive of as descriptive of Fanon himself is not entirely clear given this text’s highly idiosyncratic shifts in genre and perspective. See Black Skin, White Masks, 41, 92, 101, 127, 131, 133. Moreover, Fanon’s works are conspicuously and justifiably rife with anger and hatred. For one interpretation of Peau Noire, Masques Blancs which applies some of the text’s own diagnoses to Fanon himself, see Memmi, “La vie impossible de Frantz Fanon.” 41. Benjamin, “On the Theory of Knowledge, Theory of Progress”, in The Arcades Project, 473. 42. By contrast, Levinas and Dussel do need such trans-phenomenological concepts in order for ontology and alterity to function within their philosophies. See Levinas, Basic Philosophical Writings and Dussel, Filosofía de la Liberación. For a characterization of Levinas’ work as (trans)phenomenological, see Peperzak, Beyond, 34. 43. See Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 246; Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 163; and Galeano, “Los Nadies”, 221. I owe the inspiration of this reading of Galeano to Zack Hugo.

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44. Fanon, Toward the African Revolution, 52. See also Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 95; Fanon, “Rencontre de la société et de la psychiatrie”, 442; and Fanon, A Dying Colonialism, 128. 45. See Renault, “Lieux et politiques de vérité”, in Frantz Fanon: De l’anticolonialisme à la critique postcoloniale; Renault, “Rupture and New Beginning in Fanon: Elements for a Genealogy of Postcolonial Critique”; Bulhan, “Revolutionary Psychiatry of Fanon”; Jean-Marie, Fanon: Collective Ethics and Humanism; Gordon, “Fanon on Decolonizing Knowledge”; and Macey, Frantz Fanon, 355. 46. Fanon, A Dying Colonialism, 87. 47. Graeber and Sahlins, On Kings, 109. 48. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 64. 49. On this note, it should also be mentioned that Mannoni later wrote a piece entitled “The Decolonization of Myself”, in which he concedes many of Fanon’s criticisms, thus in some ways confirming Fanon’s characterization of Mannoni as intellectually honest—a claim probably not applicable to a number of other French psychiatrists of the day. See Cherki, Frantz Fanon: A Portrait, 34. On epistemic virtue, see Medina, The Epistemology of Resistance. 50. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 2 and Fanon, Les Damnés de la terre, 40. 51. Latour, Pandora’s Hope, 127. 52. Cherki, Frantz Fanon: A Portrait, 65–68. 53. Cherki, Frantz Fanon: A Portrait, 70–86. The law of 1838 made it such that the asylums in Algeria functioned as colonial psychiatry’s primary instrument. See Keller, Colonial Madness, 25 and 51. The results of the TAT reforms were presented in Bordeaux in September 1956 as “Le TAT chez les femmes musulmanes, sociologie de la perception et de l’imagination”, in Fanon, Écrits. See also Fanon, “Notre Journal”, 260 and 261. Fanon received help building the stadium from Jacques Ladsous and others from the Red Cross of Chréa. The Algiers School psychiatrist Antoine Porot, interestingly, also advised Ladsous to not engage “indigenous educators” in his work due to their supposed mental limitations. See Khalfa, “Fanon, psychiatre révolutionnaire”, 155n1 and Ladsous, “Fanon: du soin à l’affranchissement”, 27. The various developments of French colonialist psychiatry should also not be isolated from historical-material issues. In France in the seventeenth century, confinement was first and foremost an imperative of labor. Confinement provided “cheap manpower in the periods of full employment and high salaries; and in periods of unemployment, reabsorption of the idle and social protection against agitation and uprisings.” Foucault, Madness and Civilization, 51. 54. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, §19.

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55. See Keller, “Pinel in the Maghreb: Liberation and Confinement in a Landscape of Sickness”, in Colonial Madness; Foucault, “The Birth of the Asylum”; and Murat, “Revolutionary Terror, or Losing Head and Mind.” 56. McCulloch, Black Skin, White Artifact, 108–117. For a somewhat similar conception of fallibility, consider Mohanty, “The Epistemic Status of Cultural Identity”, 42: “Precision and depth in understanding the sources and causes of error or mystification help us define the nature of objectivity, and central to this definition would be the possibility of its revision and improvement on the basis of new information. This conception of fallibility is thus based on a dialectical opposition between objectivity and error. Since error in this view is opposed not to certainty but rather to objectivity as a theory-dependent, socially realizable goal, the possibility of error does not sanction skepticism about the possibility of knowledge.” 57. Cherki, Frantz Fanon: A Portrait, 69. 58. Fanon, “Notre Journal”, in Écrits, 287. 59. Cherki, Frantz Fanon: A Portrait, 71–72 and Khalfa, “Fanon, psychiatre révolutionaire”, 157. 60. Cherki, Frantz Fanon: A Portrait, 75 and 80. 61. For more on the history of science and normality considered in a critical register quite different from that of Kuhn, see Foucault, Abnormal. Fanon himself would have been aware of some of the problems concerning ‘normality’ later brought to the fore by Foucault. For instance, the former not only analyzes and criticizes the hospital staff’s impetus toward psychiatric punishment, domination, and repression, but also asks the fundamental question, “Quels sont les critères de normalité?” Fanon, “Notre Journal”, 288–293; Fanon, “L’hopitalisation de jour en psychiatrie, valeur et limites”, 400; and Fanon, “Rencontre de la société et de la psychiatrie”, 436. For another example of the way in which Fanon understood psychiatry to be political, consider the “grève des malades paralysants” that he instigated in Pontorson in 1953. Razanajao and Postel, “La vie et l’oeuvre psychiatrique de Frantz Fanon”, 151. I do not think that critiques to the effect that Fanon merely applies European psychiatry to North Africa by means of a crude “developmentalistic” worldview are accurate or legitimate. If this were the case, then he would never, for example, have spent so much time analyzing both the values and limits of certain projects, such as the establishment of day hospitals; nor would he have been so vehemently critical of the Algiers School. See Fanon, “L’hopitalisation de jour en psychiatrie, valeur et limites”, and Fanon, “L’hopitalisation de jour en psychiatrie, valeur et limites: Deuxième partie: considérations doctrinales.” For more on torture, see Donnan, “US Psychologists Linked to CIA

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Torture”; Ackerman, “Guantánamo Bay Psychologists to Remain Despite APA Torture Fallout”; and Wood, “Revisiting La Question.” 62. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 14. 63. Jean-Marie, Fanon: Collective Ethics and Humanism, 38ff and Macey, Frantz Fanon, 355. 64. Fanon evinces an awareness of a similar distinction between ‘belonging-­to’ and ‘total-identification-with’ in his critique of French colonialist mystification in Toward the African Revolution, 84. That said, my current hermeneutical argument does not stand or fall if Fanon only tacitly utilizes, rather than reflectively and philosophically grasps, such a distinction. 65. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 13, 86, and 141. Emphasis added. Matthieu Renault and Ferat Güven also highlight the dialectical character of truth in Fanon’s work. See “Rupture and New Beginning in Fanon: Elements for a Genealogy of Postcolonial Critique” and Güven, “Hegel, Fanon, and the Problem of Negativity in the Postcolonial.” Fanon also speaks of the dialectical idea of independence in “L’indépendance nationale, seule issue possible”, 464. His discussion of truth here is thus akin to his description in “Racism and Culture,” “The past, becoming henceforth a constellation of values, becomes identified with the Truth.” See Fanon, Toward the African Revolution, 43. Contextually situating Fanon’s claims here as well as in Les Damnés allows one to see that he is speaking descriptively of others’ positions. 66. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 13, 94, 141, 158, and 161. 67. Fanon, “Conduites d’aveu en Afrique du Nord (1)”, 347. 68. See Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 22 and Fanon, “Rencontre de la société et de la psychiatrie”, 439. For Fanon, phenomena speak: “tout phénomène délirant est en definitive exprimé, c’est-à-dire parlé.” Fanon, “Altérations mentales, modifications caractérielles, troubles psychiatriques et deficit intellectual dans l’hérédo-dégénération spino-célébrelleuse. À propos d’un cas de maladie de Friedriech avec délire de possession”, 225. 69. See Khanna, Algeria Cuts, 83. See also Lazreg, “Between Torture and Military Feminism”, in Torture and the Twilight of Empire. 70. See Fanon, “La socialthérapie dans un service d’hommes musulmans: difficultés méthodologiques”, 305: “Le psychiatre, réflexivement, adopte la politique de l’assimilation.” 71. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 95; Fanon, “Rencontre de la société et de la psychiatrie”, in Écrits, 442; and Fanon, A Dying Colonialism, 128. 72. Adorno, Minima Moralia, §29. See also Adorno, “Lecture 3, 20 May 1958.” It is also interesting to note that according to Oduwole, ‘lies’ (iro) and not ‘falsehood’ serve as the opposite of ‘truth’ (otito) for the Yoruba people. Moreover, for the Yoruba, truth has a cognitive and a moral sense, and I argue that one should bear in mind a similar distinction between

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something’s ‘being-true’ in an alethic sense and ‘being-true’ to another in the sense of prosocial intersubjectivity in order to best interpret the concept ‘truth’ in Fanon’s work. See Oduwole, The Concept of Truth in an African Language, 45ff. 73. Fanon, A Dying Colonialism, 128. 74. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 139. 75. Fanon, “Notre Journal”, 287 and “Encore une fois, pourqui le préalable”, 484. 76. Cherki, Frantz Fanon: A Portrait, 12. 77. For example, Fanon’s non-dogmatic and non-relativistic approach to truth allow one to conduct ‘Fanonian’ analyses while rejecting, for instance, the elements of heteronormativity in his writings and certain outdated psychiatric practices that a reasonable grasp of the contemporary world demands that one eschew. Chloë Taylor provides one example of how such advances can be made in “Fanon, Foucault, and the Politics of Psychiatry.” See also Sharpley-Whiting, Frantz Fanon: Conflicts and Feminisms. 78. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 126. 79. Fanon, “Altérations mentales, modifications caractérielles, troubles psychiatriques et deficit intellectual dans l’hérédo-dégénération spino-­ célébrelleuse. À propos d’un cas de maladie de Friedriech avec délire de possession”, 168.

References Ackerman, Spencer. July 15, 2015. Guantánamo Bay Psychologists to Remain Despite APA Torture Fallout. The Guardian. Adorno, Theodor. 2005. Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life. New York: Verso. Aquila, Richard E. 1977. Two Problems of Being and Nonbeing in Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 38 (2): 167–186. Axworthy, Michael. 2013. Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Benjamin, Walter. 1999. On the Theory of Knowledge, Theory of Progress. In The Arcades Project. Translated by Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Bhaba, Homi. 2004. Foreword. In The Wretched of the Earth. Edited by Frantz Fanon and translated by Richard Philcox. New York: Grove Press. Bulhan, Hussein A. 1999. Revolutionary Psychiatry of Fanon. In Rethinking Fanon: The Continuing Dialogue, ed. Nigel Gibson. New York: Humanity Books. Cabral, Amílcar. 1997. Unity and Struggle: Speeches and Writings. New  York: Monthly Review Press.

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———. 2016. Resistance and Decolonization. Edited and translated by Dan Wood. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield International. Césaire, Aimé. 1961. Toussaint Louverture: La Révolution française et le problème colonial. Paris: Présence Africaine. Cherki, Alice. 2006. Frantz Fanon: A Portrait. Translated by Nadia Benabid. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Dennett, Daniel. July 12, 2003. The Bright Stuff. New York Times. Donnan, Shawn. July 10, 2015. US Psychologists Linked to CIA Torture: Report Finds Industry Body Turned Blind Eye to Interrogations. Financial Times. Dussel, Enrique. 1977. Filosofía de la Liberación. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica. Fanon, Frantz. 1952. Peau Noire, Masques Blancs. Paris: Éditions du Seuil. ———. 1967a. A Dying Colonialism. New York: Grove Press. ———. 1967b. Toward the African Revolution: Political Essays. New  York: Grove Press. ———. 2002. Les Damnés de la terre. Paris: La Découverte/Poche. ———. 2004. The Wretched of the Earth. Translated by Richard Philcox. New York: Grove Press. ———. 2008. Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove Press. ———. 2015. Écrits sur l’aliénation et la liberté: Oeuvres II. Réunis par Jean Khalfa et Robert Young. Paris: La Découverte. Foucault, Michel. 1965. The Birth of the Asylum. In Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. Translated by Richard Howard. New York: Random House, Inc. ———. 2003. Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1974–1975. Translated by Antonella Salomoni. New York: Picador. ———. 2005. What are the Iranians Dreaming About? In Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism, ed. Janet Afary, Kevin B.  Anderson, and Michel Foucault. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ———. 2006. Birth of the Asylum. In History of Madness. Edited by Jean Khalfa and translated by Jean Khalfa and Jonathan Murphy. London: Routledge. Galeano, Eduardo. 1993. Los Nadies. In Amares: Antología de relatos. Madrid: Alianza Editorial. Gordon, Lewis. 2005. Through the Zone of Nonbeing: A Reading of Black Skin, White Masks in Celebration of Fanon’s Eightieth Birthday. C.L.R.  James Journal 11 (1): 1–43. ———. 2007. Through the Hellish Zone of Nonbeing: Thinking through Fanon, Disaster, and the Damned of the Earth. Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge 5 (Summer): 5–11.

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———. 2010. Fanon on Decolonizing Knowledge. In Fanon and the Decolonization of Philosophy, ed. Elizabeth A.  Hoppe and Tracey Nicholls. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Graeber, David, and Marshall Sahlins. 2017. On Kings. Chicago: Hau Books. Güven, Ferat. 2010. Hegel, Fanon, and the Problem of Negativity in the Postcolonial. In Fanon and the Decolonization of Philosophy, ed. Elizabeth A. Hoppe and Tracey Nicholls. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Hegel, G.W.F. 1977. Phenomenology of Spirit. Translated by A.V. Miller. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ———. 2015. The Science of Logic. Translated by George di Giovanni. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Heidegger, Martin. 2006. Sein und Zeit. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag. Horne, Alistair. 1978. A Savage War of Peace: Algeria, 1954–1962. New  York: Viking Press. Jackson, Henry F. 1977. The FLN in Algeria: Party Development in a Revolutionary Society. London: Greenwood Press. Jean-Marie, Vivaldi. 2007. Fanon: Collective Ethics and Humanism. New  York: Peter Lang Publishing. Keller, Richard C. 2007. Pinel in the Maghreb: Liberation and Confinement in a Landscape of Sickness. In Colonial Madness: Psychiatry in French North Africa, ed. Richard Keller. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Khanna, Ranjana. 2008. Algeria Cuts: Women and Representation, 1830 to the Present. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Kiviräk, Andrus. 2015. The Man Who Spoke Snakish. New York: Black Cat. Knauss, Peter R. 1987. The Persistence of Patriarchy: Class, Gender, and Ideology in Twentieth Century Algeria. New York: Praeger. Kuhn, Thomas. 1996. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Lackey, Michael. 2002. Frantz Fanon on the Theology of Colonization. Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 3 (2): 1–29. Ladsous, Jacques. 2006. Fanon: du soin à l’affranchissement. Vie sociale et traitements 89: 25–29. Latour, Bruno. 1999. Pandora’s Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Lazreg, Marnia. 1994. The Eloquence of Silence: Algerian Women in Question. New York: Routledge. ———. 2008. Between Torture and Military Feminism. In Torture and the Twilight of Empire: From Algiers to Baghdad. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Levinas, Emmanuel. 1996. Basic Philosophical Writings. Edited by Adriaan T. Peperzak, Simon Critchley, and Robert Bernasconi. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

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Macey, David. 2000. Frantz Fanon: A Biography. New York: Picador. Maldonado-Torres, Nelson. 2010. On the Coloniality of Being: Contributions to the Development of a Concept. In Globalization and the Decolonial Option, ed. Walter Mignolo and Arturo Escobar. New York: Routledge. Mamdani, Mahmood. 1996. Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Mannoni, Octave. 1990. Prospero and Caliban: The Psychology of Colonization. Ann Abor: The University of Michigan Press. McCulloch, Jock. 1983. Black Soul, White Artifact: Fanon’s Clinical Psychology and Social Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Medina, José. 2013. The Epistemology of Resistance: Gender and Racial Oppression, Epistemic Injustice, and Resistant Imaginations. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Memmi, Albert. 1971. La vie impossible de Frantz Fanon. Esprit 406 (9, September): 248–273. ———. 1985. Portrait du colonisé: précédé de Portrait du colonisateur. Paris: Gallimard. Minh, Ho Chi. 2011. Report on the National and Colonial Questions at the Fifth Congress of the Communist International. In The Selected Works of Ho Chi Minh. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Mohanty, Satya P. 1997. The Epistemic Status of Culture Identity: On Beloved and the Postcolonial Condition. In Literary Theory and the Claims of History: Postmodernism, Objectivity, and Multicultural Politics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Murat, Laure. 2014. Revolutionary Terror, or Losing Head and Mind. In The Man Who Thought He Was Napoleon: Toward a Political History of Madness. Translated by Deke Dusinberre. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Negri, Antonio, and Michael Hardt. 2000. Empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Oduwole, Ebunolua. 2011. The Concept of Truth in an African Language: An Exercise in Conceptual Decolonization. Saarbrüken, Germany: LAP Lambert Academic Publishing. Paradiso-Michau, Michael R. 2008. The Widow, the Orphan, and the Stranger. Radical Philosophy Review 11 (2): 89–97. Peperzak, Adriaan Theodoor. 1997. Beyond: The Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. Rabaka, Reiland. 2014. Concepts of Cabralism: Amilcar Cabral and Africana Critical Theory. Lanham: Lexington Books. Razanajao, Claudine, and Jacques Postel. 2007. La vie et l’oeuvre psychiatrique de Frantz Fanon. Sud/Nord 22: 147–174. Renault, Matthieu. 2011a. Frantz Fanon: De l’Anticolonialisme à la critique postcoloniale. Paris: Éditions Amsterdam.

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———. 2011b. Rupture and New Beginning in Fanon: Elements for a Genealogy of Postcolonial Critique. In Living Fanon: Global Perspectives, ed. Nigel Gibson. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Sandoval, Chela. 2000. Methodology of the Oppressed. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Sartre, Jean-Paul. 1956. Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology. New York: Washington Square Press. Settler, Federico. 2012. Frantz Fanon’s Ambivalence towards Religion. Journal for the Study of Religion 25 (2): 5–21. Sharpley-Whiting. 1997. Frantz Fanon: Conflicts and Feminisms. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. Slisli, Fouzi. 2008. Islam: The Elephant in Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth. Critique: Critical Middle Eastern Studies 17 (1): 97–108. Stone, Martin. 1997. The Agony of Algeria. New York: Columbia University Press. Taylor, Chloë. 2010. Fanon, Foucault, and the Politics of Psychiatry. In Fanon and the Decolonization of Philosophy, ed. Elizabeth A.  Hoppe and Tracey Nicholls. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Turner, Lou. 1996. On the Difference between the Hegelian and Fanonian Dialectic of Lordship and Bondage. In Fanon: A Critical Reader, ed. Lewis R.  Gordon, T.  Denean Sharpley-Whiting, and Renée T.  White. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 2009. Philosophical Investigations. Translated by G.E.M.  Anscombe, P.M.S.  Hacker and Joachim Schulte. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Wood, Dan. 2013a. Revisiting La Question: A Political-Phenomenological Critique of Merleau-Ponty’s Assessment of Algerian Decolonization. Studies in Social and Political Thought 22 (Winter): 11–29. ———. 2013b. Roma Locuta Est, Causa Finita Est: Power, Discursivity, and the Roman Catholic Hierarchy. In Unruly Catholics from Dante to Madonna: Faith, Heresy, and Politics in Cultural Studies, ed. Marc DiPaolo. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc. ———. 2014a. Descolonizando las Historias Biopolíticas con Amílcar Cabral. Tabula Rasa: Revista de Humanidades 20 (Enero-Junio): 69–87. ———. 2014b. Marxian Displacements in Bachir Hadj Ali’s Narrative of Algerian Liberation. Philosophia Africana 16 1 (May/June): 25–42. ———. 2016a. Decolonizing Biopolitical Histories with Amílcar Cabral. In A Luta Continua: (Re)Introducing Amilcar Cabral to a New Generation of Thinkers, ed. P. Khalil Saucier. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. ———. 2016b. Political Philosophy and the Vestiges of Colonialism: A Critical Analysis of Žižek’s Leftist Plea for Eurocentrism. Radical Philosophy Review 19 (2): 653–677.

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———. 2016c. Space, Governmentalities, and Resistance: Lessons from the Casbah. In Dialectics of Space and Place across Virtual and Corporeal Topographies, ed. June Jordan, Carl Haddrell, and Christine Alegria, 341–351. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press. ———. 2017a. Descolonizar el Conocimiento: Una Mise en Place Epistemográfica. Tabubla Rasa: Revista de Humanidades 26 (Junio): 301–337. ———. 2017b. Immanence, Nonbeing, and Truth in the Work of Fanon. CLR James Journal 23 (Fall): 211–244. ———. 2019. Fanon and the Underside of Commodity Fetishism. PhaenEx: Revue de théorie et culture existentialistes et phénoménologiques 13 (1, Spring): 1–45.

CHAPTER 5

Becoming-Grounded: The Cabralian Option

If it is true, as Plato the insuperable sage says, that necessity is the mother of our engenhos [inventiveness], no people—above all the Cape Verdean people—has the right and the duty to find the ‘engenhos’ [mills] indispensable for the fulfilment of their necessities. —Amílcar Cabral (“Algumas Considerações Acerca das Chuvas”, 61)

The previous chapter analyzed some of the core philosophical aspects of Fanon’s work as exemplary of the revolutionary-socialist approach to epistemic decolonization. One finds similar core philosophical positions adopted and enacted by Amílcar Cabral as well. Cabral almost never ‘name drops’ in order to appeal to authorities extraneous to the authoritativeness sought through argumentation and analysis. He thus does not, to my knowledge, explicitly refer to Fanon in his writings, leaving the influence between these two organic intellectuals an open question.1 Perhaps Cabral does not refer to Fanon due to The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde’s (PAIGC) strategic position of non-alignment in the international sphere. Or perhaps Fanon’s initial support of Cabral’s rival Roberto Holden prior to the PAIGC’s legitimization curtailed an open enthusiasm for certain Fanonian ideas. By 1960, however, Fanon does urge the PAIGC to dig in their heels and begin the armed struggle.2 Such speculations aside, there do exist a number of important theoretical convergences between Fanon and Cabral. For example, at the surface level of terminology, Cabral explicitly calls for the creation of “a new Man” and © The Author(s) 2020 D. A. Wood, Epistemic Decolonization, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49962-4_5

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criticizes Africa’s pseudo-bourgeoisie, both of which were explicitly Fanonian themes.3 Ultimately, it is a shame that Cabral and Fanon were not able to collaborate. After all, elements of political-agronomic and psychiatric power relations overlapped with one another in Algeria and Guinea-Bissau while these spaces were colonized. An “agricultural colony” was set up within the Hôpital Blida-Joinville itself before Fanon’s time there, and Kaúlza de Arriaga, a general in various Luso-African lands, noted that “Counter-subversion is primarily the communication of truth to the population, and to the enemy, in order to convince their minds and win their hearts … This communication of truth is done through psychological warfare.”4 Yet my primary concern in the present chapter does not consist in offering a comparison of Fanon and Cabral, nor do I want to chart the possible influences of the former on the latter. Rather, I elucidate a number of the central philosophical elements of Cabral’s work. While I translate and focus on overlooked primary sources, for a full treatment of the history of the reception of Cabralism I point my reader to Rabaka’s masterful Concepts of Cabralism. The themes and outline of the present chapter are relatively homologous to those of Chaps. 3 and 4. Although Cabral does not hold the exact same philosophical positions as Fanon, their views share important and identifiable commonalities. In what follows I show how elements of Cabral’s conceptions of religion, ontology, and philosophy of science relate to his revolutionary and socialist orientation. In doing so, the philosophical commitments of another anti-colonial revolutionary are effectively contrasted to proponents of the differential approach.

5.1   Against Magical Interpretations of Reality Cabral’s critique of religion and religious authorities does not result from a personal vendetta, nor can one fully understand his thought without taking such criticisms seriously. His views are corollaries of his atheism, are consistent with his general ontological claims, and are responses to real, practical problems of the revolution in Guinea-Bissau. Not unlike Fanon’s critique of traditional religious authorities and the problems they multiply, Cabral time and again criticizes religion and religious authorities (of the colonizer and the colonized) in the context of Guinean and Cape Verdean decolonization. One can contrast this position to other forms of resistance in African history that incorporated aspects of religion for political ends. For example, the Ndebele and Shona resisted European colonization on

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behalf of spirits and Mwari (God). The leadership of the Maji Maji uprisings against the Germans in Tanganyika considered themselves to be spokesmen of spirits and acted accordingly. A variety of ‘Ethiopianist’ Christian movements in Africa were also predicated on various prophecies. And in the 1964 rebellions led by Pierre Mulele in the Congo, his rural followers believed that charms and spells were sufficient to protect themselves from bullets, to disastrous ends.5 Cabral rejects religiously based approaches to resistance for pragmatic reasons.6 The religious beliefs with which he was primarily concerned often led to a carelessness with one’s own life and those of others. Moreover, Cabral understood such beliefs to inhibit a sufficiently adequate knowledge of nature and society. Cabral and the PAIGC do not suppress religious beliefs, but discourage them to the extent that they hinder the resistance. There exist immediate negative effects of certain (not all) religious beliefs on the Guinean revolution. In 1969 Cabral notes, Various comrades who are sitting here have an amulet at their waist, in the belief that this will allow them to escape Portuguese bullets. But not one of you can say to me that not one of the comrades who have already died in our struggle had an amulet at his waist. They all had them! It is just that in our struggle we have to respect this, we have to respect this because we start from our reality. We cannot in the least order the comrades to tear off the amulet… There were cases of comrades dying in the following way. An aircraft arrives, everyone dives for the ground, the aircraft bombards but nothing happens. Suddenly a comrade remembers that he does not have his amulet with him; he stands up, runs to his hut and grabs the amulet; on his return he is machine-gunned and dies with the amulet in his hand. Perhaps some of you know of similar cases. But how many of you can think this: what foolishness this is, how can it be?7

The foregoing names and considers a concrete problem that emerges during the revolution. Amulets either do or do not possess an occult, vicarious power to protect one from bullets. Cabral offers examples in favor of the latter position, but also openly expresses a need to meet people where they are. That said, the PAIGC’s approach to consciousness-raising does not entail the false humility of craftily sifting noble lies through a group’s particular mythological predilections. When one compares the passage above with others on religion (see below), one can see that Cabral derives a principle of patience and charity from his materialist interpretation of the

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history of religion. He and the PAIGC do not pursue a policy of anti-­ religious hard power. Cabral states as much explicitly while outlining the Party’s principles, “On the cultural plane, our Party has tried to derive the best possible result, the best possible benefit from our cultural reality. It does so by not banning what it is possible not to ban without prejudicing the struggle, or by creating new ideas in the comrades’ spirit, new ways of seeing reality.”8 Nonetheless, Cabral openly expresses his criticism of the idea that amulets are causally efficacious rather than pretending that the problem does not exist. This matter of life and death is taken up a number of different times. On the one hand, Cabral’s critique of religion takes local practices as its object. In Análise de alguns Tipos de Resistência, for example, he discusses the need to overcome the dread of the “wide eyes of the sorcerers in our land” and to dispel “magical interpretations of reality.”9 Cabral intervenes in the local political economy of otherworldly hope and fear in Guinea and Cape Verde, arguing that amulets, curses, sorcerers, spirits, and charms such as animal horns do not harbor the power many think they possess. He negotiates the present difficulty by recalling humorous anecdotes, by explaining thunderstorms in terms of chemistry, and by situating African religious practices in the context of other religious practices around the world and throughout history. Consider the following passage: Comrades, we laugh about this now, but many of the comrades who are seated here are still afraid of animal horns. Today we laugh and are afraid. (Don’t think that when the children from São Vicente arrive with their delusions, or when those of Praia or the Cape Verdean woods arrive, that they aren’t afraid too, afraid of Moors, for instance. Once when I got sick, my mother took me to a Moor because she thought that perhaps someone had done evil to me …). But we’re certain that, in our land tomorrow, the children of our people in Guinea and Cape Verde, in the woods, will no longer be afraid of animal horns … Animal horns don’t do anything.10

Here Cabral situates his own life in terms of religion. He offers a brief autobiographical anecdote about one of his early experiences with religious practices in West Africa so as not to give the impression that he is somehow above or outside of cultural influences, and to reinforce his rootedness in Africa. Later he then provides an alternative account of what animal horns are, and situates charms in historical terms by reference to Viking practices with animal horns. For Cabral, there are cultural practices

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that function as constants across different groups which are the result of their geography and socio-economic structure. There is no reason to moralize such differences, but the more charms and amulets continue to be misrecognized as harboring a potency that they do not in fact have, the more certain social and political hindrances arise. Fear is often a great deterrent for a variety of actions. But supernatural fears—whose historical-­ material roots and causes cannot be perceived precisely because they are sedimentations of history and because the causes of ideology remain hidden in plain sight—give rise to more problems than they resolve. Since supernatural fears time and again curtail the carrying-out of normal tasks during the revolution, Cabral devotes time to staving off such trepidations. Cabral advances scientific and historical-material explanations not only in order to contest the authoritativeness of certain spiritual perceptions of the world, but also so as to counteract religious authorities’ claims to legitimate political authority, which often conflict with that of the PAIGC and the well-being of the populace. Such motivations and concerns are evinced in Cabral’s directives on cultural resistance: I remember a comrade named Alfucene that we sent for the struggle in Gabu … One day he found me to tell me that the ‘spirit’ in Gabu didn’t want us to fight there unless his son were sacrificed. I interpreted this in the following manner: he was native to Gabu and looking for a way to be in charge, because he wanted to be the chief in Gabu; and so, he wanted to show that the ‘spirit’ was interested in his son, thus, that he should be the boss. I told him: “Comrade, if that’s how we’re going to struggle in Gabu, let’s go look for that ‘spirit’ until we find it and kill it, because it’s a ‘spirit’ from the tugas—it was the tuga who put it there, it’s not from our land … We should give to children the best that we have. We should educate them so that they’re raised with an open spirit…”11

Here Cabral acknowledges that belief in the need for human sacrifices to appease spirits still remains in Africa. But he does not then deduce that human sacrifice is somehow essential to ‘being-African,’ or that to do away with such beliefs and practices would somehow only prove ruinous. He instead provides a concrete example of a case in which a man named Alfucene had called for the sacrifice of his son. Cabral then offers an interpretation of this situation whereby Alfucene’s underlying, non-self-transparent political motivations are highlighted. But the response to Alfucene

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does not consist in decrying such motivations, but in the suggestion that the ‘spirit’ who gave such a command be sought out. Moreover, Cabral historicizes the religious claim on offer, arguing that it originates from Portuguese influence rather than autochthonous sources. This response demonstrates a real practical wisdom in that it (1) encourages another to consider ‘where’ these spirits supposedly reside, thereby raising rather than eliding the question of its existence, (2) does not chastise Alfucene, (3) redirects the comrade’s attention to the central revolutionary strategy (decolonization), and (4) does so in a way that is meant to reinforce the collective character of the struggle, namely, by posing a hypothetical project in the form of “let us” rather than “you need to…” Here one can see a concrete example of Cabral’s preference for persuasion over hard power. The directive under consideration then pivots between ‘spirit’ considered as a supernatural agent to the need to develop the children of Guinea with an ‘open spirit.’ Here the very word ‘spirit’ undergoes a subtle transformation that mirrors the PAIGC’s intended transformation of Guinean society itself. In effect, Cabral is offering a program of self-determination, which might be summarized as follows: “We no longer want to be directed by spirits from without, but to be self-­directed by our own spirit.” Cabral’s critique of religion also has Portuguese colonial Catholicism as its object. Portuguese colonialists, as was common among other European colonial powers, at times attempted to convert local peoples through a host of evangelizing tactics and techniques. While discussing material to be taught in local schools, Cabral recalls, At school in my time they taught the birth of Jesus Christ, that the Virgin Mary had a baby while remaining a virgin, and I even respected that, and even seemed to understand it in that time. They taught the miracle of the ascension in the books espoused at that time, miracles like the miracle of roses and whatnot. If in that time they taught miracles to children, why can we not teach our land’s greatest miracle—that men and women reunited to mobilize our people for struggle, to put an end to suffering, to misery, to wretchedness, to blows, kicks, forced labor, etc.?12

Here Cabral criticizes Portuguese colonial Catholicism as equally inimical to overcoming magical interpretations of reality. Within this context, he uses the term ‘miracle’ in order to pivot between past forms of colonialist indoctrination and the new forms of education being instituted in Guinea’s

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forests. The term ‘miracle’ undergoes a rhetorical and conceptual torsion similar to the term ‘spirit’ in the passage analyzed above. Cabral argues that Guineans and Cape Verdeans should teach one another about the history of the PAIGC and about the basics of natural science. Such instruction, in turn, forms part of a larger project of overcoming inferiority and superiority complexes in the colonial political economy of affective life. Such an orientation should not be equated with ‘scientific socialism,’ if by this one understands the application of Marxist theory as a universal, flawless knowledge to African realities combined with bans on religious expression. The PAIGC rather articulates a revolutionary socialism that encourages taking the natural and social sciences seriously in order to understand the complexities of reality, to promote material and intellectual advancements, and to provide for the populations’ needs after independence. In other words, the party attempts to phronetically balance a critique of religion with a qualified respect for religious expressions insofar as the latter form part of repressed local cultures. Section VII, Article 7 of the PAIGC Programme institutionalizes this principle: “Religious freedom: freedom to have or not to have a religion. Protection of churches and mosques, of holy places and objects, of legal religious institutions. National independence for religious professionals.”13 In the previous chapter I argued that Fanon does not criticize imperialist Christianity alone, but criticizes religion in both its colonizing and colonized forms. Cabral’s critique is similarly two-sided and inclusive. It levels the playing field. One of his central points is that all religions are united in a de facto animism. ‘Animism’ does not only exist in various past and present societies around the world, but is the practical form of expression of even the most powerful of monotheistic religions.14 Religions ­ultimately are what they practice over and above their abstract self-interpretations, whether such interpretations be relatively impromptu or ensconced in centuries of theological tradition. Animism and polytheism are not lesser, natural forms of religion of which monotheism represents the true, consummate form. Rather, Cabral thinks that a de facto animism lies at the heart of religion. High-theological rationalizations aside, there is no actual, substantive difference between the charms, prayers, songs, dances, meals, and rituals offered to Mary, Jesus, the dead, angels, and saints or to expel demons and the direction of these same types of things toward other spirits by other traditions. Neither set of beliefs and practices are better than the other, and neither has an epistemic or alethic advantage over the other. As with his brief comparative history of the Vikings and

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Guineans, Cabral’s historical-material premises serve to contextualize Guinea and Cape Verde on a broader historical plane. But his unification of religions through the concept of animism equally operates in a critical register. Even contemporary monotheisms are still animist at the end of the day, leaving arrogant practices and institutions of proselytization in an uneasy performative contradiction. Ultimately, Cabral wagers that the practical disadvantages wrought by the alethic and predictive poverty of colonialist and colonized animisms outweigh their positive aspects. He names the numerous pragmatic, immediate, and epistemic hindrances of religious beliefs and practices to the organization, mobilization, and success of the revolution. This is not an importation of ‘secularism,’ but a concrete interpretation of and response to the struggle’s actual, recurrent problems. His on-the-ground contextualization and critique of the colonizing and colonized magical interpretations of reality provides an example of the real pitfalls of spiritual metaphysics. One might contrast this to more romantic assessments of resistance in various other critical theories, whether concerning political spirituality, liberation theology, or considerations of divine beings as agents within colonial/anticolonial histories. Cabral’s critique of religion challenges the status quo of certain cultural, postcolonial, and decolonial studies insofar as it rejects these latter alternatives as viable or formidable means of effective and long-term political transformation and decolonization.15 Cabral’s work can be read as in part rehabilitating a pragmatic socialist critique of religion in the context of twentieth-century anticolonial politics. The scope of his critique evinces one of critical theory’s basic working assumptions: there is nothing so sacrosanct that it avoids critical evaluation and possibly even outright contestation—no master, no god, no tradition. The efficacy of Cabral’s revolutionary practice (Guinea and Cape Verde are in fact liberated after centuries of Portuguese misrule) challenges those who study anticolonial politics, decolonization, coloniality, and postcolonialism to question the practicability and reliability of romantic and/or theological visions of social, political, and economic transformation.

5.2   Cabral’s Dialectical Materialism So far I have alluded to the critical aspects of Cabral’s atheism. But atheism only concerns one possible aspect of ontology among others which, considered by itself, says nothing affirmative. In the present section, I mine Cabral’s writings to provide an account of his ontology. Some of the

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questions to be taken up include: How does Cabral articulate his metaphysical realism? In what sense can something be called ‘one’? What does it mean to say that “struggle is a normal condition of all realities in motion,” and how does this relate to dialectics and negativity?16 And, if all realities have a finite beginning and end, how should one understand political temporality specifically? While Cabral does not develop his ontology in systematic fashion, one can nevertheless gather together his scattered philosophical presuppositions and explicit metaphysical claims in order to convey his understanding of the composition and structure of the world. For Cabral, the world is composed of real things that exist in relation to one another. The world’s realities are always moving, are finite, interact with one another in terms of resistance and struggle, combine to form various unities, and can be considered under the aspect of positivity and negativity. Many real things exist independently of the mind, but the ideas in one’s head are also realities among others. Cabral explicitly rejects metaphysical idealism in favor of realism while outlining the Party’s Principles: There are those in the world who take the view that reality depends on the way in which man interprets it. For such, reality—things seen, touched, felt, the world around each human being—are the consequence of what man has in his head. There are others who take the view that reality exists and that man forms part of reality. It is not what he has in his head that defines reality, but reality itself that defines man. Man is part of reality, man is within reality and it is not what he has in his head that defines reality. On the contrary, reality itself under which the man lives is what defines the things man has in his head. You may ask: what is our position in PAIGC in respect to these two views? Our view is the following: man is part of reality, reality exists independently of man’s will. To the extent to which he acquires consciousness of reality, to the extent in which reality influences his consciousness, or creates his consciousness, man can acquire the potential to transform reality, little by little.17

Thoughts and mind can transform realities but do not create reality ex nihilo. Reality ‘defines’ human beings in the etymological sense of delimiting and setting parameters to our existence in the last instance. While reality exists independently of the will, reality can enter into one’s consciousness, and to this extent can be taken up as a means for transforming the web of relations within which one finds oneself. Practically speaking, to say that

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mind does not create reality contains a tacit, built-in pedagogical and epistemological component. If consciousness does not construct reality itself, if consciousness only becomes empowered to the extent that reality becomes thoughtfully appropriated, and if all realities struggle to continue to exist, then the realist striving for collective empowerment has a number of particularly strong reasons to try to understand the world in all of its complexity. The most basic unit of reality for Cabral would seem to be individual ‘things’ or ‘unities.’ In his reflection on the Party’s motto ‘Unity and Struggle,’ he distinguishes between two basic types of unity, We can clearly take unity in a sense which one might call static, at a standstill, as no more than a question of number. For example, if we consider the entirety of bottles in the world, one bottle is a unity. If we consider the entirety of men meeting in this hall, comrade Daniel Barreto is a unity. And so on. Is this the unity that we are interested in considering in our work when we speak of our Party principles? It is and it is not. It is to the extent that we want to transform a varied entirety of persons into a well defined entirety seeking one path. And it is not because here we must not forget that within this entirety there are diverse elements. Rather the meaning of unity that we see in our principles is the following: whatever might be the existing differences, we must be one, an entirety, to achieve a given aim. This means that in our principle, unity is taken in a dynamic sense, in motion.18

Here Cabral draws a distinction between unities statically considered only under the aspect of number, on the one hand, and unities dynamically considered as sets of differences united in a common aim, on the other. The former would seem to be logically and ontologically prior to the latter: “quantitative transformations are what produce qualitative ones.”19 Dynamic unities emerge from and are of a more complex order than mere aggregates. Both merely aggregative unities and dynamic unities never exist in isolation. All individuals have some relation to other individuals. But individuals themselves also turn out to be relationally comprised. Cabral notes, “A concept of some being refers to the qualities of this being. The qualities of a being B are defined through another, A, by means of the relation A-B—that is, the qualities are oriented relations.”20 Put otherwise, the qualities or properties predicated of a thing simply express an oriented relation or set of relations at some particular time. But Cabral is not simply affirming the contingency of accidental properties à la Aristotle.21 Going

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further, he categorically reduces all qualities to relations, arguing that the former do not exist in themselves. He argues, for example, that “Erodibility is not an intrinsic quality of soil precisely because intrinsic qualities do not exist. Qualities are oriented relations. They are intimately linked to the conditions in which the being to which they refer develops.”22 Here, even at the level of pedology, one can note that, for Cabral, “reality is fluid (the world is in permanent evolution—everything transforms).”23 Unities are reconstituted over time and thereby lose the intrinsic qualities that they might at one time mistakenly have been thought to harbor. The properties of things are not inherent to them, but are rather the expression of a nexus of situated relations at some moment. For Cabral, the world comprises all relata in motion as well as those relations that link them. ‘Struggle’ and ‘resistance’ comprise two concepts that capture dynamic relations of force between realities in motion. Both concepts express the basic idea that “reality never exists in isolation”24 at the level of force. That there “is always a resistance against a resistance” and that “struggle is a normal condition of all realities in motion” constitute core elements of Cabral’s ontology, and these principles extend from the most basic realm of physics and chemistry to the sphere of global politics.25 He concludes his brief lesson on magnetism and gravity by noting that “any force acting on an object can only exist if there is an opposite force.”26 But as an agronomist, Cabral’s examples and analogies often make use of ecological and environmental images to express his central ideas. He speaks, for example, of the struggle of the tree to grow and withstand storms. For Cabral, resistance and struggle are basic elements of reality in motion. Not only is there struggle and resistance between impersonal forces such as those of chemistry, but also forms of struggle and resistance between living beings. The most fundamental of all struggles is that “between the capacity for preservation and the destruction which time brings to things.”27 Such basic principles extend to political matters as well, “Our struggle is the consequence of the pressure (or oppression) which the Portuguese colonialists exert on our society.”28 There thus exist contiguous differences between types of unity, resistance, and struggle, differences which themselves must be effectively analyzed and mobilized for the sake of the anticolonial struggle. While both static and dynamic unities have political import, Cabral notes that the latter type is particularly relevant to the revolution. For instance, if the members of the PAIGC did not exist as unities of their own accord, then the question of their dynamic political organization could

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not arise in principle. It is this latter ‘unity-for’ that takes precedence in Cabralian political ontology in contrast to mere numerical unity. Cabral offers many more examples, such as that of a football team’s unity as well as an example of a basket of fruit brought for sale. In regard to the latter, he again deploys his distinction concerning the two basic types of unity, noting that the unity ‘basket of fruit’ can be understood under the aspect of number. But it is a different type of unity when considered under the aspect of an objective, that is, the basket of fruit as intended for sale. The latter constitutes a ‘unity-for-something.’29 Considered as a ‘unity-for,’ the basket exists as a means, and in particular as a means within larger, real socio-economic relations. As noted previously, Cabral explicitly rejects the primacy of mind over reality. This not only includes the relation of human consciousness to the world, but also and a fortiori, as evidenced by his extensive critique of religion, to any form of divine or supernatural consciousness considered as prior to, behind, or beyond the world. In other words, ‘unity-for-something’ is not ontologically primordial, because there is no one directing and giving purpose to the world behind the scenes. Unity-for-something, and thus also unity-for-political-struggle, must be forged out of more basic relations between things and forces that interact with one another. Presumably, unity and struggle only become means for each other at sufficiently complex levels of reality. In and of themselves, bananas, mangoes, and papayas in a basket do not exist for each other; they make up a mere sum. But the fruit in this basket does become a ‘unity-for’ within the context of a market. In a similar way, anticolonial liberation consists in positing a goal, an aim, an objective whereby individuals become ‘unities-­ for-­struggle’ and whereby the continued preservation of this new singularity must continually exert and express itself as ‘struggle-for-unity.’ Cabral notes, “Now, taken together, unity and struggle mean that for struggle unity is necessary, but to have unity it is also necessary to struggle … Unity and struggle. Unity for us to struggle against the colonialists and struggle for us to achieve our unity, for us to construct our land as it should be.”30 Unity-for-struggle and struggle-for-unity pass over into and sublate one another in the dialectical process of revolutionary decolonization. The concepts of struggle, resistance, and force express an element of negativity in Cabral’s thought. As he notes, “[T]his is the wonder of the world: all things have two aspects, one positive and the other negative.”31 At the levels of history, politics, economics, and culture, the more basic forms of unity, struggle, force, and resistance converge and give rise to

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contradictions. Cabral variously employs the dialectical language of ‘contradictions’ in a number of passages. In his early agronomic work, he makes use of a decidedly Hegelian form of dialectics to advance his own contribution to pedological theory. In the process of weathering, he argues, meteorization amounts to the (relative) negation of rock. The further negation of this process of meteorization itself corresponds to the development of the soil-body. And, “From this double negation a new being emerges—independent, natural, and historical … Soil is not only the font of life, but also a product of it.” The classical moments of Hegel’s Aufhebung are here appropriated for the theorization of soil science beyond the theorization of soil in primarily utilitarian (Sprengel), chemical (Leibig), or geological (Richtofen) terms.32 Elsewhere, especially in his political writings, the tidiness and predictability of Hegelian dialectics becomes muted and is superseded by a broadly Maoist conception of material contradictions. Cabral follows Mao in the appropriation and usage of the Leninist notion of dialectical contradictions. Yet, as with Fanon, dialectical contradictions for Cabral serve a more diagnostic than predictive function. For instance, Cabral writes, “In Guiné and in Cape Verde our aim was to eliminate the contradictions in the best way possible, to raise everybody to unite around a common objective: to chase out the Portuguese colonialists.”33 Here Cabral alludes to the contradictions inherent in colonialism, but his claims concern strategy rather than prophecy. In “The Role of Culture in the Struggle for Independence,” he argues that the desire by some petit-bourgeois elites to return to some original, cultural source only marks, at best, a first negative moment in the dialectic of revolutionary mobilization. And this first negation proves insufficient insofar as it fails to break with and surpass the underlying contradiction of colonialism. This contradiction consists, on the one hand, of the white supremacist preservation of autochthonous identities in order to racially divide the rulers from the ruled, and on the other hand, of the destruction of these same autochthonous identities, social structures, and cultures in order to accumulate raw materials and surplus-value.34 The concept of ‘contradiction’ is a shorthand way of simultaneously expressing the ways in which the forces of preservation and destruction determine all finite beings. Cabral considers the fundamental struggle—the world’s principal contradiction—as that between the preservation of some unity and the destruction brought to said thing by means of time. Unities that struggle against and resist one another do so over time. Cabral is not first and

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foremost concerned with the metaphysical question, “What is time?” In many regards, he simply has no time for this question. But just as analogies about struggles within nature are ultimately directed to help the people better understand and contextualize the anticolonial struggle, the claim about the finitude of real unities is likewise meant to foreground the finitude of cultures, economies, political systems, and social formations. In his speech in Havana in 1966, “Presuppositions and objectives of national liberation in relation to social structure,” Cabral challenges the opening line of the first section of the Communist Manifesto. He argues that history does not begin only from the initiation of class struggle, as this would leave swaths of periods of human life in Africa, Asia, and Latin America outside of human history. On the contrary, imperialism does not bring history to peoples but rather makes them leave their histories. Cabral argues that imperialism causes a stagnation, arrest, paralysis, and at times regression of local histories.35 In other words, certain aspects of colonized time—such as productive forces and cultures—slow down, are paralyzed, and stagnate when shoved within the inertial frame of colonialist or imperialist time. The accelerated productive forces imposed by imperialism for the sake of the extraction of value and the concomitant imposition of colonialist regimes of historical representation results in the objective slowing down of local productive forces, cultures, and histories. Colonialism does not bring a singular world history to non-historical beings, but stifles and suppresses a plurality of already-existent histories.36 The foregoing not only pertains to political temporality but also to agricultural temporality, both of which are intimately connected to one another. For example, Cabral notes that the speed of production enforced by colonial authorities greatly diminishes fallow times (pousio), which makes the already precarious situation of itinerant agriculture all-the-more dangerous for indigenous livelihoods.37 Ultimately, Cabral’s philosophy of history coheres well with his general metaphysical realism.

5.3   Decolonizing Luso-African Mesology [E]ducate the people and create conditions of life that put to an end to the constant fight—the fight to the death—between humans and trees. (Amílcar Cabral)38

I now want to turn from a reconstruction of the basic elements of Cabral’s ontology to a reconstruction of the political and epistemic components of

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what I have elsewhere referred to as Cabral’s ‘revolutionary anticolonial mesology.’39 I argue that ‘Luso-African mesology,’ with particular focus on that of Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, constitutes the object of Cabral’s revolutionary-socialist method of epistemic decolonization. I begin by defining and justifying this designation. Next, I provide a non-­ comprehensive account of some dimensions of colonialist political agronomy and Indigenous agricultural knowledge systems in Guinea-Bissau that make up the background and target of decolonization. Finally, I unpack Cabral’s conception of science, specifically, soil science, as a key tool in his struggle to decolonize knowledge. In his agronomic article “Acerca da Utilização da Terra na África Negra,” Cabral explains the historical-political factors of colonialism in Africa so as to grasp and contextualize its agricultural challenges. In sync with his other writings on culture, he argues that European colonialism introduced an economy of extraction into the agricultural practices of Africa with regular, unsustainable, and destructive effects. This imposition, which did not completely do away with itinerant cultivation of the land, introduced novel contradictions and new needs in an unfamiliar environment where Europeans time and again failed to attend to Africa’s different mesological conditions (“sem atender à diferença das condições mesológicas”). Mesology—a synonym for ecology—signifies the attempt to understand the relations of living things to their environments. The term, however, also at one time meant the study of ways of attaining happiness. Etymologically, mesology signifies a discourse (logos) concerning mediality and the betweenness of things (mesos), and its historical double signification in regard to ecological and eudaemonic matters helps to best characterize Cabral’s agropolitical thought and praxis. The peoples of Guinea and Cape Verde found themselves amidst situations of colonial oppression, in the middle of certain dire ecological circumstances, and suffering because of these contrived and alienating frameworks. Cabral is attuned to and responds to each of these aspects of colonialism, and one can group the facets of his anticolonial political project under the concept of ‘mesology’ in its multiple senses: (1) his praxis involves the decolonization of adverse environmental conditions imposed on various forms of human and non-human life, (2) his thought always attempts to understand and situate realities as these exist in relations of resistance between one another in the middle of larger milieus, and (3) his revolutionary project seeks the complete rearrangement of these relations and milieus in order to undermine the continued colonial production of negative affects,

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that is, to change structures and environments in order to create more significant opportunities for happiness.40 Cabral’s revolutionary-socialist form of epistemic decolonization, I argue, is directed at ‘Luso-African mesology.’ By ‘Luso-African mesology’ I mean that nexus of conflicts between Indigenous and European discourses and practices in the Luso-African world (especially, for present purposes, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau) concerning agriculture and the environment, both of which are inseparable from broader battles for various cultural, political, social, and economic ‘goods,’ in the double sense of both ‘commodities’ and ‘values.’ In the case at hand, decolonization has as its object not only local Indigenous agricultural practices or Portuguese agricultural theories/practices, but both. Cabral explicitly argues that Guinean agriculture is both Black African and colonized by the Portuguese, not only one or the other. Both historical forces are interdependent, and the latter is not merely extrinsically super-imposed on the former.41 Defense of the land thus requires a decolonization of the fusion between colonialist agronomy and colonized agricultural concepts and practices. And, consistent with his dialectical conception of history, this process not only involves forms of destruction but also of construction. Before elaborating Cabral’s conception of science and the way in which he considered concrete analyses to be central in addressing the “crisis of knowledge”42 in which he found himself, it first proves necessary to describe the two main facets of Luso-African mesology confronted by Cabral prior to and during the revolution. In regard to local Indigenous agricultural knowledge systems, Cabral emphatically notes in multiple places that autochthonous groups have empirical knowledge of the environment, that the Balantas specifically are very effective in the cultivation of rice, and that such cultivation is remarkably successful given all of its concrete obstacles.43 The Guinean highlands are considered a ‘second cradle’ for Oryza glaberrima, a variety of rice cultivated by Africans such as the Mandinka for centuries prior to the arrival of Portuguese merchants and sailors.44 Such cultivation required that mangrove forests be removed, allowing for bolanhas to be cultivated by large groups of well-organized laborers. Walter Hawthorne notes that such techniques involved a “leaching of salt from the soil before rice could be produced. This was accomplished by introducing a large quantity of freshwater onto the soil so that salt levels could be dissipated enough to permit cultivation. Mangrove farmers typically constructed dikes and paddies to capture fresh rainwater and hold back the tidal surges of brackish

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water.” The ability to use iron implements and to organize densely populated settlements for such difficult tasks constitute one reason the Mandinka rather than the Balanta first employed such methods in The Gambia. Early seventeenth-century sources indicate that the latter were first involved in the consociation of beans, pumpkins, maize, and yams.45 The Balanta most likely shifted to paddy rice cultivation in the era of the Atlantic slave trade due to increased access to iron implements, rise in violence along the coast, and the greater yields provided by this crop.46 As with other knowledge systems, the Balanta knowledge system of paddy rice cultivation involves certain metaphysical beliefs, such as myths of creation in which God created the Balanta people specifically for this form of cultivation. But said knowledge system also contains a variety of justified true beliefs as well as remarkable feats of engineering. For example, the Balanta knew that N’contu (a type of O. glaberrima) is more resistant to salt water than other strains of rice, and that these “have broad canopies, which tend to suppress weed growth.” European merchants mistakenly thought that such strains, due to their dark color, were of poor quality. The paddy rice cultivation knowledge system also included knowledge that the density and slow decomposition rate of mangrove wood allow it to be best used for the building of dikes, which play a central role in bolanha desalination.47 Such knowledge remains inseparable from the practices and engineering accomplishments accrued over the history of its development: After paddies are constructed, their walls trap the fresh rainwater in which rice will grow. The level of the water has to be kept relatively constant, so many Balanta construct automatic water dischargers out of hollow logs into which are set stoppers on cords. They fit these into the outermost dike. These dischargers shut automatically with the rising of the tide, keeping saltwater out of paddies. They open when tides fall below the level of the stoppers and excess water brought by rains into the paddies flows through the water dischargers into the river.48

After cultivation, fields are flooded with brackish water to deter soil oxidation and the production of acid sulfates.49 These are but a few of the elements of the Balanta knowledge system of paddy rice cultivation with which Cabral would have been familiar. Even before the time of Cabral’s research in 1957, the Balantas had become the predominant growers of

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floodplain rice, whereas others such as the Mandinkas engaged in cyclical production of peanuts, sorghum, and yarrow.50 Indigenous knowledge systems of agriculture were colonized not only in that their products were extracted to the detriment of their over-taxed Indigenous co-producers, but also in the external implementation of an “empire of groundnuts.”51 The Portuguese institution of groundnut monocultures does not fall outside of the astute, general observations made by Mamdani, “Forced crops need to be understood in the context of an agriculture from which surpluses have been constantly extracted but to which very little has been returned in the form of improved inputs, whether implements of labor, seeds, or fertilizers … Colonial agriculture substitutes protein-rich food crops for high-starch, low-labor food crops, thus producing famines.”52 For Cabral, one cannot understand or decolonize Luso-African mesology without comprehending its embeddedness in colonial history. He applies this principle to his other analyses as well, arguing that the ‘discovery’ of the New World involved ecological destruction and produced accelerated erosion, and noting that one cannot leave aside the effects of Roman colonization and Portuguese imperialism in accounting for the agricultural realities of the Alentejo.53 In Guinea-Bissau, colonialist monocultures operated as systems of structural violence and were upheld by a bureaucracy about which Cabral has nothing positive to say. First, Indigenous farmers were paid “an artificially depressed price for their cash crops.”54 Annual crop price fluctuations posed a grave danger to farmers, and monocultures (in distinction from forms of consociation) put farmers at risk if they did not have a successful season. Moreover, groundnut cultivation degrades the soil, intensifies erosion, does not prove best for Guinea given its agroclimatic conditions, and impoverishes the diet of the farmer.55 In his numerous agronomic studies, Cabral notes the development of a balance in Indigenous farming practices between cultivating certain areas and leaving others fallow, a sustainable, technical knowledge developed over many generations to protect the soil. “Unfortunately with the changeover to groundnuts the attitude of the farmer was now determined by external socio-economic factors which set no upper limits on production in contrast to subsistence cultivation in which strict limits were determined by need.”56 These aforementioned agropolitical issues were in turn compounded by colonialist structural and counter-revolutionary violence. Prior to the revolution, an inept agricultural bureaucracy did nothing to improve the lives of farmers. Cabral notes, “The Agricultural Services,

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after 30 years of existence, in large part aligned with the Cattle Breeding Services, have barely been able to surpass the realm of a complex and useless bureaucracy, always conditioned by the scarcity of raw materials which has become justification for an already chronic inactivity.” During the revolution, to these bureaucratic omissions were added militarist commissions. The Portuguese bombed granaries, killed cattle, and used toxic chemicals to destroy crops.57 The decolonization of the colonialist and colonized aspects of Luso-­ African mesology required, in the PAIGC’s estimation, a war of national liberation. But it also required that one become epistemically grounded so as to proceed effectively and resolutely through the political struggle and “crisis of knowledge” at hand. Like Fanon, Cabral was a scientist, specifically, a trained agronomist who graduated at the top of his class. Throughout his professional career as an agronomist, Cabral operated as director of the Office of Experimental Agriculture, as head of the Provincial Department of Agriculture and Forestry Services, as Guinea’s General Inspector of Commerce, and as a subsidiary of the Brigade for Studies of the Phytosanitary Defense of Overseas Goods. And in 1962 he founded an agricultural school, directed by Mário Ribeira Nhambe.58 For Cabral, science emerges from the soil, in that agriculture and the questions and processes of trial and error with which it is wrapped-up constitute the historical-material and technological conditions for the existence of contemporary science. In a real way, soil science returns to this foundation, and should not separate the relation of the land to questions of economics, politics, culture, biology, social structure, and other spheres that impinge upon it. In an early work, this view is best expressed in what I would call Cabral’s speculative history of pedology: One of the characteristics of human beings is the need for knowledge of the world that surrounds them. Determined by and an integral part of Nature, one must struggle against it; one needs to know the causes and the concatenation of phenomena that condition one’s existence. Moreover, one learned that, to mitigate the linked struggle, one has to hold sway over the aforementioned phenomena. From this complex necessity—struggling against, knowing, and holding sway over natural phenomena—Science is born. The mere observation of a phenomenon leads to common knowledge … Yet, when still bound by the imperative of struggle, one would have put to oneself questions like these: “Why does the land give bread? Are there lands that produce more than others—why? Rocks don’t produce bread—why?

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Will it be possible to make a land produce more? How? What in our own land conditions its productivity?” When one attempted to respond to questions like these, that is, sought to comprehend through study the characteristics of the ‘land-plant’ interdependence, one became more aware of a portion of reality. One abandons the insufficiency of common knowledge in order to enter the road to scientific knowledge. One began a construction of an ordered and explicative framework of the ‘land-plant’ phenomenon, in which one tries to interfere consciously, holding sway over it. This is the blossoming of Science from the Soil, which will grow indefinitely… Humans reap food from the soil: this implies that this is, for the individual, a source of conservation. The soil feeds one: this implies that this is a source of destruction—destruction of fertility, destruction of the soil’s own body, by the intervention of other natural factors allied with human action. So, new questions arise: “Will the soil be condemned to disappear? Is it possible for one to utilize the source of conservation without destroying it? Why and how does one destroy it? What are the dominant factors in this destruction? How can one sustain the soil without detriment to the conservation of the human being?”59

Science emerges from and by means of a knowing interaction with its very ground, which is not static but always moving and evolving.60 But science also allows one to pass from familiarity and common knowledge to knowledge of science’s own limitations, including its destructive effects on the land. Through reason (a Razão), science (and pedology in particular) comes to the adequate self-awareness of various interdependencies. But such reason does not emerge from a more primordial, universal Spirit. Cabral’s speculations on the ground of science arise from a more deflationary and humble sense of its down-to-earth origins. ‘Conservation’ then becomes the project of a mature science that has become aware of its permanent interdependence with overlapping environments, such as storehouses, laboratories, ecosystems, continents, and geopolitical spheres. “To defend the land is to defend the human being. Undeniably, this affirmation constitutes an axiom.”61 A science that constantly works to become grounded is one that grasps and overcomes its primordial, utilitarian relation to the ground from which it springs. But what does Cabral mean by ‘science’? First, he states that “The concept of ‘pure science’ has no meaning whatsoever for science in itself.”62 By this I understand him to mean that no science proceeds via detached speculation without experimentation, and that science itself is never in fact divorced from political, social, cultural, and economic relations. He lists

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the following as conditions for science properly so called: (1) It must be experimental, (2) it must promote the collective good of all living beings, including human beings, (3) it needs to be explicative, and its ordered elements must be logically consistent (or in accordance with their own reason), and (4) it has to be in accordance with reality.63 Respectively, these can be understood as Cabral’s experimental, valuative, coherentist, and correspondent conditions for a system of theories and practices to be considered genuinely scientific. Whether these conditions are sufficient and/ or necessary remains somewhat unclear. But that experimentation proved to be of utmost importance for Cabral cannot be sufficiently stressed. His first goal as head of the Posto de Pessubé was to transform it from a place of recreation, picnics, and vegetable production for the colonists into a center of genuine agricultural research. Cabral develops the Boletim Informativo in 1952 to publish the results of the Farm’s experiments and research. One can also see this emphasis on experimentation in his early work, “Em Defesa da Terra. II,” “No more fantasies or hypotheses formulated at a distance or by means of a superficial observation.”64 The influence of Foucault on postcolonial and decolonial theory has occasionally led to a one-sided emphasis on the functioning of power (pouvoir) through scientific experimentation. And science and experimentation can no doubt play major roles in social, economic, political, gendered, and cultural forms of domination. But, as does Fanon, Cabral demonstrates how colonialist quasi-science and a certain lack of experimentation can also serve the purposes of colonialist domination and exploitation. He would not consider Portuguese colonialist science to meet each of the conditions for some form of theory and practice to be properly called ‘science,’ and one reason for this lies in its complete negligence of adequate experimental methods and standards. Secondly, science for Cabral is not and should not be value-neutral or value-free. He explicitly says that a ‘science’ not ordered toward the collective good is simply not a form of science at all. Any “scientific activity that does not have the service of human beings as its proximate or remote objective has no reason for being.”65 If science proper must promote the collective good of living beings (including the collective human good), then Cabral does not fall in line with those who argue that science, ideally, should be value-neutral. Thus large portions of bureaucratically-filtered Portuguese agronomy would not qualify as science proper under this definition. Science should also strive for a logical consistency, or at least strive for an internal coherence. This latter clause offers an interesting

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qualification, because it perhaps allows for a paraconsistency needed in certain branches of science, like quantum mechanics, not needed in other domains. That said, Cabral’s final condition for something to be called science requires that science’s models and theories correspond to realities whose existence does not depend on the human mind. So, certain branches of logic and mathematics might occupy a somewhat liminal place in relation to science for Cabral. If really existing Portuguese agronomy in the context of the Sahel in the twentieth century did not meet some of Cabral’s criteria for science properly so-called, then it would be foolish to think that his own political agronomy would consist in the developmentalistic application of European agronomy to Guinea. This is clearest in his many considerations of the question of the mechanization of agriculture in Guinea. In his early writings, Cabral approaches this question cautiously, slowly, and obliquely, as it were. He argues that science can contribute to solving agricultural problems, but quickly adds that the defense of the land is not only a technical problem. Cabral’s appreciation for the nuances and complexities of agronomy’s relation to economic and political spheres distinguishes his approach markedly from that of Lysenkoist agropolitics.66 Interestingly, and in agreement with Vandana Shiva, Cabral highlights Darwin’s work on the relation of earthworms to the soil as lamentably overlooked and as immensely important for conserving and intensifying the soil’s biological activity. According to Cabral, those who think that all of Guinea’s agricultural problems are due to a lack of mechanized agriculture, and which can be fixed through legislation, have not understood anything. Guinea’s issues bottom-out in economic matters. Mechanization of agriculture is not a panacea. He notes, for example, that mechanization does not solve the problem of the workforce, and he overtly argues that the “simple and immediate application of the practices of European cultivation (including mechanization)” will not resolve “Guinea’s agricultural difficulties.” Elsewhere he again notes that the “practice of imperialist domination, whether it is affirmed or negated, required (and still requires) a precise knowledge of the dominated object and of the real historical (economic, social, cultural) conditions of that object.”67 The decolonization of the entanglement of Portuguese political agronomy with various West African realities cannot proceed by means of mere application of universal categories to particular instances. And since experimental science primarily operates by generalizing from samples and does not consist in the application of universals,68 it cannot and should not—a fortiori—resort to such

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procedures in borrowing technological implements from quasi-scientific sources. The decolonization of the colonialist and colonized knowledge systems that conflict with one another in Guinea and Cape Verde requires a political reorientation of the natural processes of destruction and construction. First, as might surprise those who adopt the differential approach, epistemic decolonization cannot simply amount to a preservation of local, colonized knowledge systems. In his studies of Cape Verde, Cabral argues that the climate and soil have significantly changed from the past. Thus, revegetation for the sake of the defense of the land (politically and agriculturally speaking) might simply require new and different plants.69 He also argues against returning to ethnic divisions of agricultural labor in Resistance and Decolonization. Aside from possibly intensifying internal struggles, as seen through the previous analysis of the history of agricultural knowledge systems as deployed by the Mandinka and Balanta, it is not clear which preferences for which type of cultivation would be ‘traditional’ to one group rather than another. Choosing the starting point for historical traditions proves relatively arbitrary. Moreover, it is difficult to conceive of the monocultural production of groundnuts apart from its entanglement in Portuguese exploitation. And yet epistemic decolonization equally cannot amount to the unthoughtful acceptance and implementation of European agronomy, with its racist propensities and tight linkage to the Companhia União Fabril, “which managed to exercise a monopoly over most economic activity.”70 * * * Cabral’s revolutionary-socialist approach to epistemic decolonization thus requires one to critically sift and work through the positive and negative aspects of as many of the mesological conditions that present themselves during the revolution as possible. This often requires making positive use of what Cabral calls ‘common knowledge,’ such as the knowledge possessed by certain urban dwellers of the customs, languages, and layouts of European sectors (a familiarity which proved very useful for the revolution). And, as Fanon also advised, one must learn with the rural masses and not resign to the unthoughtful importation of foreign ideas. This principle should be kept in mind in any critical analysis of PAIGC vanguardism.71 Yet at many turns such ‘common knowledge’ proves insufficient. For instance, Cabral argues that the mere perception of suffering

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does not guarantee an adequate understanding of exploitation.72 He thus rejects the idea that theory from a first-person perspective alone will prove sufficient for deliberation about exploitation and its confrontation. Political and epistemic decolonization demand more from both theory and practice.

Notes 1. I draw the conceptualization of Fanon and Cabral as ‘organic intellectuals’ from Rabaka’s interpretation of Gramsci and Cabral. Rabaka, Concepts of Cabralism. For two other works that substantially take up the work of both Fanon and Cabral, see Serequeberhan, The Hermeneutics of African Philosophy and Peterson, DuBois, Fanon, Cabral. 2. Cherki, Frantz Fanon, 204 and Davidson, No Fist is Big Enough to Hide the Sky, 127. 3. Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 119 and 129. 4. See Keller, Colonial Madness, 50 and Arriaga, The Portuguese Answer, 51. For Cabral’s critique of Arriaga’s eugenicist political program, see Wood, “Descolonizando las Histórias Biopolíticas con Amílcar Cabral.” Like all fascist generals, Arriaga is never short of astounding claims, for example, “There is no discrimination on lines of colour in any Portuguese territory.” The Portuguese Answer, 12. 5. Davidson, No Fist is Big Enough to Hide the Sky, 45–47. 6. See Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 55–60. For other attestations to Cabral’s “espírito pragmático,” see Gouveia, “A intervenção nô âmbito da fitosanidade do armazenamento”, 30 and Schwarz, “Amilcar Cabral: An Agronomist before his Time”, 89. When I refer to Cabral’s work as ‘pragmatic,’ I do not thereby intend to situate him in relation to American pragmatism, but use the term in the more colloquial sense. However, Cabral does share with the pragmatists an emphasis on experimentation in the acquisition of truth, especially in the realm of science. 7. Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 58–59. 8. Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 60. 9. Cabral, Análise de alguns Tipos de Resistência, 13 and 92–93. 10. Cabral, Resistance and Decolonization, 119–20. One of the Vietnamese leaders Cabral perhaps has in mind is Tru’ò’ng Chinh, whose text La résistance vaincra (The Resistance Will Win) played an influential role in the structure and content of Cabral’s set of directives collected in Análise de alguns Tipos de Resistência. For more on this connection, see Wood, “Imbrications of Coloniality”, 46.

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11. Cabral, Resistance and Decolonization, 116. Nkrumah addresses a similar issue at a broader historical register. Cf. Consciencism, 31–32: “Where gods are used to account for nature a certain degree of sacerdotal power is inevitable; and where priests have wielded political power, it is not only explanations of natural phenomena which have been bemused with theology; theological explanations for social phenomena have also been encouraged. With the priests securely installed as the only authorized populizers of the divine will, the only persons fitted by calling and by grace to expound mystic purposes, social inequalities arise to fortify their exclusive role. And since their power is thought of as being rooted in the divine will, it becomes hard to contest. It therefore assumes the form of an authoritarianism which, if unhindered, can come to revel in the most extreme oppression. The history of societies in which priests have wielded political power abundantly illustrates this tendency.” 12. Cabral, Resistance and Decolonization, 98–99. For an example of the violence of Catholic priests against Africans, see Urdang, Fighting Two Colonialisms, 210. 13. Cabral, Revolution in Guinea, 174. A similar statement can be found in the Party’s general watchwords: “Respect and ensure respect for each one’s religion and the right not to have religion.” In Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 243. The PAIGC’s views on religion do not by themselves resolve all of the problems between religion and politics, but articulate a particular mitigation between these often overlapping forces. Religious expression is not banned, but its various possible influences in the political sphere are discouraged and criticized. 14. See Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 57–58: “In Guiné, the culture of our people is the product of many African cultures: each ethnic group has its own culture, but they all share a common base, in their world view and their relations in society. And we know that although there are Moslem populations, at bottom they are also animists, like the Balanta and others. They believe in Allah, but also believe in the iram spirit and in sorcerers. They have the Koran but an amulet on their arm and other things. And the success of Islam in our land, as in Africa in general, is that Islam is able to understand this, to tolerate the culture of others, whereas the Catholics want to put a quick finish to all this and have only belief in the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Fatima and God and our Lord Jesus Christ … Even today there are some who carry an ikon of Our Lady of Fatima inside a small book; it is their amulet. The Bible is their amulet and before beginning battles they cross themselves. The Portuguese come along with a great cross on their chest and at the moment of beginning the battle, they kiss it; it is their amulet.”

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15. On the gesture toward a ‘political spirituality’ in the context of revolutionary politics, see Foucault, “What are the Iranians Dreaming About?” 209. For an argument for the incorporation of divine agents into anticolonial historical reconstruction, see Chakrabarty, “Translating Life-Worlds into Labor and History.” See also Gutiérrez, Teología de la Liberación. 16. Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 83. 17. Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 44–45 18. Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 28–29. 19. Cabral, “Sobre o Conceito do Solo”, 95. 20. Cabral, “O Problema da Erosão do Solo: Contribuição para o seu Estudo na Região de Cuba (Alentejo)”, 88. 21. Aristotle, Metaphysica, 1031a12. 22. Cabral, “O Problema da Erosão do Solo: Contribuição para o seu Estudo na Região de Cuba (Alentejo)”, 111. Cf. Nietzsche, The Will to Power, §625: “There is no ‘essence-in-itself’ (it is only relations that constitute an essence—)…” 23. Cabral, “Estudo do clima da região de Cuba em relação à defesa da terra”, 88. 24. Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 47. 25. Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 83. 26. Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 32. 27. Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 83. Cf. Tse-Tung, “On Contradiction”, 69: “Simple growth in plants and animals, their quantitative development, is likewise chiefly the result of their internal contradictions.” 28. Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 84. 29. Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 29. 30. Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 33. 31. Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 30. Cf. Cabral, “Para o Conhecimento do Problema da Erosão do Solo na Guiné”, 208: “Uma característica da natureza é o seu estado de movimento e transformação perpétuos, de renovação e desenvolvimento incessantes. Nela há algo que aparece e se desenvolve, alguma coisa que se desagrega e desaparece. Tudo na natureza apresenta um lado positivo e um negativo, um passado e um futuro, elementos que desaparecem e outros que se desenvolvem.” 32. Cabral, “Estudo do clima da região de Cuba em relação à defesa da terra”, 91. Cabral credits Vasily Dokutchaiev as primarily responsible for conceptualizing the soil as thoroughly historical and quasi-living, thereby overcoming past limitations in pedological theory and practice. 33. Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 40. Mao makes a number of claims about the inevitable spread of socialism throughout the world that Fanon and Cabral would not likely endorse with the same optimism and certitude. See Tse-­ tung, “On Contradiction”, 90–95. Not only Cabral’s later political writ-

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ings, but also his agronomic writings, demonstrate a shift away from the schematic nature of Hegelian dialectics to a more fluid, partly Maoist conception. See, for example, Cabral, “Acerca da Utilização da Terra na África Negra”, 243. I must thank Jasmine Wallace for bringing to my attention the possible influence of Mao’s “On Contradiction” on Cabral’s thought. Cooley also attests to Cabral’s having carefully read Mao’s works. See East Winds Over Africa, 130. 34. In Cabral, Resistance and Decolonization. Memmi expresses a similar point when he notes that “le colonialiste n’a jamais décidé de transformé la colonie à l’image de la métropole, et le colonisé à son image. Il ne peut admettre une tell adéquation qui détruirait le principe de ses privilegès.” Portrait du colonisé, 89. 35. Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 124; Cabral, Revolution in Guinea, 68; Cabral, Resistance and Decolonization, 170. Again, Cabral’s conception of history can be compared to Memmi’s notions of the sociohistorical enkystement, corset imposé, and catalepsie of the colony. See Portrait du colonisé: précédé de Portrait du colonisateur, 120. 36. See Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 128 and Cabral, Revolution in Guinea, 78. For more on Cabral’s critique of colonialist forms of historical representation, see Wood, “Imbrications of Coloniality.” Reiland Rabaka suggests that when Cabral uses the concept “‘productive forces’ … he is referring to all of the cultural, political and economic resources through which the wretched of the earth (re)enter the open-ended process of their distinct historical development. Consequently, ‘productive forces,’ as it is used here, encompasses much more than economic issues.” See Rabaka, Concepts of Cabralism, 192. For more on Cabral’s theory of history, see “The Liberation Struggle: Existence and Historicity” in Serequeberhan, The Hermeneutics of African Philosophy. Cabral’s critical theory of history might be compared to various European critical theorists who do not significantly break with typical transitio imperii narratives of world history codified as ‘Western.’ See, for example, “World Spirit and Natural History”, in Adorno, Negative Dialectics; “The Critique of Universal History” and “‘Negative’ Universal History”, in Adorno, History and Freedom; and “Michel Foucault et le zen: un séjour dans un temple zen.” My criticism of such histories shares much in common with Blaut’s arguments in The Colonizer’s Model of the World. 37. Cabral, “Queimadas e Pousios na Circunscrição de Fulacunda em 1953”, 262. Cabral is primarily concerned with accelerated (rather than aeolic or pluvial) erosion. See Cabral, “Sobre o Conceito de Erosão do Solo”, 102. Had they been able to collaborate, perhaps Cabral might have also had advice for Fanon and the FLN, since Algeria found itself faced with ­somewhat related agronomic issues: “[T]he colonial administration applied

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a rigorous forestry-management program to Algeria’s woodlands, thereby severely limiting access to what had always been an important communal resource. Algerians responded to these constraints by assarting new lands and by overcropping arable land still in their hands. The latter response led to soil depletion because of a lack of fertilizers, and this resulted in declining grain yields. The clearing and cultivation of marginal lands gave rise to problems of deforestation and erosion.” Fitzgerald, “Markets, Commodity Production and Indigenous Farmers in Colonial Algeria”, 54. In the mid-­1970s, a study of sixty-three so-called developing nations found that 87 per cent indicated that erosion and loss of soil fertility was the greatest environmental risk faced. See Barreto, “As preocupações ecológicas”, 43. 38. Cabral, “Em Defesa da Terra. III.”, 74. 39. Wood, “Imbrications of Coloniality”, 56–59. 40. Cabral, “Acerca da Utilização da Terra na África Negra”, 248. My characterization of Cabral’s conjunction of eudemonic and ecological concerns as broadly mesological, of course, does not mean to suggest that he was explicitly thinking along these philological lines. 41. Cabral, “Queimadas e Pousios na Circunscrição de Fulacunda em 1953”, 251–52. 42. See Cabral, Revolution in Guinea, 17: “The positive balance-sheet of the year 1960 cannot make us forget the reality of a crisis in the African revolution which, far from being a mere growing pain, is a crisis of knowledge.” See also Cabral, Amílcar. “Guinée, Cap Vert, face au colonialisme portugais”, 85. 43. Cruz, David Fransisco Vera, “O trabalho como pedologista. II.”, 41; Cabral, “Acerca da Utilização da Terra na África Negra,” 245; and Cabral, “Acerca da Contribuição dos ‘Povos’ Guineenses para a Produção Agícola da Guiné”, 263. 44. Hawthorne, Planting Rice and Harvesting Slaves, 36–37. 45. Hawthorne, Planting Rice and Harvesting Slaves, 36–39. 46. Hawthorne, Planting Rice and Harvesting Slaves, 152. For sketches of various iron implements used in Guinean agriculture, see Quintino, Prática e Utensilagem Agrícolas na Guiné, 94–101. For more on the slave trade in these regions between 1562 and 1640, see Rodney, A History of the Upper Guinea Coast: 1545 to 1800. 47. Hawthorne, Planting Rice and Harvesting Slaves, 151 and 157–62. 48. Hawthorne, Planting Rice and Harvesting Slaves, 163. 49. Hawthorne, Planting Rice and Harvesting Slaves, 166. 50. Cabral, “À propos du Cycle Arachide-Mils en Guinée Portugaise”, 455. 51. Silva, “A actividade no domínio da agricultura. II”, 26. 52. Mamdani, Citizen and Subject, 158–59.

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53. Cabral, “Sobre o Conceito de Erosão do Solo”, 108 and Cabral, “A Região Estudada. Os Agentes da Erosão”, 120–22. 54. McCulloch, In the Twilight of Revolution, 39. 55. Schwarz, “Amilcar Cabral: An Agronomist before his Time”, 86–87; McCulloch, In the Twilight of Revolution, 39; and Silva, “A actividade no domínio da agricultura. II”, 26. 56. McCulloch, In the Twilight of Revolution, 45. 57. da Silva, “A actividade no domínio da agricultura. II”, 27. See also Ferrão, “A actividade no domínio da agricultura. I”, 20 and Cabral, “PAIGC’s Denunciation [of Portuguese Plants to Chemically Destroy Crops in Guinea-Bissau before the Coming Harvest]”, 44. 58. Cabral, Revolution in Guinea, 17; Cabral, “Guinée, Cap Vert, face au colonialisme portugais”, 85; Ricardo, “Amilcar Cabral, o engenheiro agrónomo”, 15–16 and Dhada, Warriors at Work, 114. McCulloch argues that “The kind of massively detailed and intricate study of political economy found in Lenin’s ‘The Development of Capitalism in Russia’ is, with the exception of Cabral’s agronomic writings, a solitary work.” McCulloch, In the Twilight of Revolution, 57. 59. Cabral, “Estudo do clima da região de Cuba em relação à defesa da terra”, 87. I have preserved the capitalizations and tense changes from the original. Cabral’s historicization is important. All too frequently, Indigenous peoples’ histories are romanticized and dehistoricized in ways that are not helpful. 60. “Mas a realidade é fluente (o mundo está em permanente evolução, tudo se transforma), e, por isso, a Pedologia tem de encarar o solo não só no seu aspecto estático mas também no dinâmico.” Cabral, “Estudo do clima da região de Cuba em relação à defesa da terra”, 88. 61. Cabral, “Estudo do clima da região de Cuba em relação à defesa da terra”, 85. Cabral argues that storehouses and laboratories should be understood as environments within larger environments. See Gouveia, “A intervenção e no âmbito da fitossanidade do armazenamento”, 29. 62. Cabral, “Sobre o Conceito do Solo”, 93. 63. Cabral, “Sobre o Conceito do Solo”, 97. Cabral’s humanism leads him to foreground concern for human beings. But the collective human good, for Cabral, cannot be understood without also understanding and caring for natural environments. The two are necessarily intertwined and co-implicated. 64. Cabral, “Em Defesa da Terra. II”, 70. “[F]or the engineer Amilcar Cabral, the transformation of the Pessubé Station from an “estate of the State” into an “experimental agricultural station” constituted “an endeavor to give to the Station a distinctly experimental character.” Schwarz, “Monografias de produtos agrícolas”, 34. See also Schwarz, “Amilcar

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Cabral: An Agronomist before his Time.” One of General Spinola’s tactics consisted in destroying PAIGC crop diversification experiments. See Dhada, Warriors at Work, 42. 65. Cabral, “Sobre o Conceito do Solo”, 93. This statement and similar claims concerning science operate relatively categorically and axiomatically. Cabral does not spend much (if any) space defending the meta-normative grounds of his humanism. Cf. Cabral, “O Problema da Erosão do Solo: Contribuição para o seu Estudo na Região de Cuba (Alentejo)”, 85. 66. Cabral, “O Problema da Erosão do Solo: Contribuição para o seu Estudo na Região de Cuba (Alentejo)”, 85–86. The Soviet agronomist Lysenko’s method of “vernalization” involved “soaking and cooling seeds to promote rapid germination … [V]ernalization did work for a limited number of crops such as peas and corn, but the change in yield was insignificant in a mass system. It did not work at all for other crops such as wheat and, in fact, made things worse in many cases by hurting yields and using up limited resources. Equally damaging to long-term Soviet science was that political support for Lysenko meant the dismantling of rival research programs, especially genetics, which were seen as decadent and Western.” Ede and Cormack, A History of Science in Society, 302. See also Kremenstov, Stalinist Science, 159ff. 67. Cabral, “Em Defesa da Terra. III”, 73; Shiva, Biopiracy, 16–17; Cabral, “Posto Agrícola Experimental dos Serviços Agrícolas e Florestais”, 201–02; Cabral, “A Propósito da Mecanização na Guiné Portugesa”, 233 and 236; and Cabral, Resistance and Decolonization, 161. 68. Cabral, “Breves Notas da Razão de Ser, Objectivos e Processo de Execução do Recenseamento Agrícola da Guiné”, 229. 69. Cabral, “Em Defesa da Terra. V”, 178–79. 70. McCulloch, In the Twilight of Revolution, 48. An account of other Portuguese colonial enterprises can be found in Carvalho, As Companhias Portuguesas de Colonização. 71. Cabral, Revolution in Guinea, 67 and 159. Criticism for Cabral, as one also finds in the work of Fanon, must include self-criticism. See Cabral, Unity and Struggle, 247: “But criticism (proof of the willingness of others to help us or of our willingness to help others) must be complemented by selfcriticism (proof of our own willingness to help ourselves to improve our thought and our action). Develop in all militants, responsible workers and combatants the spirit of self-criticism: the ability of each person to make a specific analysis of his own work, to distinguish in it what is good from what is bad, to acknowledge his own errors and to discover the causes and effects of those errors.” 72. Urdang, Confronting Two Colonialisms, 70.

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References Adorno, Theodor. 2001. History and Freedom: Lectures 1964–1965. Ed. Rolf Tiedemann and trans. Rodney Livingstone. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. ———. 2007. Negative Dialectics. Trans. E.B.  Ashton. New  York: Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc. de Andrade, Mário. 1973. Amílcar Cabral: Profil d’un révolutionnaire Africain. Présence Africaine: Revue Culturelle du Monde Noir. ———. 1981. Amílcar Cabral: Ensayo de Biografía Política. México: Siglo Vein-­ tiuno Editores. Aristotle. 2001. Metaphysics. In The Basic Works of Aristotle, ed. Richard McKeon. New York: The Modern Library. de Arriaga, Kaúlza. 1973. The Portuguese Answer. London: Tom Stacey Ltd. Azevedo, Ário Lobo de. 1984. Amílcar Cabral agrónomo. In Continuar Cabral: Simpósio Internacional Amílcar Cabral Cabo Verde, 17 a 20 de Janeiro de 1983. Cabo Verde: Grafedito/Prelo-Estampa. Barreto, Luís Soares. 1988. As preocupações ecológicas. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). Blackey, Robert. 1974. Fanon and Cabral: A Contrast in Theories of Revolution for Africa. The Journal of Modern African Studies 12 (2): 191–209. Blaut, James M. 1993. The Colonizer’s Model of the World: Geographical Diffusionism and Eurocentric History. New York: Guilford Press. Cabral, Amílcar. May 1961. La Guinée Portugaise et les Iles du Cap Vert. Voice of Africa 2, 5: 37-39. ———. 1962. Guinée, Cap Vert, face au colonialisme portugais. Partisans 7: 80–91. ———. 1969a. Palavras de Ordem Gerais. Edição da Direcção Regional de S. Vicente. ———. 1969b. Revolution in Guinea: Selected Texts by Amílcar Cabral. New York: Monthly Review Press. ———. Autumn 1972a. Identity and Dignity in the National Liberation Struggle. Africa Today 19, 4: 39-47. ———. February 1972b. PAIGC’s Denunciation [of Portuguese Plants to Chemically Destroy Crops in Guinea-Bissau before the Coming Harvest]. Tricontinental Bulletin 71. ———. 1972c. Our People Are Our Mountains: Amílcar Cabral on the Guinean Revolution. London: Committee for Freedom in Mozambique, Angola & Guiné. ———. 1973. Return to the Source: Selected Speeches of Amilcar Cabral. Ed. Africa Information Service. New York: Monthly Review Press. ———. 1974a. Análise de alguns Tipos de Resistência: Colecção de Leste a Oeste. Lisbon: Seara Nova.

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———. June 1974b. A Cultura e o Combate pela Independência. Seara Nova. Lisbon. ———. 1975. Unité et lutte: Oeuvres d’Amílcar Cabral. Paris: F. Maspero. ———. 1977. The Role of Culture in the Struggle for Independence. International Journal of Politics, trans. Michel Vale, 18–43. ———. 1980. A Arma da Teoria. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Codecri Ltde. ———. 1984. A cultura nacional. Edição do Departamento de Informação, Propaganda e Cultura do C.C. do PAIGC. Portugal. ———. 1988a. A acção e os métodos militares. Edição do Departamento de Informação, Propaganda e Cultura do C.C. do PAIGC. Portugal. ———. 1988b. Acerca da Contribuição dos ‘Povos’ Guineenses para a Produção Agícola da Guiné. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). ———. 1988c. Acerca da Utilização da Terra na África Negra. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). ———. 1988d. Breves Notas da Razão de Ser, Objectivos e Processo de Execução do Recenseamento Agrícola da Guiné. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). ———. 1988e. Algumas Considerações Acerca das Chuvas. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). ———. 1988f. Em Defesa da Terra. V. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). ———. 1988g. Estudo do clima da região de Cuba em relação à defesa da terra. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). ———. 1988h. Para o Conhecimento do Problema da Erosão do Solo na Guiné. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). ———. 1988i. Posto Agrícola Experimental dos Serviços Agrícolas e Florestais. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). ———. 1988j. O Problema da Erosão do Solo: Contribuição para o seu Estudo na Região de Cuba (Alentejo). In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau).

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———. 1988k. À propos du Cycle Arachide-Mils en Guinée Portugaise. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). ———. 1988l. A Propósito da Mecanização na Guiné Portugesa. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). ———. 1988m. Sobre o Conceito do Solo. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). ———. 1997. Unity and Struggle: Speeches and Writings. New  York: Monthly Review Press. ———. 2001. Guinea: The Power of Arms. Tricontinental 35 (148): 36–43. ———. 2016. Resistance and Decolonization. Ed. and trans. Dan Wood. Introduction by Reiland Rabaka. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield International. ———. n.d.-a Em Defesa da Terra. II.  In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). ———. n.d.-b Em Defesa da Terra. III. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). ———. n.d.-c Queimadas e Pousios na Circunscrição de Fulacunda em 1953. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). de Carvalho, Tito Augusto. 1902. As Companhias Portuguesas de Colonização. In Imprensa Nacional. Lisboa. Chabal, Patrick. 1983. Amílcar Cabral: Revolutionary Leadership and People’s War. African Studies Series. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2000. Translating Life-Worlds into Labor and History. In Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton, NJ; Oxford, UK: Princeton University Press. Cherki, Alice. 2006. Frantz Fanon: A Portrait. Trans. Nadia Benabid. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Chinh, Tru’ò’ng. 1966. The Resistance Will Win. Hanoi: Foreign Languages Pub. House. Cooley, John K. 1965. East Winds Over Africa: Red China’s African Offensive. New York: Walker and Company. Cruz, David Fransisco Vera. 1988. O trabalho como pedologista. II. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau).

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Davidson, Basil. 1981. No Fist Is Big Enough to Hide the Sky: The Liberation of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde: Aspects of an African Revolution. London: Zed Books. Dhada, Mustafah. 1993. Warriors at Work: How Guinea Was Really Set Free. Niwot, CO: University Press of Colorado. Ede, Andrew, and Lesley B. Cormack. 2012. A History of Science in Society: From Philosophy to Utility. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Ferrão, José Eduardo Mendes. 1988. A actividade no domínio da agricultura. I. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). Fitzgerald, Peter. 1987. Markets, Commodity Production and Indigenous Farmers in Colonial Algeria. The State and the Market: Studies in the Economic and Social History of the Third World, 47–65. Foucault, Michel. 2001. Michel Foucault et le zen: un séjour dans un temple zen. In Foucault, Dits et Écrits III: 1976–1979, ed. Daniel Defert, François Ewald, and Jacques Lagange. Paris: Éditions Gallimards. ———. 2005. What Are the Iranians Dreaming About? In Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism, ed. Janet Afary and Kevin Anderson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Gouveia, Artur Soares. 1988. A intervenção nô âmbito da fitosanidade do armazenamenno. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). Gutiérrez, Gustavo. 1972. Teología de la liberación: Perspectivas. Verdad e Imagen. Salamanca: Ediciones Sígueme. Hawthorne, Walter. 2003. Planting Rice and Harvesting Slaves: Transformations along the Guinea-Bissau Coast, 1400–1900. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Keller, Richard C. 2007. Colonial Madness: Psychiatry in French North Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Kremenstov, Nikolai. 1997. Stalinist Science. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Lambert, Marie-Claude, and Jean Claude Andreini. 1978. La Guinée-Bissau: D’Amilcar Cabral à la reconstruction nationale. Paris: Editions l’Harmattan. Mamdani, Mahmood. 1996. Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Manji, Firoze and Bill Fletcher, Jr. 2013. Claim No Easy Victories: The Legacy of Amílcar Cabral. Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa and Daraja Press. McCulloch, Jock. 1983. In the Twilight of Revolution: The Political Theory of Amilcar Cabral. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Memmi, Albert. 1985. Portrait du colonisé: précédé de Portrait du colonisateur. Paris: Gallimard.

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Moser, Gerald M. 1978. The Poet Amílcar Cabral. Research in African Literatures: Official Journal of the African Literature Committee of the African Studies Association of America and the African Literatures Seminar of the Modern Language Association 9, 2. Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1967. The Will to Power. Trans. Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale. Ed. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Vintage Books. Nkrumah, Kwame. 2009. Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for De-Colonization and Development with Particular Reference to the African Revolution. New York: Monthly Review Press. Peterson, Charles F. 2007. Dubois, Fanon, Cabral: The Margins of Elite Anti-­ Colonial Leadership. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Quintino, F.  Rogado. 1971. Prática e Utensilagem Agrícolas na Guiné. Lisboa: Junta de Investigações do Ultramar. Rabaka, Reiland. 2014. Concepts of Cabralism: Amilcar Cabral and Africana Critical Theory. Lanham: Lexington Books. Ricardo, Rui Pinto. 1988. Amilcar Cabral, o engenheiro agrónomo. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). Rodney, Walter. 1970. A History of the Upper Guinea Coast: 1545 to 1800. New York: Monthly Review Press. Schwarz, Carlos Silva. 1988. Monografias de produtos agrícolas. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). Schwarz, Carlos. 2013. Amilcar Cabral: An Agronomist before his Time. In Claim No Easy Victories: The Legacy of Amílcar Cabral, ed. Firoze Manji and Bill Fletcher Jr. Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa and Daraja Press. Serequeberhan, Tsenay. 1994. The Hermeneutics of African Philosophy: Horizon and Discourse. New York: Routledge. Shiva, Vandana. 1997. Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge. Boston, MA: South End Press. Silva, José Avito da. 1988. A actividade no domínio da agricultura. II. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). Tse-tung, Mao. 2007. On Contradiction. In On Practice and Contradiction. Introduction by Slavoj Žižek. New York: Verso. Urdang, Stephanie. 1979. Fighting Two Colonialisms: Women in Guinea-Bissau. New York: Monthly Review Press. Wood, Dan. 2014. Descolonizando las Historias Biopolíticas con Amílcar Cabral. Tabula Rasa: Revista de Humanidades, 20 (Enero–Junio): 69–87.

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———. 2016a. Decolonizing Biopolitical Histories with Amílcar Cabral. In A Luta Continua: (Re) Introducing Amilcar Cabral to a New Generation of Thinkers, ed. P. Khalil Saucier. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. ———. 2016b. Imbrications of Coloniality: An Introduction to Cabralist Critical Theory in Relation to Contemporary Struggles. In Amílcar Cabral: Resistance and Decolonization, ed. Dan Wood. London, UK: Rowman & Littlefield International.

CHAPTER 6

Forging Alliances: Fanon, Cabral, and Contemporary Feminist Epistemology

This book began by considering a number of the different possible ways in which activists and theorists might and indeed have approached the problem of decolonizing knowledge. In the third chapter I examined a number of interrelated aporias that undergird the differential approach to the topic at hand, and argued that such aporias lead into undesirable theoretical and practical binds. This problematization was then followed by case studies of the ways in which the philosophical bases of two exemplars of the revolutionary-­socialist approach avoid the problems that beset the differential orientation. Such conceptual labor has effectively set the stage for an evaluation of some of the key takeaways from the foregoing comparative work. While doing so, I show how some concepts and arguments within contemporary feminist epistemology act as the torch-bearers of the revolutionary-­ socialist tradition, corroborating and/or developing the work of Fanon and Cabral in productive directions.1 The differential approach to decolonizing knowledge adopts philosophical positions that have a direct bearing on how its proponents conceive of epistemic decolonization. In the spheres of ontology, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of truth, a poststructuralist conception of difference plays a foundational role. Absolute forms of difference come to separate being from its beyond, one space from another, and one group of people from others. This absolute, metaphysical diremption then effectively muddles possible communication about truth-value and epistemic justification across such divides. Such forms of communication are either © The Author(s) 2020 D. A. Wood, Epistemic Decolonization, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49962-4_6

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rendered impossible or come to be described by means of Christian theological notions like revelation, faith, divine right, epiphany, and gnosis. Permitting, maintaining, and/or restoring differences serves as the guiding norm, and one adopts this norm for practical and moral reasons, namely, as a way of promoting the inclusion of a diversity of views and modes of existence. And, because the inclusion of diversity proves to be a more important moral and political issue than abstract questions about coherence and justification, the former norm comes to have the first and last word. The foregoing philosophical decisions affect the epistemological views adopted by representatives of the differential approach. Most ascribe to a pluralist epistemology. Often tacitly drawing from one of Foucault’s methodologies, these theorists bracket questions of truth-value and justification in order to treat knowledges from a critical and social standpoint. One analyzes different knowledges, especially those peculiar to distinct cultures, focusing on how these knowledges arise from concrete practices and exist within particular networks of power. Insofar as one rests content with the idea that absolute ontological, alethic, and intercultural differences exist, it is a short step to a consideration of knowledges as likewise incommensurable. One then directly associates such incommensurable knowledges with a particular group of knowers, inferring that, since different groups of people have the same rights and are equal in worth to one another, that therefore all knowledges also have “equal validity.”2 So, the thought goes, the more pluralist one’s epistemology the better, since being exclusionary of diverse knowledges breaks the moral norm of being inclusive and welcoming of difference. The differential approach contains a number of advantages and praiseworthy elements. It is true that disdain for biological, cultural, racial, linguistic, and other types of diversity wreaks havoc on the contemporary world. The longue durée of imperialist arrogance has variously destroyed, expropriated, and ignored ways of knowing by different peoples around the globe. If contemporary transnational corporations like tourist agencies have come to appreciate such differences, this occurs with the same desire to economically exploit these differences as motivated past architects of indirect rule. The differential approach to epistemic decolonization brings these real, current problems to the fore, seeking ways to articulate the complex connections that exist between global politics and the production of knowledge.

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And yet such an orientation runs into a number of avoidable and undesirable impasses. First, the very notion of absolute difference appears to be unthinkable. In order for something to be differentiated from something else, both things must have something in common. As Cabral argues, “A concept of some being refers to the qualities of this being. The qualities of a being B are defined through another, A, by means of the relation A-B— that is, the qualities are oriented relations.”3 He notes here that defining or delimiting something means relating it to something else. ‘Difference’ is a name for one of these possible relations between something and something else. Even at this level of generalization, both things referred to have a commonality. A and B, for example, are similar in being letters and variables. And ‘something’ as well as ‘something else’ have the concept ‘something’ in common. Even if the commonality between two individuated things merely resides in their being objects of thought or language, nonetheless this minimal similarity is what allows one to compare and contrast them in the first place. Difference always implies similarity. Absolute difference thus appears to be an incoherent notion.4 To my mind, a number of arguments within the differential approach to epistemic decolonization have gone astray in adopting a revised Neoplatonic metaphysics, whether through the work of Levinas, Dussel, or another channel. While the repurposed categories of absolute sameness and otherness have the rhetorical benefit of dramatically highlighting asymmetries of power, such a decision also carries in its wake a host of other philosophical problems that outweigh said benefit. For example, issues of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, ability, class, and sexual orientation are always historical and relational. If possible, the articulation of an adequate metaphysical theory of even one of these categories proves to be an enormously difficult task fraught with potential pitfalls. As Fanon notes, “Analyzing the real is always a delicate task.”5 So, instead of treating sameness and otherness as the highest categories of being or as hypostatized enemies, it proves better to critically approach the intersection of differences in the social world metaphorically, heuristically, and paradigmatically, as Patricia Hill Collins has recently argued. In her development of a set of tools for bringing intersectionality closer toward critical social theory, Collins describes metaphorical, heuristic, and paradigmatic thinking together as forming a ‘cognitive architecture’ for explaining and criticizing social problems.6 Collins notes that Kimberlé Crenshaw’s initial use of the term ‘intersectionality’ was itself metaphorical, and argues that the term has stuck, in part, because metaphors can

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foster “an immediate sense of the formerly unknown in terms of the known” and because they are often linked to social transformation, helping people move “from the familiar to imagining the unfamiliar,” or, in Aristotle’s terms, in seeing “the similarity in dissimilars.”7 As a critical and analytic concept, intersectionality often operates metaphorically, and when it does so well, it allows one to more adequately grasp and explain differences in the social world. An intersectional approach to difference also sidelines metaphysical matters, often functioning instead as a set of heuristics, or techniques such as rules of thumb.8 For example, the epistemography in Chap. 2 of the present book attempted to develop a number of heuristic models. As a critical social theory, intersectionality provides a toolbox of questions from which scholar-activists can draw in challenging the legitimacy and stability of dominant discourses concerning identity. Finally, Collins unpacks the concept of intersectionality through the concept of ‘paradigm,’ or those provisional frameworks, models, and sets of concepts that establish what constitute problems and how to solve them. Each of the foregoing developments of intersectionality as a way of analyzing difference eschews the metaphysical risks that differential theories take on board. They also strike me as consistently transcending Fanon and Cabral’s concerns about class, race, and gender. Next, while ethical and epistemic issues do not exist in isolated realms, the two domains of inquiry and practice should not be conceptually conflated with one another. The differential approach conflates ethical and epistemic issues when the moral presumption of equal validity functions as a revolving door through which all truth-claims enter and through which none leave. Strategies of knowledge pluralization rest on the assumption that there are insuperable barriers between knowledges, although perhaps some are higher and thicker than others. But then what is the comparative, critical knowledge of these barriers, their dimensions, and the contents of their various sides? Either (1) there really are many different knowledges which all have equal validity, or (2) the knowledge that there are myriad equal knowledges in some way stands outside of these separate but equal knowledges. If (1) is the case, then one has no reason to evaluate the relation between different knowledges in the first place, since all knowledges are already equally valid. Here, it would not be clear why one should or how one could pursue a project of decolonizing knowledge at all. If (2) is the case, then one does not really hold a pluralist epistemology in which there exist many different knowledges which have equal validity. But even if one were to maintain that the knowledges that arise from (1) and (2) are

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in some sense equal, then the negation of each of these knowledges would itself also constitute an equally valid instance of knowledge. But this is unreasonable. If X and not-X are both instances of equally valid knowledge, then it remains unclear why or in what sense either could or should be criticized. These foundational contradictions have already surfaced in the realm of debates about epistemic decolonization. For example, in the introduction to Another Knowledge is Possible, the authors take an explicit stance on epistemic relativism. They note that, “From the point of view of the pragmatics of social emancipation, relativism, as an absence of criteria for hierarchies of validity among different forms of knowledge, is an untenable position.”9 The authors call for the establishment of “criteria of validity” for the anti-relativistic and pragmatic evaluation of alternative knowledges.10 Yet in the more than 400 hundred pages to follow, the different authors do not take up this admittedly difficult task. On the contrary, most accept a pluralist epistemology, describing a wide variety of different discourses and practices as ‘knowledges,’ followed by criticism of the unequal treatment of these knowledges. The volume thus highlights, in a performative way, a persistent set of philosophical differences that complicate the shared goal of decolonizing knowledge. The philosophies of Cabral and Fanon offer one possible way out of the present cul-de-sac. In what follows, I will briefly summarize a few of the elements of their approach worth retaining and highlight what I understand to be contemporary feminist corroborations and/or developments of these elements. First, Fanon and Cabral conceive of the process of decolonization differently from proponents of the differential approach. For these revolutionary socialists, decolonization consists of those dialectical processes that undermine all possible and real colonialist realities (for example, structures, agents, actions, things, systems, functions, and mechanisms), thereby simultaneously reducing the quantity and quality of the ways in which said realities have been and/or continue to be colonized. The world comprises temporal struggles between realities that cannot but change through such conflicts. Every particular thing exists in systems of relations where, ontologically speaking, remaining the exact same over time proves impossible. Such views give revolutionary socialism a future-­ oriented emphasis. Since all realities constantly become something or someone new, the goal consists in directing oneself and the world around one toward novel and radically egalitarian alternatives. Even where Cabral speaks of ‘returning to the source,’ he nonetheless does not have in mind

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a return to some mythical past, but instead proposes a “return to the upwards paths of [Africans’] own cultures” by means of “a veritable forced march along the road to cultural progress.”11 The socialist approach to decolonization proves revolutionary to the extent that it sets for itself the task of dismantling entire institutions and large-scale networks of power, such as the colonial state. Secondly, the work of Fanon and Cabral intimates the need to make full use of the unique critical potential harbored by three distinct concepts: knowledge, knowledge systems, and common knowledge. While these three phenomena often overlap and involve one another, their conceptual conflation gives rise to more problems than it resolves. Neither Fanon nor Cabral are skeptics or relativists about knowledge. For Fanon, it is possible to attain knowledge within the general lie that is the colonial situation. He does not criticize the Algiers School of Psychiatry, for example, as one type of knowledge among others, or as a just another worldview made up of different mere opinions from his own. Rather, his medical expertise, familiarity with his patients and the colonial world, and study of the ways in which colonialist ideology bears upon the formulation of scientific theories all provide Fanon with a knowledge of the baselessness of the racist theories of his contemporaries. Similarly, for Cabral the attainment of knowledge is not only possible but also necessary for the concrete analysis of the actual situation within which one finds oneself. Part of the problem, according to his analyses, was that colonialist agronomists were not really engaged in rigorous scientific activity at all. Their work often failed to correspond adequately to reality and lacked the appropriate, minimal forms of ethical and epistemic justification. For both organic intellectuals, truth constitutes a necessary condition for something to be called knowledge. Fanon in particular analyzes the colonial and anticolonial politics of truth. Most notably, he argues that colonialism can lead to the vitiation of ‘being-true’ in both alethic and ethical senses. Claims, actions, behaviors, and theories that cross the divide between the colonizer and the colonized often drastically change in terms of meaning, reversing in terms of their function. For Fanon, such complex movements mean that these realities can be true in one sense and yet false in another. In such cases, the bearers of truth-value should not be taken at face value. Rather, they must be evaluated with a careful and rigorously critical precision that takes ideological context into account. After such analysis, one should then decide which interpretations appear to be false and which appear to be true. To the extent that the thoughtful distinction

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between truth and falsity allows one to reject the latter when appropriate, such a distinction provides one with a solid starting point for critique. Epistemic justification also plays an important role in the revolutionary-­ socialist approach. Epistemic justification consists of the different ways in which one grounds some bearer of truth. Justification typically takes place by furnishing reasons for a claim, account, or theory. For example, when someone claims that X is true and another says that X is false, one instinctively asks for the reasons that support both claims. But not all reasons are created equal; some are better than others. For example, Mannoni’s reasons given to support his claims about colonial psychopathology are poor ones. Even though he provides arguments for his position, because such reasons fail to take colonialist structural violence into account and because describing the colonized as exhibiting a ‘dependency complex’ naturalizes and further legitimates colonialism, his arguments should be understood as a form of rationalization rather than as bolstered by good justifications. Like Fanon, Cabral concerns himself with those who claim to be doing science, yet whose work simply rationalizes exploitative and thoughtless colonialist patterns. In Guinea and Cape Verde, foreign agronomists continuously made destructive decisions concerning colonial agriculture without meeting the minimal conditions for counting as scientific knowledge that Cabral outlines. He argues that science must be adequately experimental, promote the collective good, be explicative and logically consistent (or in accordance with its own reason), and be in accordance with reality.12 But insofar as colonialist science in general and Portuguese agronomy in particular failed to meet these minimal standards, the defenses marshaled in favor of such scientific activity served as mere ideological rationalizations rather than as epistemic justifications. Fanon and Cabral agree that colonialist scientific experimentation can be violent. Yet both Fanonian psychiatric theory/practice and Cabralian agronomic theory/ practice demonstrate that justification by means of experimentation can also serve anticolonialist ends. Nonetheless, despite their operative ideas about epistemic justification, Fanon and Cabral do not sufficiently or positively theorize this concept in regard to the matters of identity about which they care. I suggest that aspects of the work of philosopher Linda Martín Alcoff can be read as addressing such a lacuna. In her essay “Sotomayor’s Reasoning,” Alcoff responds to reactions to a speech by Justice Sonia Sotomayor in which the latter argued that elements of one’s identity can play a positive role in

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making judgments. Sotomayor argued that some individuals are limited in their abilities to understand others’ experiences, that some simply do not care, that personal experiences “affect the facts that judges choose to see,” and that a “critical mass of women and people of color, or ‘enough … in enough cases, will make a difference in the process of judging’ as it occurs across the nation,” nuancing and qualifying her argument with premises ignored by media outlets.13 Alcoff notes that while most in the US would acknowledge the link between identity and judgment, that nonetheless many feel the need to persistently disavow such common sense, abiding by an epistemic norm of identity transcendence. She interprets the central point of Sotomayor’s argument as follows: “Sotomayor’s claim that identity makes a difference to judgment is based on the idea that identity affects baseline knowledge as well as motivations, the direction of our attentiveness, and, most strongly, our ability in some cases to understand the experiences of others.”14 To address some of the hasty and inadequate criticisms of Sotomayor’s speech, Alcoff begins by correcting for excessively volitional accounts of reasoning and deliberation. Reaching conclusions and making inferences often happens in split-second decisions in which one draws from a wealth of background knowledge that differs from person to person. Alcoff introduces at least three useful concepts in her defense of Sotomayor’s speech. The first concept is that of ‘thin-slicing,’ or the “idea of rapid judgments that short-circuit the normal time requirements of rational deliberation by filtering a small number of relevant factors form a large number of variables.”15 Remarkably accurate instances of thin-slicing can be observed in a wide variety of agricultural, aesthetic, therapeutic, ornithological, and medical scenarios given the background knowledge of those most practiced in such areas. In the same way, individuals with particular subjective and objective identities can be attuned to matters that remain invisible to others, and can make remarkably accurate judgments given their background knowledge and experiences. Alcoff also discusses the concept of ‘sensation transference,’ or the idea that “buying preferences for products are affected by a transfer of sensations that consumers have about the packaging of a product to the product after we buy it.” She expands this general phenomenon to issues of identity, noting that sensation transference constitutes a “phenomenological reality of social identities … largely beyond the volitional control of the identity-holders themselves.”16 Sensation transference differently mediates interactions between individuals who do or who do not share identities. Lastly, Alcoff borrows from Hans-Georg

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Gadamer the notion of a ‘hermeneutic horizon,’ or a location and orientation from which one confronts the world, and in which certain things are foregrounded and interpreted given one’s position. Group identity can impact the content, cares, and focus of one’s hermeneutic horizon, but it does not give rise to uniform or predictable results. For example, one cannot derive indefeasible predictions about behavior from considerations of group identity alone. But the concept of a hermeneutic horizon does help to explain why certain subjective aspects of our identities often correlate with certain interpretations and judgments. Such concepts provide a very helpful vocabulary for speaking about linkages between epistemic justification and the dialectical interplay between the subjective and objective aspects of identity. These and similar conceptual tools honed by feminist epistemologists like Alcoff remain largely consistent with and expand upon the concerns of a number of twentieth-century anticolonialists. Analyzing the truth of a claim or theory as well as the reasons meant to justify it give the concept ‘knowledge’ a critical, discerning power. Not all beliefs, claims, or theories that one attempts to justify count as knowledge. But there are also different knowledge systems for Fanon and Cabral. The concept of ‘knowledge systems’ can effectively replace that of ‘knowledges’ as used in pluralist epistemologies, retaining the latter’s insight into different ways of knowing and organizing the world while leaving the question of how such systems in fact relate to one another open for further investigation. The distinction is not arbitrary or merely terminological. One can no more freely  substitute the concept of ‘knowledge’ with ‘knowledge system’  than one can do so with ‘lymph’  and ‘lymphatic system.’ ‘Knowledge’ and ‘knowledge system’ name two distinct realities that abide by different norms. By the latter I understand an organized and interrelated group of abstractions and practices which, through a productively circular interaction, grant said system real explanatory, technical, and predictive powers. The practices and abstractions that comprise knowledge systems cannot occur without the mediation of tools and artifacts. I want to interpret ‘practices and abstractions’ broadly here so as to include Indigenous, scientific, and other qualified knowledge systems. Abstractions and generalizations are not antithetical to practice, but are rather dialectically related to it. Some abstractions are necessary conditions for a whole variety of practices. For example, individuals could not say much about the world without help from the abstractions that are nouns. No satellite could be launched into space without mathematical abstraction, because and not despite of all of its irrational/imaginary numbers and greater/smaller infinite sets.17 And no scientific hypothesis could pick up and leave its place of

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birth to mature into a theory without the help of its own generalization in relation to other scientific generalizations. But there are also ways in which various practices can be considered conditions for these aforementioned forms of abstraction. For instance, certain pedagogical practices involve the teaching of nouns, their referents, and their usage, and mathematics courses and homework involve social practices whereby one learns to follow certain rote procedures. Similarly, students of science might test myriad toy hypotheses and thereby incorporate into their practices a real sense of the distinction between a hypothesis and a theory or law. Indigenous knowledge systems make use of a variety of discourses and information that, in combination with specific practices, give Indigenous groups the ability to know, evaluate, and predict certain things. It is not surprising that groups of people, Indigenous or otherwise, have developed knowledge systems over time. It would be entirely surprising if they did not. Survival, the transmission of reliable information, and the ability to predict the likely consequences of actions are closely linked. It is hard to imagine the survival of any group that lacked ways of organizing and sharing knowledge about the world in order to transform and deal with this world (although this might make for an interesting Borgesian short story). The knowledge system by which Mandinka and Balanta cultivators learned to clear, desalinate, and grow nutrient-rich rice on bolanhas with the technical aid of automatic, self-regulating dischargers of water constitutes one example of an Indigenous knowledge system. And the concepts and practices by which those of ancient municipalities, such as that of Tiwanaku, built complex terraced pyramids and city infrastructures with running water and closed sewers provides another example of Indigenous knowledge systems.18 In regard to their discursive side, Indigenous, scientific, and other qualified knowledge systems have at least three basic components: (1) cultural, metaphysical, modal, and axiological assumptions, (2) a number of justifiable true beliefs (knowledge), and (3) some inadequate, revisable, false, or defeasible components. The moments (1), (2), and (3) are part of all knowledge systems, and so knowledge systems are not only made up of instances of knowledge. As one example of the first criterion, consider the following. For a long period of time, Europe rejected the incorporation of ‘zero’ into mathematics for predominantly metaphysical reasons. On the other hand, this was not the case in India, and probably even earlier in the Olmec world.19 The different metaphysical and religious assumptions between these worlds played a role in organizing the limits and content of

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these different mathematical systems of knowledge. But knowledge systems also contain both justifiable, true units of information and revisable, fallible, defeasible, and/or false elements. Different systems will involve disagreements about whether the cultural, metaphysical, modal, and/or axiological assumptions of a knowledge system count as knowledge, do not count as knowledge, or make up a unique class of beliefs. Like the concept ‘knowledge,’ the idea of ‘knowledge systems’ contains a critical power. Since all knowledge systems contain some inadequate, revisable, false, or defeasible components as well as cultural, metaphysical, modal, and axiological assumptions which may turn out to be dubious, one cannot reasonably accept any knowledge system as perfect or compete. The foregoing theorization of knowledge systems aspires to provide a framework within which to explain phenomena like epistemic colonization and appropriation. While Fanon and Cabral seem aware of such phenomena, philosophers such as Emmalon Davis have greatly surpassed the limits of their analyses. Davis defines epistemic appropriation as comprised of two basic moments. The first, ‘epistemic detachment,’ occurs when an intercommunal pool of hermeneutical resources expands “to incorporate new epistemic resources (e.g., concepts, interpretations, stories, and meanings), but the participatory role of marginalized contributors in the process of knowledge production is obscured.” The second moment involves ‘epistemic misdirection,’ in which “epistemic resources developed within, but detached from, the margins are utilized in dominant discourses in ways that disproportionately benefit the powerful.”20 Such concepts help to name aspects of epistemic colonization. There exist numerous cases in which scientific knowledge systems—without any form of one-­ time or persistent remuneration or recognition—have extracted and incorporated into themselves Indigenous techniques and information, whether in regard to agriculture, medicine, geography, sustainability, ecology, language, or customs. For instance, Major Arthur Cotton and other British engineers in India expropriated techniques from Indigenous experts in order to manage the rising river bed of the Kaveri Delta. These epistemic resources in turn allowed for the construction of “bridges, weirs, aqueducts and every kind of hydraulic works.”21 Such an example demonstrates that epistemic appropriation does not only occur at discursive levels, but also at those of practice and technique. In other words, know-how can be epistemically colonized and appropriated. And such practices of expropriation perhaps remain even more invisible than instances of epistemic colonization that have left discursive traces.22

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Finally, Cabral makes a helpful distinction between common knowledge and scientific knowledge.23 If the former contains true propositions which are justifiable given enough time and resources, all things being equal, then common knowledge really constitutes knowledge. The average individual has knowledge about certain things—an often unconscious baseline of knowledge shared by many others within the same hermeneutic horizon and from which one can draw in split-second inferences, in Alcoff’s terms. The epistemic legitimacy of common knowledge often runs into problems when one tries to explain phenomena like thin-slicing, and for at least two reasons. On the one hand, the complex phenomenon of thin-slicing makes use of an entire history (or histories) which cannot be made explicit quickly and with facility. On the other hand, reasoning about one’s own processes of reasoning is a skill that requires resources such as time and energy, resources which are radically, unequally distributed across the globe and within most social formations themselves. But taking common knowledge seriously can have pragmatic political benefits. For example, the PAIGC drew upon people’s knowledge of the land in their war of liberation, and Fanon’s call to immerse oneself within and learn from the rural peasantry serves a similar end. Moreover, heeding common knowledge also has the advantage of avoiding a variety of forms of epistemic injustice.24 If Cabral condemned all excesses of the revolution, this included those credibility excesses whereby cadres thought they had nothing to learn from the average militant—an epistemic failure with undesirable practical and ethical consequences. The revolutionary-socialist approach to epistemic decolonization attempts to steer between the extremes of gullibility and Pyrrhonism in order to create a more just world. While its advocates have never been perfect navigators on this course, their rigor, admission of fallibility, and desire to learn from others, to my mind, merit an open acknowledgment and high degree of respect. Likewise, many contemporary feminist epistemologists—most of whose work, unfortunately, I have not been able to discuss here due to spatial constraints—continue to develop critical theories of knowledge that corroborate and improve upon the work of Black radicals like Fanon and Cabral. Such work remains important moving forward. Colonialism today continues to shape-shift in order to survive, hiding in plain sight behind the most recent ideological inversions of social life, further aggravating global divisions of labor and identity. Yet despite its existence as a generalized lie, colonialism remains a creature of habit, so by feeling, observing, spooring, and listening to such habits, scholar-­ activists might better give the lie to it.

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Notes 1. The present brief argument does not attempt to provide an intellectual history or genealogy, but tries to demonstrate points of conceptual and valuative convergence between the scholar-activists under consideration. 2. See, for example, Shiva, Biopiracy, 71 and 80–81 and Xaba, “Marginalized Medical Practice.” 3. Cabral, “O Problema da Erosão do Solo: Contribuição para o seu Estudo na Região de Cuba (Alentejo)”, 88. 4. This argument draws from early portions of Hegel’s Science of Logic. 5. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 145. 6. Collins, Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory, 24. 7. Collins, Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory, 26–27. Cf. Aristotle’s Poetics, 1459a5–8: “But the greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learnt from others; and it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars.” 8. Collins, Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory, 34. 9. Santos, Nunes, and Meneses, “Introduction”, xl. 10. Santos, Nunes, and Meneses, “Introduction”, xlviii. 11. Rabaka, Concepts of Cabralism, 232. 12. Cabral, “Sobre o Conceito do Solo”, 97. 13. Alcoff, “Sotomayor’s Reasoning”, 123. 14. Alcoff, “Sotomayor’s Reasoning”, 127. 15. Alcoff, “Sotomayor’s Reasoning”, 127. 16. Alcoff, “Sotomayor’s Reasoning”, 131. 17. “Do we not see in effect that the deeper abstract science buries itself into calculations where it seems to flee reality, the more it tends to come back to it, and the better it can be applied to it?” Blondel, Action (1893), 66. 18. Mann, 1491, 25. 19. Mann, 1491, 242–47 and Seife, Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea. 20. Davis, “On Epistemic Appropriation”, 705. 21. Loomba, Colonialism/Postcolonialism, 61 and Shiva, Staying Alive, 187. 22. For more on this issue, see Wood, “Philosophy and Imperialism”, 9. 23. Cabral, “Estudo do clima da região de Cuba em relação à defesa da terra”, 87. 24. See The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice. An epistemic practice might be effective and yet unjust, or, conversely just but ineffective. For an excellent essay on this issue, see Dotson, “In Search of Tanzania.”

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References Alcoff, Linda Martín. 2010. Sotomayor’s Reasoning. The Southern Journal of Philosophy 48 (1): 122–138. Aristotle. 2001. Poetics. In The Basic Works of Aristotle, ed. Richard McKeon. Introduction by C.D.C. Reeve. New York: The Modern Library. Blondel, Maurice. 2007. Action (1893): Essay on a Critique of Life and a Science of Practice. Trans. Oliva Blanchette. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. Cabral, Amílcar. 1988a. Estudo do clima da região de Cuba em relação à defesa da terra. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). ———. 1988b. O Problema da Erosão do Solo: Contribuição para o seu Estudo na Região de Cuba (Alentejo). In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). ———. 1988c. Sobre o Conceito do Solo. In Estudos Agrários de Amílcar Cabral. Lisbon: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal): Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (Guinea Bissau). Collins, Patricia Hill. 2019. Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Davis, Emmalon. 2018. On Epistemic Appropriation. Ethics 128 (July): 702–727. Dotson, Kristie. 2008. In Search of Tanzania: Are Effective Epistemic Practices Sufficient for Just Epistemic Practices? The Southern Journal of Philosophy XLVI: 52–64. Fanon, Frantz. 2008. Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove Press. Hegel, G.W.F. 2015. The Science of Logic. Trans. George di Giovanni. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kidd, Ian James, José Medina, and Gaile Polhaus Jr., eds. 2017. The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice. London: Routledge. Loomba, Ania. 2005. Colonialism/Postcolonialism. London: Routledge. Mann, Charles C. 2011. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus. New York: Vintage Books. Rabaka, Reiland. 2014. Concepts of Cabralism: Amilcar Cabral and Africana Critical Theory. Lanham: Lexington Books. Santos, Boaventura de Sousa and João Arriscado Nunes and Maria Paula Meneses. 2008. Introduction: Opening Up the Canon of Knowledge and the Recognition of Difference. In Another Knowledge is Possible: Beyond Northern Epistemologies, ed. Boaventura de Sousa Santos. New York: Verso. Seife, Charles. 2000. Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea. New  York: Penguin Books.

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Shiva, Vandana. 1988. Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Survival in India. New Delhi: Kali for Women. London: Zed Books. ———. 1997. Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge. Boston, MA: South End Press. Wood, Dan. 2018. Philosophy and Imperialism. In The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism, ed. Immanuel Ness and Zak Cope, 2nd ed. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Xaba, Thokozani. 2008. Marginalized Medical Practice: Marginalization and Transformation of Indigenous Medicines in South Africa. In Another Knowledge Is Possible: Beyond Northern Epistemologies, ed. Boaventura de Sousa Santos. New York: Verso.

Appendix

Seven Theses on Identifying Something as Colonialist Over the course of writing this book, the question, “But isn’t that itself colonialist?” has surfaced time and again in conversations, debates, and reviews. In constructive cases, the question has expressed a hypothesis or an intuition, suggesting that some idea, stance, theoretical framework, value, argument, choice of words, thinker, or method might itself be colonialist. In other cases, the question has functioned rhetorically, implying that one of these things is indeed colonialist, and should be abandoned for that reason. Hypotheses and intuitions, however, constitute little more than starting points for further, rigorous investigations and practices of trial and error. And rhetorical questions without the support of premises remain mere assertions upon which the burden of proof often still rests. In both cases, the prior, underlying question “What makes something colonialist?” remains, and calls for an answer. The question is in no way trivial, though adequately addressing it can prove elusive. Since the answer depends upon the specific situation and subject matter in question, in what follows I offer a number of general theses meant to guide the identification of something as colonialist. I find them to be helpful heuristics for my own thinking and hope they might prove useful for others’ work too.

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1. Anticolonialists are not all in agreement about what is colonialist. While this first thesis might seem obvious, like other seemingly obvious first principles, it bears considering. There are a plurality of ways of being anticolonialist, just as there are conflicting approaches to feminism, anti-­ imperialism, Marxism, anarchism, and so on. Anticolonialism is not a monolith, and its varying traditions might be distinguished by what they tend to emphasize as being problematically colonialist. Context and tact might sometimes require that such differences be set aside or overlooked— for example, when striving to build coalitions or foster solidarity (or at the dinner table). But there are also times where one should attend to the differences between anticolonialisms, since such discrepancies ultimately have practical repercussions. 2. If one accepts that something can be colonialist and not colonialist at the same time and in the same sense, then it is unclear how one could be anticolonialist vis-à-vis said thing. Minimally put, being anticolonialist means that one considers that there is at least one thing in the world that is colonialist, to which one is opposed. Yet the world is complex, and things sometimes appear to be both colonialist and not colonialist. For example, it might seem to someone that political science is colonialist and not colonialist, or that technology is colonialist and not colonialist. But in order to better identify one’s target, it proves best to clarify the former apparent contradictions by reference to time and/or sense. In this case, one might say that political science or technology is colonialist insofar as X, and not colonialist insofar as Y. Of course, such a clarification does not by itself resolve the economic, cultural, social, or political contradictions at hand. But it does move one beyond an initial theoretical hurdle. While there has been a plethora of calls in decolonial circles for ‘other logics,’ and while perhaps there might be interesting and desirable forms of paraconsistent anticolonialism to explore, I think that the rule of non-contradiction should not be abandoned a priori. 3. The more sweeping a claim about something’s being-colonialist, the more likely does its use-value lie in provocation rather than in analysis.

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Anticolonialists have embraced a wide variety of genres. Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks and Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera even seem to create new genres of their own. The use of many media and the transgression of traditional genric boundaries for anticolonial purposes, to my mind, is exciting and thought-provoking. But since genres in many ways establish expectations about meaning, their blurring can sometimes lead to conceptual confusions. For example, aphorisms are often hyperbolic or tongue-in-cheek. Drama and polemics succeed when they create and stoke new contradictions, whereas therapeutic philosophy seeks to dissolve such conflicts. And good poetry deserves rereading, among other reasons, because of its multivocity, while a clarificatory essay attempts to precise something. When such genres meld together, hermeneutic difficulties increase. There are certain claims within the ambit of emancipatory politics that seem to function as goads rather than as analytic tools, for example: “Gnosis is the perfect act of the ontological, aristocratic oppressor;”1 “pain is the very essence of metaphysics;”2 or “all discourses are colonialist discourses.”3 If understood as hyperboles, then such claims might have an important, circumscribed polemical role to play in consciousness-raising. But if taken as generalizations, they operate as false universals. Either one must expand the meanings of ‘gnosis,’ ‘pain,’ ‘metaphysics,’ ‘discourse,’ and ‘colonialism’ beyond all recognition to salvage these claims, or admit that such statements readily invite counter-examples. Over the course of writing this book, I have either come across or have been told that epistemic justification, science, technology, rationality, philosophy, and logic, among other things, are themselves colonialist. I will here only briefly address the first of these. If epistemologist Jennifer Nagel is correct that the word ‘know,’ like the words ‘because,’ ‘if,’ ‘good,’ ‘bad,’ ‘live,’ and ‘die’ appear in all natural languages,4 is it not also likely that many also have some notion of justification, whether explicitly or implicitly? Consider the following phrase of the Yoruba people, “A ki i gbe odo jiyan bi ose ho tabi ko ho. Translation: One does not argue at the side of the stream whether soap lathers or not, (since it can be tested with water).”5 The phrase suggests that some claims are testable, and that some debates can be brought to a close by verification or experimentation. What counts as legitimate epistemic justification will of course differ from culture to culture and from individual to individual. And while such differences are quite fascinating, the fact that such differences exist seems to be trivially true. What is not at all clear is that

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ascribing to a form of epistemic justification, by itself, implicates one in colonization. The banal but more adequate answer seems to be that justification—like science, technology, rationality, philosophy, logic, and many other things—can be used for colonialist, non-colonialist, or anticolonialist ends, and that their role in doing so can only be understood contextually and historically. While such a claim lacks sex-appeal, I do not think we should abandon deflationary truths because of their ugliness. Would it be possible to try to convince another that, for example, in one particular situation, epistemic justification serves colonialist ends, without doing so by giving reasons, thereby having at least some operative sense of justification? 4. We tend to mistakenly judge that which we associate with the colonizer or the colonized as belonging essentially to the colonizer or the colonized respectively. In my essay “Fanon and the Underside of Commodity Fetishism,” I argue that Fanon’s studies of the veil, the radio, and medicine in colonial Algeria function to establish the truth of the present thesis (among other things). In each case, the colonizer or colonized considered one of these cultural artifacts/commodities as belonging essentially either to the colonizer or the colonized—and to such a degree that such things came to possess an identity-constituting power. But more than reconfirming the Humean thesis that, over time, one’s habits form a bond between associations of particular ideas with sense impressions, such that there appears to be a necessary connection between them that does not in fact exist, Fanon demonstrates that new practices of usage break old associations of objects with group identities. It is not by merely thinking differently, but in using the radio and medicine, and donning and doffing the veil for revolutionary ends that those involved in the struggle, according to Fanon, take part in “a radical transformation of the means of perception, of the very world of perception.”6 In this way, Fanon’s studies in A Dying Colonialism exceed the bounds of typical qualitative sociology. Rather, his studies are both cautionary and a call to action. His essays caution against hastily judging something to be essentially colonizing or essentially colonized. Each of his studies shows how such hasty generalizations are not only often mistaken, but also how clinging to them can in fact deter an anticolonial revolution’s aims. The misperceptions with which he was concerned were not resolvable by

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‘thinking harder.’ Instead, they only began to change after the attainment of a critical mass of new revolutionary practices, and adjustments of these things’ use-values. 5. If one judges something to be essentially colonialist, then the decolonization of said thing is tantamount to its complete destruction. Despite the foregoing thesis, there may still be things that one wishes to identify as essentially colonialist. For example, it is hard to imagine how capitalism could be anything but colonialist. The laws and nature of capital, not to mention its historical record, seem to be a strong candidate for something that is inherently colonialist. If this is the case, then to ‘decolonize capitalism’ would mean to do away with it completely. 6. If one judges something to be accidentally or incidentally colonialist, then there may be some aspect of it which can be effectively salvaged and turned toward anticolonialist ends. Fanon has shown how such torsions are possible, both in regard to common objects like radios and more complex realities such as psychiatric knowledge systems. A similar pragmatism can be found in the directives of Cabral’s Resistance and Decolonization, in which he advises those working with the PAIGC to take up the Portuguese language, since it is commonly shared among different ethnic groups and since it contains words useful for the ends of national liberation and state building that one cannot find in the local Indigenous languages. Such views are markedly different from those of other anticolonialists. (The latter proposal, I think, would startle Ngũgı ̃ wa Thiong’o). Perhaps the greatest anticolonial opposition to this thesis can be found in the work of Linda Tuhiwai Smith, who epigraphically cites Audre Lorde on this very matter: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”7 Should one accept this as a fundamental maxim, as a regulative guide for action? Lorde makes this claim in the specific context of criticizing white, racist, homophobic, academic feminism after having been tokenized as an after-thought during the organization of a conference, “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.”8

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On the one hand, Smith’s redeployment of Lorde’s claim, by itself and in a different context, can be taken as an empirical claim. And, as an empirical claim, it has certain debatable limitations. For example, if we take French-occupied Haiti to be a ‘master’s house,’ and horses, arms, and revolutionary proclamations of the égalité of all people to be some of the ‘master’s tools,’ then the L’Ouverture-led revolution was indeed a dismantling of the master’s house by means of some of the master’s tools.9 Or again, since slaves were legally codified as possessions for the use of their masters, considered from a formal, juridical point of view, a slave revolt, rebellion, or revolution would be a de jure turning of the master’s tools against him. On the other hand, the statement under consideration functions normatively, implying that one should never use the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house. The Haitian Revolution, like all others, did not produce a perfect society devoid of injustice. But does not the master’s house in this case need to be dismantled as a necessary precondition for the construction of a better society in the first place? Does it always and everywhere matter which or whose tools are used for some practicable instance of manumission or liberation? Are there not cases in which stating that an oppressed individual or group should not liberate themselves by means not of their own making would be not only impractical, but also unethical? Ultimately, if, as Cabral argues, “reality is fluid (the world is in permanent evolution—everything transforms),”10 then when taken up and used by a servant, slave, or otherwise oppressed individual or group, does there come a point at which it simply no longer makes sense to speak of a set of tools as really the “master’s” any longer? 7. Reductio ad absurdum belongs in the anticolonialist’s armory. Reductio ad absurdum is “a form of refutation showing contradictory or absurd consequences following upon premises as a matter of logical necessity.”11 In simplest terms, using this tool occurs by investigating whether or not a claim or argument logically entails contradictory or preposterous consequences. While running long indirect proofs in symbolic logic can be quite tricky, using the reductio does not usually involve very much work. We do so “all the time without bothering to display the underlying logic: ‘If that’s a bear, then bears have antlers!’ or ‘He won’t get here in time for supper unless he can fly like Superman.’”12

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The reductio is often immensely helpful in discarding or trimming judgments about something’s being-colonialist. For example, if someone claims that taking inspiration from the history of so-called Western philosophy and modern sciences is colonialist, then one could demur: Then is Nkrumah’s Consciencism colonialist? Affirming as much would strike me as absurd. Or, if someone were to claim that writing in the languages of former or current imperial powers were itself colonialist, one could respond: Are we then to understand that the works of María Lugones and Sylvia Wynter are colonialist? The purpose of the reductio does not lie in nit-picking and fault-finding, but rather in paring down and retooling unwieldy claims. It is precisely because anticolonialists agree that something is colonialist that such work proves important, and why we should care about being more rather than less accurate in our judgments.

References Anzaldúa, Gloria. 2012. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books. Cabral, Amílcar. 2016. Resistance and Decolonization. Edited and translated by Dan Wood. Introduction by Reiland Rabaka. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield International. Dennett, Daniel. 2013. Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking. New York: W.W. Norton and Co. Dubois, Laurent. 2005. Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution. Cambridge: The Belknap Press. Dussel, Enrique. 2003. Philosophy of Liberation. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock. Fanon, Frantz. 1967. A Dying Colonialism. New York: Grove Press. Fanon, Frantz. 2008. Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove Press. James, C.L.R.1989. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. New York: Vintage Books. Loomba, Ania. 2005. Colonialism/Postcolonialism. London: Routledge. Lorde, Audre. 1993. The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House. In Feminist Frontiers III. New York: McGraw Hill. L’Ouverture, Toussaint. 2008. The Haitian Revolution. Edited by Nick Nesbitt. London: Verso. Nagel, Jennifer. 2014. Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Nkrumah, Kwame. 2009. Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for De-­Colonization and Development with Particular Reference to the African Revolution. New York: Monthly Review Press.

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Oduwole, Ebunolua. 2011. The Concept of Truth in an African Language: An Exercise in Conceptual Decolonization. Saarbrüken: LAP Lambert Academic Publishing. Reductio ad Absurdum. June 12, 2017. In the Encyclopaedia Britannica. https:// www.britannica.com/topic/reductio-ad-absurdum. Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 1999. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. New York and London: Zed Books. Vattimo, Gianni. 2003. Pain and Metaphysics. In Nihilism & Emancipation: Ethics, Politics, and Law. Edited by Santiago Zabala and translated by William McCuaig. New York: Columbia University Press. Wood, Dan. 2019. Fanon and the Underside of Commodity Fetishism. PhaenEx: Revue de théorie et culture existentialistes et phénoménologiques 13 (1, Spring): 1–45.

Conceptual Glossary13,14,15

Aporia  A paradox, puzzle, or contradiction to appear within some discourse, especially that of a theory or dialogue. Aporia of double truth doctrines  An acceptance of the possibility that two different spheres of thinking can arrive at logically incompatible propositions which are nonetheless both true at the same time and in the same sense. The two different spheres of thinking might be those of philosophy and religion, reason and faith, sameness and alterity, the etic and the emic, one culture and another, and so forth. Aporia of religious transcendence  The turn to religious or mythic resources in order to mediate and preserve hypostatized differences in which a binary spatial imaginary between two incommensurable spheres predominates, whether between the natural and the supernatural, being and its beyond, those with a certain type of body and those without this form of embodiment, or between persons and metapersons. Colonialist Ideology  The idealist obfuscation or inversion of the actual bearing of historical-material processes on the formulation and flow of ideas in such a way that only the ideas of the ruling colonial classes are legitimated and sanctioned. Ideologies, in this sense, constitute particular, shared propositional attitudes and discourses that are neither justifiable nor true, and which bolster colonialist ends. The reigning ideology of a colonial power ensures, motivates, and justifies its day-to-­day operations. Ideology makes people march (fait marcher), in the multiple senses of making them fall in line, work, and function, as well as in the sense of deluding them.16 © The Author(s) 2020 D. A. Wood, Epistemic Decolonization, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49962-4

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Colonization  Those processes whereby a foreign group arrogates the individuals, lands, and/or resources of another group in a durable, regular fashion. Colonization involves the appropriation of (1) human beings themselves, for example, through chattel slavery, (2) the lands used and inhabited by others through occupation, settlement, and the drawing of borders, and (3) the abstract and concrete resources of foreign groups (such as their knowledge about medicinal plants as well as the tangible products of their labor) through theft and/or unequal exchange. Unlike sporadic banditry, colonization occurs in a durable and regular fashion, marshaling sustained practices of ‘taking from’ and ‘taking over’ in such a way that these practices become institutionalized, systemic impositions of one group upon another. Decolonization  Those processes seeking to undermine possible and real colonialist structures, agents, actions, things, systems, functions, and mechanisms, thereby simultaneously reducing the quantity and quality of the ways in which said realities have been and/or continue to be colonized. Differential Approach to Epistemic Decolonization  An enacted orientation toward the decolonization of knowledge, many of whose philosophical commitments (such as those concerning of religion, ontology, and truth) share identifiable affinities and family resemblances. I call this family of orientations ‘the differential approach’ because the distinctively poststructuralist notion of difference from which it draws guides and influences many of its corollary commitments. While a number of theorists working within the ambit of the Modernity/ Coloniality Research Group clearly exemplify the differential approach to decolonizing knowledge, this approach should not be thought of as confined to this tradition, but rather as a diffuse group of attitudes, leanings, and predilections that cut across a number of different traditions. Epistemography  An inquiry that maps and charts different approaches to knowledge by individuals and groups. While epistemographies cannot isolate themselves from epistemological issues and presuppositions, the two forms of understanding nonetheless remain distinct from one another. Specifically, the normative emphasis peculiar to epistemography differs from that of epistemology. In epistemology, some candidate for knowledge X is either included or excluded from counting as knowledge given various conditions that one sets forth. In such theories, X should or should not be understood as an instance of knowledge

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provided certain criteria. The normative concerns that guide epistemography, on the other hand, have more preliminary, orienting, and comparative aims. Mapping and distinguishing between the different conceptions of knowledge that theorists and activists endorse not only aids in grasping how they differ, but also why they do so. Epistemology  That branch of philosophy which treats of the problems, paradoxes, limits, and necessary and/or sufficient conditions pertaining to knowledge. Knowledge  Epistemologically speaking, knowledge is justifiable (not necessarily justified) information possessed by groups or individuals who, to different degrees, might or might not be aware of possessing it. Drawing from Floridi, I understand ‘information’ to be meaningful, well-formed, and truthful data.17 Knowledge can, but need not, arise within and be organized by some knowledge system as defined in the present work. Knowledge System  An organized and interrelated group of abstractions and practices which, through a productively circular interaction, grant said system real explanatory, technical, and predictive powers. Such practices and abstractions cannot occur without the mediation of tools and artifacts. In regard to their discursive side, Indigenous, scientific, and other qualified forms of knowledge systems have at least three basic components: (1) working, background cultural, metaphysical, modal, and axiological assumptions, (2) at least some elements of justifiable information (knowledge), and (3) some inadequate, revisable, false, or defeasible components. Luso-African Mesology  That nexus of conflicts between Indigenous and European discourses and practices in the Luso-African world (especially Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau) concerning agriculture and the environment, both of which are inseparable from broader battles for various cultural, political, social, and economic ‘goods’ (in the double sense of both ‘commodities’ and ‘moral values’). Ontological Aporia  The paradoxical commitment to the absolute difference between individuals or spaces—either as beings or beyond being— that nevertheless retain an obscure relation to being or beings. Ontology  The branch of philosophy that investigates the nature of and relation between fundamental categories such as reality, being, existence, and existents. Philosophy  ‘Philosophy,’ a term whose ancient Greek roots mean the ‘love of wisdom,’ refers to an oriented system of ideas, values, and ­practices by means of which an individual or group seeks and proposes

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answers to fundamental questions, such as those concerning reality, logic, beauty, goodness, knowledge, the self, the gods, and the meaning of life—questions whose elusiveness often rivals their perceived, perennial importance. One often associates philosophy with ideas, particularly with big ideas. But philosophical ideas, concepts, and theories emerge, transform, and are transmitted through concomitant practices. Social and cultural practices comprise a key aspect of really-existing philosophy. In seeking the best ways to address fundamental questions, philosophers and philosophical traditions prioritize some concerns, methods, forms of life, and styles of presentation over others. In this way, a particular philosophy orients itself in one way rather than another. Finally, the ideas, values, and practices that comprise an instance of philosophy relate to and impinge upon one another, such that the elements of a philosophy make up an organized system as opposed to a mere cluster or heap.18 Politics of Knowledge  The general contestation over what counts as knowledge, where the role of authority and processes of (de)authorization in judging whether or not something counts as knowledge receives greater emphasis than questions which fall within the purview of epistemology proper. When ‘politics of knowledge’ is qualified as ‘anticolonial,’ I am referring to the widespread set of debates and discourses wherein the authoritative status of a type of knowledge or knowledge system is contested because of its suspect relation to historical processes of colonization. Revolution  For present analytical purposes, I use the term ‘revolution’ in a specific and relatively narrow sense. By ‘revolution’ I mean the organized and sustained attempt to destroy and reconstruct a state’s entire constellation of authoritative relations, with a high degree of focus on institutional transformation. Revolutions must be organized, so as to be differentiated from revolts, mutinies, rebellions, insurgencies, and protests—all of which may be moments of broader revolutionary struggles, or, conversely, relatively  isolated events which are not moments of a larger revolutionary process. The revolutions with which the present book is concerned are also endogenously organized in the sense that those involved have a strong, prior sense of affinity to the space to be transformed. As I will use the term, revolutions are temporally extensive or sustained, and so should not be conflated with coups, depositions, putsches, or other regime changes only at the upper echelons of state authority, in which only one or a few authoritative relations are altered

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(and relatively quickly). This is why one can speak of a coup occurring within a revolution, but not vice versa. Finally, revolutions attempt to wholly undo and recompose authoritative relations at a comprehensive and structural level of sociopolitical ordering, and this requires at least a minimal attention to the institutions, patterns, customs, and norms that structure authoritative systems. Thus, seeking and organizing new forms of de jure and de facto independence, revolutions for political decolonization consist of the endogenously organized and temporally extensive attempt to undermine the physical, legal, institutional, customary, and economic guarantors of the control of an entire region and its population by foreign agents. Revolutionary-Socialist Approach to Epistemic Decolonization  An enacted orientation toward the decolonization of knowledge, many of whose philosophical commitments (such as those concerning of religion, ontology, and truth) share identifiable affinities and family resemblances. I qualify this approach as ‘revolutionary-socialist’ because it was directly engaged in and shaped by the armed overthrow of the colonialist state in the name of radically egalitarian social, political, and economic programs influenced by Marxist theory and practice.

Notes 1. Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, 50. 2. Vattimo, “Pain and Metaphysics”, 71. 3. Loomba, Colonialism/Postcolonialism, 59. 4. Nagel, Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction, 7. 5. Oduwole, The Concept of Truth in an African Language, 50. 6. Fanon, A Dying Colonialism, 96. 7. Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies, 20. 8. Lorde, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”, 11. 9. See Dubois, Avengers of the New Word; L’Ouverture, The Haitian Revolution; James, The Black Jacobins; and James, “The Haitian Revolution in the Making of the Modern World”. 10. Cabral, “Estudo do clima da região de Cuba em relação à defesa da terra”, 88. 11. Reductio ad Absurdum, Encyclopaedia Britannica. 12. Dennett, Intuition Pumps, 29. 13. The following are not definitions of things-in-themselves. They are rather the working definitions of key concepts as they are used throughout this particular book.

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14. Floridi, Luciano. 2005. “Is Semantic Information Meaningful Data?” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research LXX: 2 (Mar.): 351–370. 15. Wood, Dan. 2018. Philosophy and Imperialism. In The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism, ed. Immanuel Ness and Zak Cope, 2nd ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 16. Marx, The Marx-Engels Reader, 154, 172–74 and Althusser, On the Reproduction of Capitalism, 42n27, 180–81. 17. Floridi, “Is Semantic Information Meaningful Data?” 367. 18. Wood, “Philosophy and Imperialism.”

Index1

A Africa, 8, 30, 89, 105, 121–123, 132, 133, 143n14 Agronomy, 133, 134, 139–141 agropolitics, 133, 136, 140 Alcoff, Linda, 64, 161, 162, 166 Algeria, 10, 85, 87–90, 95, 100, 102, 104, 109n53, 120, 145–146n37, 174 Anzaldúa, Gloria, 36, 173 Aristotle, 20n12, 29, 128, 158 B Bacon, Francis, 2, 3, 6, 7 Bias, 32, 44 See also Ideology Biopiracy, 5, 6, 67

C Cabral, Amílcar, 10, 58, 81, 155–166, 175 Christianity, 69, 70, 84, 88, 125 Coelho, João Paulo Borges, 68, 69 Collins, Patricia Hill, 157, 158 Crenshaw, Kimberly, 157 D Davis, Emmalon, 165 Decolonial theory, 9, 42, 56, 58, 59, 61, 67, 139 Dialectics, 83, 93, 127, 131, 145n33, 163 dialectical materialism, 14, 126–132 Differential approach, 10, 13, 14, 27, 55–75, 104, 120, 141, 155–159 Dussel, Enrique, 19n1, 21n29, 43, 60–67, 69, 76n12, 76n17, 77n25, 77n31, 91, 108n42, 157

 Note: Page numbers followed by ‘n’ refer to notes.

1

© The Author(s) 2020 D. A. Wood, Epistemic Decolonization, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49962-4

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INDEX

E Empire, 3, 12, 31, 35, 36, 63, 69, 72, 73 See also Imperialism Epistemography, 27–48, 55, 158 See also Knowledge; Knowledge systems Epistemology, 7, 12, 13, 27, 30, 43, 55, 58, 59, 64, 66, 155–166 See also Knowledge; Knowledge systems Eurocentrism, 43 F Falsity, 11, 16, 33, 42, 45, 47, 70, 71, 73, 74, 95–105, 161 See also Ideology Fanon, Frantz, 10, 30, 58, 81, 119, 155–166, 173 Feminism, 172, 175 FLN, 89, 107n25, 145n37 Foucault, Michel, 37, 42, 57, 90, 110n61, 139, 144n15, 145n36, 156 G Guinea-Bissau, 10, 120, 133, 134, 136 H Hegel, G.W.F., 83, 93, 111n65, 131 Heidegger, Martin, 57, 91 Hermeneutics, 17, 27, 163, 166, 173 Heuristics, 13, 39, 45–48, 157, 158, 171

I Ideology, 2, 5–7, 11, 41, 42, 123, 160 See also Falsity Immanence, 82, 83, 90, 105 Imperialism, 7, 31, 38, 56, 57, 69, 106n12, 132, 136 Intersectionality, 157, 158 Islam, 84, 88, 89, 143n14 J Justification, 7, 14, 19, 32, 42, 58, 59, 65–69, 81, 95, 137, 155, 156, 160, 161, 163, 173, 174 K Knowledge, 1, 27–48, 55, 81, 119, 155 See also Epistemography; Epistemology Knowledge Systems indigenous knowledge systems, 37, 136, 164 scientific knowledge systems, 46, 165 L Lackey, Michael, 84 Levinas, Emmanuel, 57, 64–66, 91, 92, 108n32, 108n42, 157 M Maldonado-Torres, Nelson, 91, 93, 108n39 Mamdani, Mahmood, 34, 43, 136 Manhattan Project, 2–4, 6, 7 Mannoni, Octave, 46, 96, 97, 109n49, 161

 INDEX 

Marglin, Stephen A., 70–74 Marx, Karl, 15, 16 Materialism dialectical materialism, 14, 126–132 Mesology, 132–142 Metaphysics, 57, 62, 92, 126, 157, 173 See also Ontology Mignolo, Walter, 64–67, 69, 75, 77n26 Mills, China, 46, 47, 49n21 Monterroso, Augusto, 13, 28–34, 41, 68 N Nonbeing, 63, 90–94, 105 O Ontology, 13, 14, 43, 56, 58, 61–64, 75, 81, 82, 90, 92–94, 108n42, 120, 126, 127, 129, 130, 132, 155 ontological aporia, 59–65, 91, 94 See also Metaphysics Ortega, Mariana, 56, 76n1 P PAIGC, 119, 121–125, 127, 129, 137, 141, 143n13, 148n64, 166, 175 Plato, 57, 59, 65 Postcolonialism, 19n1, 56, 126 Poststructuralism, 56 Psychiatry, 46, 47, 96–100, 109n53, 110n61

R Rabaka, Reiland, 37, 120, 142n1, 145n36 Racism, 3, 38, 84 Relativism, 87, 95, 104, 159 Religion, 13, 14, 56, 58, 70, 72, 75, 81–90, 107n22, 107n25, 120–122, 124–126, 130, 143n13, 155 aporia of religious transcendence, 65–70 Revolutionary-socialist approach, 10, 13, 14, 27, 81, 119, 141, 155, 161, 166 S Sartre, Jean-Paul, 83, 92, 93 Science scientific experiments, 98, 99 scientific knowledge systems, 46, 165 Senghor, Leopold, 7, 8, 90 Sensation Transference, 162 Settler, Federico, 85 Shariati, Ali, 89, 90 Shiva, Vandana, 5, 42, 140 Smith, Linda Tuhiwai, 36, 175, 176 Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, 57 T Theology, 67, 69, 84, 93, 106n10, 126, 143n11 Thin-slicing, 162, 166 Transcendence, 33, 57, 65, 67, 69, 83, 86, 162 See also Religion; Theology

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INDEX

Truth aporia of double truth doctrines, 70–75 -value, 17, 33, 42, 45, 47, 48, 66, 67, 73, 74, 82, 96, 155, 156, 160

V Validity, 158, 159 Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo, 43 Y Yountae, An, 67, 69