DECOLONISATION IS NOT A METAPHOR
- Written by DAMTP
by ChangaMire and TaeAteh
There are two recent articles by this title “Decolonisation is not a metaphor” (by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang and by Enāēmaehkiw Thupaq Kesīqnaeh) so we thought we would add a third in order to expand on some of the points being made. Decolonisation of the mind, of knowledge – of psychic space, is inseperable from the decolonisation of physical space – and that includes spiritual space. One cannot proceed without the others: De-alienation of land and de-alientation of labour – of reproductive, productive, psychic, destructive and indeed dead labour. But also it is a process that occurs not just in the ex-colonies but must happen also at the source of colonialism – in Europe itself. This is at the core of any decolonising of the university – the university which is after all not just a eurocentric university but a ruling class, patriarchal, bourgeois university. And which is not just an idea (institutions oif learning are as old as time) but a historical moment that begins with Bologna and Oxford towards the end of the Age of Saints.
“Decolonizing the university starts with the de-privatization and rehabilitation of the public space – the rearrangement of spatial relations Fanon spoke so eloquently about in the first chapter of The Wretched of the Earth. It starts with a redefinition of what is public, i.e., what pertains to the realm of the common and as such, does not belong to anyone in particular because it must be equally shared between equals.”
Achille Mbembe, Decolonizing Knowledge and the Question of the Archive (2015)
The enclosures of the commons in Albion, happen along with colonialism and the alienation of land in the colonies, was defining and founding moments of Capitalism as a world system. No doubt slavery and colonisation happened at the same time as transportation became a sentence equal to hanging, for working class people in Albion, who were shipped to the colonies as slaves. So there is no difference in the position and use of the working class at this time, this class function and indeed this space in the foundations of Capitalism: slavery, colonialism and transportation over the first half of the Age of Divinity (1400s to 1600s).
And today as then, the working class has no nation. All borders around the post colonial world are drawn up by European colonial powers (as they were in Europe in 1648) so these are the first point at which the decolonisation must take place. However the first borders must be those of Europe itself. The EU referendem and debates present false choices at every step. Now that Haiti the place of the first slave revolt in history has joined the AU, can we imagine Albion (re)joining the AU too?
“Berlin of 1884 was effected through the sword and the bullet. But the night of the sword and the bullet was followed by the morning of the chalk and the blackboard. The physical violence of the battlefield was followed by the psychological violence of the classroom. [. . .] In my view language was the most important vehicle through which that power fascinated and held the soul prisoner. The bullet was the means of the physical subjugation. Language was the means of the spiritual subjugation.”
Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Decolonizing the Mind (1986)
Wa Thiong'o and Achebe give contrasting attitudes to the English language but as well as addressing cultural capital we need to maintain a drive for de-alietantion and decolonisation of physical capital and land. And so the capital that empowers the destructive and productive workers must also be de-alienated.
Spiritual and Sacred spaces have traditionally been public spaces – traditional ownership, common ownership of this land functions as the opposite to the border. It is no coincidence that Cecil Rhodes chose the most sacred spot in Zimbabwe for his last resting place – In the Matopo Hills. In Zimbabwe, calls have been made for his body to be exhumed and repatriated, the sacred spot decolonised and disalientated. The tyrant deported, the demon spirit banished at long last.
And it is no coincidence that Robert Mugabe the person put forward as leading the only country to institute a policy of land disalienation - is the same person who had vetoed the demands for Rhodes to be exhumed.
We suggest that Rhodes be exhumed immediately and the body offered to Oxford University. The statue at Oriel College can then be replaced by the actual body of Rhodes, in or out of his coffin. If they would cling so desperately to their colonial past then let them do so in an honest and less spectacular manner. We intend to discuss this proposal and canvas support for it. #RhodesMustFall #ExorciseColonialism
Decolonisation does not happen by the permission or approval of the ruling class but when the working class empowers ourselves to take over the means of production reproduction and equally as crucially of death and destruction.
“There are no limits--inside the circle. The hillock up which you have toiled as if to be nearer to the moon; the river bank down which you slip as if to show the connection between the dance and ablutions, cleansing and purification--these are sacred places. There are no limits--for in reality your purpose in coming together is to allow the accumulated libido, the hampered aggressivity, to dissolve as in a volcanic eruption. Symbolical killings, fantastic rides, imaginary mass murders--all must be brought out. The evil humors are undammed, and flow away with a din as of molten lava.
One step further and you are completely possessed. In fact, these are actually organized séances of possession and exorcism; they include vampirism, possession by djinns, by zombies, and by Legba, the famous god of the voodoo.”
Frantz Fanon, Wretched of the Earth, 1961
We finally want to reiterate that disalienation of land is not only an issue in former colonies but also in Europe itself and that the overcoming of borders imposed by the ruling class is intimately tied to the reactivation of sacred spaces by the working class.
We will conduct a psychogeographical and situographical mapping of sacred spaces and leylines in Zimbabwe and Cambridge in order to develop these ideas further. During this we hope to expound on our solution to the Wandlebury Enigma and demonstrate that the independent scholars and proletarian psychic workers like Watkins and Lethbridge are far more scientific and thus go beyond the spectacularised science of the patriarchal, white supremacist and bourgeois ideologues of institutions such as the University of Cambridge and the Council for British Archaeology.
Join us on Thursday 9th June at Rock oad Library Cambridge for the first session of the Multi/Pluri/(Comm/Anti)uni - V(e/a)rsity of Cambridge, part of the Antiuniversity Now festival.