Rhodes University Logo

Dr Chika Mba

Research Proposal:

Chika Mba, Ph.D. (PDF, Yr. 1) The Dialectics of Emancipatory Universalism: Engendering Fanonian Political Aesthetics in a World of Neoliberal Dominance (Supervisor: Prof. Neocosmos)

Why does it seem that the very survival of some societies, especially in the Global South, presently depend on their ability to work hard to get back into the “neoliberal universal” or alternatively, to be freed or delinked from it? Relying on Frantz Fanon’s anti-colonial writings, the research views neoliberalism, first, as a neo-colonial false universal in need of emancipation. It attempts via critical multidisciplinary pathways to trace the contours of emancipatory universalism. The overall trajectory of emancipatory universalism engenders a new ethics of economic relations that opens the ground for alternate engagement with divergent but mutually reinforcing human interests that traces non-linear and asymmetrical routes in different regions of the world.  The study probes the possibility of a vertically dispersed global economic regime that is sensitive to the hegemonic inclemencies of current dominant paradigms and that would constantly review and reconstitute the shibboleths of such paradigms to accommodate weaker economies. In clear terms, the research invokes anew, Frantz Fanon’s call to urgently humanise this world, precisely by defending human dignity and freedom against false universals and oppressive institutions. But this is by no means an easy task.

In his most recent article on Fanon, entitled “The Open Door of Every Consciousness”, Richard Pithouse through an insightful re-reading of Fanonian-Marxian dialectics of political struggles, urges a contest of the universal. Pithouse seeks to contest the universal precisely because in the current world order, some people have often suffered unjustly because they are deemed different and outside the web of certain universal paradigms. At other times, the “non-universal” person or group is pressured to fit into the universal by all means. Nonetheless, through Fanon, Pithouse demonstrates that it would amount to a grievous mistake for the damned of the earth, the excluded or the subaltern to lapse into “the singular in the face of the false universal.” Again, staying close to Fanon, Pithouse cautions against such things as proto-nationalism and irredentism. But the question one must ask is: when the contest of the universal is over and victory in clear view; where exactly should the damned of the earth be found? Clearly, assimilation is not the answer. Neither would the perpetual subalterns and those who have suffered historic injustice be able to endure an evocation of any incident from the unequal relations of the past. Yet neoliberalism seems but one way of extending the inequalities of the past precisely by constantly seeking to satisfy the needs of the ‘capitally stronger’ at the expense of the yoked global poor and the uncounted. Is globalisation and interdependence then the answer? This is far from acceptable. Where exactly then, should the politics of inclusion begin and end? What exactly would freedom and self-definition mean? In demanding for inclusion (we take recognition for-granted already), what kind of political actions are open to the damned of the earth, locally against oppressive regimes and internationally against an unjust world order?

More than anything else, the research steadily relies on Fanon’s political aesthetics to offer creative prospects for discovering and thinking seriously about ‘unsupported’ but effective political action channels in a world where alternative theoretical/ideological narratives and conceptions  seem either passé or perennially tilted dangerously toward extremism.

For more information on Dr Mba's area of research, see Mba, Chika. "A Humanistic Critique of Cultural Essentialism". Wednesday 16 September 2015. LINK: Chika Mba

E‌mail: Chikanetexpans@yahoo.com

 

Last Modified :Tue, 13 Oct 2015 17:13:11 SAST