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  • Partisan Universalism: Essays in Honour of Ato Sekyi-Otu

    This book is a dedication to Ato Sekyi-Otu, the professor, mentor, and scholar. His students, collogues and admirers have penned appreciation and critique of his writing, theories and extended implications of his decades of work. Sekyi-Otu’s most notable texts that are taken issue in this series are Fanon’s Dialectic of Experience (1996) and Left Universalism, Africacentric Essays (2019). The authors provide commentary and engage in perspectives that Sekyi-Otu provides a foundation for.  The paradox of “left universalism” and “Africacentric” becomes a possible strategy in crafting an unrestricted, critically informed conception of recognition in the context of Indigenous, post-colonial African or Asian studies and oppressed groups of people. Sekyi-Otu’s idiosyncratic structural alignment to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit brings to light other interconnectivities such as Hegel’s undergird to the development of Fanonian ethnopsychiatry and the history of rationality. Sekyi-Otu helps readers better understand the tradition of political philosophy as a praxis for those who draw on his understandings of humanism and the complexities of universalist thought. His teachings impress upon us to think beyond the foundationalist claims of anticolonial theory and practice and the writers of this series have graciously taken his teaching to meet the questions of many contemporary and historical socio-political cleavages of thought.


    CONTENTS

    Preface by Ato Seyki-Otu

    • Introduction

    • Fanon for a post-imperial world:
 On universals and other human matters – Stephan Kipfer
    • The Sea Menagerie:
 Esi Edugyan’s Atlantic – Patrick Taylor
    • Reconsidering Fanon’s
language of recognition
in Indigenous studies – Sophie McCall
    • On Fanon and Lacan:
 Continuities and structural psychiatry – Gamal Abdel-Shehid
    • Aimé Césaire’s
 Two ways to lose yourself:
 The Exception and the rule – Jeremy M Glick
    • Universality:
 Notes towards rethinking
the history of philosophy – Esteve Morera
    • Husserl and Tran Duc Thao:
 Crisis, renewal, and
the ontology of possibility – Tyler Gasteiger
    • Can Kwame Gyekye’s
 moderate communitarianism take
the individual seriously? – Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò
    • Speaking for, speaking through, speaking with – Jeff Noonan
    • ‘Innocuous Nihilism’, social reproduction
and the terms of partisanship – Susan Dianne Brophy
    • Universalism and immanent critique in
’The End of Progress and Left Universalism’ – Christpher Balcom
    • About the contributors

  • Extracting Profit: Imperialism, Neoliberalism and the New Scramble for Africa

    This African Edition of Extracting Profit is available only in East Africa at www.zandgraphics.com
    The original version was published by Haymarket Books and can be ordered here

    A piercing historical explanation for poverty and inequality in African societies today, and social impact of resource-driven growth.

    A piercing historical explanation of poverty and inequality in African societies today and the social impact of resource-driven growth, Extracting Profit explains why Africa, in the first decade and a half of the twenty-first century, has undergone an economic boom. Rising global prices in oil and minerals have produced a scramble for Africa’s natural resources, led by investment from U.S., European and Chinese companies, and joined by emerging economies from around the globe. African economies have reached new heights, even outpacing rates of growth seen in much of the rest of the world. Examined through the lens of case studies of the oil fields of the Niger River Delta, the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline and the East African infrastructure boom, this period of “Africa rising” did not lead to the creation of jobs, but has instead fueled the extraction of natural resources, profits accruing to global capital, and an increasingly wealthy African ruling class.

    Extracting Profit argues that the roots of today’s social and economic conditions lie in the historical legacies of colonialism and the imposition of so-called “reforms” by global financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The chokehold of debt and austerity of the late twentieth century paved the way for severe assaults on African working classes through neoliberal privatization and deregulation. And while the scramble for Africa’s resources has heightened the pace of ecological devastation, examples from Somalia and the West African Ebola outbreak reveal a frightening surge of militarization on the part of China and the U.S.

    Yet this “new scramble” has not gone unchallenged. With accounts of platinum workers’ struggles in South Africa, Nigerian labor organizing and pro-democracy upheavals in Uganda and Burkina Faso, Extracting Profit offers several narratives of grassroots organizing and protest, pointing to the potential for resistance to global capital and fundamental change, in Africa and beyond.


    Reviews
    • “Lee Wengraf’s Extracting Profit – Imperialism, Neoliberalism and The New Scramble for Africa is at once historical and contemporary. It unpacks ongoing resource crimes by analytically exposing its historical roots and pointing to ways by which the oppressed can cut off the bonds that lock in their subjugation.” —Nnimmo Bassey, Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation

      “Lee Wengraf provides an important reminder that Africa’s position within the world economy is heavily determined by its unequal insertion into the global capitalist system and ongoing manifestations of imperialism.” –James Chamberlain, Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute

      “Lee Wengraf’s Extracting Profit provides a breathtakingly detailed account and analysis of some of the major socioeconomic ills that have been plaguing Africa for centuries. Amongst the host of issues she tackles, arguably the most consequential are mass poverty in African societies, their indefensible economic inequalities and the steady plundering of the continent’s resources, starting from the slave-trade era up till the present-day.” –Remi Adekoya, Review of African Political Economy

      “Extracting Profit offers several narratives of grassroots organizing and protest, pointing to the potential for resistance to global capital and fundamental change, in Africa and beyond.” Developing Economics

      “Evidently, this book is well-researched and it contributes to the expansion of the frontiers of Marxist scholarship on Africa’s development dilemma within the global capitalist order. This book lends credence to the pioneering works of such notable radical scholars as Andre Gunder Frank, Walter Rodney, and Samir Amin among several others. It should be read by students and teachers of political economy, development studies, Marxism and philosophy.” Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

      Extracting Profit provides a great arch of scutiny from the earliest carve-up of the African continent, through colonialism, war, imperialism, to the recent neoliberal takeover. The book demonstrates the continued importance of Marxist analysis on the continent, asserting the centrality of class analysis and a project of revolutionary change. Wengraf provides us with a major contribution, that highlights contemporary developments and the role of China on the African continent that has perplexed and baffled scholars. An indispensable volume.” —Leo Zeilig, author of Frantz Fanon: The Militant Philosopher of Third World Revolution

      “The history of resource frontiers everywhere is always one of lethal violence, militarism, empire amidst the forcing house of capital accumulation. Lee Wengraf in Extracting Profit powerfully reveals the contours of  Africa’s 21st century version of this history.  The scramble for resources, markets, and investments  have congealed into a frightening militarization across the continent, creating and fueling the conditions for further political instability. Wengraf documents how expanded American, but also Chinese, presence  coupled with the War on Terror,  point to both the enduring rivalry among global superpowers across the continent and a perfect storm of resource exploitation. Wengraf offers up a magisterial synopsis of the challenges confronting contemporary Africa.” —Michael Watts, University of California, Berkeley

      “One of the most well-known stylized facts of Africa’s recent growth experience is that it has been inequality-inducing in ways that previous growth spurts were not. Lee Wengraf, in her new book Extracting Profit , expertly utilises the machinery of Marxian class analysis in making sense of this stylized fact. Along the way we learn much about Africa’s historical relationship with imperialism and its contemporary manifestations. This book should be required reading for all those who care about Africa and its future.” —Grieve Chelwa, Contributing Editor, Africa Is A Country

      “In recent years countries in the African continent have experienced an economic boom—but not all have benefited equally. Extracting Profit is a brilliant and timely analysis that explodes the myth of “Africa Rising,” showing how neoliberal reforms have made the rich richer, while leaving tens of millions of poor and working class people behind. Lee Wengraf tells this story within the context of an imperial rivalry between the United States and China, two global superpowers that have expanded their economic and military presence across the continent. Extracting Profit is incisive, powerful, and necessary: If you read one book about the modern scramble for Africa, and what it means for all of us, make it this one.” —Anand Gopal, author, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes

      “Thorough and thoughtful, Wengraf’s book has a radical depth that underscores its significance. It’s definitely a must-read for anyone who cherishes an advanced knowledge on the exploitation of Africa as well as the politics that undermines Africa’s class freedom.” —Kunle Wizeman Ajayi, Convener, Youths Against Austerity and General Secretary of the United Action for Democracy, Nigeria

      “Extracting Profit is a very important book for understanding why the immense majority of the African population remain pauperised, despite impressive growth rates of mineral-rich countries on the continent. It continues the project of Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. And in several ways, it also goes beyond it, capturing the changing dynamics of global capitalism 45 years after Rodney’s magnus opus.

      In this book, Lee Wengraf debunks the myth of “Africa Rising” and the supposed expansion of an entrepreneurial middle-class, revealing “reforms” imposed by international financial institutions as mechanisms for fostering imperialism in an era of sharpening contradictions of the global capitalist economy. The adverse social, economic, political and environmental impact of these are elaborated on as a systemic whole, through the book’s examination of the sinews of capital’s expansion in the region: the extractive industries.

      But, Wengraf does not stop at interrogating the underdevelopment of Africa. Her book identifies a major reason for the failures of national liberation projects: while the working masses were mobilised to fight against colonial domination, the leadership of these movements lay in the hands of aspiring capitalists, and intellectuals. The urgency of the need for a strategy for workers’ power internationally, she stresses correctly, cannot be overemphasized.

      Reading Extracting Profit would be exceedingly beneficial for any change-seeking activist in the labour movement within and beyond Africa.” —Baba Aye, editor, Socialist Worker (Nigeria)

  • Role of African People in World Development

    As African people most of us are brought up to believe many myths about ourselves. One of these is that we are poor because we never grew out of the dark ages. Another such myth is that we will always need European guidance because of our backwardness. Not only has there been a lot of research done within the last few decades disproving these myths but the constant forward and backward motions of various societies in the world proves that a new beginning is always “in the cards” when a forward-looking vision and a determined set of energies are released.

    However, to be properly understood, all this must be put into historical perspective. This is what the author has done: starting from the early days of Egypt down to present day Southern Africa, he has analysed the long journey from development to underdevelopment and back towards development. The fact that European/North American domination has played such a large part in influencing the direction of this path, this manuscript is about both the history of African and European people as well as an economic analysis of foreign domination.

    Given the extensive nature of this task the author has deliberately downplayed statistics as most of the empirical details stated are taken from the research work of reputable scholars, reference to which is constantly engendered, so that the reader could independently pursue the documentation of all aspects of the work.

    Frederick Engels, the classical socialist philosopher, reflecting on the nature of scientific thinking stated:

    The analysis of nature into its individual parts, the grouping of the different natural processes and objects into definite classes, the study of the internal anatomy of organic bodies in their manifold forms, these are the fundamental conditions of the gigantic stride of our knowledge of Nature… But this method of work has also left us as legacy, the habit of observing natural objects and processes in isolation, apart from the connection with the vast whole; of observing them in repose, not in motion; as constants, not as essential variables; in their death, not in their life.”[i]

    Most of the facts and events  have been documented in numerous scholarly writings. But one item of his concern is that most of these works have in one way or other fallen prey to Engels’s criticism, either on grounds of limited geography or of limited history (tackling only a short period). However, what is more usual for the more bourgeois–influenced scholars is to limit their scope to one or two of the arbitrarily imposed “disciplines” of Economics, Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science, Psychology, etc.

    Of course, it is understandable that the two types of limitations (geography and history) are not made without reason, as no one person could hope to cover a broad enough scope in a detailed and rigorous manner especially within easily readable limits. However, the need of scientists especially when covering as important a topic as the development process, to produce a work covering the broadest possible perspective.

    Given limited resources, the author has attempted to do just that – albeit in an introductory manner. It is his hope, however,  that more people start viewing development as a broad, holistic process and not just a phenomenon limited in space and time to economics or even political-economy. In this regard, the annual compilation of The Human Development Index by the UNDP whereby countries worldwide are ranked, not merely by GDP per capita – as is usually cited in classical bourgeois economics – but by Life expectancy, Fertility and Under-five Mortality Rates, Combined School Enrolment, Adult Literacy Rate, Urbanisation, and (generally) by a Human Poverty Index. This approach can only be viewed as a step in the right direction.

    An extra bonus for readers is that I have included quotes from a cross-section of classical scholars on the development process. Hence, readers can follow up on these references to further edify themselves.

    [i] Frederick Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1892), 406.

  • The White Savior Complex in International Development: Theory, Practice and Lived Experiences

    Uniting scholars and practitioners from around the world, this book will address white saviorism as one of the perennial underbelly challenges of the global development aid industry. The introduction by Kanakulya and Sondarjee will first develop the conceptual building blocks to understand white saviorism in international development. Section 1 will then address various theoretical issues such as false consciousness of white saviors, epistemological marginalization of black expertise, Islamophobia, and the links between whiteness and patriarchy. Section 2 will present personal accounts of how practitioners in the Global South have experienced white saviorism first-hand. The conclusion, written by Themrise Khan, will explore the implications of white saviorism for the future of international development practices. Overall, this book will analyze how development practices can undermine voices in the Global South and perpetuate a harsh myth of white superiority. The innovative chapters it encompasses will serve as a basis for more empirical work on white savior practices in international development.


    CONTENTS

    Section 1: Sociological and Philosophical Perspectives on White Saviorism in International Development

     Chapter 1. False Consciousness and the Phenomenology of a White Savior Dickson Kanakulya, Department of Philosophy, Makerere University

    Chapter 2. Islamophobia as a White Saviorism Leila Benhadjoudja, Assistant Professor, School of Anthropological and Sociological Studies, University of Ottawa

     Chapter 3.  Generous but Exploitative: Exploring White Saviorism, Neo-colonialism and the Right to Natural Resources in Uganda Robert Karuru, Lecturer, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Makerere University

     Chapter 4. The Matriarchy Complex. White Western Women in Development Themrise Khan, Independent Development Professional

     Chapter 5. Smoking White Saviorism Out of Development Theoria and Praxis: Epistemological underpinnings and Emancipatory Insights Kizito Michael George, Lecturer, Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy, Kyambogo University

     Chapter 6. Parallel Planet Destination for Donor and Recipients Interests Vianney Ahumuza, Lecturer, Department of Foundation Studies, Uganda Christian University

     Chapter 7. Illicit Financial Flows and the Corrupting Effect of White Saviorism on International Trade Donald Omong Mark, Researcher at CED4, Systems Dynamics Group, University of Palermo

    Chapter 8. White Saviorism in Aid Campaign, or how #KONY2012 Centered Western Experience Maïka Sondarjee, Assistant Professor, School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa

     SECTION 2: “We Don’t Need to be Saved” An Anthology of Voices and Experiences from Development Practitioners in the Global South

     Chapter 9-16. Contributions from South Asia, the Middle East and Africa (TBD upon approval of the concept note by the publisher)

    CONCLUSION

    How to dismantle the White Savior Complex? Themrise Khan (ed)

  • Aporias de Moçambique pós-colonial: Estado, Sociedade e Capital: Estado, Sociedade e Capital

    Este livro escrutina o impacto significativo da independência em diferentes sectores da sociedade moçambicana. Quarenta e cinco anos após a independência, Moçambique conheceu várias transformações. O Moçambique pós-colonial é hoje, em muitos aspectos, diferente do Moçambique colonial. No entanto, existem muitas questões permanentes relativas a essas transformações e ao seu impacto na maioria do povo moçambicano.
    Ao salientar as contradições de todos os processos políticos e sociais em Moçambique pós-colonial, neste livro levantamos questões que visam desconstruir alguns mitos sobre o país.
    Temas como estado, desenvolvimento, política, cultura, nação, políticas públicas, políticas agrárias e outros são questionados em abordagens teóricas inovadoras e progressivas, a fim de compreender o passado, o presente e o futuro de Moçambique numa perspectiva crítica. Por conseguinte, cada tema do livro é tratado de uma perspectiva crítica para melhor captar as aporias dos últimos quarenta e cinco anos de independência.
    A liberalização política que deveria permitir mais partilha de poder e mais respeito pelos direitos políticos e cívicos consolidou, pelo contrário, um regime autoritário que utiliza a ajuda internacional e os benefícios da indústria extractiva não para transformar o país, mas para construir a sua hegemonia política, económica e social em todo o país.
    Defendemos neste livro a tese de que é impossível compreender a verdadeira dinâmica social, política, económica e cultural sem considerar o “povo” como uma categoria essencial de análise.
    Apesar de muitas transformações positivas que ocorreram após a independência, Moçambique ainda preserva muitas heranças coloniais e, portanto, várias transformações estão ainda por implementar.
    Neste trabalho afirmamos que Moçambique é governado por elites que são incapazes de descolonizar o projecto de desenvolvimento que ainda está ancorado na agenda da capital internacional.
    O objectivo deste livro é dar uma melhor compreensão do que tem sido o processo de independência em Moçambique e porque é que o país pós-colonial ainda é colonial na sua estrutura política e económica. Assim, são dados muitos exemplos para dar ao leitor a possibilidade de confrontar as perspectivas teóricas aqui utilizadas com os casos concretos.
    Todos os estudos deste livro mostram que quarenta anos de independência não foram vividos da mesma forma pelas elites que governam o país e pelas populações que vivem sob o seu domínio. Por um lado, as elites no poder e os seus parentes beneficiaram, e ainda beneficiam dos recursos do país, enquanto que uma grande parte da população continua à espera das promessas da independência.
    De um ponto de vista político a económico, os estudos que compõem o livro destacam como o “desenvolvimento” em Moçambique tem estado em contradição com as necessidades do país. Significa que o actual modelo de desenvolvimento responde muito mais à capital internacional do que à transformação social de Moçambique.

    CAD $ 30.00
  • Lenin150 (Samizdat): 2nd expanded edition

    You can purchase the printed version of this book at the Lulu Bookstore.

    The pdf can be downloaded from this page.

    For all the official historiographic efforts at forging a mythologised image of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov as the austere, no-nonsense, professional revolutionary, the really existing flesh and blood Lenin understood and appreciated that the most materialist action an individual must carry out without fault to metabolise the struggle for communism is to breathe. Not just biologically respire but consciously breathe. Breathe for oneself and breathe for and with others. If it is indeed our desire to breathe new life into the long choking red star, a new oxygenic Communist politics of walking and breathing is what we must aspire to, inspire, respire and encourage.

    Lenin150 (Samizdat) seeks to contribute to the re-kindling of the communist attractor by engaging, in the spirit of critical solidarity, with Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov in the year of his 150th anniversary. Conceived out of the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, the book brings together contributions from all continents, ranging in style from the academic to the lyrical. As such, these compelling, and in some cases absolutely urgent, appropriations of (the spectre of) Lenin aspire to be of considerable use-value for the struggles ahead.


    “The 22 contributing authors cover a vast spectrum of activists and scholars, among them: Leon Trotsky, Kevin Anderson, Jodi Dean, Tora Lane, Wang Hui, Slavoj ŽiŽek, Vijay Prashad, and a number of German, Russian and Chinese writers … The political and cultural essays in the book are interwoven with a visual component: photos of statues of Lenin taken during a 2020 tour of Kyrgystan.” Lenin150 (Samizdat) “has contributions from a remarkable range of authors, from very well known to novice. … the book contains some remarkable gems, and insights.” — David Laibman, Science and Society 85(3): 430-432, 2021

     

    Rebecca Selberg’s review in Journal of Holy Land and Palestine Studies: “LENIN 150 (Samizdat) is one of those books that creates a time-space folding — enticing its reader to sense the here and the now as well as a global future through a localised past, specifically: Lenin’s Russia and the USSR, 1904–1990. …[includes a chapter that is a] beautiful example of how the past can be dealt with to understand the present and envision the future, just as it is an illustration of how theoretical openness can result in razor-sharp analyses of complex realities of yesterday and today. That is, in actuality, the spirit of this ‘underground publication’ — perhaps it was too, in spite of it all, the spirit of Lenin.”

    A patchwork Lenin, by Kevin Corr

    “Overall, in tune with this book’s general tone of “critical solidarity” with Lenin, I, in turn, express critical solidarity with the engaging enthusiasm and intentions of those who have produced it. Spending time reading its eclectic contributions would be no bad thing for anyone who feels part of, or at least identifies with, the radical ferment pulsating across the world. The enormous crisis facing us is now being brought into sharp focus by the Covid-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter and the developing ecological disaster. For us today, as in Lenin’s time, the questions remain how do we, the left, cut through the isolated condition we find ourselves in, and how can we learn from the past if we are to avoid barbarism and catastrophe?”
    In the footsteps of Lenin: You can never have too many books about Lenin. by Sean Sheehan:Another anniversary, arising from Lenin’s year of birth, has prompted Lenin 150 (Samizdat), a collection of writings and photographs that explore the political footsteps of Lenin worth following today. The contributors are an exhilaratingly mixed set of activists and academics and they write in various styles, from the lyrical and personal to the discursive and theoretical. The book’s origins can be traced to Kyrgyzstan – home to more surviving Lenin statues than anywhere besides Belarus – but its spirit is internationalist and its laudable regard for approaching Lenin from different perspectives is even more pronounced in its second edition.  As a witty, relevant, inspirational and superbly sane collection of words and pictures, this is a book that requires two copies: one to keep and the other to present to a friend as a gift.
    Lenin 150 (Samizdat) – book review This book came as an unexpected delight. A delight because here is a volume of essays examining the relevance of Lenin today in general and, on occasion, in the specifics of the country where the writer is based. A delight because Lenin has been largely missing from the social movements which have swept the globe over the last two decades, meaning all too often after their meteoric rise and then fall, they leave little behind in way of organisation. The need for which is under constant discussion here.

    Chillin’ with Lenin: An interview with Hjalmar Jorge Joffre-Eichorn: Tribune‘s Owen Hatherley interviews Hjalmar Jorge Joffre-Eichorn about his edited collection ‘Lenin 150,’ and the many meanings of the Russian revolutionary in the present day.

    LENIN150 Samizdat: Original and inspirational thoughts on man who changed the world
    PUBLISHED to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lenin’s birth and conceived in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, Lenin 150 (Samizdat) is an outsanding collection of essays, poems and photos. … Lively, thought-provoking and informative, its roots are in the ideas of a group of young communists living and working in Kyrgyzstan, a country which has retained many of its Soviet-era buildings, statues and monuments, with Johann Salazar’s excellent photography providing a fitting complement to the text. … This book is a fantastically eclectic mix, yet the sheer quality of most of the writing enables a breadth of vision that’s a fitting tribute to someone who not only understood the world but was able to change it as well. — Morning Star, UK

    “A fascinating and surprisingly uplifting intellectual endeavour – analytically sharp yet wide-ranging. This collection of essays and images invites readers to reflect, from a multitude of perspectives and approaches, on one of history’s central revolutionaries. More importantly, it encourages us to reflect on our own time in revolutionary ways. Its academic readership should also be inspired by its samizdat creation – there are ways to engage in intellectual conversations outside of the mainstream publication business.” – Rebecca Selberg, Lund University

    “Wide-ranging, topical and sometimes provoking interpretations of Lenin reflecting different political standpoints.” – David Lane, Emeritus Fellow, Emmanuel College, Cambridge University.

    “This wonderfully designed book provides an original and insightful contribution to academic discussions on Lenin, one that does justice to his legacy.” – Joe Pateman, University of Nottingham, UK

    “A compelling volume for revolutionary-minded activists who are part of the radical ferment animating waves of dissent and protest sweeping the world – but also of genuine interest to anyone seeking information and ideas about one of the great political figures of the twentieth century.”– Paul LeBlanc, Professor of History, La Roche University, Author of Lenin and the Revolutionary Party and October Song: Bolshevik Triumph, Communist Tragedy, 1917-1924

    “What an exciting culmination of the recent Lenin editorial revival! This explosive mix between images of Soviet relics and thoughtful insights about Leninism brilliantly dusts off the legacy of the October Revolution leader…” – Adrien Minard, Independent Researcher

    “‘Consciousness not only reflects the objective world, but creates it,’ Lenin wrote before the revolution. In analogy we might say, like Patti Smith once did: ‘We created it, let’s take it over!’ This book is a tribute to revolutionary thought on the one hand and pure rock ‘n’ roll on the other!”
    Ronald Matthijssen, Lifetime communist voter and actor, social justice advocate and writer in the making

    “I am not an admirer of Lenin. However, as a historian I believe that it is impossible to understand the contemporary world without a renewed effort to understand the emergence of the Soviet Union and its global legacy, including in the formation of “Western” Europe. This book pleasantly brings us memorial landscapes from Kyrgyzstan, both built and lyrical, originally articulating the latter with a diversity of scholarly and activist perspectives on the figure of Lenin. It is an important step towards a postcolonial debate on the history of the Soviet Union.”
    Tiago Castela, University of Coimbra

    “…an inspiring book, which gives a thought-provoking, prismatic picture of Lenin, both as a historic figure and an actual theoretician of change and revolution…”
    Vesa Oittinen, University of Helsinki

    “I acquired this very unusual samizdat (self-published) 150th birthday present for Lenin as soon as I heard of it, and enthusiastically endorse its second edition. Not least because it is the product of one of my favourite countries, Kyrgyzstan, with many colour photos of Stalinist representations of Lenin (and Marx) taken in 2019 in the “Switzerland of Central Asia”; 22 chapters by authors from 15 countries, 4 from the USA, but also from the global South and 3 from Kyrgyzstan; poetry from a Kyrgyz revolutionary poet; and ending with a new translation of Bertolt Brecht’s thrilling ‘To Those Born After (An die Nachgeborenen).’ Vladimir Ilich would have been delighted.” —Bill Bowring, Birkbeck College, University of London

    “A great source of inspiration for those suffering from the corona dictatorships. Governments trying to freeze societies in their tracks will find revolution is around the corner.” – Kees van der Pijl, Prof of International Relations (retired), latest book, Flight MH17, Ukraine and the New Cold War. Prism of Disaster

    “[The editors have] found exactly the right tone and the right team to bring Lenin into 21st century discussions. It is self-ironic, humorous, unpretentious, serious, wide-ranging, and well designed. As intended, the authors, of usually short pieces, come ‘from all continents, from people of colour, different sexual orientations and gender identities.’ Here we are almost as far away from the doxa of “Marxism-Leninism” as possible.” – Göran Therborn, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Cambridge University


    Contents

    Hjalmar Jorge Joffre-Eichhorn, Preface to the 2nd Edition xi

    The Politburo, About This Book xvii

    Patrick Anderson, In Search of Meaning: A Note from the Translator xxiii

    Hjalmar Jorge Joffre-Eichhorn, Introduction: The Kyrgyz Lenin – From Spectre to Attractor (and Back) 1

    1. Leon Trotsky, VI Lenin – On His Fiftieth Birthday11
    2. Alain Badiou, Lenin, Founder of the Modern Meaning of the Word ‘Politics’ 15
    3. Elvira Concheiro Bórquez, Lenin Does Not Mean Leninism23
    4. Michael Brie, Learning from Lenin – and Doing It Differently31
    5. Mauricio Sandoval Cordero, Lenin from Latin America – Towards a Reactivation of the Marxism of Political Organisation and Strategy39
    6. Vashna Jagarnath, Peace! Land! Bread! – We are not going to die of Coronavirus, we are going to die of hunger! 51
    7. Atilio A Boron, Notes on “Left-Wing” Communism:
      An Infantile Disorder
      61
    8. Owen Hatherley, Dead Russians on the Wall 79
    9. Marcos Del Roio, Engels and Lenin in Latin America: Yesterday and Today 87
    10. Kevin B Anderson, A Note on Lenin and the Dialectic97
    11. Roland Boer, Lenin and Non-Antagonistic Contradictions 103
    12. Georgy Mamedov, How Is Internationalism to Be Understood? A Leninist Perspective on Identity Politics111
    13. Jodi Dean, Lenin’s Desire: Reminiscences of Lenin and the Desire of the Comrade 125

    Poetic Interlude – Joomart Bokonbaev Three Communist Poems 134

    1. Ursina Lardi, Playing Lenin – A Conversation about Lenin and Theatre 143
    2. Oxana Timofeeva, What Lenin Teaches Us About Witchcraft 149
    3. Tora Lane, Lenin, the Revolution, and the Uncertainties of Communism in the Work of Platonov 163
    4. Thomas Rudhof-Seibert, Eleven Theses on Lenin in the Corona Era 171
    5. Matthieu Renault, On Revolutionary Prudence, or the Wisdom of Lenin 191
    6. Michael Neocosmos, Lenin’s ‘Turn to the Masses’ (1921-1923) 203
    7. Molaodi Wa Sekake, Lenin: A Man of Action
and a Defender of the Integrity of Revolutionary Thought 213
    8. Matthew T Huber, Electric Communism:
The Continued Importance of Energy to Revolution 225
    9. Mohira Suyarkulova, City of Lenin and the Social(ist) Life of a River 238
    10. Ronald Grigor Suny, A Whole River of Blood: Lenin and Stalin 255
    11. Wang Hui, The Revolutionary Personality and The Philosophy of Victory – Commemorating the 150th Anniversary
of Lenin’s Birth 261
    12. Darko Suvin, In the Shadows of Never-Ending Warfare: On the Use-Value of Lenin today 279
    13. Slavoj Žižek, Lenin? – Which Lenin? 291
    14. Vijay Prashad, For Comrade Lenin on His 150th Birth Anniversary 295
    15. Johann Salazar, I Believe in Yesterday – A Photographer’s Note  on Remembering an Alternative Future 303

    Bertolt Brecht, To Those Born After 313

    The Central Committee 319

    The Politburo 327

    Index329

     

  • Being human after 1492

    Richard Pithouse’s extraordinary overview of the what is means to be human after 1492:

    On 9 August 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, was shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The movement that grew out of the rebellion that followed inaugurated a new sequence in the struggle against racism in the United States. As with previous sequences in that struggle it quickly acquired an international dimension, including here in South Africa. One aspect of this international moment has been an urgent confrontation with the reality that what Césaire called ‘abstract equality’ does not, on its own, mark an end to the racialization of life.

    In the United States, and elsewhere, there is a sense that history is as present as it is past. Just over a decade ago, Baucom observed that “what-has-been is, cannot be undone, cannot cease to alter all the future-presents that flow out of it. Time does not pass or progress, it accumulates”. It is the sense that time accumulates into the present that has often led to the invocation of William Faulkner’s famous line from Requiem for a Nun in discussions about race: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

    The past does not merely haunt or shape the present via the enduring power of deep and impersonal structural forces. Across Europe, and in settler societies like Australia, Brazil and the United States, racism is an increasingly explicit and menacing presence at the centre of political and social life. White revanchism has rallied, often under demagogic leadership, to secure the racial order that emerged from the event of 1492. It has already resulted in Brexit in England, the impeachment of an elected President in Brazil and the election of a figure as grotesque as Trump in the United States.

    We will not be able to transcend the epoch that began in 1492 without a politics that can confront and defeat this revanchism. And we will not have transcended this epoch until “things, in the most materialistic meaning of the word” are, as Fanon insists, “restored to their proper places”. But the catastrophe from which we are all derived is not solely a matter of material dispossession and accumulation. As Michael Monahan argues, in conversation with Wynter, “the history of colonialism is also the history of the emergence of the idea of Europe and of Europeans, and . . . it is such ideas and cultural practices that inevitably shape our consciousness, conditioning what counts as normal and, ultimately, as rational”.

     

  • We Rise for Our Land: Land Struggles and State Repression in Southern Africa

    By chronicling rural people’s struggles across diverse contexts, this collection gives us some signposts of emancipatory politics in the African countryside. Accessible and theoretically grounded, this exciting collection by leading African scholar-activists chronicles rural people’s struggles, from resistance to alternatives. Activists and scholars engaged with rural struggles need to read this book.
—Ruth Hall, professor, Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

    A remarkable, well-argued and theoretically diverse collection of essays on the land question in Southern Africa, a topic as old as colonialism and as new as the newest impositions of global capitalism. Land struggles and resistance in a new and powerful light.
    Boaventura de Sousa Santos, author of The End of the Cognitive Empire, 2018

    This book makes a powerful contribution to the existing and growing literature on land and agrarian questions in southern Africa. Empirically rich… the book is essential reading for scholars, intellectuals, students and activists involved in the everyday struggles and responses of those communities who are directly affected by neoliberal policies. Highly recommended.
—Lungisile Ntsebeza, Emeritus Professor in African Studies and Sociology in the Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town.

    Co-publisher: Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies

    In recent years southern Africa has aroused the interest of domestic and foreign investors targeting several sectors. The agrarian and extractive capital has been the most penetrating in the countryside, causing land conflicts, displacement of local peasant communities and in worse cases, deaths. Being mostly neoliberally oriented, SADC states have positioned themselves in favour of capital. This collusion results in State measures that are hostile to the peasantry of their countries. The measures taken by the States, both in policies and in repressive actions, are endorsed by of high-level government officials, Ministers, Presidents, Kings and traditional Chiefs. As far as traditional chiefs are concerned, even in situations where the presence of capital is dangerous, ‘feudal’-type power relations prevail, oppressing mainly young people and women.

    The peasantry and rural people in general have not, however, been passive in this process. Alone or in alliance with non-governmental organizations and activists, they have positioned themselves strongly against such dynamics and have raised their voices questioning developmentalist logics that are imposed on them, but that take away their means of production and violate their rights. In fact, resistance movements to capital are taking place throughout the region, even if the response to this has been repression by the states.

    This book, which takes a scholar-activist stance, is written by authors, men and women, who critically study the dynamics of agrarian and extractive capital in southern Africa. In their academic and activist work, they seek to bring useful theoretical, conceptual and practical contributions to the struggles of agrarian and rural movements that represent the ‘subalternised’ rural and urban people. The book brings contributions in forms of chapters from DRC, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, eSwatini (Swaziland), Mozambique, and Madagascar.

  • Fanon and the rationality of revolt

    We inhabit extraordinary times: times in which we are acutely aware of the intensity of what revolutionary thinker Frantz Fanon called “the glare of history’s floodlights.”  The velocity and scale at which the revolt against police murder that began in Minnesota after the death of George Floyd on May 25th and moved throughout the US, and then other parts of the world, was astonishing. It was impossible to predict, but then, in retrospect, it is George Floyd’s death becomes a nodal point: calling for action as well as rethinking and self-clarification. Thinking about this moment with the world revolutionary Frantz Fanon, we need to be aware of continuities and discontinuities — or, as he puts it, opacities — between the ages, his and ours. Fanon is always speaking to us, but often in ways we cannot hear. We have to work to listen to him and to understand the new contexts and meanings in relative opacity. It is this constant dialogue that helps illuminate the present and enable ongoing fidelity to Fanon’s call in the conclusion of The Wretched of the Earth the necessity to work out new concepts to confront one of Fanon’s greatest concerns, the betrayal of the revolutionary movement. In this pamphlet we consider how Fanon’s idea of liberation is connected with “the rationality of revolt.” The practice of engaging Fanon not only with revolt but with the reason or rationality of revolt connects with Fanon’s idea of how this liberated humanity is a product of a new consciousness of collectivity open to rethink everything.

  • For the love of the struggle: Memoirs from El Salvador

     

     

    You can watch Brian Murphy interviews Andrés McKinley here.

     

    From his home in El Salvador where he has lived over four decades, the author shares an intimate personal and political memoir that follows his remarkable journey from the comfort and security of a picturesque New England town to a stirring and heroic engagement in common cause with the struggle for peace and justice in El Salvador.

    After four years as a Peace Corp worker in northern Liberia beginning in the late 1960’s, followed by a stretch back in the United States as a street worker in the ghettos of North Philadelphia, McKinley finds himself in Central America as an aid worker in 1978. He quickly becomes engulfed by the political violence of the region and engaged with the people and their struggles against five decades of military dictatorship, centuries of poverty and exploitation. The story is marked by terror, adventure and courage, by trials and tragedy redeemed by the beauty and transcendence of people in struggle.

    Originally based in Guatemala heading up a Catholic relief agency, his commitment to the struggles for change in the country attracts the attention of the military, and his own government, forcing him to leave the country in late 1980. He moves to El Salvador where he begins a gradual incursion into the revolutionary struggle of this country, in a commitment that will last the rest of his life.

    Interwoven with this personal journey, is the story of Teresa Rivas, her husband Antonio, and their five children, a peasant family whose commitment as catequists with the Jesuit, Rutilio Grande, led to their eventual incorporation into the guerrilla forces of the FMLN after Grande’s assassination in 1977. The book describes the circumstances under which the author meets Antonio Rivas and family in the war zones of El Salvador, falls in love with them and their cause, and commits to accompanying their struggle through its darkest hours during the most violent years of the war. It also describes their life after the war, with resettlement in the lowlands of Guazapa where many ex-combatants were building a new life.

    Interwoven with these stories, is the epic of a decades-long people’s struggle for economic justice, human rights and authentic democracy in El Salvador. The book lays out the social, economic and political origins of the armed struggle that caught fire in the 1970s, and the experiences of a people in desperate pursuit of non-violent options for democratizing their country and assuring a dignified life for the impoverished and marginalized majority of its population. It explains in detail the gradual emergence of the objective and subjective conditions for revolution in El Salvador, including the difficult choice for the use of violence as the only available option for transformative change in the country.

    The book also details the challenges of reconstruction after the Peace Accords that end the war in 1992, and the tragedy of opportunities lost during the immediate post-war period in the face of the ongoing resistance of traditional opponents to reform. The author—himself deeply involved during these years in support of non-violent political organizing and advocacy—describes the efforts to sustain peace and to resolve the issues that continue to threaten the country with political violence. One of these is the water crisis that threatens the viability of the nation and life itself, and the book reveals the processes of organizing behind the ultimately-successful 17 year struggle to ban metallic mining—an historic victory in 2019 approved by a vote in the National Assembly, and without precedent in the world.

    As the memoir closes, the author reflects on his choice to be in El Salvador over the past 43 years, and the country as he finds it in these changing times; on the family with whom he has shared love and life there; on his continuing relationship with Antonio Rivas and his surviving family; and his gradual reconciliation, from a distance, with the country of his birth.

    With a Foreword by Charlie Clements, author Witness to War (Bantam, 1984) and Former Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

     

    Andrés McKinley has penned a beautiful, moving love story – a stunning tribute to his family and country of birth and to his family and country of re-birth. Read it also as a tribute to a generation whose best and brightest members seized the opportunity to be a part of the social justice movements that were unfolding around the world. Theirs was not a journey for fame or for fortune. Baby-boomers, read this book to remember; others, read this to understand not only the sacrifices made but, more importantly, the fulfillment gained. May others follow Andres’s path to love, wherever it may take take them. — Robin Broad (Guggenheim Fellow) and John Cavanagh (director, Institute for Policy Studies), coauthors
    of The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country from Corporate Greed (Beacon Press, 2021).

    The voice is simple, authentic, articulate, and consistent and coherent throughout. Given the unique and dramatic personal story that Andrés tells, it is actually understated and quiet—restrained intensity is how I might describe it. What really sets it apart, though, is the intimacy, care and respect with which he describes and tells the stories of the Salvadorans with whom he shared life and struggle throughout these years (and for that matter the villagers in Liberia in his early Peace Corps years). … It is a work of great humility, even as it tells a heroic tale without flinching, and in great detail. Nor is he romantic about the course that the struggle has taken; he is unflinching in that as well, and so leaves history open-ended but blessed with the grace of those who struggle. — Brian K. Murphy, writer and organizer, former policy analyst at Inter Pares, who writes at MurphysLog.ca

    This is a very impressive book which tells a truly remarkable personal story, without the story becoming purely personal. In fact, there is a great deal of political history in the book, which I can confirm as I also studied as well as lived through some of the Salvadorean civil war. The truly incredible Salvadorean peasants who stayed in the war zones despite army incursions and US backed aerial bombing, are just as he describes them. They led me also to a lasting respect and love for them, even with- out the long term depth of experience of the author. The way the author brings us so many personal stories is very powerful. We get to know the friends he makes and then to feel as he did, when they lost their loved ones in this horrendous violence un- leashed on the Salvadorean poor and their allies by the Salvadorean wealthy elites, their military and US backers. — Jenny Pearce, Research Professor, Latin America and Caribbean Centre, London School of Economics

    Andrés McKinley’s book For the Love of the Struggle is a moving and personal account of his involvement in the fight for justice in El Salvador during the civil war of the 1980s. But more than the events he describes, with great detail and political insight, it is his love for the people of El Salvador that sets this book apart. From working with church related organizations, to joining the guerrillas in the liberated zones, to his work along the communities opposing metallic mining, it is his relation- ship with the people, particularly the humbler ones, which stands out.

    Most books that deal with the civil war in El Salvador end with the signing of the Peace Accords, which put an end to the armed conflict and laid the foundation for a more democratic and just El Salvador. As important as the Peace Agreements were, they did not solve all the problems and conflicts of the country. When several rural communities were threatened in the early 2000s by the efforts of trans- national gold mining interests, they rose in defense of their rights through social organization and peaceful opposition. In spite of the repression they suffered, after 17 years of struggle they finally prevailed, showing how people united, can bring about change.

    This belief is particularly important now, at a moment in which our democratic insti- tutions are being threatened precisely by those who should be the first to protect them. It is the role of organized civil society to defend what we have conquered and McKinley’s book is an excellent and timely reminder that this is something possible and necessary to achieve.— Francisco Altschul is a former Salvadoran Ambassador to the United States

  • Decolonization and Afro-Feminism

    Why do so many Africans believe they cannot break the “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” cycle?  Six decades after colonial flags were lowered and African countries gained formal independence, the continent struggles to free itself from the deep legacies of colonialism, imperialism and patriarchy.  Many intellectuals, politicians, feminists and other activists, eager to contribute to Africa’s liberation, have frustratingly, felt like they took the wrong path.  Analyzed through the eyes of Afro-feminism, this book revisits some of the fundamental preconditions needed for radical transformation.

    The main focus of Decolonization and Afro-feminism is unlearning imperial power relations by relearning to “shake off” the colonial filters through which we view the world, including the instruments of law, education, religion, family and sexuality.  It re-envisions Pan-Africanism as a more inclusive decolonizing/decolonial movement that embraces Afro-feminist politics.  It also challenges the traditional human rights paradigm and its concomitant idea of “gender equality,” flagging instead, the African philosophy of Ubuntu as a serious alternative for reinvigorating African notions of social justice.  If you are a student of Africa or in a space where you wish to recalibrate your compass and reboot your consciousness in the struggle for Africa’s liberation, this book is for you.

    Afro-Feminism is a fresh lens through which to consider decolonisation and decoloniality because it gives voice to and perspective from African women. It brings together the activism and scholarship of women who have fought for and alongside men in the political struggles for independence from colonial rule and continue to fight the injustices of colonial effects. They challenge the normative academic models for knowledge-making, offering different kinds of methodologies that recognise ways of knowing and being that resist and contest the scientific, positivist bias of Eurocentric gatekeeping. For precisely this reason, Sylvia Tamale’s layered and meticulous attention to epistemic alternatives opens up new conversa- tions about what it is to decolonise our thinking, being and acting in this world. …There are many reasons to read this book, one of which is that I can barely do it justice in a review. Tamale covers the range of colonial effects on African experiences and relations with compelling confidence and articulation, conveying a profound understanding of the essential work of decoloniality from an Afro-Feminist perspective. There are ‘aha’ moments on every page, detailed and multiple references which encourage the reader to keep searching for and finding the conscientisation and truth that will liberate. —Corinne Knowles, Extended Studies Unit, Rhodes University, Makhanda. (2021): Decolonization and Afro-Feminism, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, DOI: 10.1080/02589001.2021.1938976

    Decolonization and Afro-feminism makes a major epistemic contribution to charting Africa’s way forward, and alerts us to new forms of domination such as digital colonialism…  This book will leave you thinking!
    —Oyeronke Oyewumi, author of The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses

    Sylvia Tamale brings an encyclopedic rigour to the study of decolonization and what it offers as an African liberatory praxis. Her scholarship is rooted in real-time solidarity with African feminists and queer activists… Essential reading.
    Jessica Horn, Feminist activist, writer and co-founder, African Feminist Forum Working Group

    Tamale brilliantly dissects and demolishes the dangerous tropes of coloniality that distort our understanding of African societies, cultures, bodies, institutions, experiences, social relations, and realities… The book is a clarion call for the continent’s feminist epistemic liberation.
    Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, Professor of the Humanities and Social Sciences and Vice Chancellor, United States International University-Africa, Nairobi, Kenya

    This book is Intellectually orgasmic! It provides students with an Afro-feminist intellectual rebirth…  The next generation of Afro-feminists have our struggle cut out for us.
    Anna Adeke, Feminist and student, Makerere University, Uganda

    About the Author: Sylvia Tamale is a Feminist, Sociologist and Professor of Law at Makerere University in Uganda.

    Table of Contents

    Acknowledgments xi
    Some Key Definitions xiii

    1. Introduction 1
    Of Counter-Narratives 1
    The Meaning of Africa(ns) 10
    Goals and Organization of the Book 13

    2. The Basics of Decolonization and Decolonial Futures 17
    Africa’s Decolonization and Decolonial Reconstruction 18
    Decolonization & Decoloniality: Science Fiction or Present Fact? 
22
    A Two-Pronged Approach: The Political and the Psychological 
27

    3. Feminists and the Struggle for Africa’s Decolonial Reconstruction 
27
    Gender Studies in African Academies 44
    Beyond Racism: Multiple Inequalities and Intersectionality 62
    Integrating Afro-Ecofeminism into Decolonization 80

    4. Challenging the Coloniality of Sex, Gender and Sexuality 92
    Michael Phelps and Caster Semenya: A Juxtaposition 95
    Decolonial African Sex/Gender Systems 100
    A Decolonial Analysis of the Phelps/Semenya Conundrum 105
    Medico-Legal Taxonomies: Semenya’s Battle with Science and the Law 
119

    5. Legal Pluralism and Decolonial Feminism 132
    State “Customary Law” versus Living Customary Law 133
    Decolonized Customary Law 140
    Gender and Religious Relativism 173

    6. Repositioning the Dominant Discourses on Rights and Social Justice 
187
    Human? Rights? 194
    Unpacking the Universalizing Essentialism of “Gender Equality”
 205
    Reconceptualizing Justice through Ubuntu 221

    7. Rethinking the African Academy 235
    History and Evolution of African Academies 237
    Internalized Colonialism: How it is Achieved 245
    A Framework for Transforming the African Academy 257

    8. Decolonizing Family Law: The Case of Uganda 285
    Conceptualizing the Heteropatriarchal Family 288
    The Ugandan Family and the Law 300
    Family Relations: Then and Now 306
    Challenging the Status Quo 321
    The Limits of Officialist Approaches to Family Gender Justice 
331

    9. Towards Feminist Pan-Africanism and Pan-African Feminism 
340
    Feminism in the Pan-African Movement? 343
    Pan-Africanism in African Feminism 369
    Developing a New Pan-Africanism in the Era of Globalization 378

    Epilogue: Decolonizing Africa in the Age of Big Data 385

    Index 397


    Conversation between Sylvia Tamale and Charmaine Pereira


    In Decolonization and Afro-Feminism, Ugandan feminist scholar and human rights activist Sylvia Tamale tackles the complicated task of articulating and identify- ing some of the work that decolonisation/ decoloniality requires of African scholars, thinkers, artists and activists at this moment in history. The book spans more than four hundred pages, covers an impressive range of themes, and functions in many different registers. Decolonisation/ decoloniality is taken up as an epistemic, political, artistic, psychological, legal, and cultural project. At the heart of the book is the claim that the decolonisation of African societies is Afro-feminist work, in so far as the persisting racial and economic hierarchies of colonialism and coloniality are inextricably intertwined with systems of heteropatriarchy. … Perhaps the most important tension that this book manages to hold, is the one between understanding the magnitude of colonial devastation and erasure on the one hand, and maintaining hope and movement, on the other. Tamale manages to present to her reader the vast and extremely complex nature of the project of decolonisation/decoloniality, while, at the same time, cultivating in the text not only a feeling of urgency, but an unwavering and deep sense of possibility. She creates and identifies openings through which the work can be started, and although the solutions she offers often have a utopian tone to them, they are firmly anchored in existing African realities and histories. This is an energising book to read, it is not simply an academic treatise, but also a compelling and enlivening call to action.
    Azille Coetzee (2021): Decolonization and Afro-Feminism by Sylvia Tamale, Agenda, DOI: 10.1080/10130950.2021.1917301

  • A region in revolt: Mapping the recent uprisings in North Africa and West Asia

    A wave of mass protest movements has spread across North Africa and West Asia, including Sudan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon and Iran. The mass protests have much in common, from opposing authoritarian regimes and worsening economic situations to demanding radical changes in social relations. Despite their similarities, each protest movement operates under different conditions that cannot be ignored. The specific historic, political and economic contexts of each country have determined who the key actors of the uprisings are and their location across old and new divides. This book elaborates on these similarities and differences to paint a clearer picture of these movements and draw out lessons to inform future struggles.


    Sam Salour summarizes A Region in Revolt: Mapping the Recent Uprisings in North Africa and West Asia edited by Jade Saab, a collection of essays that provides a comprehensive review of the 2018-2019 wave of struggle in the region. In the third part of this multi-part series, Salour provides an introduction to the book and then outlines the essay “The Revolutionizing Nature of the Lebanese Uprising” by Jade Saab and Joey Ayoub.


    Edited by Jade Saab, a Lebanese/Canadian Researcher at the University of Glasgow, the contributors include Azza Mustafa and Sara Abbas (on Sudan); Hamza Hamouchene and Selma Oumari (on Algeria); Zeidon Alkinani (on Iraq); Jade Saab and Joey Ayoub (on Lebanon); and Frieda Afary (on Iran).

    Insightful, timely analysis of the uprisings in Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. The book  … demonstrates that the uprisings…carry the unyielding spirit of people’s resistance and struggle against both imperialism and local oppressive regimes.— Haifa Zangana, Iraqi novelist, author, artist, and political activist and author of Dreaming of Baghdad.

    Whereas there is a plethora of books on the 2011 [Arab Spring] upsurge, this book is the only comprehensive overview of the second wave of revolt, which is here analysed from the standpoint of the popular struggle. —Gilbert Achcar, Professor at SOAS, University of London, author of The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising

    A rich and informed account of the popular uprisings that have emerged across the Middle East in recent years. … [T]his book is a powerful testament to the new generation of activists who continue to seek long-term revolutionary change in the region. Adam Hanieh, author of Money, Markets, and Monarchies: The Gulf Cooperation Council and the Political Economy of the Contemporary Middle East (CUP 2018).

    Last year a wave of militant protests spread across North Africa and West Asia, in a sustained, historic series of popular struggles. Emma Wilde Botta reviews A Region in Revolt: Mapping the Recent Uprisings in North Africa and West Asia edited by Jade Saab. A Region in Revolt: Mapping the Recent Uprisings in North Africa and West Asia edited by Jade Saab is the first and, to my knowledge, only comprehensive review of the uprisings that took place in Algeria, Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran. Each chapter is written by activist-scholars from the respective country who provide an overview of each country’s specific political and economic conditions. They show that, far from being ahistoric spontaneous events, the 2019 uprisings built upon past struggles, by tracing the legacies of resistance in each country and showing how they have impacted the newly emerged movements.

    A Region in Revolt captures all of the hope and inspiration of the 2019 uprisings. One of the most significant achievements of these movements is that, in the words of Hamouchene and Oumari, ‘people discovered their political will and realised they are in control of their own destiny.’ These were undeniably class revolts, fueled by anger over poverty, unemployment, austerity, and corruption. Yet, the people in the streets largely imagined themselves as citizens. The challenges of how to bring people into motion as workers, how to develop independent working-class organizations, and how to develop a political alternative to capitalism continue to be pressing. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown another obstacle in the way. But there is no doubt that future struggles are on the horizon. A Region in Revolt helps us answer the question of what we can do now to prepare for them. —Emma Wilde Botta is socialist activist and writer based in Oakland, California. She has written extensively on the Arab Spring, the Gulf States, Iran, and US imperialism. Her writing has appeared in TruthOut, the International Socialist Review, roape.net and Socialist Worker.

    United we stand: anatomy of five revolutions: Mike Phipps reviews A Region in revolt: Mapping the recent uprisings in North Africa and West Asia, edited by Jade Saab, published by Daraja Press (Ottawa) & TNI (Amsterdam): We are nearly ten years on from the Arab Spring, a series of uprisings across the Middle East. When it began, argues Jade Saab in this important new book, it “was presented to the world through an orientalist lens… the awakening of the backwards Arab world.” For the west, it provided retroactive justification for the invasion of Iraq: “All democracy in the region needed was a nudge in the form of an illegal invasion and a million dead civilians.” This narrative allowed reactionary regimes in the region to paint the uprisings as western plots to destabilise their countries. Both these interpretations were bolstered by military interventions in Libya, Syria and Yemen. These military interventions upped the stakes considerably for any nascent popular uprising. If movements called for the fall of the regime, the regime could respond: “Do you want to become another Syria?” Yet the uprisings continued, and it is not too hyperbolic to refer to the last couple of years as a Second Arab Spring. This second wave is the focus of this book. The demands raised by these uprisings go beyond a change of political leadership: they call for a fundamental restructuring of society. The countries in question share similar political economies with an emphasis on extractivism and speculative investment. The spoils of these activities bypass ordinary people, fuelling the migration of skilled labour out of the region and massive rates of unemployment, especially among young people. They also share a common problem: “Debilitating national debt means that foreign finance has a vested interest in maintaining ‘stability’ in the region.” So unlike during the 2011 Arab Spring, “Western nations have refused to withdraw support from the various ruling classes in the region even though the intensity of protests has reached similar levels.” …

     

    A Region in Revolt Edited by Jade Saab, Daraja Press If you’ve enjoyed [RED PEPPER’s] analysis of the ‘second wave’ of uprisings across some of North Africa and West Asia, then this book is a timely exploration of ground uncovered. Looking across Algeria, Sudan, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq, this collection of essays draws out the similarities and differences of the movements that are demanding radical social change under authoritarian regimes. One of the few books to explore the second wave of revolt, it is a fitting testament to a new generation of activists and their ongoing struggle for revolutionary change. RED PEPPER Winter 2020.

  • Dialectics of revolution : Hegel, Marxism, and its critics through a lens of race, class, gender, and colonialism

    This book collects four decades of writings on dialectics, a number of them published here for the first time, by Kevin B. Anderson, a well-known scholar-activist in the Marxist-Humanist tradition. The essays cover the dialectics of revolution in a variety of settings, from Hegel and the French Revolution to dialectics today and its poststructuralist and pragmatist critics. In these essays, particular attention is given to Lenin’s encounter with Hegel and its impact on the critique of imperialism, the rejection of crude materialism, and more generally, on world revolutionary developments. Major but neglected works on Hegel and dialectics written under the impact of the struggle against fascism like Lukács’s The Young Hegel and Marcuse’s Reason and Revolution are given full critical treatment. Dunayevskaya’s intersectional revolutionary dialectics is also treated extensively, especially its focus on a dialectics of revolution that avoids class reductionism, placing gender, race, and colonialism at the center alongside class. In addition, key critics of Hegel and dialectics like Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Antonio Negri, Pierre Bourdieu, and Richard Rorty, are themselves analysed and critiqued from a twenty-first century dialectical perspective. The book also takes up the dialectic in global, intersectional settings via a reconsideration of the themes of Anderson’s Marx at the Margins, where nationalism, race, and colonialism were theorized alongside capital and class as key elements in Marxist dialectical thought. As a whole, the book offers a discussion of major themes in the dialectics of revolution that still speak to us today at a time of radical transformation in all spheres of society and of everyday life.

    This is a collection of essays of paramount importance written by one of the most noteworthy authorities on Marx and Hegel within the field of Western Marxism. … Anderson is uniformly brilliant in his analysis of Marx as a multidimensional thinker who developed a multilinear pathway for revolution for societies outside of Western Europe, putting to rest the charges of determinism and Eurocentrism and patriarchal thinking that had tempted many in the left away from critical engagements … Dialectics of Revolution makes it clear why Anderson is among the leading lights writing on Marxism and revolution today. —Peter McLaren, author of Che Guevara, Paulo Freire, and the Pedagogy of Revolution

    Kevin Anderson’s Dialectics of Revolution collects four decades of Anderson’s studies of Hegel, Marx, dialectics, and revolution. … Anderson provides much provocative material in developing critical theory and revolutionary practice for the contemporary era. —Douglas Kellner, author of Herbert Marcuse and the Crisis of Marxism

    This deeply intellectual, and yet highly accessible, work breathes new life into dialectical Marxism, reconciling the debates over identity politics and class struggle and positing a dialectical Marxist-humanism. … that recognizes that the revolutionary struggle for freedom is the struggle against class, racism, sexism, and all forms of oppression. … This book is not only timely and relevant but urgently necessary. — Lilia Monzo, author of A Revolutionary Subject: Pedagogy of Women of Color and Indigeneity

    1. Introduction

    Part 1: Marxism and Hegel

    1. Dialectics in brief
    2. Hegel, the French revolution and after
    3. Lenin’s encounter with Hegel
    4. Lenin, Bukharin, dialectics, and imperialism
    5. Marcuse, Hegel and critical theory
    6. Lukács on the young Hegel

    Part 2: Dialectics today

    1. Dialectical reason and its critics
    2. Derrida on Marx: Return or deconstruction?
    3. Resistance vs. emancipation, from Marx to Foucault
    4. Class, Gender, Race, and Colonialism
    5. Marx at the Margins: Ten years later

     

  • Mau Mau From Within: The Story of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army

    Karari Njama: Photo by Geoffrey Mwangi curated by Kairu Kuguru.

    The inside story of the struggles of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army, referred to by British colonialism as the ‘Mau Mau rebellion’, is little known today. The autobiographical material written by Karari Njama (a senior leader in the Mau Mau hierarchy) and compiled by Donald L. Barnett was first published by Monthly Review Press in 1966, as Mau Mau From Within: An analysis of Kenya’s Peasant Revolt. It was reprinted in 1970; it has remained out of print for many years. As the late Basil Davidson put it in his review of the first edition: “Njama writes of the forest leaders’ efforts to overcome dissension, to evolve effective tactics, to keep discipline, mete out justice … and to teach men how to survive in those merciless forests. His narrative is crowded with excitement. Those who know much of Africa and those who know little will alike find it compulsive reading. Some 10,000 Africans died fighting in those years . Here, in the harsh detail of everyday experience, are the reasons why.”

    The book is an extraordinary story of courage, passion, heroism, combined with recounting of colonial terror, brutality and betrayal. It is a story of how the very idea of being ‘Kenyan’ was intimately linked to the idea of freedom, a connection that was destroyed not only by the firepower of the British, but also by those who collaborated and established themselves as the beneficiaries of neocolonial rule. Disconnecting notions of freedom from identity left only a caricature that rapidly descended into tribalism and ethnicity.

    This momentous story of the struggle for freedom described here is relevant not only for a new generation of Kenyans but also for all those engaged in emancipatory struggles internationally. For so long as the experiences arising from the struggles described in this book are perceived as merely ‘African’ or ‘Kenyan’, it is not possible to fully grasp the contributions they have made to the struggle for a universalist humanity.

    What is recounted in this publication is more than an ‘analysis of a peasant revolt’. It is above all a history of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army. As Ngūgī wa Thiong’o points out in his Preface to this new edition, ‘we don’t have to use the vocabulary of the colonial to describe our struggles.’ We were tempted to rename the book ‘Kenya Land and Freedom Army from Within.’ But because the original title has wide recognition, and and as one of the characteristics of movements of the oppressed is to appropriate derogatory terms used by their oppressors and repurpose them as an expression of pride in their own experiences, this book retains the original title, but with a change in the subtitle as ‘The Story of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army.’

    We were delighted that Karari Njama was able to provide us with a Prologue to the new edition (Kamoji Wachiira, a former political prisoner, connected us with Karari and translated the text of the Prologue). Shujaa Hon Dr Gitu wa Kahengeri, Secretary-General of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association reminds us how the veterans of the liberation movement, like Karari Njama, continue to live in extreme poverty today despite the enormous contribution that they made to the struggle for freedom.

    Kenya’s leading writer and academic, Ngūgī wa Thiong’o, points out in the Preface, how so much of the narratives about the Kenya Land and Freedom Army has been written from ‘without’, emphasizing the importance of a book that speaks to the personal testimony from within the movement. We are honoured to have Mīcere Gīthae Mugo, Emerita Professor of Literature at Syracuse University, provide reflections on the importance of the republication of this historical text. There are many who, as children, lived through the terrifying events of the Emergency during which so many were tortured and killed by the British (and their local collaborators) and whose psyche remains deeply affected by what they witnessed.  Kamoji Wachiira describes some of these experiences vividly in his Introduction to the new edition. He highlights the extent of betrayal by successive post-independence governments, and the development of the post-independence revival of resistance which he was a central part of. He also emphasizes the importance for a new generation of Kenyans “to gain not only a deep understanding of Kenya’s revolutionary history but also to reflect on what lessons may be drawn for the struggle to achieve real freedom.”

    The original publication had no biographical information about Don Barnett. Few are aware of the extent of Don’s political engagement with the cause of liberation, of which Mau Mau From Within was only one aspect. He was a founder of the Liberation Support Movement in Canada, and had close contact with the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola). Don sadly joined the ancestors in 1975. We are fortunate, however, that Don and Daphne’s son and daughter, Michael Barnett and Dawn Barnett, were able to provide, together with Ole Gjerstad, a revealing biography.

    We have endeavoured to retain the content of the original book (but for a few minor corrections) including the original Selected Bibliography. An updated Further Reading list is provided.

     

  • Strategic litigation and the struggle for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual equality in Africa

    There has been a rise in the use of strategic litigation related to seeking equality for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) persons. Such developments are taking place against the backdrop of active homophobia in Africa. The law and the general public should, argues the author, treat LGB persons in the same way that heterosexuals are treated. In the past two decades,30 strategic cases have been fi led by LGB activists in the Common Law African countries, namely in Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda. While the majority of the cases have been successful, they have not resulted in significant social change in any of the countries. On the contrary, there have been active backlashes, counter-mobilisations, and violence against LGB persons, as well as the further criminalisation of same-sex relations and constitutional prohibitions on same-sex marriages in some of the jurisdictions. The author argues that activists in Common Law Africa have to design LGB strategic litigation in such a way as to fi t within the actual social and political conditions in their countries if strategic litigation is to spur social change.

    Adrian Jjuuko is an exceptional scholar. A rare combination of intellectual brilliance, commitment and hard work. The book is born of this. It reflects his incisive analytical skills, anchored in solid knowledge of the law and jurisprudential developments in the field. His ventures into political theory, philosophy, and the social sciences give the analysis additional clarity and empirical grounding.

    Siri Gloppen, Norwegian political scientist, professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen and Director of the CMI-UiB Center on Law and Social Transformation.

     

    Adrian Jjuuko’s meticulously researched examination of the use of strategic litigation not only celebrates the many victories which have been realized in a range of African courts of law, it also reviews and critiques the losses. He demonstrates that the law can be both an effective tool for liberation, just as it can consolidate minority oppression, gender injustice and sexual tyranny. This book is a deeply engaging and highly recommended text for those interested in shaping the evolving rights and struggles of sexual minorities on the continent for decades to come.

    J. Oloka-Onyango, Professor of Law Makerere University School of Law