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Eurozine – What is postcolonial thinking? An interview with Achille Mbembe

A fantastic interview with the great Achille Mbembe in Eurozine. The interview is (contrary to almost any interview you’d get in a similar magazine in the States) lengthy, in-depth, and unafraid of appearing…’intellectual.’ Similarly, Mbembe is unafraid of making clear what so many American appropriators of continental thought are always unwilling to acknowledge, that whatever the successes or failures of most modern continental philosophy, the most important movements have been “chiefly concerned with the issue of self-creation and self-government.” He then goes on to quote my man Castoriadis, who deserves far, far greater recognition and discussion in the anglophone world than he has yet received….

Indeed, colonization never ceased telling lies about itself and others. As Frantz Fanon explains so clearly in Black Skin, White Masks, the procedures for racializing the colonized were the driving force behind this economy of duplicity and falsehood. In postcolonial thinking, race is the wild region, the beast, of European humanism. To borrow Castoriadis’s terms on racism, I’d say that the beast puts it more or less this way: “I alone possess value. But I can only be of value, as myself, if others, as themselves, are without value”.

Postcolonial thinking aims to take the beast’s skeleton apart, to flush out its favourite places of habitation. More radically, it seeks to know what it is to live under the beast’s regime, what kind of life it offers, and what sort of death people die from. It shows that there is, in European colonial humanism, something that has to be called unconscious self-hatred. Racism in general, and colonial racism in particular, represents the transference of this self-hatred to the Other.

via Eurozine – What is postcolonial thinking? – Achille Mbembe An interview with Achille Mbembe. Check out the rest of the interview, which includes, among many other topics, important discussions on ‘memory’ and on Fanon and Marx’s reception by the ‘non-West.’

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