Decolonising the Human

Reflections from Africa on Difference and Oppression
Editor(s): ,
Contributor(s): , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • Publication Date: February 2021
  • Dimensions and Pages: 234 x 156mm Extent: 252pp
  • Paperback EAN: 978-1-77614-651-2
  • eBook EAN: 978-1-77614-653-6
  • PDF EAN: 978-1-77614-652-9
  • Rights: World
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 420.00
  • Recommended Price (USD): 35.00

This is a pathbreaking book on the deep structure of colonialism, and its abyssal divide
between humans and subhumans. Powerfully argued and convincingly engaged in epistemic
diversity, Decolonising the Human denounces the destruction of human life and waste of
human experience we are still confronted with as we enter the third decade of the twentieth
fi rst century. A new human project involves as much reparation and healing as epistemic and
social justice. In a word, it involves rebirth.
— Boaventura de Sousa Santos, author of The End of the Cognitive Empire

William Mpofu and Melissa Steyn have done us all a great service in organizing this wonderful
community of intellectuals in this thought-provoking collection in which the question of
decolonising the human is marked by critical, embodied academic practice. What better to
say when one holds in one’s hands a work that proverbially needed to be done?
— Lewis R. Gordon, Professor and Head of Philosophy, University of Connecticut

Decolonising the Human examines the ongoing project of constituting ‘the human’ in light of the durability of coloniality and the persistence of multiple oppressions. The ‘human’ emerges as a deeply political category, historically constructed as a scarce existential resource. Once weaponised, it allows for the social, political and economic elevation of those who are centred within its magic circle, and the degradation, marginalisation and immiseration of those excluded as the different and inferior Other, the less than human.

Speaking from Africa, a key site where the category of the human has been used throughout European modernity to control, exclude and deny equality of being, the contributors use decoloniality as a potent theoretical and philosophical tool, gesturing towards a liberated, pluriversal world where human difference will be recognised as a gift, not used to police the boundaries of the human. Here is a transdisciplinary critical exploration of a wide range of subjects, including history, politics, philosophy, sociology, anthropology and decolonial studies.

Acronyms and Abbreviations
Chapter 1 The Trouble with the Human William Mpofu and Melissa Steyn
Chapter 2 The Invention of Blackness on a World Scale Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni and Patricia Pinky Nkete
Chapter 3 To What Extent Are We All Humans? Olayinka Akanle, Gbenga S. Adejare and Jojolola Fasuyi
Chapter 4 Humanness and ableism: Construction and deconstruction of disability Sibonokuhle Ndlovu
Chapter 5 Doing the old human Cary Burnett
Chapter 6 The Importance of Ulwaluko among amaXhosa: A Sociological Interpretation Bongani Nyoka
Chapter 7 Being a Miner in Post-apartheid South Africa: A Decolonial perspective Robert Maseko
Chapter 8 Aunt Hester’s Flesh Tendayi Sithole
Chapter 9 Language as being in the politics of Ngugi wa Thiong’o Brian Sibanda
Chapter 10 The underside of modern knowledge Nokuthula Hlabangane
Chapter 11 The fiction of the Juristic Person Saramadiwakera- Wijesundara C. D
Chapter 12 The Cultural Village and its Idea of the ‘Human’ Morgan Ndlovu
Chapter 13 A Fragmented Humanity and Monologues Siphamandla Zondi
Contributors
Index

About the Editors
Melissa Steyn holds the DST-NRF South African National Research Chair in Critical Diversity Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and is the founding director of the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies. She is best known for her publications on whiteness and white identity in post-apartheid South Africa.

William Mpofu is a researcher at the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand,  ohannesburg. He is a founding member of the Africa Decolonial Research Network, a free alliance of scholars who research and write on decoloniality as a philosophy of liberation.

This is a pathbreaking book on the deep structure of colonialism, and its abyssal divide
between humans and subhumans. Powerfully argued and convincingly engaged in epistemic
diversity, Decolonising the Human denounces the destruction of human life and waste of
human experience we are still confronted with as we enter the third decade of the twentieth
fi rst century. A new human project involves as much reparation and healing as epistemic and
social justice. In a word, it involves rebirth.
— Boaventura de Sousa Santos, author of The End of the Cognitive Empire

William Mpofu and Melissa Steyn have done us all a great service in organizing this wonderful
community of intellectuals in this thought-provoking collection in which the question of
decolonising the human is marked by critical, embodied academic practice. What better to
say when one holds in one’s hands a work that proverbially needed to be done?
— Lewis R. Gordon, Professor and Head of Philosophy, University of Connecticut

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