Colonizing and decolonizing minds



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References
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Barghouti, O. 2005. Ethical implications of de-dichotomization of identities in conflict. In P. Barrotta and M. Dascal (eds.), Controversies and Subjectivity. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 325-336.

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1 The New York Times, 22 May 2007, front page; quoting the British anthropologist Mary Douglas on occasion of her death on 16 May 2007 at the age of 86.

2 “Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiqués and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the ‘banking’ concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits. … In the banking concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing. … The teacher presents himself to his students as their necessary opposite; by considering their ignorance absolute, he justifies his own existence. The students, alienated like the slave in the Hegelian dialectic, accept their ignorance as justifying the teacher’s existence – but, unlike the slave, they never discover that they educate the teacher” Freire (2004: 72). For a discussion of this paradigm and its consequences, see Dascal (1990).

3 See characteristic (e), in 1.1.

4 For a definition and discussion of this concept, see Dascal (1991). Anthropological terminology abounds in terms implying invidious comparison, as points out Overing (1987: 82): “If you think about it, most of our jargon designates ‘primitiveness’ and therefore ‘lesser’. We wish to capture the difference of ‘the other’; yet in so doing we often (unwittingly) denigrate ‘the other’ through the very process of labeling him/her as different. I think it is certainly true of such labels as ‘kinship-based society’, ‘magical rites’, ‘mythology’, ‘shaman’, and so on”. None of these labels have anything to do with levels of technological ‘advancement’, but rather they refer to social roles, frameworks of thought, symbols, systems of morality, axioms, values and sentiments – all areas of life and related theory that may well be more sophisticated than the same areas of life and relate theory in our own society”.

5 Bodei (2002: 249), for instance, wonders about the high number of those who have chosen, without trauma, to give up their autonomy: “… come mai siano stati così numerosi coloro che hanno scelto di perdere, spesso senza eccessivi trauma, la propria autonomia”.

6 Nevertheless, as we shall see (see 3.6), they can be traced back to similar mental mechanisms.

7 “[T]he best possible definition of a colony: a place where one earns more and spends less. You go to a colony because jobs are guaranteed, wages high, careers more rapid and business more profitable” (Memmi 1967: 4).

8 “The ideological aggression which tends to dehumanize and then deceive the colonized finally corresponds to concrete situations which lead to the same result” (ibid.: 91).

9 “How can one believe that he [the colonized] can ever be resigned to the colonial relationship; that face of suffering and disdain allotted to him? In all of the colonized there is a fundamental need for change” (ibid.: 119).

10 “There is a tempting model very close at hand – the colonizer. The latter suffers from none of his deficiencies, has all rights, enjoys every possession and benefits from every prestige. … The first ambition of the colonized is to become equal to that splendid model and to resemble him to the point of disappearing in him” (ibid.: 120).

11 “He has been torn away from his past and cut off from his future, his traditions are dying and he loses the hope of acquiring a new culture” (ibid.: 127-128).

12 “[T]he colonized’s liberation must be carried out through a recovery of self and of autonomous dignity. Attempts at imitating the colonizer required self-denia; the colonizer’s rejection is the indispensable prelude to self-discovery” (ibid.: 128).

13 “The important thing now is to rebuild his people, whatever be their authentic nature; to reform their unity, communicate with it and to feel that they belong.” (ibid.: 135).

14 “Being considered and treated apart by colonialist racism, the colonized ends up accepting this Manichaean division of the colony and, by extension, of the whole world” (ibid.: p. 131).

15 “If the economy fails, it’s always the fault of the ex-colonizer, not the systematic bloodletting of the economy by the new masters” (Memmi 2006: 20).

16 “[I]ntellectuals seem to be afflicted by the same paralysis of thought and action that has affected everyone else. The most common excuse was that of solidarity. One shouldn’t overwhelm one’s fellow citizens when they are living in such misery. That would be like supporting their enemies” (ibid.: 30).

17 “We shall ultimately find ourselves before a countermythology. The negative myth thrust on him by the colonizer is succeeded by a positive myth about himself suggested by the colonized – just as there would seem to be a positive myth of the proletarian opposed to a negative one. To hear the colonized and often his friends, everything is good, everything must be retained among his customs and traditions, his actions and plans; even the anachronous or disorderly, the immoral or mistaken” (Memmi 1967: 139).

18 He also mentions, for example, the fact that the political model – i.e., a conceptual tool, courtesy of the colonizer – for the new nations remains the one provided by the West. For instance: “There is yet another paradox to the decolonized’s national aspiration: his nation has come into existence at a time when the Western national ideal that served as a model has begun to weaken throughout the rest of the world” (Memmi 2006: 55); “The presidents of the new republics generally mimic what is most arbitrary about the colonial power” (ibid.: 60).

19 The quotations in this and the following paragraph are all from this speech (as printed in Fanon 1965).

20 In what follows, I will quote from the downloaded version of this paper, indicated in the references.

21 This is a quotation from Chinweizu, a Nigerian critic and journalist, author of Decolonizing the African Mind (1987). For further bio-bibliographical information, see http://www.sunnewsonline.com/images/Chinweizu.jpg.

22 Hotep mentions Ajamu (1997) who employs the expression ‘intellectual colonialism’ for this procedure.

23 The media, of course, shouldn’t be omitted: “Literally from birth to death, African Americans are awash in a sea of European-designed, mass media disseminated disinformation, misinformation, half-truths and whole lies about the people, history, culture and significance of Africa”.

24 For instance: “European-orchestrated campaign to destroy the African mind as a prelude to destroying African people”.

25 “For those millions of African POWs who survived the horrors of the middle passage, seasoning was a three to four year period of intense and often brutal slave making at the hands and feet of their European captors and their agents. … [It] was so effective as a pacification method that North American slave owners gladly paid a premium for ‘seasoned’ Africans from the Caribbean. For enslaved Africans, seasoning, when successful, laid the foundation for a lifetime of faithful, obedient service to their master and his children”.

26 Jacob Carruthers (1999), who calls this war ‘intellectual warfare’, stresses that it must begin within the mind of the young warriors. As Hotep puts it, “the freedom-seeking African youth must stand up and declare total war on their own colonial thinking. They must attack mercilessly its instruments and agents, deconstruct its intellectual base, and thereby break out of conceptual incarceration”.

27 “[T]he first step toward decolonizing the African mind is to identify a re-placement worldview on which to frame a liberated African future. In other words, once the forces of mental colonization are defeated and their colonial government expelled, its infrastructure razed and the battle site cleansed, what type of structures do we install in this newly liberated space to unleash genius and thwart re-colonization efforts?”.

28 See Barghouti (2005) for an argument defending, on ethical grounds, the dichotomous position in cases of conflict.

29 After giving an appalling example of a missionary imposed ‘translation’ that renders in Lue ‘creator’ by no other than ‘Rubanga’, a hostile spirit, Wiredu (1998a: 201) observes: “Disentangling African frameworks of thought from colonial impositions such as these is an urgent task facing African thinkers, especially philosophers, at this historical juncture. Clarifying African religious concepts should be high on the agenda of this kind of decolonization”. On a similar case, he comments: “African thinkers will have to make a critical review of those conceptions and choose one or none, but not both. Otherwise, colonized thinking must be admitted to retain its hold” (ibid.: 195).

30 Among the excluded aspects, besides ‘ethnophilosophy’, also ‘sage philosophy’ – i.e., “the sagacious and philosophical thinking of indigenous native Africans whose lives are rooted in the cultural milieu of traditional Africa” (Oruka 1998: 99) – would be certainly in the list.

31 It is certainly connected to the same author’s terminological tell-tale innovation ‘strategic particularism’ (Wiredu 1998a: 186).

32 Peirce discusses four methods, the method of tenacity, the method of authority, the a priori method, and the scientific method. Needless to say that he criticizes the first three and considers only the fourth to be reliable. In Dascal and Dascal (2004) we criticize also the fourth, arguing that what we need are methods or means not to fixate, but to de-fixate beliefs. See section 4 for further reference to de-fixation.

33 Here is an interest example of a scientist and well known writer who declares his preference rather for impurity: “In order for the will to turn, for life to be lived, impurities are needed, and the impurities of impurities in the soil, too, as is known, if it is to be fertile. Dissensions, diversity, the grain of salt and mustard are needed: Fascism does not want them, forbids them, and that’s why you’re not a Fascist; it wants everybody to be the same, and you are not” (Levi 1995: 37).


34 I am using here the model of the balance or scales, as proposed by Leibniz. See Dascal (2005).

35 ‘De-dichotomization’ is also an important term in this series, which is not present in the text, but is certainly an implicit part of its argument. See Dascal (2006).

36 For definition and illustration of this notion, see Dascal and Dascal (2004).
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