Beyond Coloniality: Citizenship and Freedom in the Caribbean Intellectual Tradition

Beyond Coloniality: Citizenship and Freedom in the Caribbean Intellectual Tradition

Beyond Coloniality: Citizenship and Freedom in the Caribbean Intellectual Tradition

Beyond Coloniality: Citizenship and Freedom in the Caribbean Intellectual Tradition

Synopsis

Against the lethargy and despair of the contemporary Anglophone Caribbean experience, Aaron Kamugisha gives a powerful argument for advancing Caribbean radical thought as an answer to the conundrums of the present. Beyond Coloniality is an extended meditation on Caribbean thought and freedom at the beginning of the 21st century and a profound rejection of the postindependence social and political organization of the Anglophone Caribbean and its contentment with neocolonial arrangements of power. Kamugisha provides a dazzling reading of two towering figures of the Caribbean intellectual tradition, C. L. R. James and Sylvia Wynter, and their quest for human freedom beyond coloniality. Ultimately, he urges the Caribbean to recall and reconsider the radicalism of its most distinguished 20th-century thinkers in order to imagine a future beyond neocolonialism.

Excerpt

The contemporary CARIBBEAN—an area of experience that so many of its dispossessed citizens have given their lives and hearts to in the hope of social transformation—is in a state of tragedy and crisis, destroyed and corrupted by a postcolonial malaise wedded to neocolonialism. This state of affairs is hardly unique and may well be seen as the condition of much of the postcolonial world, two generations after the promise of the Bandung Conference, which pointed to a horizon of true self-determination for people emerging from colonialism, and fifty years after the Tricontinental Conference of Solidarity of the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America, the greatest summit ever held in the region against empire. Ato Sekyi-Otu’s reading of Frantz Fanon in his Fanon’s Dialectic of Experience, perhaps the most discerning interpretation of the last century’s most influential anticolonial thinker, captures our condition in the most prescient manner: “After all, what is our situation? An omnivorous transnational capital that requires local political agencies to discipline their populace into acquiescing to its draconian measures; a free market of material and cultural commodities whose necessary condition of existence is the authoritarian state; the incoherent nationalism of dominant elites who are in reality transmitters and enforcers of capital’s coercive universals: that is our historical situation.”

Sekyi-Otu’s return to Fanon in order to comprehend, as an African intellectual, “three blighted decades of postcolonial existence” shares the intent and practice of this meditation on the contemporary Caribbean. the story about the Caribbean’s retreat from a moment striving for revolutionary coherence in the 1970s to the decline and lethargy of our time is often tied to the advent of global neoliberalism, a global story in which we are all enmeshed. My claim, here though, is that the term neoliberalism flattens the complexity of the Caribbean’s current moment. Rather, in the Caribbean we see an amalgam of neocolonialism, postcolonial elite domination, and neoliberalism, which have undermined the conditions of possibility for any kind of social democracy—far less the democratic-socialist experiments of a generation ago. We are thus left with antiworker states seduced and secured by client politics and a lurking ruthless authoritarianism. That is our political moment in the Caribbean and the terrain of struggle of this book, Beyond Coloniality: Citizenship and Freedom in the Caribbean Intellectual Tradition.

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