Decolonizing African Studies answers a variety of questions: How can African Studies be Decolonized? In what ways are current scholarships responding to ideas around decoloniality? How is the academy responding to ideas coming from new movements and identities like LGBT, Afro-politanism, and Afro-futurism? Who are the voices talking about Africa?
The preface is to shatter Eurocentrism and erect alternative structures on its fallen foundation. The book critically examines the silence or exclusion of the subalterns—Africa and women as examples as well as its far-reaching implications in international relations, pedagogy and policy. This silence is triggered by the belief in the inferiority of the subaltern in terms of global power and not population—to justify the idea of Eurocentrism and validate the belief in the monopoly of knowledge and its centrality and universality. Contrary to Eurocentric belief, decolonization is not limited to the liberation of the national sovereignty of colonial nations but also economically, politically and culturally—to include the academics dominated and dictated by Western nations. Indeed, coloniality is the barrier to the expression of subaltern epistemology—hence the purpose and outline of this chapter to resolving this begin first with differing between coloniality and colonization to advance the need for a decolonial approach to liberating knowledge; then rationalizing how epistemic violence requires decoloniality and how it could be prevented using Afrocentric methodology; before proceeding to identify the barriers to incorporating subaltern epistemologies in the academic and proffering applicable solutions; and finally advocating the empowerment of subaltern epistemologies by redefining knowledge. There are, however, questions pertinent to this process—whether or not subalterns can express themselves and overcome the myriads of barriers entrenched in the world system.
Examples with extensive discussions given of where Afrocentric methodology—African epistemologies or perspectives could be applied include the social sciences (in academia), art, and politics.
There are Afrocentric scholars who believe neo-colonial discourse on the right approach to achieving inclusive African emancipation centers around African identity—to provide cohesion and African episteme—to proffer Afrocentric solutions to African socio-economic problems. This has led to the focusing on re-imaginative and re-creative ideas for re-inventing the African identity and redirecting the African developmental trajectory away from subjective tendencies—African Futurism. Seen as the advanced stage of decoloniality, African futurism involves applying “traditional” (indigenous) instruments of articulation and cohesion such as Afro-spirituality, myths, folklores, and indigenous techno-scientific innovations; deployed in their capacity to drive, harness and actualize future possibilities. It seeks to sever ties with the Global North—its ontology and logocentrism, and replace it with Africanness. The main distinguishing factor between African futurism and Afrofuturism is that while the former relates to the ideals and reality of Africans in the continent, the latter centers on the Western experience of diasporic Africans. The book examines the diverging African futurists’ projection: whether the best future solution for Africa is to adopt Western approaches owing to the advancements Euro-North America has made or reject them entirely for subjectivity and the degree of usage of adopted approaches. The question of the African identity is also raised vis-a-vis how the African peoples can be unified for this common goal with cross-examination of the limitations apparent via the diversity of their race, language, beliefs, and historical experience. This unity becomes vital in light of the need for Africa to grow and make technology a top priority to partake in the 4th Industrial Revolution.
This guest post was written by Toyin Falola, Professor of History, University Distinguished Teaching Professor, and the Jacob and Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.