Rethinking the Global South
Mukoma Wa Ngugi
We cry our cry of poetry. Our boats are open, and we sail them for everyone.
- Édouard Glissant
Writers and scholars from the Global South often engage with one another through their own relationship to the West. But triangulating ideas, whether political or literary, through the West ends up masking historical South- South relationships while feeding and giving cover to cultural nationalism and protectionist scholarly practices. We need to fracture this dialectical linkage to the West and allow South-South cultural, historical and political conversations to take place.
Indeed, the major limitation of the otherwise courageous post-colonial enterprise has been a theoretical and conceptual inability to escape the West-South South-West framework. For Derrida, it is the narratives spun by the West about the “other“ that need deconstruction. Anthony Appiah’s cosmopolitanism is a lesson taught to the West about opening up to others. And Homi Bhabha’s interstices and third spaces are to be excavated in the West, in order to reveal hybrid cultures and peoples. In short, the periphery is always located in the third world and the center is always the West. The European is never a visitor, never in need of hospitality, and never the “other“– even when in the Global South.
Unable to escape this locked and unequal dialectic, many postcolonial thinkers end up affirming the very relationships they are trying to undermine. But this is not peculiar to postcolonial theories. When the colonialists who reserved rationality, history, science and philosophy and culture for themselves called Africans irrational and unscientific, the Negritudists could not see the falseness of the rational/irrational dialectic. Leopold Senghor for example could exclaim, “Emotion is Negro as reason is Greek.“1 Negritude did a lot of work in allowing black people to come to terms with blackness and their own cultures, but in and of itself it had that limitation of not seeing the world beyond the colonizer-colonized relationship. Frantz Fanon, in Black Skin, White Mask, is coming to terms with negritude – or rather he is outgrowing it. But The Wretched of the Earth becomes possible when Fanon unlatches himself from the Negritudist false dialectic of opposition by going through it to emerge as a third world revolution theorist. As Jean Paul Sartre rightly observes in his introduction, The Wretched of the Earth is a conversation amongst the colonized. 2
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Essays in this Forum
Rethinking the Global South
by Mukoma Wa Ngugi
From Indian Literature to World Literature: A Conversation with Satya P. Mohanty
by Rashmi Dube Bhatnagar and Rajender Kaur
Asia in My Life
by Ngugi wa Thiong'o
The Global South and Cultural Struggles: On the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization
by Duncan Mceachern Yoon
The Fault Lines of Hindi and Urdu
by Sanjay Kumar
Reframing Colonialism and Modernity: An Endeavour through Sociology and Literature
by Gurminder K. Bhambra
Varieties of Cultural Chauvinism and the Relevance of Comparative Studies
by Tilottoma Misra
Literature to Combat Cultural Chauvinism: A Response
by Shivani Jha
Is There an Indian Way of Thinking about Comparative Literature?
by E. V. Ramakrishnan
Modernity and Public Sphere in Vernacular
by Purushottam Agrawal
West Indian Writers and Cultural Chauvinism
by Jerome Teelucksingh
Oral Knowledge in Berber Women’s Expressions of the Sacred
by Fatima Sadiki