Idea. Arts + Society #42 has dedicated a special dossier with the evaluations of BE.BOP 2012. Edited by Ovidiu Tichindeleanu and Alanna Lockward. Available in English and Rumanian.
Complete issue of Idea. Arts + Society #42 downloadable here:
WALTER MIGNOLO, ADVISOR
PHOTO BY WAGNER CARVALHO, 2012
BE.BOP 2012. BLACK EUROPE BODY POLITICS. A REFLECTION
By Walter Mignolo
It was indeed a formidable event. I wrote “formidable” without thinking; it just came to the dance of the fingers on the keyboard when I wrote the first sentences. It called my attention that this word came without being invited. I checked the Thesaurus and it gave me as options: difficult, impressive, alarming. Well, for some unknown reason I chose the right word. “The heart has its reason, that reason doesn’t know”, is a famous dictum of a famed French anthropologist. It is then appropriate to let the heart rule over the mind, particularly to refer to an event centered on “aiesthesis” (sensing); an event inscribed in global processes to decolonize aesthetics and to liberate aiesthesis.
It was not doubt impressive. Not just my opinion, but by consensus. It was difficult and Alanna can tell you what it took to put this event in place, in spite of fantastic cooperation partners such as Allianz Kulturstiftung and Ballhaus Naunynstrasse. And I imagine that it could be alarming, indeed, for the sector of the population assuming that creativity, imagination, innovation and progress are essential features of modernity and post-modernity (. Not that they are also essential features for decolonial thinkers, artists, scholars and activist denouncing the rhetoric of modernity, the logic of coloniality and delinking from modernity, postmodernity and altermodernity. If the rhetoric of modernity calls for invention, creativity and imagination to maintain the logic of coloniality, these features are also essential for the grammar of decoloniality. In other words, there are no strings attached to innovation, creativity and imagination. It all depends of the projects that require the uses of those concepts.
“Aesthetics”(as it is explained in the catalog) was—since the Eighteenth Century– regulated by philosophy and its function was to control, manage and manipulate “taste.” “Aesthetic” regulations did not happen in Namibia, China or Brazil. They were a regional invention of European philosophers. German philosophers, by the way, had a lot to do with it: Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten, Immanuel Kant and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing are the major architecs. It was just more than appropriate that “Black Europe Body-Politics” contested that legacy and opened up the imagination, ways of living and sensibilities of people left out of the game by “modern (postmodern and altermodern) philosophical aesthetics.” Kant was not shy in disqualifying 80% of the planet for falling short “in sensing the beautiful and the sublime”. The most damaged were of course (of course because the place of Africa in the Christian and Secular European imaginary) Africa and Africans. Kant indictment is well known:
“The Negroes of Africa have by nature no feeling that rises above the trifling. Mr. Hume challenges anyone to cite a single example in which a Negro has shown talents, and asserts that among the hundreds of thousands of blacks who are transported elsewhere from their countries, although many of them have even been set free, still not a single one was every found who presented anything great in art or science or any other praiseworthy quality, even though among the whites some continually rise aloft from the lowest rabble, and through superior gifts earn respect in the world. So fundamental is the difference between these two races of man, and it appears to be as great in regard to mental capacities as in colour”.
(Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime, 1767).
More than appropriate then that this “formidable” event, Black Europe Body Politics, the latest addition to the impressive portfolio of Art Labour Archives, founded in 1996, was conceived, organized and executed by art critic, curator and author Alanna Locwkard (originally from the Dominican Republic), and took place in Berlin in cooperation by Allianz Kulturstiftung and Ballhaus Naunynstrasse.
Ballhaus Nauynstrasse: Alanna’s decision to hold the event there was one of her wisest moves in the organization of the event. We were at home, literally. The evening before the beginning of the event, that is, the evening of May 3, I had the pleasure and the honor of meeting the director of the Ballhaus Nauynstrasse: Shermin Langhoff. When you meet Shermin as head of a project such as Ballhaus, you know that the next three days would be right. Shermin (born in Bursa, Turkey) is full of energy, of kindness, of enthusiasm, of intelligence and achievements in her theatre labor concerned with the question of immigration in Europe. All of that was like a security blanket. Later on we met Wagner Carvalho, born in Brazil, curator and initiator of the project in/out and Move Berlin. At that moment he was designated co-director as Shermin was already scheduled to take other responsibilities. We found in Wagner the same enthusiasm and dedication. He did not miss one single screening or one single discussion session. He even took over the duties of photographer and video cameraman during significant parts of the event.
Beyond the security blanket that both Shermin and Wagner offered to all of us, I had the distinctive feeling that the creative thinking in Europe is being generated not longer by Kant or Hegel’s legacies, but by the sensibility, creativity, kindness, and vision of European immigrants, those who know both the reason of the master and the reason of the enslaved or to put it in other words, who know both the imperial rhetoric of modernity in Europe (and I mean, mainly the six European imperial countries: in the South, Italy, Spain and Portugal; in the North, France, Germany and England. Certainly we could add Holland and Belgium who was the main reason for the scramble for Africa of the Berlin-Congo Conference,1884-1885) and the necessary logic of coloniality. They/we know that without coloniality there is no modernity, postmoderniy and altermodernity.
These are visions that come from dwelling in the borders (and not just crossing borders); they are none-imperial. There are visions aiming at a world where we can live in harmony and in plenitude. And they are not inclusive, but open. Being inclusive means that you want to keep control (like the generous inclusiveness of Habermas); being open means that you are open to built together, and not to include the other (white in this case) in your private territory. In the room and among the participants, where several white German nationals, those who understand the injustices committed by governments, merchants and corporations of their countries and the imperial legacies of an otherwise remarkable German philosophical legacy. The cooperation with dissident German nationals (and Western Europeans in general) is no doubt the way futures without exclusion and without inclusion shall be built. The only way to eliminate exclusion is to eliminate inclusion. You cannot eliminate exclusion by being generously inclusive!! The moment you feel you are inclusive you are already maintaining the specter of exclusion.
Indeed, “philosophical aesthetics” was and still is a conceptual apparatus to control (include and exclude) sensing, sensibility and to shape the population—aesthetics was clearly linked to the national-state emerging project in Europe at the end of the Eighteenth Century. It was necessary to shape the taste of the citizens, parallel to civic education. Kant was not only influential in shaping aesthetics principles. He was decisive in shaping epistemology and in lining up the modern university of the Enlightenment. The Contest of the Faculties (1798) remains as a pillar for the organization of the secular field of knowledge. It was indeed a potent move to take away the control of education from the Church and the Monarchy and to form the sensibility of the emerging ethno-class: the white German (and European) bourgeoisie.
Times have changed. “We are here because you were there” as the dictum goes to understand the historical logic of coloniality hidden under the rhetoric of civilization, progress and development of modernity. Europe is not only in the most spectacular political-economic crisis, but it is also being radically transformed by the rumor of the disinherited. Kant couldn’t have imagined at that time that his ideas in Observations and The Contest will be contested by people, now European residents and citizens who he, Kant, considered lesser human and far away. BE.BOP 2012, and what is to come in the future, is a signpost of the reversal of fortune: the sign that decolonial forces are liberating aiesthesis and by doing so liberating the sensibility that was politically and legally enunciated in the “Declaration of the Right of Man and of Citizens.” We know very well now what “Man” meant and who the “Citizens” were.
By the time of the event, I have been working with Alanna on decolonial aesthetics for about two years. I have seen several of the short pieces in the morning screenings and a one of the two long pieces, Jean-Marie Teno’s Le malentendu colonial (2004), by far the best documentary I have seen on the topic. More so, a frankly decolonial documentary. Right on the spirit of Aimé Cesáire, Frantz Fanon, Kwame Nkrumah and other decolonial thinkers.This documentary, together with “ Other” by Australian photographer and videoartist Tracey Moffatt, provided the frame to understand the shorter pieces in line with the issues set up for discussions in the late mornings and afternoons. The seven minutes video by Tracey Moffatt is composed of a montage of clips taken from Hollywood and Hollywood-type movies, where the anthropos (Others, non-Euro-American whites) around the world are portrayed. The first part amasses a selection of confrontational situations in which white people are “alarmed” by the strange presence of the anthropos. The in crescendo editing of the clips taken from different films, is accompanied by a soundtrack taken from Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle of Algeria (1966). The soundtrack belongs to the moment in the filmin which four Muslim women are changing their habitus and becoming European looking. The reason for their transformation is to become the carriers of bombs that will be placed in the French quarters once they manage to cross the security line guarded by French soldiers. In the second part, the video collects scenes in which People of Color, men and women, and white men and women fall in love with each other, or reached a situation in which the embrace of friendship and/or passion dissipated the mutual fear and disrespect. However, love and friendship as “good” as it seems are always in the white man’s imagination. People of Color are portrayed; they do not have the opportunity to portray. The second part shows the generous inclusivity of white filmmakers who keep for themselves the privilege of being generous and inclusive.
In the morning screenings of BE.BOP 2012 the audience enjoyed a festival of the anthropos’s creativity, inventiveness and imagination. Mind you that I am writing this piece as an anthropos. As son of Italian migrants to Argentina, I am of European descent but not a European citizen—therefore, an anthropos. I am white in Latin America, like William Kentridge in South Africa, but we become off-white in Western Europe and the US. South Africa, in contradistinction to South America has the “advantage”, from the perspective of the dominant white imaginary, to have English as the official language of the country. In South America, Italians ended up speaking a broken Italian and the official language of the respective countries, Spanish or Portuguese. .The three languages were already “suspicious” of belonging to the “South of Europe, (are not Spain, Portugal and Italy those in need or who have been “rescued” by the “European Union” to which they also supposedly belong?). But when they are spoken in the ex-colonies, they denounce the presence of the anthropos, the Sudacas, as South Americans migrants are known in Europe.
Let’s think of who were the artists and performers featured in the morning screenings: Afro-Danish Jeanette Ehlers; Quinsy Gario, born in Curacao and educated in Saint Marteen and Curacao and now residing in the Netherlands; Sumugan Sivaneesan, a nomadic South East Asian born of a Singaporean mother, who resides in Australia; Jewish South African William Kentridge; Ingrid Mwangi, born of a Kenyan father and a German mother, who lived both in Africa and Germany and collaborates with her husband Robert Hutter forming a subject-compound IngridMwangiRobertHutter. Teresa María Díaz Nerio and Alanna Lockward herself, both Dominicans, Teresa residing in The Netherlands and Alanna in Germany and Emeka Udemba, a Nigerian who lives in Nigeria and Germany.
Why did I abuse of your patience by telling where people circulate, where they were born, where do they live, instead of talking about their work? Because I wanted you to remember Kant’s dictum about the special sensibility of Europeans (and it was clear for him—and later on for Hegel too–that the core of Europe was France, England and Germany), to sense the beautiful and the sublime, and what he said of Africans, in the paragraph I quoted above: that Africans were far from being endowed with a sensibility to perceive THE beautiful and the sublime (Chuckwudi Eze, “The Color of Reason”, 1997). He meant what for him, in his skin, he considered beautiful and sublime. Nothing wrong with that; he had the right to express what he sensed. He had no right to make a universal statement, classifying and ranking people according to what he sensed in his skin and processed in his brain.
I could do the same with the profile of the participants in the roundtable discussions, but I will spear you the time here and invite you to go to the catalog and check their webpages . You would be as surprised as I was when learning who was seating around the table. The majority of the participants were convened around the subtitle of the roundtable discussion: “Black Europe Body-Politics.” Certainly, it is not obvious who should be invited to address such an issue. One option is to invite white “experts” to talk about black “experiences” or Black “problems.” The other is to invite people with “experience” to talk about their experience and “their experiences with the experts,” since experts hide their experience under the pretense of “objectivity and neutrality”
I am not for a minute going back here to the old and idle posed dilemma (indeed a modern and postmodern dilemma, not a decolonial one), of whether Africans or Afro-Europeans have epistemic privileges in their understanding of Africa or other continents beyond Europe and the US; or of their situation in Europe. Nor I would support of course the claim that Euro-American social scientists and humanists have an “objective” view of Africa and of Afro-European immigrants (and you can change Africa here for any other place and any other immigrants associated with that place—it could be Pakistan or former Eastern Europe or Russia). I am claiming that Euro-American social scientists, artists or museum curators are entitled to their own opinion exactly as Africans and Afro-Europeans. And that every-body should know that it is their own opinion. In both cases, opinions are tied up with interests, and there is not one set of interests that have the right or the privilege to be imposed upon the other. That is why it is imperative to end with the idea of epistemic and aesthetic privilege. That is precisely what BE.BOP 2012 contributed to dispel. Otherwise, I will not be writing what I am writing here.
The difference is, since Kant at least (but certainly before too), that the hegemony of knowledge, in politics, philosophy, aesthetics or economy was built, institutionalized in the fabrication of Western “civilization”, with its two languages and philosophical pillars: Greek and Latin. BE.BOP 2012 was a potent sign, among many of our times, to understand that the “epistemic and aesthetic privileges” of modernity (cfr. Kant) are over.
Now, what is to be noted, is that artists, participants and audiences in the three intense days, were not all Africans or of African-descent (diasporic as the dictum goes). They were Afro-Caribbeans, former Eastern Europeans, South East Asians, “Latin” Americans (meaning, of European descent), white German nationals and perhaps other whites in the audience that I couldn’t identify. What is crucial to understand here is that BE.BOP 2012 was lead and organized form the perspective of “BlackEurope Body-Politics.” That is, of political aesthetics. It was an event of identity in politics not of identity politics. The non-“Black Europeans” were not excluded. The event was open to all who wanted to play according to the rules set up for this event: identity in politics. Meaning that this was not an event lead by Blacks and for Blacks only, but it was unmistakably an event lead by “Black Europe Body-Politics” open to all–of different colors, religions and ethnicities–who are struggling to make visible the darker side of Western modernity and to build plenitude of life and harmonious futures.
We all know that it is not an easy task, but options have to be built. We, all those involved in this event and in the line of thinking and doing that the event presupposes, cannot leave the future in the hands of the architects of democracy and socialism. These are two options, and two ways to achieve harmony and plenitude, but not the only ones, and by far! We shall not confuse means with ends: democracy and socialism are means: two options toward a common end; but they are means to go there, not the end in itself. It is imperative to conceive democracy and socialism as two among many other options. To build options is the name of the game, and that is the direction decolonial aesthetics is moving.
I close with the wise words of a Jamaican philosopher based in the US
“Each epoch is a living reality. This is so because they are functions of living human communities, which, too, are functions of the social world. As living realities, they come into being and will go out of being. What this means is that societies go through processes of birth and decay. An erroneous feature of most civilizations that achieve imperial status is the silly belief that such an achievement would assure their immortality. But we know that no living community lasts forever, save, perhaps, through historical memory of other communities. Decay comes. The task faced by each subordinated community, however, is how prepared it is for the moment in which conditions for its liberation are ripe. When the people are ready, the crucial question will be of how many ideas are available for the reorganization of social life. The ideas, many of which will unfold through years of engaged political work, need not be perfect, for in the end, it will be the hard, creative work of the communities that take them on. That work is the concrete manifestation of political imagination.
Fanon described this goal as setting afoot a new humanity. He knew how terrifying such an effort is, for we do live in times where such a radical break appears as no less than the end of the world. In the meantime, the task of building infrastructures for something new must be planned, and where there is some room, attempted, as we all no doubt already know, because given the sociogenic principle of the problem, we have no other option but to build the options on which the future of our species rest”.
(Lewis Gordon, “Fanon and Development. A Philosophical Look,” 2011).
The decolonial is an option whose aims are to contribute to dialogue of civilizations, continental integrations and to communal and harmonious futures. The communal is neither the liberal political communitarianism nor the Marxist communism. It is neither the liberal economic common good, nor the Marxist commons. It is the communal, a decolonial horizon of life that come from non-modern local histories that have always co-existed with Western modernity. Decolonial aesthetics, the liberation of aiesthesis, is crucial for breaking away from the imperial chains of modern knowledge and aesthetics. The European.Union 2012 has send us many sings that things falling apart. BE.BOP 2012 is one of the many signs of becoming futures.
ROBBIE SHILLIAM, PARTICIPANT
PHOTO BY WAGNER CARVALHO, 2012
DECOLONIAL AESTHETICS AT BE.BOP 2012
By Robbie Shilliam
In early May I took part in this:
BE.BOP 2012. BLACK EUROPE BODY POLITICS
BE.Bop 2012 is an international transdisciplinary roundtable and screening program in which the (racialized) fantasies of European citizenship are contested.
It was curated by Alanna Lockward and affiliated with the Transnational Decolonial Institute.
The Transnational Decolonial Institute (TDI) aims to explore the formation and transformation of the darker side of modernity: coloniality.
It was held at this amazing place in Berlin: the Ballhaus Naunynstrasse
These are websites to do with some of the amazing artists:
There were many other artists, activists, writers and scholars. And Be Bop 2012 put us all together to cultivate a decolonial aesthetics. These are my reflections:
I had three reactions to the artistic works presented at Be.Bop 2012. I think they speak to my appreciation of the importance of cultivating a decolonial aesthetic in an intuitive and intentional way, facilitated by a strong relationship between writers and artists, both of whom are “intellectual workers”.
The first reaction was a scream in my head. This arrived quite strongly with the works of Ingridmwangiroberthutter, especially Neger and Wild Life. Actually, what arrived was more like a cadence of scream and grunt: the first, the horror of being racially interpolated; the second, a gut response to this in the form of caricaturing violence visited upon the self through dehumanization. When Quincy Gario showed us the video of his arrest in Holland for wearing his “Zwarte Piet is Racisme” t-shirt, I realised that this scream could come from another direction. Not from Quincy being wrestled to the ground by police, unprovoked, but from white gazers who must use white noise in their head to drown out a conversation on racism. Perhaps they have no pedagogical resources through which to understand the cognitive dissonance that makes them scream for silence in the presence of complicity in injustice.
The second reaction was a quickening and thumping of the heart. I felt this in Tracey Moffatt’s work. At first, I thought that her video was a cerebral presentation of the orientalist “self”/”other” trope, cutting together a collage of Hollywood scenes of exotic encounter. However the music said otherwise and by the end of the video I was angry and pumped up. Quincy mentioned afterwards that the music score was taken from the famous film, The Battle of Algiers. And then I realised that Fanon had infiltrated the Ballhause! I also felt this quickening and thumping with Teresa María Díaz Nerio’s installation of Sarah Bartman. The video witnessed various onlookers and interlopers passing by Teresa who was standing stifled in a huge grotesque and sexualised costume. I wanted to run into the room and help her out of that suit. I’m not sure if there wasn’t some masculinity in that reaction, but I am sure that I felt that the conclusion to the installation had to be to escape it. Finally, I felt the quickening and thumping in Jeannette Ehler’s videos, especially Black Magic at the White House. Jeannette draws a vévé on the floor, invoking the spirits to exorcise the whiteness that makes slavery invisible. But with this, I also felt something else.
The third reaction was a soothing, a different kind of saneness, a reconciliation. I only ever felt it in combination with my second reaction, sometimes fleetingly. But it was there. For example, when Jeannette draws the vévé she opens the gate for healing agencies. I got a similar sense of reconciliation in some of Ingridmwangiroberthutter’s more recent photographic work. The counter-sensibility to this would be melancholy, which I think William Kentridge invoked on the part of the German colonizer over the Herero and Nama genocides in South West Africa (present day Namibia). Melancholy does not allow for reconciliation, it is a deferral of responsibility for historical injustices.
So, I interpret these three reactions as: 1) the shock of being wounded; 2) resistance to the aggressor; 3) collective self-healing. Postcolonial studies has been very good at attending to – albeit sometimes cerebralising – the first two. The third is avoided by most scholarship. I do not want to retrieve the third aesthetic for the sake of fulfilling a linear progression. That would be a liberal-abolitionist deferral of accountability for past relationships. I want to avoid developmental psychology, a product, along with Freud, of categorising vast swathes of humanity as “savages” in need of being trained into adulthood, or more accurately, ward-ship. Instead, I want to take these three sensibilities as co-eval, as relational, as woven together. To have an aesthetic purely of healing would be utopian. People feel the pain. That has to be acknowledged. And yet, the pain itself and its reaction is saturated in an aesthetic of violence. So to focus only on that would be an abrogation of the responsibility we hold to creatively attend to injustices. Besides, pain and resistance can be easily commodified into a safe voyeurism.
All three sensibilities, but perhaps with the gravity situated in healing: that is a decolonial aesthetic to me. This is because healing requires an aesthetic that is not immanent to colonial violence or white supremacy but transgressive of it, perhaps transcendent to it. Healing requires a special kind of self-confidence when confronted with the colonial episteme. I remember that Jeannette showed a sequence of photos from a Ghanaian beach of a group of people walking into the Atlantic waters. She makes only their reflections in the water visible. A debate ensued about whether the aesthetic was invisibilisation or simulacra. I mentioned that the pictures could be comprehended by way of an aspect of many African-America cosmologies whereby Guinea is comprehended as the land of ancestors and spirits that lies under the sea. Such a comprehension cannot but fundamentally humanise those – and their descendents – who were forced to make a passage of dehumanization. Such a comprehension also makes the one-way passage into a two-way street. Later on, Alanna commented that she was well versed in such cosmologies and yet she had not made that connection. I am certainly no genius. Quite simply, I had been researching these cosmologies before the conference, so they were in the front of my head already. But I think this episode demonstrates that we have some way to go before our decolonial aesthetics become both intuitive and intentional.
SIMMI DULLAY (l), PARTICIPANT
PHOTO BY WAGNER CARVALHO, 2012
REFLECTION ON BE.BOP 2012 IN SOUTH AFRICA AND BERLIN
By Simmi Dullay
“The true function of revolutionary art is the crystallization of phenomena into organised forms.”
Mao Tse-Tung (1893-1976)
I have based this reflection betwixt the metaphysical context of exilic discourses and its yearning for spiritual belonging, Marx’s material dialectics, and also on decolonial aesthetics, through auto-ethnography and poetry.
The Black Europe Body Politics sessions, seminars, presentations, interventions and connections offered us, the nomads, the Black diaspora, the tricontinental exiles, the Afropolitans, a space for contemplation and articulation of our own spaces, our own bodies, our own being through both difference and commonalities.
As a space, the curating of BE.BO 2012, by Alanna Lockward, provided an arena in which we could come together from disparate locations and post-nationalisms, some of us not once but twice and thrice removed from our motherlands, due to all having experienced colonial encounters of the first kind…For me, the implications of coming together as strangers (albeit with common interests) resolved in finding belonging and solidarity in each other’s experiences and the consequent narratives/text that began shaping a subversive decolonial aesthetics of difference, commonality and solidarity.
Speaking of decolonisation, ethics and aesthetics, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, who coined the term and wrote one of the seminal manifestos of decolonisation ‘DECOLONISE YOUR MIND’, recently published a book which he has entitled ‘Globalectics’, which I feel reflects every one of us and our geographical and historical positionality:
“Globalectics is derived from the shape of the globe. On its surface, there is no one center; any point is equally a center. As for the internal center of the globe, all points on the surface are equidistant to it–like the spokes of a bicycle wheel that meet at the hub. Globalectics combines the global and the dialectical to describe a mutually affecting dialogue, or multi-logue, in the phenomena of nature and nurture in a global space that is rapidly transcending that of the artificially bounded, as nation and region. The global is that which humans in spaceships or on the international space station see: the dialectical is the internal dynamics that they do not see. Globalectics embraces wholeness, interconnectedness, equality of potentiality of parts, tension, and motion. It is a way of thinking and relating to the world, particularly in the era of globalism and globalization.”
(Ngugi wa Thiong’o 2012)
Though Ngugi speaks of ‘…no one center; any point is equally a center…’ this transcends the politrix of postmodernism and (in my opinion) its unethical relativity. At BE.BOP 2012 the deliberate use of irony surpassed the vapid hipster postmodern tricksterism of coloniality; deflecting concrete truth, through jargon speak of multiplicity, death of the author and hence escapes accountability, responsibility and any radical change or radical restoration concerning the inequality in the world based on Western hegemony. The political aesthetics facilitated by BE.BOP 2012 and curated as a performance/event takes possession of both difference and solidarity in Blackness and presents a radical imagination, one that is critical, aware and conscious; a radical imagination that poses a threat to Eurocentric hegemony, since our mere presence without white curatorial interventions was self-referential.
One aspect that keeps gripping my fascination is the use of irony. When growing up in the eighties in Scandinavia, I would wear torn jeans and my parents gave me such a sever talking to. What stuck with me, is both of them asking me how I could participate in the romanticization of poverty… I always return to the question of whether or not Black people can afford to be ironic, or if it just serves to reinforce stereotype, because I react viscerally, with nausea, when I come across expressions of postmodern irony and indifference, which reminds me of Jeff Koons and his anti-aesthetic, meant to subvert ‘high art’ through representations of mass culture. But considering that postmodern irony generally entails that a piece of art or literature is self-consciously doing the opposite of what it appears to be doing, the dynamic creates a sense of exploitation based on the implicit elitism. What does it really mean to the masses that Koons exhibits his porcelain porn of the impoverished at the Château Versailles? Same point with his giant sausage dog which is really just to amuse the elite art establishment, who generally are the only ones that find this ‘anti-aesthetic’ humorous.
When I began this process of reflection, I employed different methods, took notes and contemplated. I looked up words, revisited images and correspondence as well as expressed my experiences through poetry, which I have chosen to include here, as I find it holds a fresh and immediate reflection that can easily get lost in the form of an essay. I have chosen to call the following poem:
The narrative that kept emerging in different forms
and different representations
to the documented
to images of bleached bones
made for whites
concept of ‘non white’
speaking cold facts
accounting for the dead and the missing
we recalled the architects of mass murder
who placed Africa outside of history
placing Blackness outside of
We drew civilization from within
made our connections to each other
Black existence a site in itself
which manifests and creates meaning
that always has and will continue
the limits of Eurocentricism.
seeping across boundaries
Into writing, films,
making the hidden,
the glaring absence
to make the invisible trajectories of coloniality
break the silencing
as well as employ
the demonization of Blackness
held in the fascination
of the uninvited white gaze
constructions of history.
As we have stood witness
over the past
five hundred years
whiteness occupies Blackness
and inserts its meaning –
to perpetually serve
The sister outsider’s
The Tricontinental Black exiles
The dark matter
Draw the universe
In our image
I found an incredible strength in our visibility, nearly a spiritual aspect, which is one I generally find when I lose my self in the process of art making, not a religious spirituality but a spirituality of oneness where one just exists. I believe it was this visibility in our presence that reverberated loudly with dissidence and for many of us positioned our coming together to contemplate, to share, to strategize, as significant in a ritualistic sense, one that acts as a catapult, a key, an opening, a gateway…Since our meeting served to mediate meaning, in its full sense, where we place ourselves at the centre of history, as evidence of aesthetic politics reflecting lost languages, new hybrids cultures that we represent, that whiteness wants to forget, to deny, that colonial amnesia that Alanna thoughtfully and strategically chose as a lens to frame many of the sessions. Creating a performance of ritual remembering, of manifestations, being and creation through radical political Black imaginations, we took up from where people like Amilcar Cabral, Mao Tse-Tung, Che Guevara, Steve Biko, Marcus Garvey (amongst many others) left off, to explore and create ways and means to extend and expand this crucial space of ethical and aesthetic concern.
And there we were, each one of us manifestations of fragments of histories that are still being denied, that Hegel (1956:93) had written out of history….collected in Berlin, a city which has one of the most sinister colonial and imperial legacies, which has been systematically hidden, completely erased. My imagination could not create the horrors and nightmares this city is built upon: from its obsession with Nazi concepts of ‘race hygiene’ based on eugenics, hand in hand with pseudo-scientific racism and Christianity which enabled and cemented the enslavement trade, and of course the infamous Berlin Africa Conference (1884-1885). The more I think and visualise the historical trajectory and the tools they used to measure, the knives they used to cut and dissect, the killing sprees and death camps and the obsessive documentation to prove the inferiority of ‘Others’; stopping at nothing, exhibiting Black people dead or alive, whole or dissected, in formaldehyde, as stripped craniums, cut out genitals, decapitated heads in glass jars and the visual propaganda that became scientific discourse and legislated Black people as sub humans, enforced by visually constructed racist representations, the harder it strikes me that this deliberate enslavement of a group of people and their subsequent annihilation seems near supernatural. Making images of people that reflected a distortion, an inflicted sub humanity reflects white Hollywood and today´s media spectacle and its representation of Voudoun as Black magic. This in theory and praxis seems to effectively render Black people as ‘Other’. In the movies when casting Voudoun spells, there is always that famous scene of manipulation of the image, stealing part of the victims belonging and often inciting possession, desire or death. Distorting the image, poking holes through the eyes, cutting off the heads, the crude suturing of limbs, inflicting pain, killing or creating monsters, which begins to sum up the macabre pornography of coloniality, consisting of and representing the racialised image; such as Black face, the minstrel performance, the exotic-erotic, the noble savage, the Aunt Jemima, the maid, the idiot savant, the starving African child, the emaciated bare breasted woman covered in flies, the Natural Geographic renditions of the living lamenting their dead who passed away in massacres… In technicolor, for the viewers’ pleasure, the news flashes of Black survivors amongst their slayed families, living on the burial sites of their loved ones, ensures that the Western tourist can bring back home “authentic” African photographs. They can tell their audience about their self-realization-new-age-finding- themselves-in-Africa-Asia-or-South America. I find myself trying to make sense of colonial imperialism, but the only rational conclusion that comes to me, reveals a sinister picture that the West has painted as ‘Voodoo’; one which utilizes the powers of the image dating from the onset of the European cartography of trade-routes and its subsequent and simultaneous mapping of Black bodies, through Eugenics, Craniometry and physical anthropology, to justify exploitation through labour and sexual consumption.
The white beauty ideal as science
Formation of anthropometric instruments at the Museu Nacional,
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Immigration and Reactions to the New Order (1850-1930)
Child victim from the Herero-Nama Genocide (1904-1908)
In my master thesis (2010), I began shaping my own approach to the power of the image. Pardon my extensive quote, but it is of great significance to contextualize the importance of a subversive decolonial aesthetic praxis:
“The image of the map becomes a textual document through claiming a superior position to record, assimilate and represent its subject. The author’s construction converts the subject into object, exposing the division, demarcation, claiming and renaming of land.
The function of the map as an approximation of spatial representation for navigational purposes was created through the process of actual exploration re-inscribing and co-opting the respective inhabitants and their lands. The following map of the world shows the extent to which Africa has been re-inscribed into small ‘cut up’ pieces by the impact of colonization to its divided detriment.
The Berlin Africa Conference carved Africa into spheres of control. Meeting at the Berlin office of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck between 1884-1885, the foreign ministers of fourteen European powers and the United States established ground rules for the future exploitation of the “dark continent.” Africans were not invited or made privy to their decisions.’ http://wysinger.homestead.com/berlinconference.html
Until today this land division continues to reflect the economic exploitation and impoverishment of Africa by Europe and the US.
Through selective repetitious representation, images construct a perceived reality. I believe that the first known demonstration of utilizing the power of the image universally is evident in the European art of ‘cartography’: ‘the science/practice of map-drawing’ (Amber Boyd The imperial archive). The power of the image resides in its ability to both reflect and construct the world we live in. Dislocating the ‘image’ from its historical position and context rids it of meaning/identity. This moment of transition, converts the intangible living ‘image’ into a fixed material object; leaving it ‘hollow’ to be inscribed by the interpretation of the gaze of its onlookers. Representation, function and meaning is dictated and determined by those who own both the means of production and communication. Hence the ‘image’ is constructed as object to secure maximum profit.”
Considering this, our very existence is then an act of dissidence, in addition to that, we are consciously contemplating, making art and in conversation with each other, creating culture and recreating the self as Fanon spoke of in Black Skins White Masks:
“There is no white world, there is no white ethic, any more than there is a white intelligence. There are in every part of the world men who search. I am not a prisoner of history. I should not seek there for the meaning of my destiny. I should constantly remind myself that the real leap consists in introduction invention into existence. In the world through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself.” (Fanon 1952)
Creativity, cultural production then, presents and offers us the possibility of a cultural weapon of self-realization and liberation.
At BE.BOP 2012 in our collective presence and in our work, I kept seeing representations of rituals and hauntings, so vividly in the performance of Jeanette Ehlers in her videoart piece Black Magic at the White House (2009). Not coming from the Caribbean myself, Alanna, who does, explained the context to me. I recall seeing the piece for the first time at the Durban BE.BOP 2012 screening and presentation, which started with Jeanette’s piece and was blown away by the sheer power it imbues. I commented to Alanna, that because I found Jeanette Ehler’s piece the most powerful of all, maybe it should have ended the screening selection. Alanna explained that Jeanette’s performance is a ritual that opens the doors between the material world and the spirit world, which is why she found it so important to always start the screenings of BE.BOP 2012 with Ehlers´ piece: to set the scene, to invoke our presence, and instil our memory, to open the door between this world and the ‘Other’.
In relation to the occult undertones of Nazism, the deadly limitations of colonial imagination and its amnesia, the mapping and creation of the Other based on identity through image manipulation made me realize the significance of a decolonial aesthetic that preserves and cultivates the sacred and the spiritual process of art, as ritual, as political strategy harnessing the power that lies in constructing and taking possession of one’s own image.
Reflecting on the South African BE.BOP 2012 screening, I found that this collection of videoart pieces (dealing with Black citizenship in Europe) was extremely relevant within a South African context because of how history and belonging are constructed here. Coming from the political history of Indian indentured labourers in South Africa, as well as growing up within the more immediate political context of my family, who became conscientised in the radical politics of revolution, Black consciousness, anti-colonial struggles, Black Panthers, women’s liberation, Civil Rights Movement, and the general rising ferment of discontent during the sixties. These parameters afforded me to grow up with an insight into the trajectories of enslavement and legislation of indenture, from the first-hand experiences of the people I grew up around with, and I have drawn from this knowledge in my own cultural production, as I did when Alanna and we collaborated in the Durban screening of BE.BOP 2012.
I also had the pleasure to work with Alanna leading up to the event in Berlin. We wrote a paper together that Alanna presented at a symposium on Global Feminism that took place at the University of Warwick. And then we presented it together at the 18th Annual Conference of the International Association for African Philosophy and Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. This led to Alanna suggesting that we presented a screening of BE.BOP 2012 in South Africa, both in Durban and Johannesburg, which I helped organise. In preparation, we co-wrote a proposal /press release from which I quote the relevance that Black Europe Body Politics has for Durban:
“The significance of hosting this project in Durban is based on the commonalities of the hidden trajectories of the enslavement of entire populations, as well as on the rich history of indentured labourers in KZN and South Africa at large. As a port city, Durban has a licentious history that has yet to be uncovered, one that was open to slave-ships, survivors of both slaves and colonial explorers and adventurers. The significance of Lockward’s presentation in Durban is that it offers a tangible connection between different experiences of the triangular trade in present narratives that challenge the silencing of the Tricontinental world today. A parallel to this stand point is taking place in South Africa with regards to the hidden and often denied trajectories of the enslavement of indentured labourers. Reading Agnes Sam’s introduction to ‘Jesus is Indian’ (1989), I came across information about Apartheid legislations prior to the “official” history of Apartheid. Indian Indentured labourers in South Africa were the first ones to carry passes as early as 1898, when a law restricted their movement and also prohibited their ownership of property, land or citizenship as the only racialized segment of the population in South Africa at the time.”
“In my research on the implementation of different legislations both in Germany and in today´s Namibia on pass laws and anti-miscegenation between 1905 -1907, which for the first time legally prescribed “true” German citizenship as exclusively white, the notion of the “real” origin and emergence of the “official” Apartheid history is also challenged. Both historical re-enactments come together in dismantling from different angles this hegemonic narrative creating therefore a fertile ground for a long overdue discussion on the current definitions on citizenship in Europe and the rest of the world. BE.BOP 2012. BLACK EUROPE BODY POLITICS brings into the global arena the imperative task of analysing the figure of the citizen in a world where only a few privileged groups are able to move freely across borders.”
And I add:
“This discussion is imperative not just in Durban, but also in Trinidad, London, Kinshasa, Berlin, Johannesburg, Cairo, Paris, New York, Kingston, Copenhagen, Chennai, Cape Town or Buenos Aires…It spans across the world and weaves a historic tapestry, making visible what Lockward calls “Decolonial Diasporic Aesthetics”, counter-discourses of re-existence that question those canonic accounts of colonialism and empire that continue to deny any agency to those constructed as “Others”, while simultaneously making invisible their histories of five hundred years through the (global) systematic inoculation of colonial amnesia.”
I found that the conversations we had in Berlin around belonging resonate deeply with the conversations we are having right now in South Africa around legitimacy, citizenship, entitlement and ownership. As I mentioned before, many sessions were framed by the title colonial amnesia, and in so many ways I feel our articulation, our mapping of different outsider trajectories, our remembering, serves as a powerful manifestation just by the mere presence of our visible existence but also far surpassed the immediate tangible collective space in the connections we made.
I think the incredible power/energy/strength that emanated from these three days of roundtable and screenings was its function as the meeting point serving as the crossroads bringing together the fragmentation of historicity that each one of us embody, of different cultural intersections. Not the violent cultural intersections of colonial encounters and the a-historicity of postmodernism, but the beauty of solidarity amongst people articulating a decolonial aesthetics.
Biko,S. I Write What I Like, with personal memoir by Alfred Stubbs. New York: Harper & Row, 1978.
Dullay, S. 2012. Exploring Exile as Personal and Social Transformation Through Critical Reflection and Creative and Artistic Expression. Unpublished
Hegel, G.W.F. 1956. The Philosophy of History, trans. J. Jibree. New York: Dover,
Quijano, A. 2000.Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism, and Latin America. Nepantla: Views From the South. http://www.unc.edu/~aescobar/wan/wanquijano.pdf
Thiong’o, w. N. 2012. Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing. Columbia UP
Tung, M.T. 1966. Quotations from Mao Tse Tung. Quotations from: 1927 – 1964. Peking Foreign Languages Press Transcription/Markup: David Quentin / Brian.
Baggins. Online Version: 2000. Mao Tse Tung Internet Archive (marxists.org) http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/works/red-book
PHOTO BY WAGNER CARVALHO, 2012
REFLECTION ON BE.BOP 2012
Taking part in BE.BOP 2012 offered a rare moment to courageously delve into ideas for the improvement of this world. Walter Mignolo asked: “What is it that we want? And how are we going to bring this about?” One of the answers was, “We want a just world”, as Quinsy Gario expressed. This is the kind of space in which I feel inspired; away from the cynical (so-called practical) adjustments that often keep us away from contemplating the depth of human experience and the chance that lies therein.
At some point, when I was reflecting on what it was that had brought us together at this roundtable, Walter framed it best for me. He said something like, “Because we have all been touched by the colonial wound”. This wound has been inflicted on us all and we have the responsibility to look closer at it, to decode its hidden meaning for our common future.
Beginning each morning with a screening of artworks was an important way to see and feel our way into the discussions of the days. My own presented works grew for me; I felt them becoming alive and pertinent, maturing through their placing within the specific context that was engaging them.
Finally, I reflect that artworks can address the issues that decolonial aesthetics seeks to address in a manner that is appropriate: personal, multilayered and beyond words.
ROLANDO VÁZQUEZ, PARTICIPANT
PHOTO BY WAGNER CARVALHO, 2012
SOME COMMENTS ON BE.BOP 2012
By Rolando Vázquez
BE.BOP 2012 was an exceptional event. It is a difficult task to put together comments that would do justice to the depth and the amplitude of the event. What I offer here are some reflections on certain aspects which I think contributed to these very special three days. I will focus on basic questions: where, who and how.
The event was hosted by the ‘Ballhaus Naunynstraße’, in my view this had a tremendous impact on the success of the BE.BOP. The ‘Ballhaus Naunynstraße’ in its tradition of hosting critical theatre, postmigration theater, became not just the host but also an active member of the conversation. It became a secure space whose practices came into dialogue with the topics of the discussions.
The modern/colonial ordering of the world has come through the appropriation and administration of space. Almost all spaces are today at the service of the economy of profit or power. For me the ‘Ballhaus Naunynstraße’ is a lesson on the importance of opening up and keeping physical spaces alive where the coming together of ideas and interventions can happen.
The magic of the curatorial work that shaped the BE.BOP 2012, was not only the selection of art but rather the bringing together of people from a wide variety of backgrounds but with a similar path. This would not have been possible through an impersonal mechanism of selection. It was possible through friendships, networks and what we could see as ‘affective communities’.
The conversation was much more than a transdisciplinary conversation. Yes, it moved across disciplines, but also across practices and lived experiences. More concretely the feelings and thinking of the arts came in conversation with the thinking and feelings of the academic and curatorial practices. In a sense, those of us who shared written texts felt that the art works presented and the experiences shared by the artist were giving flesh to the written text. Conversely, in a dialogues with Jeannette Ehlers and Ingrid Mwangi, I was happy to discover that they, as artists, found that the written texts were giving words to their experiences and their artworks. In the conversation across disciplines, across practices we discovered that we are all walking along the same path, I would say the path of memory, justice and dignity.
BE.BOP 201 was a unique moment of encounter, one that disobeyed the modern/colonial ordering of social life. It challenged the disciplinary segmentation of practices and dialogues, the classification and dispersion of subjectivities, the control of space for profit and power, the separation between thought and the body…
JEANNETTE EHLERS, PARTICIPANT
PHOTO BY WAGNER CARVALHO, 2012
SOME THOUGHTS ON BE.BOP 2012
By Jeannette Ehlers
I want to start my evaluation like IngridMwangiRobertHutter, with a quotation of Rolando Vazquez expressed during one of our lovely after work dinners:
“It’s so inspiring to watch your art works because they visualize my abstract thoughts ”
I was so relieved to hear him say that, because I, as a visual artist, was very moved and shaken by all the intellectuals verbalizing of what I have emotionally been dealing with in my recent works – but haven’t been able to express in words.
As a visual artist, I have a quite different background than many of the other participants at BE.BOP 2012 – who were mostly from a university setting. I’m not at all used to verbalize and contextualize on this high level. BE.BOP 2012 shook the grounds in me and I felt at one and the same time very inadequate, humbled, challenged and very proud of being part of it.
It definitely opened up new paths and has been a source of inspiration ever since. I have a strong feeling this leads to the coming of a new way of understanding our world. I recall Walter Mignolo saying something like: “Modernity is just a construction / an idea – it does not have to be this way” and he’s so right. There are plenty of other possibilities out there.
Let’s keep working for them! I’m in!
I hope we will be able to continue this discussion on all different kinds of levels and I will work hard to try and set something up here in Copenhagen for my show next year’s fall.
Thank you so much Alanna for working so stubbornly for this essential debate.
Peace and love.
QUINSY GARIO, PARTICIPANT
PHOTO BY WAGNER CARVALHO, 2012
HERE’S MY REFLECTION
By Quinsy Gario
BE.BOP 2012 was for me an eye opening en heart warming experience. Meeting and actively discussing the political nature of aesthetics constructed by Black people or people not identified as the norm within their societies was refreshing. In the Netherlands, debates like these usually derail into a sigh of despair and here the air was filled with optimism and defiance towards the status quo.
I experienced it as a warm bath as the presentations one by one wowed me and made me realize again why I refuse to narrow down the scope of my work and fields that I engage with. Everything is interconnected from fashion to theater production. From video to aisthesis. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I had goosebumps for most of the time that I was there.
The experience also reinvigorated my own resolve towards the project that I presented, Zwarte Piet is Racisme (http://zwartepietisracisme.tumblr.com/). The inquisitive and encouraging debates and discussions illustrated exactly why I do what I do and make what I make. We created an atmosphere in which sincere thoughts and concepts could be explored and fleshed out. And being critical towards ourselves also provided me with the extra incentive to always be aware and deliberate about words, actions and concepts used. Nothing is simply there and when Alanna Lockward and Grada Kilomba steered the conversation back towards respectively female Black and traumatic Black subjectivities I saw tools which to use in my own practice and performances.
I didn’t quite know what to expect and when I left I realized that we as a group changed me.
JULIA ROTH (4th from left), PUBLIC
PHOTO BY WAGNER CARVALHO, 2012
AN EVALUATION OF BE.BOP 2012. BLACK EUROPE BODY POLITICS
By Julia Roth
(FU Berlin desiguALdades.net . Author, curator of cultural-political events e.g. for the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, Goethe-Institute, HKW, HAU)
I am deeply grateful to have been able to assist to BE.BOP 2012 at Ballhaus Naunynstrasse in Berlin. The event was an outstanding and overly inspiring experience for me at many levels. First of all, the (for our contexts) seldom combination of screenings and artistic presentations with critical reflections in form of roundtables was great, as was the bringing together of artists, activists and critical thinkers beyond disciplinary boundaries. In form, format and content, BE.BOP 2012 thus broke with the established hierarchically-asymmetrical forms of organization of knowledge and representation. By implicitly negating the very structures that produce inequalities and exclusion, the event serves as a showcase example for new socio-political and aesthetics frameworks.
The choice of discussants and artists provided a brilliant framing for an overly due topic in German (and European) discourse: the critical thematization of Black European citizenship. A decolonial perspective, as proposed by advisor Walter Mignolo, enables to take the historical and structural genesis of the entanglement of racism and citizenship as constructed since the Renaissance into focus. Manuela Boatcă’s elaborations on citizenship as a sort of “property inheritance” provided a further theoretical depth. Contributions drawing on concrete examples and experiences of inequalities and oppressions caused by structural racism as well as artistic forms of resistance gave these theoretical frameworks concrete everyday bases (e.g. Gabriele Dietze on German soccer, Grada Kilomba on growing up Black in Europe, Quinsy Gario on experiencing offenses when confronting Dutch society with its racist heritage or Michael Küppers-Adebisi on a Black German TV program). The artistic contributions, then, incorporated aesthetic forms of resistance to such racist interpolations, or – in Walter Mignolo’s terms – forms of epistemic-artistic-aesthetic disobedience and de-linking from hegemonic discourse and representation, providing examples of a Decolonial Diasporic Aesthetic – a term and concept coined by curator Alanna Lockward – raising the hope for further decolonization of knowledges, minds, bodies and arts everywhere. As decolonial thinking implicitly aims at overcoming the structures of inequality caused by structural coloniality, it can by its very principle of political change help to bridge the gap between abstract academic theorizing and everyday experiences. BE.BOP 2012 provided a showcase example of the possibility of imagining “Worlds and Knowledge Otherwise”. The event was at once theoretically and thematically enriching and aesthetically challenging and further introduced a change of the terms of the debate. In that sense, BE.BOP 2012 was a ground-breaking intervention and perfect template of how to deal with the most urging societal-political issues and problems in transnationally entangled contexst today (without blinding out its historical continuity).
In this spirit, curator Alanna Lockward did an incredible job by bringing together an unparalleled choice of people and energies, whose encounter was marked by absolute respectfulness. Even decolonial ‘guru’ Walter Mignolo had just one voice among many and was neither provided more time nor space as any other participant. It is impressive, how the project has traveled already and brought speakers from very diverse places into dialogue. In the German context, which is marked by a strong separatism between academic and activist debates and discourses as well as by conflict-laden attempts of dialogues, the example of BE.BOP 2012 will hopefully mark a path breaking change of direction. In Germany, a decolonial ‘turn’ is indeed a neglected and necessary path to take, as officials feel no shame to continue planning to present the ethnological “extra-European” collection in the planned “Humboldt-Forum” inside the reconstruction of a Baroque-style castle at Berlin’s most representative Schlossplatz Square. The inclusion of non-hegemonic artists, curators and decision-makers is highly needed here. The “Humboldt-Forum” is just one of many reminders of a German refusal to confront its colonial past and its part-taking in structural colonial violence. Such a refusal is also omnipresent at the academic level: while classical Postcolonial Studies are slowly entering the universities, they do so mainly by focusing on Anglo-Saxon critics and theoretical approaches and debates without the necessary links to political and artistic practice. A similar trend can be observed in hegemonic Feminist and Gender Studies departments, which often seem completely de-linked from political activism and alliances of solidarity. I hope that what can be termed the ‘ BE.BOP school of thought’ will confront a similarly successful career as the Ballhaus Naunynstrasse where the launch event took place – without the danger of neoliberal appropriation and incorporation. It would be great to see follow-up events supported by more institutional actors and its outcomes be communicated into wider publics.
By uniting activists, academics and artists BE.BOP 2012 not only opened a new horizon of politics. Furthermore, this unique event and the spirit it incorporates offers to mark a possible paradigm shift toward a decolonial politics and aesthetics as a foil for exchange on eye level and for alliances beyond pure identity politics. I am very much looking forward to many future BE.BOP´s to come!
MANUELA BOATCĂ (c), PARTICIPANT
PHOTO BY WAGNER CARVALHO, 2012
BLACK EUROPE BODY CITIZENSHIP 2012
By Manuela Boatcă
German academic circles have only recently begun to take postcolonial issues seriously. It’s not that the issues hadn’t been there before, and it’s not that people in – and especially outside German academia or at its margins – were not engaging with Germany’s colonial past, her present colonial practices, or their own postcolonial condition as Germany’s racialized subjects before. It’s that such engagement was constantly played down as speaking to the needs of too few persons in a country having had too few colonies for too little time to even matter. To be sure, postcolonialism still appears to the great majority as an academic trend imported from the UK or the US and which has nothing to do with Germany, and even less with social theory “in general”. But there increasingly is physical and intellectual space dedicated to the decolonization of institutional, cultural, political practices (some of which are all at once) in Germany as well as to the unthinking and unlearning of colonial theoretical production having attained canonical status. The past (few) years have seen a number of publications and conferences on postcolonial sociology, critical whiteness studies, the African German diaspora, the Asian-German diaspora, German language racism, and Afro-German women.
Those of us involved in the endeavor of bringing these and other issues to light know that it is always a struggle, and we sometimes find ourselves having only taken baby steps after the gigantic effort of putting together a conference, a class, or a publication in the overwhelmingly uncritical context of German academia.
… And then there is the option of plainly short-circuiting the hostile context, instead of taking baby steps towards changing it, and this is what BE.BOP 2012 did for me on a number of levels: intellectually, visually, aesthetically, politically – and probably in a number of several other ways that I am still processing. Knowing the curator, Alanna Lockward, and her organizing platform, Art Labour Archives, having collaborated in many projects with the advisor, Walter Mignolo, being quite familiar with a few participants, and knowing that it would take place at the Ballhaus Naunynstraße, with its singularly pioneering vision of postmigrant theater performances in the heart of Berlin-Kreuzberg, I vaguely expected something like the mental and sensory earthquake BE.BOP 2012 occasioned – but then again, one can never quite foresee an earthquake.
The titles of each of the roundtable sessions themselves were intellectual feasts for bringing to light the ruptures, blind spots, and epistemic shortcircuits in the colonial imaginary: “Black Europe”, “colonial amnesia”, “enslavement legacies”, or the “decolonial option” are all deeply disturbing phrases, sitting uncomfortably within mainstream historiography, social theory, or political visions. The intellectually gratifying visual impact of the titles was coupled with the visual impact of Black women occupying (sic!) the physical, epistemic and intellectual space of the sessions and thereby standing the white coherence of German academic gatherings on its head.
I wasn’t there for all of the screenings of art works, but watched some of them afterwards, so my reaction to them was solitary; but there is something to be said for solitude when it helps you place the aesthetic beauty of Jeannette Ehler’s video “Black Magic at the White House” (2009) in the context of her political message challenging the invisibility of Denmark‘s involvement in the triangular trade as a play of lights and shadow mirrored in the wordplay of black and white in the title. I was there for the final screening of “Toxi” (1952), directed by Robert Stemmle and organized by AfricAvenir, at the Hackesche Höfe cinema and the ensuing discussion about the construction of the German nation as white in post-fascist Europe, about historically inadequate translations, and the (il)legitimate use of racializing terms such as “blackamoor” out of linguistic interest – the last of which sat uncomfortably with more than just one postcolonial sensibility in the audience.
But what I didn’t know I would be there for was IngridMwangiRobertHutter’s spontaneous, breathtaking performance after the film: Admiration, amazement, awe, as well as envy, helplessness, and ultimately joy at the opportunity to take in what seemed to me an otherworldly acoustic experience, a deeply disturbing and simultaneously fulfilling visual show, paired with the gratifying sense that the bundle of emotions that several of us must have felt during the screening of “Toxi” has thus been given artistic, bodily, decolonial expression. Part of the earthquake. Awaiting the aftershocks.
TERESA MARÍA DIAZ NERIO (l), PARTICIPANT
PHOTO BY WAGNER CARVALHO, 2012
OFF WITH HER LAUGHTER! OFF WITH HIS LAUGHTER!
MUSING ON BE.BOP 2012: DELINKING OFF GENOCIDAL WHITE LAUGHTER
By Teresa María Díaz Nerio
BE.BOP 2012. Black Europe Body Politics gave rise to what Rolando Vázquez calls a “humbling of modernity”, that is to openly challenge modernity as coloniality1. The transdisciplinary roundtable and screening hosted at Ballhaus Naunynstraße by the wonderful Shermin Langhoff and Wagner Carvalho was rich in the “liberation of sensing and sensibilities”2 historically trapped in the colonial-imperialistic-Othering discourses and practices canonized in Western-European/North-American political, economical, cultural, and genocidal tactics. These tools were used to prescribe and describe Other human beings, as “different” (to the white hegemony). These human beings were/are to be used as “dispensable lives”.3 BE.BOP 2012 invested in “independent thought and decolonial freedoms”4 which allow us to speak in our own terms and create a space for dialogue outside of the hegemony of white supremacy.
Rolando Vázquez explains that this “humbling of modernity” consists in showing how“the power of modernity is centered in speaking while the Other is spoken about” therein “modernity’s power is about orality”. More specifically, he is referring to the Zapatistas “listening-opening to the Other”, which introduces an ethical question that must be present if an authentic dialogue is intended. Modernity does not listen, it speaks, and “we” are the ones spoken about, therefore the dialogues we constructed at BE.BOP 2012 amounted to “listening and opening to the Other”while at the same time expecting that anybody taking part in the dialogue did the same: listen. Vázquez’ approach is indeed tantamount to the ethical and responsible participation of white privileged individuals who entered our discussions where they were humbled and compelled to listen in order to learn (from the ones that in their Western European/North American colonial and imperial hegemonic discourses are still considered “dispensable lives”) what their hegemonic position entails for Others. I believe this point to be of extreme importance in order to have an open dialogue. Power as orality does not necessarily mean disempowering somebody else, as Vázquez said, “humbling: not trying to destroy the other”, therein our empowerment and our voices do not seek to destroy anything or anybody but to delink from white supremacists constructions of themselves and Others, born from the genocidal mentality William Kentridge portrays in his video/installation Black Box/Chambre Noire (2005), where he narrates the first European genocide of the 20th century, the Herero-Nama genocide in present day Namibia, under the flag of “Trauerarbeit”5 or conscious mourning. David Olusoga, co-author of The Kaiser’s Holocaust: Germany’s Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism (2010), referring to the same event, describes its organization as conceived and executed by “bureaucratic killers, killers that killed from behind the desk”.6. The confluence of artistic works, theoretical analysis and documentary films contesting Germany’s “refusal to recognize and apologize”7 for the Herero-Nama genocide had a special place in BE.BOP 2012. This is due to the joint effort of Namibians, Black Germans and simpatizers in order to push the agenda of the German Goverment acknowledgement of the Herero-Nama genocide. Recently a motion was introduced in the German Bundestag, entitled: ‘Acknowledging the German colonial crimes in former German South West Africa as genocide and working towards restorative justice’, this motion was discussed on March 22, 2012 and once again the German government has rejected the motion. The presence of activist Michael Küppers-Adebisi (AFROTAK TV cyberNomads – the first Black German Media, Culture & Education Archives, active since 2001) as a media partner, further enriched the discussion as he and Adetoun Küppers-Adebisi have being very active in claiming recognition of the genocide from the German government.
In her catalogue essay Decolonial Diasporic Aesthetics: Black German Body Politics, Alanna Lockward, conceptualizer and curator, theorizes the Diasporic within the Decolonial Aesthetics. Referring to Black citizenship in Europe she states that “The colonization of the African continent after the Berlin-Congo Conference 1884-1885 designated the legitimacy (or not) of Black citizenship. This understanding is “valid” in Europe until today. [...] Citizenship has been proclaimed to be a “universal” right for all white, Christian and Western individuals and it is inextricably connected to the concept of ‘civilization‘.”8 The film Toxi (1952), directed by Robert Adolf Stemmle (1903-1974), screened at Hackesche Höfe Kino in partnership with AfricAvenir (also media partner) and facilitated by Eric Van Grasdorff, touches on Lockward’s conclusions on “Black German Body Politics” which is the inspiration for the conceptualization of BE.BOP 2012 in the first place. The film narrates the story of a Black German girl named Toxi who is abandoned by her white grandmother at the doorsteps of a white German family. The girl is taken in, but the vicissitudes her presence causes put her in and out of the house, her racialization is the main subject of the film, yet she is also sexualized, not in a violent way, but in the subtlety of the “necessity” to constantly objectify the Black person and her/his Blackness. Yet the film is an important document of the processes of racialization and “integration” of Black Germans in Germany and also a rich register on the concept of ‘civilization’ which has/is been instrumental in white supremacists discourses in relation to the Black body.
Speaking in a European and Eurocentric context and not being a “citizen” which, as Manuela Boatcă states was not only white, initially, but also exclusively “male” since it was “Only granted to male property-owners, whose ability to pay taxes and military tribute, and thus contribute to the maintenance of the social order qualified them as ‘active citizens’”9often means that speaking is not always possible, but dancing is. Emeka Udemba’s Dancing with the Star (2011) one of the video-art pieces screened at BE.BOP 2012, presents a couple composed by a Black man and a nude white woman, who wears a headscarf and a second piece covering her mouth and nose. They sit in a complete silenced blank space surrounded by white walls, in opposite sites of the corner. They seem to be waiting for something, and nothing happens, then the woman starts getting impatient and makes a move with her hands and they both stand and begin to dance. This dancing in a slow motion, dispassionate and repetitive insistence challenges racialization, gendering, religious propaganda and political stereotypes. The use of the headscarf which refers to the construction of an ‘islamic woman’, interplays with her nakedness in favor of challenging common asumptions on white European women as inoculated from any racialized and/or religious identifications since their hegemonic position as white and Christian is considered “normal”, therefore invisible. Simultaneously, she is leading the “dance” which points towards identifying the dependence many Black men experience while trying to obtain their European citizenship thanks to their relationship with white women. The stereotype of the Black man instrumentalizing and being instrumentalized along the ‘race’ and gender lines in his relationship with a white woman is thwarted by our inability to place this woman. The use of the headscarf is further problematized since it clearly suggests “Islam”. By showing a “white” nude woman the artist strategy is counter-discursive in relation to a particularly symptomatic white male Eurocentric (violent) fantasy. A case in point is the film Submission (2004) by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Theo van Gogh were an “islamic” woman is strip naked and verses of islam are written all over her skin, in what can be described as a perfect example of a sadistic white supremacist islamophobic film. Yet Dancing with the Star (2011)leaves this woman unmarked, she leads, her identity is veiled and therein another stereotype is outlined. This one alludes to the complicity between the Black man and the islamic woman as both are objects of criminalization. While one is a feminized and sexualized incarnation of the so-called “terrorist”, the other one is representing “the refugee”. All these possible combinations which are clearly infinite are a byproduct of the violence pervasive in the Othering inherent to hegemonic discourses. At the same time these dancing dilemmas portray without further clarification the essential nature of citizenship, which as Lockward and Boatcă have argued carries its original conceptualization as both white and male. An “islamic” woman born in the Netherlands, even if she has citizenship is still called allochtoon10, , a term that places the individual constantly outside its birthplace, outside of the nation-state. For the Black man, as “a refugee”, the so-called “illegality” of his presence in Europe further objectifies him and imprisons him into the nation, the dispensable status of his life comes into being and his freedom of movement and choice are permanently in danger.
Quinsy Gario’s discussed the Zwarte Piet, Black Peter or the “helper” of Sinterklaas (Santa Claus), a blackfaced, Afrowiged, red lipped, blue eye-character dressed in colourful page costume and used both as a decorative and as a submissive image of the Black man to/for the white man. The Zwarte Piet is part and parcel of a Dutch “tradition” obviously related to their long-standing involvement in the tradition of enslavement, which still goes uncontested in the Netherlands. Quinsy Gario has set out to challenge this particular white hegemonic narrativeand has opened a new dialogue through his t-shirt project, where Zwarte Piet is Racisme is printed in big letters. Predictable police brutality was forcefully displayed on the first time he wore the challenging t-shirt during a celebration of Sinterklaas (Santa Claus). Gario´s charming personality and strong will has assisted him in accomplishing a lot in spreading this counter narrative. Similarly,Simmi Dullay’s presentation Uprooting and Belongings. Mapping the Black Body in Exile centered on the “Infamous images of the Swedish Culture Minister performing genital mutilation, to be more precise a clitoridectomy, on the caricature of a Black woman’s body in the form of a Black coated cake with her interiors accordingly coated in blood-red. The Swedish Culture Minister is caught on camera laughing and feeding it to the ‘head’ in Blackface, which turns out to be the creator of the piece, Makode Linde, an Afro-Swedish male artist.” Many of us have seen the image and I do not intent to expand too much on it. Dullay points the complicity of Makode Linde with white supremacy making him the epitome of a non-white, which she theorizes via Steve Biko. She further expands on the relationship between Makode Linde’s cake and the life of Sarah Baartman: “What I find profoundly disturbing and macabre about Linde’s performance is his insistence of staging the moment when Baartman is perpetually transformed into an object for the white gaze, through the violence of taking cold sharp steel and dismembering her body, her brain and her genitals. Anyone who reproduces this moment as a cultural act needs to be held accountable. Reproducing this moment of mutilation and its reciprocal white pleasure and laughter, demands consciousness and awareness to the fact that Sarah Baartman refused to perform naked, she always refused to expose herself completely. It is widely documented that Baartman actively fought and taunted the scientist who wanted to ‘document’ her sex as a marker of ‘racial’ difference and therefore she actively challenged her framing as the Black, exotic, primitive hyper sexualized being.”
Dullays’s notion of “white pleasure and laughter” is also equated in the figure of the Zwarte Piet. In Makode Linde´s piece recollection it is crucial to note that the white audience was also laughing. I have been inspired to start theorizing on Genocidal White Laughter as a result of the ideas discussed above made possible by the unbelievable gratifying meeting that was BE.BOP 2012. Black Europe Body Politics.This is taking place in conjunction with my own research on Black and mestiza Caribbean women representations in the Mexican and Spanish-Caribbean cinema of the 40s and 50s. In these films I often found the correlation between White Laughter, racialization and sexualization of Black and the mestiza women’s body. A specific case is to be seen in the Mexican film Angelitos Negros (1948) were Belen, a visibly Black11mestiza and traumatized child tries to pass for white, innocently applying white powder in her face and running to her mother, who cynically bursts out laughing. This Genocidal White Laughter episode is the result of four years (Belen is 4 years old) of dismissive abuse, where the mother gets to the point of denying her motherhood in front of a white friend of hers, whilst praising her friend’s blond baby. Unbeknownst to herself (the mother), she is also Black, but not visibly Black therefore she assumes her whiteness and applies her white privilege to her own child. The Genocidal White Laughter episode is followed by the abandonment of the child, leaving the house, and eventually the accidental killing of her Black maid, who was actually, also unbeknownst to her, her mother.
I am in the process of connecting Dullay´s“white pleasure and laughter”with Mignolo’s “dispensable lives” also in relation to many of the presentations of BE.BOP 2012 an its screenings. Jean Marie Teno’s amazing documentary Le Malentendu Colonial (2004), for example, delves into the German protestant church’s role in trivializing the Herero-Nama Genocide. My analysis is not devoid of personal experience, as a Dominican woman living in the Netherlands for the past ten years, racialization and sexualization is inscribed in the way in which whites perform their “harmless” everday racist jokes, this is daily bread in the Dutch context. The Racialization of Black people (Zwarte Piet), their oversexualization and subjugatation in order to make them stay “put in place” as an “inferior race” (Makode Linde’s cake) is nothing less than the perpetuation of coloniality and its inherent white supremacist ideologies. White Laughter is genocidal because it keeps in place the assumptions about the universality of white “superiority” and the notion of Global-South people’s “inferiority”. These are the very foundations on which colonialism, slavery, imperialism, capitalism, that is: modernity/coloniality stand as universal genocidal machines. I want to theorize Genocidal White Laughter in the context of cultural production and performative practices and honoring the decolonial option, my intention is to detect the moments where White Laughter serves its Genocidal tendencies towards what Jose Manuel Barreto calls “the idea of annihilation”12 and delink from it. As Mignolo puts it: “The decolonial turn is the opening and the freedom from the thinking and the forms of living (economies-other, political theories-other), the cleansing of the coloniality of being and of knowledge; the de-linking from the spell of the rhetoric of modernity, from its imperial imaginary articulated in the rhetoric of democracy.”13 This process of “cleansing of the coloniality of being and the coloniality of knowledge” is also described by Robbie Shilliam as a “collective self-healing […] Healing requires an aesthetic that is not immanent to colonial violence or white supremacy but transgressive of it, perhaps transcendent to it”,14that means that a Decolonial Aesthetics is also inspired by healing.
Therein, to delink from Genocidal White Laughter we need to detect its genesis and its complicity with world histories of genocide in their relation with culturally produced and reproduced images of the “dispensable lives” constructed as “Others”. Black peoples, for example, have been constructed by Western Eurocentric white supremacists intellectuals and scientists as genocidal laughter material. Our challenge as decolonial thinkers and creators is to delink from this demeaning images by means of cleansing and/or healing from the “coloniality of being” a term which “emerged in discussions of adiverse group of scholars doing work on coloniality and decolonization”15 and more specifically Walter D. Mignolo. Nelson Maldonado Torres points out how “The coloniality of Being raises the challenge of connecting the genetic, the existential, and the historical dimensions where Being shows most evidently its colonial side and its fractures”16.Vázquez“humbling of modernity”may well be put in place as a contributor to Shilliam’s “healing” and Mignolo’s “cleansing” in order to detect and delink off Genocidal White Laughter.
1 “The basic thesis is the following: ‘modernity’ is a European narrative that hides its darker side, ‘coloniality’. Coloniality, in other words, is constitutive of modernity — there is no modernity without coloniality.” Walter D. Mignolo, Coloniality: the Darker Side of Modernity p.1.
2Decolonial Aesthetics Manifesto http://transnationaldecolonialinstitute.wordpress.com/decolonial-aesthetics/
3[…] Subjectivities have been formed under the naturalization of dispensability of human lives in the frame of the colonial matrix of power. During the period of heavy slave trade lives made dispensable for economic reasons implied that the people involved in slave trade or benefiting directly or indirectly from it, did not subjectively care. And if they did not care it was because either they accepted that Africans were not quite human or did not care because they were getting used to accepting the fact that there are human lives who are just as dispensable as human beings even though necessary as workers, be they enslaved, servants or employed at minimum wage…” Walter D. MignoloDispensable and Bare Lives: Coloniality and the Hidden Political/EconomicAgenda of Modernity in HUMAN ARCHITECTURE: JOURNALOF THE SOCIOLOGYOF SELF- KNOWLEDGE, VII, 2, SPRING 2009, 69-88, p.78
4Decolonial Aesthetics Manifesto, op.cit.
5“Germany is one of the countries in which a public consciousness about the crimes of the past is more advanced. For more than sixty years Germany has dealt with the dark side of its history by an examination of Nazi atrocities, a process that it is often called Vergangenheitsbewältigung. A similar practice of remembering and analizing the past has been advanced in relation to the crimes committed under the communist regime of East Germany. Such a collective ‘soul-searching’ process has effects in the self-conception of the nation, its main rationale being that of functioning as a warning about something that happened and should not, and cannot, happen again. Yet, a similar attempt at reaching a truthful account of the events has not been made in relation to the brutalities carried out by the German Empire during the times of the Second Reich. The killing of hundreds of thousands of human beings in German East Africa, today’s Tanzania, and the genocide of the Herero and Nama in German South-West Africa, today’s Namibia, remain unknown, hidden and forgotten. This is not only the case of Germany, but it is also a common feature in all modern and contemporary colonial powers. Which is the extend and depth, if any, of the consciousness of the peoples of Germany, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, Holland, France, Belgium, Italy, the USA and China about the barbarism and crimes committed alongside of centuries of modern imperialism in America, Africa or Asia?” Jose-Manuel Barreto The Politics of Amnesia, The Herero-Nama Genocide in the context of European and German Strategies of Denial in the catalogue for Be.Bop 2012 Black Europe Body Politics edited by Alanna Lockward and Walter Mignolo, p.28 http://blackeuropebodypolitics.wordpress.com/catalogue/
6“The guards of Shark Island and other camps became involve in the racial sciences that had originally being used to justify the war, soldiers begun to trade in the skulls of dead Herero and Nama people, selling them to scientist, museums and universities back in Germany. The practice was so widespread that this postcard was produced showing soldiers packing the skulls. But these horrific pictures are of the seven heads of Nama prisoners, probably from Shark Island, they were preserved, numbered and labeled as Hottenttotte, the German name for the Nama. They were then studied by race scientists who had being inspired by the theories of a German geneticist called Eugen Fischer who’s ideas were to influence not just the second reich but also the third. […] By measuring skulls, facial feautures and eye color, Fischer and his proteges saw to prove that the native peoples of Africa where not just inferior but as he put it animals, the racial theories that have being used to Justify the genocide where now being advanced by the human remains of its victims. By 1908 the concentration camps where finally shut down, three quarters of the Herero, 65,000 people had being killed, half of all the Nama people had also being exterminated, across the country hundreds of villages stood empty and German Southwest Africa finally belonged to the Germans. […] The last of the Herero and Nama where literally sold off to the German farmers as slaves. Even today there are those who remember the years of enslavement.” Excerpts from the documentary Namibia-Genocide and the Second Reich (2005) BBC Bristol research by Abby d’Arcy Hughes, Produced and Directed by David Olusoga.
7Eric Van Grasdorff, Nicolai Röschert and Firoze Manji, Unbearable silence, or How not to deal with your colonial past, March 20, 2012, Pambazuka News 577: Special Issue: Germany and genocide in Namibia. http://www.pambazuka.org/en/issue/577
8Alanna Lockward Decolonial Diasporic Aesthetics: Black German Body Politics in the catalogue for Be.Bop 2012 Black Europe Body Politics edited by Alanna Lockward and Walter Mignolo, p.09.
9 Manuela BoatcăThe mark of the non-modern: citizenship as ascribed inequality in the global age, ibid. p.16
10 Allochtoon (plural: allochtonen) is a Dutch word (from Greek ἀλλόχθων, from ἄλλος (allos), other, and χθών (chthōn) earth/land), literally meaning “originating from another country”. It is the opposite of the word autochtoon (in English, “autochthonous” or “autochthone”; from Greek αὐτόχθων, from αὐτός (autos), self and again χθών) literally meaning “originating from this country”.
11 I am using visibly Black in relation to ‘visibly black’ in Marco Polo Hernandez Cuevas, The Erasure of the African Element of Mestizaje in Modern Mexico: The coding of visibly black mestizos according to white aesthetics in and through the discourse on nation during the cultural phase of the Mexican revolution 1920-1968 where he speaks of visibly black mestizos/as and visibly black Mexicans contesting the idea that mestizaje (the mixture of ‘races’) in Mexico is based on indigenous and white European roots only, wherefrom the African element is excised. The ‘visibly black’ Mexicans refers to Black mexicans who are mix-raced and yet ‘visibly black’, that is blackness is present in Mexican mestizaje whether it is visible or not, which is indeed the case.
12 Jose-Manuel Barreto Human Rights and the Buried Crimes of Modernity in P Singh and V Kanwar, Critical International Law: Post-Realism, Post-Colonialism and Transnationalism (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2012).
13 Walter D. MignoloEpistemic Disobedience and the Decolonial Option: A manifesto inTRANSMODERNITY: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World, 1(2), Fall 2011, p.48. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/62j3w283
15“They include Fernando Coronil, Santiago Castro-Gomez, Oscar Guardiola, Edgardo Lander, Walter Mignolo, Anibal Quijano, Freya Schiwy, Catherine Walsh, and others.” Nelson Maldonado-Torres ON THE COLONIALITY OF BEING, Cultural Studies, 21:2, 240- 270, p. 263, note 2.
- Barreto, Jose-Manuel (forthcoming). Human Rights and the Buried Crimes of Modernity. P. Singh and V. Kanwar, Critical International Law: Post-Realism, Post-Colonialism and Transnationalism (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2012).
-Barreto, Jose-Manuel (2012). The Politics of Amnesia, The Herero-Nama Genocide in the context of European and German Strategies of Denial p.28.
- BE.BOP 2012. Black Europe Body Politics (catalogue) edited by Alanna Lockward and Walter Mignolo.
-Boatcă, Manuela (2012). The mark of the non-modern: citizenship as ascribed inequality in the global age, p.16
-Lockward, Alanna (2012). Decolonial Diasporic Aesthetics: Black German Body Politics, p.09http://blackeuropebodypolitics.wordpress.com/catalogue/
-Decolonial Aesthetics Manifesto (2011).
-Dullay, Simmi (2012). Uprooting and Belongings. Mapping the Black Body in Exile (paper presented at BE.BOP 2012 in the panel COLONIAL AMNESIA I. CONNECTING ENSLAVEMENT LEGACIES BEFORE AND AFTER THE TRIANGULAR TRADE IN SCANDINAVIA, May 5, 2012, Berlin, p.1, 3.
-Van Grasdorff, Eric, Röschert, Nicolai and Manji, Firoze (2012). Unbearable silence, or How not to deal with your colonial past, March 20, 2012, Pambazuka News 577: Special Issue: Germany and genocide in Namibia. http://www.pambazuka.org/en/issue/57
-Hernández Cuevas, Marco Polo (2001). The Erasure of the African Element of Mestizaje in Modern Mexico: The coding of visibly black mestizos according to white aesthetics in and through the discourse on nation during the cultural phase of the Mexican revolution 1920-1968
-Maldonado-Torres, Nelson (2007). ‘ON THE COLONIALITY OF BEING’, Cultural Studies, 21:2, 240- 270, p. 243 (263, note 2).
-Mignolo, Walter D. (2009). Coloniality: the Darker Side of Modernity.Modernologies. Contemporary Artists Researching Modernity and Modernism (catalogue) MACBA, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelonap.39-49.
-Mignolo, Walter D. (2009). Dispensable and Bare Lives: Coloniality and the Hidden Political/EconomicAgenda of Modernity in HUMAN ARCHITECTURE: JOURNALOF THE SOCIOLOGYOF SELF- KNOWLEDGE, VII, 2, SPRING 2009, 69-88, p.78
-Mignolo, Walter D. (2011) Epistemic Disobedience and the Decolonial Option: A manifesto inTRANSMODERNITY: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World, 1(2), Fall 2011, p.48. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/62j3w283
-Olusoga, David (2005). Namibia-Genocide and the Second Reich, BBC Bristol research by Abby d’Arcy Hughes, Produced and Directed by Olusoga, David Olusoga.
- Shilliam, Robbie (2012). http://robbieshilliam.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/decolonialaesthetics-at-be-bop-black-europe-body-politics/