Doctoral_Dissertation_Africa_and_the_Res.pdf - DISSERTATION Titel der Dissertation Africa and the Rest Imaginations beyond a continent in African

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Unformatted text preview: DISSERTATION Titel der Dissertation Africa and the Rest. Imaginations beyond a continent in African scholarship on human rights and development. Verfasserin Mag. Michaela Krenčeyová angestrebter akademischer Grad Doktorin der Philosophie (Dr. phil.) Wien, 2013 Studienkennzahl lt. Studienblatt: A 792 390 Dissertationsgebiet lt. Studienblatt: Afrikawissenschaften 1. Betreuer: Univ.-Prof. i.R. Dr. Walter Schicho 2. Betreuerin: ao. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Margarete Grandner Mirkovi. TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION: THE DIFFICULT SEARCH FOR AFRICA 9 CARVING OUT A TERRITORY: INTRODUCING ‘AFRICA’ 27 MANY AFRICAS 29 REPRESENTING THE OTHER, CREATING AFRICA 34 (THE PERIL OF) IDENTIFYING AN AFRICAN DISCOURSE ON AFRICA 51 STUDYING AFRICA: WHO, WHERE AND FOR WHOM? 57 AFRICAN STUDIES: MORE OR LESS AFRICAN AUTHORITY, IDENTITY, AND LOCATION A DISCIPLINE LOOKING FOR A SUBJECT 60 64 71 AFRICAN SCHOLARSHIP: PAST AND PRESENT CONTINGENCIES CONTESTED SPACES IN EDUCATION AND RESEARCH GENERATIONS OF SCHOLARSHIP AFRICAN SCHOLARS VS. OTHERS THE PREDICAMENT OF PUBLISHING 75 78 85 87 91 AFRICAN INTELLECTUALS AND AUTHORITY IN AFRICA 97 UNDERSTANDING AFRICA: HOW AND WHY? 103 KNOWLEDGE FOR AFRICA(NS): DIMENSIONS OF RELEVANCE ADEQUACY AFRICAN AUTHORSHIP DEVELOPMENT EMANCIPATION AFRICAN(ISED) CONCEPTS AFRICAN(ISED) EPISTEMOLOGY 105 111 113 114 116 117 120 HOW TO ARTICULATE? THE RIGHT LANGUAGE FOR AFRICA 124 FRAMING THE OUTCOMES 133 SHAPING AFRICA: HISTORY AND DISCOURSE 135 CORPUS AND APPROACH: SELECTING A SEGMENT OF AFRICAN DISCOURSE 149 READING ‘AFRICA’ THROUGH ‘HUMAN RIGHTS’ AND ‘DEVELOPMENT’ 157 HUMAN RIGHTS IN/FROM/FOR/WITH AFRICA THE EQUALITY DISCOURSE THE RESISTANCE DISCOURSE THE PRAGMATIC DISCOURSE THE ADAPTATION DISCOURSE 160 163 175 181 192 DEVELOPMENT FOR/IN/WITHOUT/AGAINST/WITH AFRICA THE FAILURE DISCOURSE THE DAMAGE DISCOURSE THE PRAGMATIC DISCOURSE THE EMANCIPATORY DISCOURSE 201 205 210 217 228 CONCLUSION: RE-CREATING AFRICA 239 REFERENCES 253 ANNEX 301 EXAMINED CORPUS 303 ABSTRACT 308 ZUSAMMENFASSUNG 309 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 311 CURRICULUM VITAE 312 Table of figures: Fig. 1: Knowledge for Africa: dimensions of relevance 110 Fig. 2: (Subordinate) discourses on Africa and human rights 162 Fig. 3: (Subordinate) discourses on Africa and development 204 INTRODUCTION: THE DIFFICULT SEARCH FOR AFRICA It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider (1984) People are defeated or go mad or die in many, many ways, some in the silence of that valley, where I couldn’t hear nobody pray, and many in the public, sounding horror where no cry or lament or song or hope can disentangle itself from the roar. And so we go under, victims of that universal cruelty which lives in the heart and in the world, victims of the universal indifference to the fate of another, victims of the universal fear of love, proof of the absolute impossibility of achieving a life without love. One day, perhaps, unimaginable generations hence, we will evolve into the knowledge that human beings are more important than real estate and will permit this knowledge to become the ruling principle of our lives. For I do not for an instant doubt, and I will go to my grave believing, that we can build Jerusalem, if we will. James Baldwin, Nothing Personal (1986) 9 10 What is Africa? As simple as this question might sound, it turned out to be one of the most important questions to be spun around in the context of this study. It turned out, moreover, not to be that simple at all, containing different dimensions, bearing a charged history, and leading to very diverse answers, depending on who is to be asked. All of these aspects constitute what might be called a discourse on Africa, the ‘Africa discourse’, one that tells as much about Africa as it obscures, and that reflects not only how those who create it see the world, but also how they would like to see themselves. To get more concrete: The basic assumption that permeated the work on this research was that in talking about certain issues – be it human rights and development, as in our case – in or with respect to Africa, those who talk (or write) do not do that just in relation to Africa as such. We might even go further and suggest that there is nothing like an ‘Africa as such’. Rather, talkers and writers have different Africas in mind that shine out of the representations and images they use to refer to Africa. These sometimes reveal more about their understandings of what they see as right or wrong than their explicit ideas about particular rights or development strategies, which is the very reason why a study like the one at hand might be also useful for human rights and development theorists and practitioners. The Africa discourse and the human rights or development discourses respectively overlap, influence each other, and contain insights on more than just their actual subjects. To make the link between these different discourses and discourse levels clear, it might be interesting to shortly recall the genesis of this research, outlining some turning points in both the conceptualisation and realization, which led to the present outcome as one of the possible ways to resolve the intellectual, political, and ethical challenges involved. In retrospect, the turning points seem to be rather necessary specifications of the initial plan than real changes of its direction. That this initial plan was to explore the meaning of rights-based (approaches to) development (RBD) in the discourses and practical work of different actors involved in Kenya’s development field constitutes at first sight admittedly inconsequential information. This idea did, however, raise my interest, not necessarily in rights-based development itself, but rather in, first, the ideological influences that shaped the concept as it is being implemented in 11 its present (albeit contested) form, second, the question of the actual value of RBD as a new strategy for ‘solving problems in the Third World’, and third, its interaction with the ‘African context’. Instead of a field research, the engagement with relevant texts proved to be more appropriate for finding the right path. This, furthermore, involved another issue that subsequently shaped the research framework and stemmed from a closer look at the scholarship published on RBD: authority in writing (about RBD) with respect to Africa. Over the last years, RBD has been embraced by development practitioners and international actors as yet another ultimate solution to the dilemmas of development, combining two desirable goals - the pursuit of development and the fulfilment of human rights - that should be acted upon not only simultaneously but interdependently. Given the recentness of this already almost paradigmatic notion, its scholarly examination so far can of course not be compared to the vast literature existing on both issues separately. Nevertheless, a huge amount of literature has already been produced on the approach, ranging from a theoretical embedding (see the review digest on RBD by Bania-Dobyns et.al. 2006) to the possibilities of implementation (e.g. Kirkemann Boesen/Martin 2007) of the rights-based agenda, while there is a tendency in the according literature to neglect past discussions on similar intersections between human rights and development, such as the Right to Development1. That even the controversial policies of the World Bank have started to accommodate ‘rights talk’ (Nyamu-Musembi/Cornwall 2004, Horta 2002) should not cause irritations, as it just neatly fits into the changing global hegemonic development discourse, well-known for its habit to re-interpret formerly radical political keywords and wash them out into digestible elements of conservative policies (see e.g. Batliwala 2007). The focus here, however, is not on the policy level of development co-operation or on the human rights regime. It should not be argued whether certain interventions are more useful than others or whether projects work effectively enough. The spotlight is on some of the makers of the discourse - those who write about all these issues, asking why they do it in a 1 For contributions to the discussion on the Right to Development, see e.g. D’Sa (1984), Shepherd (1990), Obiora (1996), Sengupta (2002), and Ibhawoh (2011), who is particularly critical towards the recent emergence of RBD. 12 certain way with respect to Africa. The last part of the sentence above, ‘with respect to Africa’, has a long history. Claims that Africa needs (or needs to reject) certain understandings of development or human rights because it is Africa are neither confined to the scholarship analysed here nor constitute a recent mode of argumentation. Only two examples should be mentioned here as an illustration. In 1979, Léopold Sédar Senghor used the following words to argue for a necessary particularity of an African Charter on Human and People’s Rights during the meeting of African legal experts in Dakar that targeted at drafting the charter: “Europe and America have constructed their system of rights and liberties with reference to a common civilization, to respective peoples and to some specific aspirations. It is not for us Africans either to copy them [Europe and America] or to seek originality for originality’s sake. It is for us to manifest both imagination and skill. Those of our traditions that are beautiful and positive may inspire us. You should therefore constantly keep in mind our values and the real needs of Africa.” (Quoted in Ojo 1990: 116) The link established between Africa’s peculiarity and development in the following, more recent, quote is somewhat different from the above link between human rights and Africa. It points to a different relationship established between the concepts, one that is more widespread in the development discourse than in the discourse on human rights in Africa: “(…) after nearly half a century of firm belief in and adoption of imported Western development ideologies and strategies in efforts to achieve modernization, it is painfully evident that Africa continues to be underdeveloped, poor, heavily indebted to its ex-colonial rulers, and struggling with insurmountable internal socio-economic problems.” (Abrokwaa 1999: 646) Just like Senghor in the quote above, Abrokwaa argues that there is the need to refer to a special understanding of development because of the failure of ‘imported Western development ideologies’ that are not feasible in the African 13 context. The underlying assumption here is that Western concepts are not suitable for Africa, because Africa first, is not the West and second, because Africa as Africa is special in itself. That there is a particular understanding of rights-based development necessary in the context of Africa does, however, not feature in the respective literature, at least not yet. Part of the explanation for the nature of argumentation and theory found there is certainly the deployment of particular theoretical concepts and the dismissal or neglect of theories and theoretical contributions formulated in Africa itself. Another part that accounts for this phenomenon can be, however, attributed to the authorship within the scope of the topic, which is dominated by Western scholars. Rights-based development as the combination of rights and development concepts has been receiving considerable attention from African scholars over the last years, yet compared to the enormous total amount of publications on the topic, their contribution/represenation has been rather humble - confined to a number of journal articles, online publications and monographies (e.g. Olowu 2004, Tsikata 2007). In recently published anthologies (Hickey and Mitlin 2009a; Gready and Ensor 2005a), which might gain seminal character given the maiden-like appearance of the topic, African authors write only about the particularities of case studies (Okille 2005), cowrite with other (African or European) authors (e.g. Duni et.al. 2009)2, while the theoretical chapters are to a great deal written by Western authors (e.g. Jonsson 2005; Ensor 2005). While such a ‘discovery’ might seem to have very little explanatory power and should serve mainly as a thought-provoking impulse, it is still remarkable about the given literature that it does not reflect the debates on human rights that have taken place over the last decades among African scholars3. For instance, in the two above-mentioned anthologies, the respective introductory chapters (Gready and Ensor 2005b; Hickey and Mitlin 2009b; Archer 2009; Gledhill 2009) do not contain any reference to these debates. Surprisingly, the same holds for contributions about case studies focusing on human rights in particular Africa(n 2 3 Or, as in the World Bank publication (Alsop 2004), they are not represented at all. For a compact and insightful overview of different positions, see Appiagyei-Atua (2000: 73-89). 14 countries) (Jonsson 2005; Brouwer et.al. 2005; Jones 2005; Okille 2005; Galang/Parlevliet 2005), which despite their rather practical focus contain references to other (non-African or Western) theoretical literature on human rights4, but not to African thinkers. Why is it, then, that those ones who belong to the respective societies are not visible in theory that to aims at changing these very societies? It is against the backdrop of this question that I finally decided to focus – from my own position as a (more or less) Western Africanist – exclusively on African scholarship on human rights and development. As Boele van Hensbroek puts it bluntly (1999: 7): “[n]o comprehensive history of Europe or the United States, for instance, would fail to discuss the ideas of Locke, Montesquieu, Jefferson, Dewey, or Marx, but when it comes to Africa apparently one can do almost without African intellectuals. In those instances where African thought has been studied, expositions of metaphysical systems abound, whereas discussions of critical or theoretical thought belonging to individual Africans are quite rare. Within Africanist scholarship the African remains an anomaly.” A seemingly paradoxical contrast relating to such an insufficient representation of Africans in research is given by the on the other hand very visible representations of ‘Africa’ when it comes to particular topics, genres, or worlviews (see, in a wider sense, Popke 2001), for example with respect to charity on the one hand (see Yrjölä 2009) and music and art on the other hand (see Brusila 2001). This contradiction is easily resolved by looking at the very limited representations that are being popularised. In other words, these selective manifestations of interest in Africa belong to the same underlying problematic as the disinterest towards it elsewhere. Not every ‘inclusion’ of African viewpoints, people, issues, or ‘voices’ necessarily serves the benefit of Africa. Many inclusions rest upon illusions. 4 For example: Donnelly (1989) in Jonsson (2005) or Galtung/Wirak (1997) in Galant/Parlevliet (2005). Ironically, Donnelly has been profoundly criticized by several African authors (see, among others, Marasinghe 1984: 42, Ahluwalia 2001: 87, Mutua 1995: 357) 15 Therefore, while a consequence of this study might be to contribute to the visibility of African scholarship outside of Africa, the most challenging aspect is the danger both of essentializing and patronizing. These two threats are not just ‘somewhere out there’, appealing to my own responsibility as a writer of this study. They underlie the very endeavour of writing and researching about the problematic that shall frame this study and its focus on the linkages and intersections between a number of rather fashionable but crucial concepts: discourse, power, location, representation, geopolitics, identity. If language or writing are postulated as powerful tools, the process of writing itself becomes contested, dangerous, and at times impossible, as sometimes – in the course of both differentiating and radicalizing the research focus - there seem to be simply no means of communication left that would not patronise or not essentialise. The danger involved starts to manifest itself as early as with the selection of ‘African scholarship’ as the focus of the research and the rationale behind it suggested above. What is the expectation that guides such a selection? Consider the following reflections by Bilgin made in reference to Western and nonWestern scholarship in the field of International Relations: “(…) in search of ‘difference’, some ‘Western’ scholars have turned to ‘Third World radicals’ and found exactly what they were looking for: treatises on the various ways in which the strong have exploited the weak. (…) Without wanting to underestimate the significance of inquiring into such radically ‘different’ visions (…), it is nevertheless important to underscore one issue: the ways in which the current state of ‘non-Western’ IR [International Relations theory, the area of Bilgin’s work] (‘almost the same but not quite’) is taken for granted and not problematised is in itself problematic. (…) [W]hen ‘nonWestern’ scholars’ writings do not exhibit such ‘difference’ but appear to be similar to those of their ‘Western’ counterparts, ‘non-Western’ scholars are represented as the robotic ‘Stepford Wife’ to ‘Western IR’, the engineer. (…) They are ‘social science socialized products’ of ‘Western’ IR who have ‘thoroughly digested [its] norms and parameters’. Needless to say, such a stance denies agency to ‘non16 Western’ scholars and represents them as unthinking emulators” (Bilgin 2008: 13). I have quoted Bilgin here extensively not only because he makes a strong argument, which, despite its different context of origin, applies to many other areas of scholarship. In a way, it frames the focus of my study with its inherent contradictions in a very blatant manner. As Mbembe argues, “[i]n placing too much emphasis on the themes of identity and difference or economic marginalization, a number of analysts have conferred on Africa a character so particular that it is not comparable with any other region of the world” (Mbembe 2001b: 1). Thus, the restriction to African scholarship should not lead to the perpetuation of the image of Africa as the place of darkness and ‘shadows’ (Ferguson 2006) or to what Mbembe calls the ‘new nativism’ (Mbembe 2001b). It should also not involve the ‘nailing down’ of ‘Africans’ to certain positions in a deterministic manner, which Diagne criticises in his elaboration on human rights: “[T]he alternative between clash or dialogue is a pitfall, since both clash and dialogue share the same premise, which needs to be reassessed: cultural identity as destiny. That said, it must be emphasized that what makes the illusion of “identity as destiny” function is (…) the implicit acceptance of that representation by other intellectuals, who adopt, in principle, an anti-Western posture and undertake the symmetrical task of defending and illustrating another identity, which entails, for example, advocating another philosophy of human rights.” (Diagne 2009: 9-10, original emphasis) Accordingly, in dealing with African perspectives on human rights or development, the intention is neither to identify concepts as ‘Western’ or ‘African’ nor to find out whether supposedly ‘Western’ concepts have been appropriated by ‘African’ scholarship or vice versa. Edward Said’s words can serve as a warning against such efforts, saying that “[t]o prefer a local, detailed analysis of how one theory travels from one situation to another is also to betray some fundamental uncertainty about specifying or delimiting the field to which 17 any one theory or idea might belong” (Said 2000: 197, quoted in Bilgin 2008: 19). In a similar manner would the com...
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