Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Decolonial humanism

The theoretical and philosophical contributions of decolonial thinkers is absolutely essential. Those of us, like me, whose training is in poststructuralist philosophy, we ignore the contributions of decolonial philosophy to the determent of our understanding.

One of the things that has always interested me in the work of decolonial philosophy is the strong and profound critique of humanism. Patiently and brilliantly, we given over to exam how the human, invented as a european male, has been used to dominate and exploit the rest of the world. So far, so fascinating. But in almost every case the decolonial move is to then demand a new humanism (and what type of humanism tends to get various adjective applied, like substantive humanism, real humanism, universal humanism, humanism of the other, etc). You can see this in theorists as similar and diverse as Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, Sylvia Wynter, Edward Said, and Nelson Maldonado-Torres; just to name a few. They seem to agree (implicitly with most, explicitly with Maldonado-Torress) with Levinas that "[h]umanism has to be denounced only because it is not sufficiently human."

I don't have much else to point out. I find this problematic. Does anyone know any decolonial thinkers that don't make this move of reclaiming humanism? Does anyone believe there is something essential in their varied humanisms I am missing?