Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)

Exploring the Foundation of Caribbean Epistemology with Professor Linden Lewis (Bucknell University)

The Globalizing Culture Group of the UvA, Decolonial/Postcolonial lecture

17Jan2019 14:30 - 16:00

Event

The discourse on Caribbean thought and knowledge has a gestation period, beginning from a history of denial of indigenous reason, to the construction of a Caribbean epistemology.

The discourse on Caribbean thought and knowledge has a gestation period, beginning from a history of denial of indigenous reason, to the construction of a Caribbean epistemology. Those who supported and defended enslavement, viewed Caribbean people as being incapable of developing thought and reason, and incapable of governing themselves. Others beginning with J. J. Thomas and continuing through to C.L. R. James, Silvio Torres-Salliant, Paget Henry and Lewis Gordon have vigorously mounted a counter discourse on the question of Caribbean epistemology. This article seeks to trace the discursive argument of Caribbean thought and reason, through three important intellectual figures, showing the development and influence of their ideas on each other and the broader community. The paper examines the ideas and
influence of the Martinican poet, playwright, and politician, Aimé Césaire on his fellow countryman, Frantz Fanon, and in turn, their influence on the Cuban born, Jamaican raised, Sylvia Wynter. The paper shows how the colonial epistemology dominates the thinking of the colonized mind, engendering contempt and self-loathing, which, essentially has to be unlearned as an act of psychic liberation. In the process, the essay traces the rejection of colonial epistemology, which places the non-Western person outside of humanity, and into a zone of non-being. The culmination of this intellectual disquisition is the de-alienation of black personhood and the affirmation of the human.

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