This article discusses the persistent deployment of racial stereotypes in contemporary stand-up comedy and its potential hegemonic or counter-hegemonic effects. It asks whether racial stereotypes should be avoided or condemned altogether, considering the risks of interpretative ambiguity and offensiveness, or, alternatively, whether there are specific performative strategies and conditions that might make racial stereotype humour a powerful weapon in the anti-racist toolbox. As regards the first, several critiques are considered and it is shown that racial stereotype humour, and its reception, may harbour multiple, subtle forms of racism. In terms of defences, racial stereotype humour’s role of discharging stubborn psycho-affective investments is highlighted, as well as its function as ‘subversive play’. The article further pays special attention to aspects of audience reception (such as issues of missed subtlety and ‘clever’ laughter) and the importance of the comic’s racial positionality in performing racial stereotypes.
What Could Go Wrong?
The Meanings and Uses of a Legal Concept in Premodern Europe
The place and function of custom as a species of law—distinguished from custom as simply polite manners or cherished cultural traditions—has long been a source of research and debate among legal theorists and historians. One school of thought, reflecting the authority of written statute in modern jurisprudence, has relegated custom in a juridical sense to “primitive” societies, whereas proper law belongs to a world of state sovereignty. Other scholars have revisited the continuing validity of custom, including a trenchant body of work on the use (and manipulation) of custom in modern colonial regimes. At the same time, some have seen benefits in the acknowledgment of custom as a source of norms. A 2006 collection of articles, for instance, explored ways in which customary law might serve as a better foundation for the sustainable development of natural resources. As David Bederman has written, “Custom can be a signal strength for any legal system—preliterate or literate, primitive or modern.”
Stephen Louw, Michiel Meijer, and Tom Angier
Brian J. Peterson, Thomas Sankara: A Revolutionary in Cold War Africa, Bloomington, IN., Indiana University Press, 2021, 304pp, ISBN 0253053765 (pbk)
Hermann, J., Hopster, J., Kalf, W. and Klenk, M. (eds.) 2020. Philosophy in the Age of Science? Inquiries into Philosophical Progress, Method, and Societal Relevance, 284pp, ISBN 978-1-5381-4282-0 (hbk)
Thaddeus Metz, 2022. A Relational Moral Theory: African Ethics in and Beyond the Continent, Oxford University Press, 272pp, ISBN: 9780198748960 (hbk)
A Historical Contextualisation
Abel B.S. Gaiya
The article places Nigeria’s political and economic challenges in historical and global context. As opposed to viewing democracy or development emerging simply as the ‘will of the people’ or ‘political will’, it encourages a historical and structural view of the phenomena. Sustained democratic institutions and intensive economic growth emerge under particular conditions where the continued maintenance of hegemony and gate-keeping extractive states are no longer viable. A diversified capitalist class and economic power among a strong middle class are needed to demand greater democratic accountability. Industrial policy is essential to creating the structural change required for their emergence. Yet the dispersed and ethno-religiously fragmented distribution of power makes industrial policy implementation difficult. Given the salience of such historical and structural forces, postcolonial Nigerians should be seen as formative generations. Students and practitioners of development economics, policy and politics should be more creative in producing politically informed policies for the country.
Jason Dockstader and Rojîn Mûkrîyan
We do two things in this article: develop a novel conception of domination and show how the Kurdish people are dominated in this novel sense. Conceptions of domination are usually distinguished in terms of paradigm cases and whether they are moralised and/or normdependent accounts, or neither. By contrast, we argue there is a way of understanding domination in terms of distinct social kinds. Among kinds of domination, like economic or racial or sexual domination, there must be a specifically political kind of domination. Borrowing from Carl Schmitt’s framework of differing degrees of political enmity, we argue political domination is best understood as an existential form of domination whereby one people aim to prevent the independent existence of another people mainly through the uncontrolled power and extreme violence involved in absolute enmity. This conception of existential domination is offered as an example of a non-moralised, normindependent account of domination. We then argue that the Kurdish people, who are the largest stateless people in the world, suffer existential domination from the absolute enmity expressed towards them by the four nation-states they find themselves dominated within: Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Global and Domestic Trends Following the Failed SRWP Experiment
Giovanni Poggi and Ongama Mtimka
Our article endeavours to critically examine the prospects for socialist parties and socialist policy reform in South Africa. Firstly, we seek to provide an appraisal of modern socialist politics and policies globally. Secondly, we attempt to diagnose why South Africa has been as yet unable to fashion a suitable socialist workers’ party during the democratic epoch. In this, the article discusses the prospects of socialist parties and policy reform in South Africa after examining the failure of the Socialist Revolutionary Workers’ Party (SRWP) to make an impact at the 2019 polls. Using a combination of comparative methodology and critical inquiry, our study presents not only that socialist politics and policies are valuable to democratic systems, but also that socialist politics should have a more viable vehicle in South Africa. The prospects for deepened ideological development, particularly the formation of a successful socialist or workers’ party, remains quite weak in South Africa but there is considerable evidence to suggest that civil society both requires and desires a more vibrant relationship with modern socialism.
Even though the Pan Africanist Congress was formed in 1959 after departing from the African National Congress at a point marking out the irreconcilability of the Azanian ‘faith’ with the other interpretations of the struggle within the ‘broad church’ of the Congress Movement, it was only six years later, in 1965, that it modified its name to the PAC of Azania. The name Azania is supposed to have been suggested by Nkrumah at the All-African Peoples’ Conference in 1958 attended by the Africanists even before the inauguration of the PAC (Diaz 2009: 239; Hilton 1993: 5). The Azanian tendency in ‘South African’ history can arguably be said to have existed from the earliest times of resistance by the indigenous people against the unjust wars of colonisation (see Dladla 2020: 71–108).
This article sets out a few key questions, themes, and problems animating an Azanian social and political philosophy, with specific reference to the radical promise of undoing South African disciplinary knowledges. The article is made up of two parts: The first part discusses the epistemic and political forces arrayed against black radical thought in South Africa and beyond. A few current trends of anti-black thinking – liberal racism, Left Eurocentrism, and postcolonial post-racialism – which pose challenges for the legibility of Azanian critique are outlined. Part two constructs an exposition and synthesis of key tenets of Azanian thinking elaborated upon under three signs: ‘South Africa’, ‘race and racism’, and ‘Africa’. The aim of the discussion is to illustrate the critical, emancipatory potential of Azanian thought and its radical incommensurability with dominant strands of scholarship in the human and social sciences today. The article ultimately defends the reassertion of black radical thought in the South African academy today and underscores in particular the abolitionist drive of Azanian political thought.
The Historiography of African Nationalism in Conqueror South Africa
The story of conqueror South African historiography relies on the ebbs and flows of narrative clichés and tropes. The main narrative arcs relate to historiographies that frame the understanding and analysis of conqueror South Africa. These historiographies interpret history as forming part of an epistemological paradigm of conqueror South Africa: a historiography that does not question the ethical right to conquest. This article focuses on the interpretations of African Nationalism by proponents of the liberal and Marxist historiographic traditions and critiques the way in which these historiographies depict and characterise African Nationalism. This historical characterisation bears an influence in current political and social discourse in conqueror South Africa: African Nationalism is relegated to a misguided moment in history, something to be reflected upon from a distance, an irrelevant phase in the long walk to a multiracial and cosmopolitan South Africa.
Towards a More Just Philosophical Community
This article examines the Australian ‘Continental Philosophy’ community through the lens of the Azanian philosophical tradition. Specifically, it interrogates the series of conversations around race and methodology that arose from the 2017 Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy (ASCP) conference. At the heart of these were questions of place, race, Indigeneity, and the very meaning of ‘Continental Philosophy’ in Australia. The pages that follow pursue those questions, grappling with the relationship between the articulation of disciplinary bounds and the exercise of colonial power. Having struggled with the political and existential cost of participation in the epistemic community that is the ASCP, I argue for disengagement and the exploration of alternative intellectual communities. This is ultimately a call to intellectual work grounded on ethical relations rather than on the furtherance of the status quo. It is a call to take seriously the claim, ‘the land is ours’.