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Gideon Calder

Much recent theory of an anti-foundationalist or ‘post-ist’ hue has made a point of returning us to historicity. If modern theory sought the universal, then postmodern theory has favoured the particular, the situated, and the historically contextual: the little narrative, the silenced voice, the marginalised other. This is, to be sure, a simplification of both sides of the comparison. But it opens up a pressing question. What kinds of relationship to historicity are opened up by postmodern theory? In an age when relations with the past have taken on a particular kind of resonance—through truth commissions, retrievals of underplayed or silenced events, commemorative projects, and in a more general sense, a concern for the historical contexts of group and individual identities—what help does such theory offer us in seeking a grasp of such relations?

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Towards the Garden of the Mothers

Relocating the Capacity to Narrate in J.M. Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K

Erin Mitchell

In Life and Times of Michael K by J.M. Coetzee, K stays on the plot of land on which he believes his grandmother raised his mother. His appropriation of this land affords him control of space, a control he could not have acquired in apartheid-riven Cape Town. His sojourn in the garden, however, takes him out of historical time, and stunts his capacity to narrate his story and thus to take control over historical time. In the garden of his foremothers, K inhabits time measured by the growth of plants. Isolated on his pumpkin-patch, K learns to cultivate and protect his plants; when he is hauled to the medical clinic, he retains this knowledge, while he also begins to learn that narrative skills can permit him to inhabit human history.

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'Repaying the National Debt to Africa'

Trusteeship, Property and Empire

William Bain

This article explores the way in which the idea of trusteeship shaped questions relating to property and possession in nineteenth-century sub-Saharan Africa. Trusteeship is distinctive insofar as it sanctioned European dominion over territories in Africa while preserving an indigenous right in the wealth contained in these territories. The article illuminates the character of this relationship, first, by arguing that a narrative that reduces empire to a story of domination and exploitation ends up obscuring the complex property relations entailed by trusteeship. Second, it describes the introduction of trusteeship into the political, economic and social life of sub-Saharan Africa, focusing mainly on the experience of British colonial administration and the Berlin Conference of 1884-5. Third, it clarifies a relationship of unequal reciprocity that joined European commercial interests with the well-being of the so-called 'native' tribes of Africa.

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Poverty in Freedom versus Opulence in Chains

Satirical Exposé of the Postcolonial Dictatorships in Kourouma's Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote

Isaac Ndlovu

In my examination of Ahmadou Kourouma's satirical 'historiographic metafiction' (Hutcheon 1988: 93) Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote [1998] (2004), I argue that this narrative shows that in postcolonial Africa freedom from colonial rule has resulted neither in privilege nor power for the majority of African citizens. In the novel, Kourouma employs but also subverts the style of donsomana or praise poetry in his satirisation of postcolonial African ways of wielding political power. Largely narrated by Bingo, a satirical griot, the novel adopts a mock-epic mode as a way of acknowledging but also subverting both traditional African and European modernistic conceptualisations of the historical and literary. Among other things, the title of the novel satirises the inadequacy of electoral processes imposed by the Western nations to bring about smooth power transitions and genuine freedoms to the African populace. The novel's title also mocks African rulers for undermining democracy and those who are ruled for their inability to seize the voting opportunities, which in the novel are sometimes presented as moments of genuine civil power, to rid themselves of the emasculating dictators.

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Sherran Clarence

The five articles that comprise this edition of Theoria cover a range of issues from reconsidering the war on terrorism to defending black solidarity to the abjection of the vagina in Brazil and South Africa. While the subject matter of the five articles is diverse, there is a common thread that connects them: they all touch on the themes of inclusion and exclusion. In an increasingly globalised world shaped by crossborder events like the war on terrorism, we find ourselves connected to one another in new ways, and we are forced to consider the issue of belonging. Global migration brings people from developing parts of the world, some of which are predominantly Muslim, into contact with people in developed parts of the world, like Europe. The cultural and ethnic tensions and clashes that result raise questions about belonging—who belongs and who does not—and who has the right to be included in the state, and who should be excluded. The first two articles examine ways of excluding and marginalising members of society, respectively women and black intellectuals, in ways that are not necessarily obvious to the wider society. The second and third articles overlap in exposing ways of including marginalised people that are shown to be false. The final two articles look at new ways of creating discourses of inclusion through appealing to new forms of moral humanism and moral realism. Behind and through these narratives flows a concern about how, or even whether, one can expand inclusion in old and new discourses, or just reproduce new forms of old exclusions or replace old exclusions with new ones.

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Dmitry Shlapentokh

/Iranian culture. Still, regardless of the author’s solid research, the narrative is predominantly post-modernist and demonstrates that historians of the past were not much concerned with the presentation of events as they were with promoting their own agenda

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Virile Resistance and Servile Collaboration

Interrupting the Gendered Representation of Betrayal in Resistance Movements

Maša Mrovlje

narratives of resistance commonly evoke ideals of heroic masculinity, collaboration and betrayal tend to be associated with images of servile or seductive femininity ( Judt 2011: 49–50 ; Mihai 2019: 57 ; Sartre 2017: 58–60 ). Scholars have drawn attention

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Decolonising Borders

Re-imagining Strangeness and Spaces

John Sodiq Sanni

narrative of spaces and strangeness. There has been little discussion on the connection between borders and strangeness in Africa. In this section, I argue that there is an intricate link between borders and how it informs strangeness and negative othering

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SimonMary Aihiokhai, Lorina Buhr, David Moore, and William Jethro Mpofu

empire politics and narratives while resisting the bias to take for granted what has been written. In fact, to write is to reduce surplus of meanings to the perspective that is being articulated. As a decolonial scholar, Hinga offers her readers a

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Something Gleaming

Exemplary Resistance and the Shadows of Complicity

Bronwyn Leebaw

on undeserved privilege. The idea of waging war against privilege sounds somewhat abstract alongside heroic narratives of resistance that centre on struggles for justice against powerful villains. Levi does not specify what such a war would entail