Human, Humanity, Humanitarianism: Postcolonial-Feminist Interrogations

29. November 2015 von Nikita Dhawan

Vortrag am 10.Kongress der Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Philosophie, Innsbruck 2015. http://www.uibk.ac.at/ipoint/blog/1326563.html

“Leave this Europe where they are never done talking of Man, yet murder meneverywhere they find them, at the corner of every one of their own streets, in allthe corners of the globe. […] where they never stopped proclaiming that they wereonly anxious for the welfare of Man: today we know with what sufferings humanity has paid for every one of their triumphs of the mind. […]. Let us decide notto imitate Europe; let us combine our muscles and our brains in a new direction.Let us try to create the whole man, whom Europe has been incapable of bringingto triumphant birth.”(Frantz Fanon 1961: The Wretched of the Earth)

Colonialism presented itself as a triumph of the civilized, moral, rational, superior humanthat altruistically carried the burden of bringing the fruits of reason, modernity, liberty,equality, emancipation, technology, progress, rule of law from Europe to other parts of theworld. European colonizers arrogated to themselves the role of protectors and enforcersof the norms of ‘human’, ‘humane’ and ‘humanity’, while justifying slavery and genocideon the grounds that “primitive” populations, who were defined to be at inferior stages ofhumanity, threatened the moral sanctity of European civilization. It was argued that if thenatives wanted to qualify as ‘human’, they must adopt European practices, values, norms,and institutions. The normative violence that historically informed Eurocentric and androcentric definitions of ‘human’ and ‘humanity’ endures in the postcolonial world. Mytalk will interrogate how contemporary discourses of cosmopolitan humanitarianism andhuman rights are inflected by neo-colonial impulses and argue that a reconfiguration ofour normative understandings of ‘being human’ is imperative in order to envision nondominant futures.

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