Galleries Making Sense of the World InMichael Faraday discovered magnetic induction, where a magnet moving in a coil of wire produces an electric current. When viewed through the lens of our secular age, the relationship between electricity and magnetism seems devoid of metaphysical speculation and religious sentiment: His Christian faith was at the center of everything he did, including his science. Rather than impeding his science, a profound religious sentiment enhanced it.
The study is much enriched by the scholarship and conversation of David P. I have benefited from early, generous critical interventions by F. Draughon Library, especially Nancy Noe, and Marcia Boosinger, and to the inter-library office, I am much indebted for speedy acquisitions, inventive searches, and unflagging optimism.
Woodruff and Pitts Theology libraries have also been invaluable. The reflection that has gone into the study was sharpened by a succession of incisive, energetic, challenging graduate and undergraduate students, of whom I may mention here only Marge Holler Stephens, Adam Martin, and Keisha Oldacre Beckham.
I would like to thank Ann Donahue, Acquisitions Editor for Ashgate Publishing, for her unfailing kindness, confidence, and patience. My late father-in-law, Joseph R. My wife Lorna Wood has brought to the study her own formidable scholarly resources and editorial skills, as well as a healthy impatience with academic long-windedness and an acerbic irreverence toward tendentiousness of all kinds.
Her contributions have been manifold and incalculable. All errors of fact or interpretation are, of course, mine alone. All reasonable effort has been made to locate copyright holders of cited material and I would be happy to rectify in subsequent editions any omissions brought to my attention.
I want to thank the following publishers for permission to reprint passages: Casely Hayford, copyrightrpt. Introduction This study explores the origins of political reflection in twentieth-century African fiction—both in colonial languages English and French and in indigenous languages Hausa and Yoruba —by reading seven pioneering narrative representations of pre-colonial African history and society.
Achebe transposes the resistance to totalizing forms of thought and conduct that circulated within Igbo oral discourse and social practice into novelistic representation, thereby making novelistic art a medium for communicating an ethical critique of colonialist habits of mind and material practices.
Rider Haggard, Joseph Conrad, and Joyce Cary contribute much to our understanding of European colonialist discourse, but shed little light upon the range of interpretations and evaluations that colonial-era Africans brought to bear upon considerations of pre-colonial experience and practices.
Although it is important to note Western influences, x Pre-Colonial Africa in Colonial African Narratives such as the genre of the novel or the allegorical model of John Bunyan, this study focuses on how African writers employ intellectual and discursive resources internal to their own cultures to address a readership for whom the past evoked is not exotic, but rather a matter of living memory, communal debate, and personal identity.
Narrative versions of the pre-colonial era intervene, implicitly at least, in colonial-era politics, but political intervention is often subtle or ambiguous.
The indigenous ethical reflection upon which each of these writers draws to depict and interrogate pre-colonial experience intersects with insights that Western philosophical discourse over the last twenty years has come to associate, respectively, with neo-Aristotelian and Levinasian accounts of ethical subjectivity.
Throughout West Africa, albeit with variations in Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo contexts, ethical selfhood is understood to involve the cultivation, through habituated practices, of an identity structured around concern for others and care for the well-being of the community.
Good speech, whether narrative, homiletic, or proverbial, moves desire from egoistic forms of appropriation to ethical forms of sociability. Ethical consciousness is understood to originate in the disruption, constantly renewed, of a naively appropriative attitude, in which our egocentric intentionality, structuring a world we encounter as being-for-us, is repeatedly torn asunder by the call of the Other—that is, by ethical obligations experienced as unconditional and inescapable.
Transposed into politics, cognitive imperialism naturalizes ethnocentrism and predatory relations to outsiders, which include enslavement and colonization, which in turn calcify self-serving hierarchies.
The presence of such indigenous ethical discourse suggests, of course, a need for it. Much African historiography over the last thirty years has explored the intimate bonds between the power of pre-colonial African states and material practices reliant upon political economies that tended to naturalize, and even institutionalize, ethnocentric empowerment.
The abolition of the Atlantic trade in the early nineteenth century had in turn the perverse effect of intensifying slavery within Africa. On the one hand, forced labor for commodity production was needed; on the other, the absence of European markets drove down the price of slaves, thus generating more warfare and raiding to make up in volume what was lost in demand.
A significant amount of the oral African literature collected in the twentieth century folktales, epics, narrative chronicles, proverbs, praise songs, and other genres describes social contexts in which communal wealth, political power, and individual self-assertion are rooted in accumulation through violence.
At the same time, sub-Saharan oral discursive traditions and narratives frequently invite their audiences to assess social practices in terms of ethical consequences, to judge polities by whether the people that they tend to produce are characterized by kindly, sociable dispositions, or not.
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However, because such moral intuitions frequently stand in tension with normative institutional practices warfare, seizure of territory, conquest of the bushan aura of the tragic pervades a significant part of the oral canon.
While Balewa would enfold the dialogic into the homiletic, his own novelistic discourse presents both the Hausa boy protagonist and his mother as ethical Others who haunt the reader and whose victimization and suffering implicitly demand a political and economic order that would do their humanity justice.
The tension between moral intuitions and predatory material practices central to his characterization and plot give rise to an ethical assessment of the political. The quests they undergo describe increasingly successful efforts to develop the kind of subjectivities and organize the kinds of polities that work against resurgences of predatory dispositions and exploitive practices.
For both Fagunwa and Tutuola, this process involves movement from anarchic masculinist aggressivity to an ethical sociability mediated by the maternal-feminine, and for both it involves an affirmation of Christianity.
In Things Fall Apart, Achebe portrays an Igbo world in which non-totalizing habits of mind and social practice, long at the center of the culture, are increasingly marginalized in favor of militaristic forms of self-assertion with which Okonkwo identifies intensely and exclusively.
Achebe portrays Okonkwo as emblematic of an Igbo society increasingly estranged from its own sources of resistance to cognitive imperialism. The personal and political disastrousness of that estrangement is underscored most forcibly by the story of Ikemefuna.
British cultural colonialism is politically effective because it appears to provide, however delusively, a conceptual framework within which the significance of the Other, of people like Ifemefuna and the mothers of twins, can be registered.
At the same time, the British would confine articulations of ethical significance to a single cultural tradition, a single conceptual vocabulary—their own.
In doing so, they marginalize Igbo culture by dismissing the pluralism at its heart. Chapter 1 Embodied Ethical Life and the Threat of Cognitive Imperialism in African Contexts Disruptive and Constructive Ethical Embodiment in African Discourse and Practice In both oral African narratives and African fiction nurtured by oral traditions and indigenous values, ethical life is frequently depicted as both disruptive and constructive—challenging ossified hierarchical, traditional norms while nonetheless motivating the subject to construct a rational, coherent self capable of enacting in daily life habits of virtue, fidelity, and love.
The study that follows will trace how early novelistic representations of pre-colonial history and experience move between ethical registers of disruption and construction, transcendence and immanence.Attia, Mariam () Technology: a piece in the jigsaw puzzle of pedagogy.
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