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Towards a Decolonial Narrative Ethics

Department of Theology, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL 60660, USA
Humanities 2019, 8(3), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8030120
Received: 19 April 2019 / Revised: 25 June 2019 / Accepted: 30 June 2019 / Published: 3 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice)
This essay explores the contribution of two works of German literature to a decolonial narrative ethics. It analyzes the structures of colonialism, taking narratives as a medium of and for ethical reflection, and reinterprets the ethical concepts of recognition and responsibility. This essay examines two stories. Franz Kafka’s Report to an Academy (1917) addresses the biological racism of the German scientists around 1900, unmasking the racism that renders apes (or particular people) the pre-life of human beings (or particular human beings). It also demonstrates that the politics of recognition, based on conditional (mis-)recognition, must be replaced by an ethics of mutual recognition. Uwe Timm’s Morenga (1978) uses the cross-reference of history and fiction as an aesthetic principle, narrating the history of the German genocide of the Nama and Herero people at the beginning of the 20th century. Intercultural understanding, the novel shows, is impossible when it is based on the conditional, colonial (mis-)recognition that echoes Kafka’s unmasking; furthermore, the novel illuminates the interrelation of recognition and responsibility that requires not only an aesthetic ethics of reading based on attentiveness and response but also a political ethics that confronts the (German) readers as historically situated agents who must take responsibility for their past. View Full-Text
Keywords: narrative ethics; recognition; responsibility; decoloniality; Kafka; Timm; racism; genocide; German Empire narrative ethics; recognition; responsibility; decoloniality; Kafka; Timm; racism; genocide; German Empire
MDPI and ACS Style

Haker, H. Towards a Decolonial Narrative Ethics. Humanities 2019, 8, 120.

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