Special Issue "Transforming Encounters and Critical Reflection: African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology in Dialogue"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 February 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Justin Sands

School of Philosophy, North-West University Potchefstroom, Potchefstroom, South Africa
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Interests: continental philosophy of religion; fundamental theology; metaphysics; cultural studies
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Anné Hendrik Verhoef

School of Philosophy, North-West University, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Philosophy of Religion; Metaphysics; Transcendence; Paul Ricoeur; Happiness

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The special issue of Religions, entitled “Transforming Encounters and Critical Reflection: African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology in Dialogue”, aims to provide a platform for scholars to engage questions regarding the relationship between colonialism, capitalism, and culture through both a philosophical and theological lens. The impetus for this special issue was born out of an international conference held by the Transforming Encounters research group at North West University in South Africa, where scholars from various fields joined in conversation to explore the complex relationship between the West’s pervasive (capitalistic) culture and epistemologies, and the current postcolonial context of Southern Africa as its people attempt to wrestle with emerging through colonialism.

A key theme that has arisen from within current academic and cultural debates within Southern African societies involve an intersection of (1) decolonial and postmodern critique, (2) the impact of the global, capitalist economy on Southern Africans, and (3) the appropriation of ideas and concepts within Western modernity and its subsequent metaphysical tradition in order to open a space for heretofore silenced voices to speak. This special issue’s motivation is to further this discovery by bringing together international experts on these issues who will collectively deepen our understanding of this intersectionality.

We hereby invite papers regarding these aforementioned issues of intersectionality, particularly in accord with African philosophy and decolonial critique, critical theory, and liberation theology. To have your paper considered, please submit a title an abstract of 500 words maximum, along with a short CV, to anne.verhoef@nwu.ac.za or justin.sands@nwu.ac.za before December 1, 2017. Although this is an open call, preference will be given to those who attended the initial conference.

This special issue was made possible by a “Knowledge, Interchange, and Collaboration” grant given by the National Research Foundation of South Africa, which funded the “Transforming Encounters and Critical Reflection” conference. Disclaimer: Any opinion, finding and conclusion or recommendation expressed in this material is that of the author(s) and the National Research Foundation does not accept any liability in this regard.

Thanks

Dr. Justin Sands
Prof. Dr. Anné Hendrik Verhoef
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • African Thought
  • African Philosophy
  • Critical Theory
  • Liberation Theology
  • Contextual Theology
  • Decolonization
  • Postcolonial Studies
  • Transformation

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Open AccessEditorial Introduction to “Transforming Encounters and Critical Reflection: African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology in Dialogue”
Religions 2018, 9(6), 199; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060199
Received: 8 May 2018 / Accepted: 19 June 2018 / Published: 20 June 2018
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Abstract
This special issue of Religions, entitled “Transforming Encounters and Critical Reflection: African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology in Dialogue”, brought together diverse international scholars and experts to think together on the intersection of African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology. One
[...] Read more.
This special issue of Religions, entitled “Transforming Encounters and Critical Reflection: African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology in Dialogue”, brought together diverse international scholars and experts to think together on the intersection of African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology. One of the aims of this special issue, and of the preceding conference (as stated in the call for papers), was to explore the complex relationship between the West’s pervasive (capitalistic) culture and epistemologies, and the current post-colonial context of (southern) Africa. As such, it provided a platform to engage questions regarding the relationship between colonialism, capitalism, and culture through both a philosophical and theological lens. The final publication of all articles in the special issue not only achieved the above set aims, but accomplished even more by opening up new creative pathways of thinking about the three traditions that were brought into conversation (and not only within their intersection). Full article
Open AccessArticle Transparent Theological Dialogue—“Moseka Phofu Ya Gaabo Ga a Tshabe Go Swa Lentswe” (A Setswana Proverb)
Religions 2018, 9(2), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020054
Received: 29 November 2017 / Revised: 31 January 2018 / Accepted: 9 February 2018 / Published: 9 February 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (230 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper looks into the definition of Setswana proverb: Moseka phofu ya gaabo ga a tshabe go swa lentswe (One must fight impatiently for what rightly belongs to him or her). The proverb is used to express the African thought of transparent dialogue
[...] Read more.
This paper looks into the definition of Setswana proverb: Moseka phofu ya gaabo ga a tshabe go swa lentswe (One must fight impatiently for what rightly belongs to him or her). The proverb is used to express the African thought of transparent dialogue that can be applied in theological deliberations; leading to sound theological conclusions adequate to address the corruption in the socio-political landscape. Transparency is explained from the African concept of addressing socio-political struggles. Theology calls for robust dialogue for the alternative society. This calls for understanding of African thought of fighting impatiently for the marginalized and the poor—a mandate that is similar to the church’s calling for liberating the oppressed masses through dialogue with others and communities in context. A special exploration is made through the symbiosis of dogma and kerygma for the incessant intervention of theology on behalf of the silent masses. An appeal is made for liberation theology and mainstream theology to dialogue in order for communities to experience salvation authentically. Full article
Open AccessArticle From Contextual Theology to African Christianity: The Consideration of Adiaphora from a South African Perspective
Religions 2017, 8(12), 266; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8120266
Received: 7 November 2017 / Revised: 4 December 2017 / Accepted: 6 December 2017 / Published: 8 December 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (429 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The move towards contextual Christianity in Africa is an essential venture if Christianity is to communicate with the African cultural heritage. As a universal religion, Christianity has to find an expression within the cultural context. However, the contextualization of Christianity in Africa appears
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The move towards contextual Christianity in Africa is an essential venture if Christianity is to communicate with the African cultural heritage. As a universal religion, Christianity has to find an expression within the cultural context. However, the contextualization of Christianity in Africa appears to have permitted the practice of syncretism. It has resulted in the emergence of African Christianity, which is the amalgamation of Christianity and African Traditional Religion. The amalgamation of Christianity and African Traditional Religion appears to overlook the essence of both religions as there is currently no clarity on how Christianity can best be expressed within the African cultural and religious heritage. This paper employs the document review method to explore the things that fall in between—“adiaphora”, which the proponents of contextual Christianity may have overlooked with regard to the African cultural and religious heritage. These include the pragmatic nature of the African cultural and religious heritage, and the African traditional methods of healing. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Towards a Rational Kingdom in Africa: Knowledge, Critical Rationality and Development in a Twenty-First Century African Cultural Context
Religions 2018, 9(4), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040096
Received: 31 January 2018 / Revised: 7 March 2018 / Accepted: 7 March 2018 / Published: 26 March 2018
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Abstract
This paper seeks to locate the kind of knowledge that is relevant for African development in the twenty-first century African cultural context and to propose the paradigm for achieving such knowledge. To do this, it advances the view that the concept of twenty-first
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This paper seeks to locate the kind of knowledge that is relevant for African development in the twenty-first century African cultural context and to propose the paradigm for achieving such knowledge. To do this, it advances the view that the concept of twenty-first century in an African context must be located with the colonial and post-colonial challenges of the African world and applied to serve the African demand. Anchored on this position, the paper outlines and critiques the wrong assumption on which modern state project was anchored in post-colonial Africa and its development dividend to suggest that this is an outcome of a wrong knowledge design that is foundational to the state project and which the project did not address. It proposes a shift in the knowledge paradigm in Africa and suggests critical self-consciousness as a more desirable knowledge design for Africa. It applies the term ‘rational kingdom’ (defined as a community of reason marked by critical conceptual self-awareness driven by innovation and constructivism) to suggest this paradigm. ‘Innovation’ is meant as the application of reason with an enlarged capacity to anticipate and address problems with fresh options and ‘constructivism’ is meant as the disposition to sustain innovation by advancing an alternative but more reliable worldview that can meet the exigencies of modernity in an African cultural context. The paper then proceeds to outline the nature of the rational kingdom and its anticipated gains and outcomes. It applies the method of inductive reasoning to advance its position. To do this it invokes selected but crucial areas of African life to locate how the developmental demands of these aspects of life suggest a critical turn in African rationality. Full article
Open AccessArticle From Dis-Enclosure to Decolonisation: In Dialogue with Nancy and Mbembe on Self-Determination and the Other
Religions 2018, 9(4), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040128
Received: 26 January 2018 / Revised: 1 April 2018 / Accepted: 10 April 2018 / Published: 13 April 2018
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Abstract
What might a sense of decolonisation (not)/be? Or, what comes after the logic of the coloniser? This question is at the centre of many debates in South Africa and extends to all countries worldwide who are faced with the challenge of self-determination by
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What might a sense of decolonisation (not)/be? Or, what comes after the logic of the coloniser? This question is at the centre of many debates in South Africa and extends to all countries worldwide who are faced with the challenge of self-determination by rethinking the world we live in after the domination of the world by the so-called “all enclosing Western world-view” incarnated in various oppressive political, economic, social and intellectual practices. The challenge of rethinking the world following the demotion of the West from its centre, as will be argued, is not only for those who are particularly living in a previously colonised world, but also for those who were/ still are in the position of dominance, which is a universal task. It is at this point where the various philosophical traditions meet, more precisely that of continental philosophy of religion and African philosophy. Accordingly, this article seeks to explore the question in two parts by way of an inter-cultural approach. Part one retraces the critique of (a certain) Western metaphysics in terms of its onto-theological constitution. Subsequently, this onto-theological constitution is discussed in relation to the notions of identity and political to outline what a sense of decolonisation might not be, that is a re-enforcement of the logic of the coloniser, which denies the full existence of an-other. In part two, four suggestions are made on what a sense of decolonisation might be in dialogue with Jean-Luc Nancy and Achille Mbembe. The suggestions include a two-sided attitude of reticence/dissidence against falling back into the problematic logic. A move to consider decolonisation as the dis-enclosure of the world, which in turn, opens up a space for an alternative ontology that acknowledges our existence as always being-in-the-word with others. The fourth suggestion concerns the implications of this alternative ontology regarding a non-substantialist notion of identity as mêlée, which is the action of constant struggle within the re-opened space for what it means to live in the world. Finally, it is concluded that the alternative ontology of decolonisation as dis-enclosure implies a universal task of taking responsibility for the reparation of the dignity of the whole of humanity within our shared world. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Freedom of Facticity
Religions 2018, 9(4), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040110
Received: 8 February 2018 / Revised: 28 March 2018 / Accepted: 30 March 2018 / Published: 4 April 2018
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Abstract
“Here I am—Jew, or Aryan, handsome or ugly, one-armed, etc. I am all of this for the Other with no hope of changing it.” Thus wrote Sartre in his Being and Nothingness. But was not Sartre the major advocate of existential freedom,
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“Here I am—Jew, or Aryan, handsome or ugly, one-armed, etc. I am all of this for the Other with no hope of changing it.” Thus wrote Sartre in his Being and Nothingness. But was not Sartre the major advocate of existential freedom, with the tenet that “we are condemned to be free”—no matter what our situation might be? The question hence arises: How free are we from the facticity of situations, particularly ones in which we are subject to collective identification? How free are we to change the situations—places, environments, histories, others—that we inevitably belong to and which subject us to collective identities? How free are we from identification in terms of others? How free are we to transform such identification? These questions are of particular relevance given the harmful effects of collective ascriptions and the currently pressing demand to transform them. In an attempt to address these questions, I offer as alternative to Sartre’s concept of the “facticity of freedom” what I would like to call the “freedom of facticity”. Full article
Open AccessArticle Existential Choice as Repressed Theism: Jean-Paul Sartre and Giorgio Agamben in Conversation
Religions 2018, 9(4), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040106
Received: 26 January 2018 / Revised: 17 March 2018 / Accepted: 30 March 2018 / Published: 2 April 2018
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Abstract
This article brings Sartre’s notion of existential authenticity, or sovereign decisionism, into conversation with the work of contemporary political theorist Giorgio Agamben, who argues that sovereign decisionism is the repressed theological foundation of authoritarian governments. As such, the article seeks to accomplish two
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This article brings Sartre’s notion of existential authenticity, or sovereign decisionism, into conversation with the work of contemporary political theorist Giorgio Agamben, who argues that sovereign decisionism is the repressed theological foundation of authoritarian governments. As such, the article seeks to accomplish two goals. The first is to show that Sartre’s depiction of sovereign decisionism directly parallels how modern democratic governments conduct themselves during a state of emergency. The second is to show that Sartre’s notion of existential authenticity models, what Agamben calls, secularized theism. Through an ontotheological critique of Sartre’s professed atheism, the article concludes that an existential belief in sovereign decision represses, rather than profanes, the divine origins of authoritarian law. I frame the argument with a reading of Sartre’s 1943 play The Flies, which models the repressed theological underpinnings of Sartre’s theory. Full article
Open AccessArticle Adam Smith, the Impartial Spectator and Embodiment: Towards an Economics of Accountability and Dialogue
Religions 2018, 9(4), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040118
Received: 29 March 2018 / Revised: 29 March 2018 / Accepted: 4 April 2018 / Published: 8 April 2018
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Abstract
This article argues that Adam Smith’s notion of sympathy and the impartial spectator in his work The Theory of Moral Sentiments [1759] connects the individual to society. In this work, Smith’s economics are far more complex than mere self-interest as a driver of
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This article argues that Adam Smith’s notion of sympathy and the impartial spectator in his work The Theory of Moral Sentiments [1759] connects the individual to society. In this work, Smith’s economics are far more complex than mere self-interest as a driver of commerce. Self-interest functions within a socio-ethical framework that limits excess and narcissism. However, morality was not based on normative assumptions for Smith and Hume. Morality was directly linked to social and cognitive processes in which the approbation of others was important. In other words, behaviour was based on the perceptions of others; therefore, action was to be adjusted to obtain sympathy. The impartial spectator refers to the cognitive process in which moral assessments are made. Therefore, the empiricism of Smith differs from determinism as related to physical causation because it operates through habituation and/or socialisation that can accommodate change and variation. Clearly, the socio-cultural presupposition of society directly influences the moral judgment of the individual. However, this deterministic tendency may result in an uncritical assessment of moral behaviour. To address this potential limitation of determinism, the embodied phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty is explored as an alternative theory which attempts to move beyond a dualism rooted in materialism/idealism. This perspective may expand on Smith’s economics by adding a more inclusive assessment of behaviour. Specifically, Merleau-Ponty’s corporeality provides a theory of behaviour that goes beyond a particular society’s perceptions of acceptable behaviour. This framework may provide the impartial spectator with a more encompassing perspective on moral assessment that may also be beneficial for sustainable commerce. It will be proposed that Merleau-Ponty’s embodied phenomenology and the hyper-dialectic of the flesh highlights the role of accountability and dialogue in moral assessment that may contribute to responsible economics in the South African context. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Encountering Transcendence: Žižek, Liberation Theology and African Thought in Dialogue
Religions 2017, 8(12), 271; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8120271
Received: 21 October 2017 / Revised: 27 November 2017 / Accepted: 7 December 2017 / Published: 12 December 2017
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Abstract
The concept of transcendence has been described by various academic disciplines like philosophy, theology, art and literature, but also by various religions and cultures. This has also been the case with the three traditions that are brought into dialogue in this special issue,
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The concept of transcendence has been described by various academic disciplines like philosophy, theology, art and literature, but also by various religions and cultures. This has also been the case with the three traditions that are brought into dialogue in this special issue, namely critical theory, African thought and Liberation theology. In this article I will focus on transcendence as it is ‘encountered’ by the philosopher Slavoj Žižek as a postmetaphysical thinker and as a voice from critical theory. Žižek’s emphasis on the ‘gap in immanence’ and its implications for freedom will then be brought into dialogue with African thought and Liberation theology. Transcendence as an entry point in this dialogue has the potential not only to give more insight into these traditions, but also to advance the concept of freedom, which is central in all these traditions. Full article
Open AccessArticle Marx, the Praxis of Liberation Theology, and the Bane of Religious Epistemology
Religions 2018, 9(3), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9030074
Received: 4 February 2018 / Revised: 1 March 2018 / Accepted: 2 March 2018 / Published: 8 March 2018
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Abstract
Can religious epistemology aid in the transformation of the world to the same effect as Marxist Theory? Utilizing an approach derived from Louis Althusser’s isolation of the radical implications of the epistemological break of Karl Marx, from his Feuerbachain theological thought to a
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Can religious epistemology aid in the transformation of the world to the same effect as Marxist Theory? Utilizing an approach derived from Louis Althusser’s isolation of the radical implications of the epistemological break of Karl Marx, from his Feuerbachain theological thought to a materialist epistemological tradition, we probe the relationship between the mystical intent of Christian theology and the appearance of praxis as a category derived from the Marxist lexicon, within the modus cogitans of Latin American theology of liberation. We problematise the transcendentalism that liberation theology places on social practice, in its retention of a spiritualist Weltanschauung as the preeminent framework for the critique of socio-historical reality. Far from being a materialist-transformative “epistemological break” from orthodox theology, this putative theology of revolution is thus exposed as being a brand of a Hegelian theosophy, which is discontinuous with the dialectical understanding of the socio-material basis of human relations that emerges around Marxist Theory, namely praxis. Our leitmotif is therefore a claim that political theology, qua theology in general, and the Latin American Theology of Liberation in particular, have a limited efficacy as a theoretical tool for socio-political transformation, due to its inherent transcendentalist and rationalistic orientation. Full article
Open AccessArticle Kairos and Carnival: Mikhail Bakhtin’s Rhetorical and Ethical Christian Vision
Religions 2018, 9(3), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9030079
Received: 1 February 2018 / Revised: 2 March 2018 / Accepted: 6 March 2018 / Published: 12 March 2018
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Abstract
The term kairos has been used to mean, alternatively, right timing or proportion in Ancient Greek rhetoric, by Jesus to refer to the Christian eschaton and by Paul Tillich and modern liberation theologians to refer to the breakthrough of the divine into human
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The term kairos has been used to mean, alternatively, right timing or proportion in Ancient Greek rhetoric, by Jesus to refer to the Christian eschaton and by Paul Tillich and modern liberation theologians to refer to the breakthrough of the divine into human history. Kairos, unlike chronos, is an intrinsically qualitative time and implies a consciousness of the present as well as the need for responsive action. This emphasis on action provides the link between kairos and virtue, the particular virtue in question being that of prudence (phronesis in Greek). The aim of this article is twofold: to highlight and make explicit the connections between the notion of kairos and the Russian literary-theorist and philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin’s rhetorical and ethical world, with particular emphasis on his notion of carnival; secondly, to further support a Christian reading of Bakthin’s work by making explicit the connections between his carnivalesque vision and a Christian reading of the ethical importance of kairos and its links with incarnation. Full article
Open AccessArticle Introducing Cardinal Cardijn’s See–Judge–Act as an Interdisciplinary Method to Move Theory into Practice
Religions 2018, 9(4), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040129
Received: 27 March 2018 / Revised: 10 April 2018 / Accepted: 12 April 2018 / Published: 14 April 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (248 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Interdisciplinary dialogues find researchers seeking better understandings of theories and concepts, such colonialism and capitalism, and the means through which these concepts impact both local and global cultures. The results of explorations such as these raise the question of how to translate the
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Interdisciplinary dialogues find researchers seeking better understandings of theories and concepts, such colonialism and capitalism, and the means through which these concepts impact both local and global cultures. The results of explorations such as these raise the question of how to translate the theories that are created by these dialogues into practice. Moreover, they ask where we can take these conversations, how can we focus them toward specific aims, and how can we effectively enact them as one collective group. This article introduces and proposes Joseph Cardinal Cardijn’s See–Judge–Act method as a possible framework to better enable these discussions to move from theory to praxis. It proposes that such a theory may also allow the theoretical portions of these interdisciplinary dialogues to happen without any discipline ceding or ‘shaving away’ the core principles that respectively identify each discipline. The article begins by exploring Cardinal Cardijn’s original articulation of the method. Then, it describes how the liberation theologians Leonardo Boff and Clodovis Boff employed the method in their development of a theological framework. Finally, this article explores how the See–Judge–Act method might be useful for other disciplines, such as African thought and philosophy, and critical theory. Full article
Open AccessArticle Transforming the Conversation: What Is Liberation and from What Is It Liberating Us? A Critical Response to “Transforming Encounters and Critical Reflection: African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology in Dialogue”
Religions 2018, 9(6), 194; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060194
Received: 5 June 2018 / Accepted: 14 June 2018 / Published: 19 June 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (262 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Religions special issue, “Transforming Encounters and Critical Reflection: African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology in Dialogue,” addresses the concern over the present postcolonial context in which African persons and societies find themselves. The issue attempts to gain a further understanding of
[...] Read more.
The Religions special issue, “Transforming Encounters and Critical Reflection: African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology in Dialogue,” addresses the concern over the present postcolonial context in which African persons and societies find themselves. The issue attempts to gain a further understanding of this context through a dialogue between these three disciplines, but what emerges from this attempt? As a critical response to the issue as a whole, this article will reveal that each author presents different yet converging perspectives on the questions: ‘what is liberation and from what are we being liberated?’ This article begins by phrasing this question through Frantz Fanon’s critique on the postcolony, where he sees that the same logic—what Schalk Gerber’s article calls ‘the logic of the colonizer’—is still employed in the postcolony. This article unpacks the entanglement created by this logic and how each author addresses it in different ways. Importantly, this is not a review of each article; rather, it seeks to reveal the narrative created by this interdisciplinary dialogue in order to further the conversation on oppression and liberation in an African context. In so doing, it reveals how each author addresses the concept of liberation or freedom and where they partially (or perhaps provisionally) agree that liberation entails embodied communal responsibility as being-with others, the importance of transparent dialogue, the need for new rationalities to enter the discussion of African self-determination, while also highlighting the dangers of appropriating these new rationalities when bringing them into an African context or when moving theory into praxis. Full article
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