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Reading: Into the Arms of the Alien: Navigating Epistemological Marginality with Mudimbe and Sun Ra

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Into the Arms of the Alien: Navigating Epistemological Marginality with Mudimbe and Sun Ra

Author:

Lucie Marraffa

Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis, FR
About Lucie
After a bachelors in Liberal Arts and Sciences at University College Maastricht, Lucie went on to study philosophy at Paris 8 - Vincennes-Saint-Denis. During that research master, she specialized in contemporary critiques of arts and culture, particularly from a queer feminist and decolonial perspective.
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Abstract

In a move to uncover the colonial legacies in the order of discourse that constructs Africa as Other, Mudimbe encounters a deadlock: how to exteriorize oneself from an order of discourse that already constructs Africa as an exteriority? Using Foucault, he demonstrates the shortcomings of liberation discourses that remobilize colonial notions of African alterity. In trying to untangle these legacies with a Foucauldian methodology, Mudimbe ends up reproducing a gesture already foreseen by that order. Motivated by rejection of an imposed marginality and faced with the impossibility to create a margin from which to produce an emancipated speech, Mudimbe’s philosophy seems to yield only silence. When Sun Ra invests his marginalization, reclaiming his alterity as an African-American person, he goes beyond what Mudimbe criticizes as an idealization of a confabulated Africa. This jazz musician and performer claims to have been sent from space, to the earth, by ancient Egyptians. He remodels the course of history to inscribe Black people in a mythical filiation, that coincides with an outer-space and futuristic outlook. His work appears absurd at first hand but it is, in fact, reproducing the mythical alterity imposed on African-Americans – and by extension Africa, and Black people around the world. Using humor and derision, he pushes the discourses Othering Africa to their extreme and thereby reveals their senselessness. Marginality becomes no longer an imposed burden, but a tool for the dismantling of a disciplinary order of discourse.

How to Cite: Marraffa, L., 2020. Into the Arms of the Alien: Navigating Epistemological Marginality with Mudimbe and Sun Ra. Junctions: Graduate Journal of the Humanities, 5(1), pp.75–89. DOI: http://doi.org/10.33391/jgjh.80
Published on 06 Aug 2020.
Peer Reviewed

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