Professor Leonard Harris of Purdue University in the United States was the keynote speaker at a symposium on “Philosophy Born of Struggle, Philosophy Born of Massacres”, hosted by Professor Rozena Maart.
Harris is a founding member of Philosophy Born of Struggle which he describes as philosophy that has drawn a group of philosophers together who work from the point of departure of recognising struggles.
Maart is the former Director of the Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity (ccrri), housed within the College of Humanities.
‘There are at least two cultural foundations of American philosophy and each has a different association with its heritage and has concretised views on an international level in different arenas,’ said Harris.
‘The principle involves confrontation with unfulfilled democracy, human ravages of capitalism, colonial domination, and ontological designation by race. Liberation from such social consequences and critiques by theories tending to legitimise reprehensible conditions are the distinguishing marks of the African-American heritage. That heritage is reflected in the Philosophy Born of Struggle anthology,’
Maart shared her ground-breaking work on Philosophy Born of Massacres, Marikana the Theatre of Cruelty, published in ACTA ACADEMICA. She probed the possibility of the reasons of reason by interrogating the deconstruction of the subject – the Black man subject as a policeman and the Black man subject as a miner – in respect of the killing of miners at Marikana.
Maart called the massacre a theatre of cruelty, which informs her point of departure for a philosophy born of massacres. Her work addresses the salient features of what marks this relationship between the Black man who considers himself a product of post-modernity and post-apartheid, and the Black man who considers himself the miner.
‘Philosophical thought, when inscribed, has to be a product of time, a product of an event; apartheid in South Africa is a product of the history of racism. Each event exists within another event; each event is part of the history of White supremacy,’ said Maart.
Students Ms Luntu Hlatswayo, Mr Minenhle Dlamini and Ms Philile Langa also gave powerful presentations.
Hlatswayo spoke on her interpretation of philosophy born of struggle in her paper: “Colonial Statues and Symbols in Democratic South African Space. A Philosophical Approach to the aftermath of the National Liberation Struggle”.
Dlamini conveyed both his philosophical insights and his legal theory, bringing philosophy born of struggle into the legal domain through his paper titled: “After the Struggle, after the Massacres. Neo-colonial and Neo-imperial Practices in the New Democratic South Africa”.
Langa spoke on gender-based violence and boy soldiers in Africa, with a strong focus on how feminist theorists have failed to recognise the vulnerability of African boys and young men in conflict areas. She examined the thinking and the construction of feminist knowledge, explaining how struggles blur the lines between and among violence, perpetrator and victim.