“From Epistemicide to ‘Epistemic Disobedience'” by Anne-Maria Makhulu

Date: Friday 10 March 2023

Time: 15:00 – 16:30



Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague

Room: 2.02

I think that on a fundamental level, the process of decolonization requires that we are undone and unmoored by the idea of living in a way that requires mass death (in its various forms) in exchange for other’s self-actualization. By becoming undone, I mean it really has to … make us relentless about seeking out and making alternatives possible. And also realizing that the alternative can be much more pleasurable than the current situation that we are merely surviving. Also, decolonization is not just about the ascetic project giving things up but fundamentally about creating new and pleasurable ways of living (Lethabo King 2015: 65).

“Complicities, Connections & Struggles: Critical Transnational Feminist Analysis of Settler Colonialism,” Feral Feminisms Summer 2015 (4):1-103.

The talk

In this talk, I work through the coterminous problems of citational practice and knowledge formation and the implications for anthropology and other disciplines. Several questions about authorial alterity and authority follow. These in turn speak to knowledge production and knowledge transfer—to how we think about pedagogy. Drawing on prior work on race, gender, and citation, I connect denied recognition and citational refusal as the preconditions of “uncitability,” (un)grievability (Butler 2009), un-rapeability (Gqola 2015), and ungendering (Spillers 1987). These conditions of “un-ness” reproduce extant inequities in our discipline and in our institutions I argue, In sum, to be uncitable, and hence to be unthought, is to labor absent recognition.

Bio Anne-Maria Makhulu

Anne-Maria Makhulu is an Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology and African & African American Studies at Duke University with additional appointments in Gender, Sexuality, & Feminist Studies and Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Makhulu has conducted research for over two decades in South Africa and is author of Making Freedom (Duke University Press 2015) about South Africa’s transition to democracy.

She is also co-editor of a collection entitled Hard Work, Hard Times (University of California Press 2010), which examines African migration, the global search for livelihood, and questions of cultural resilience. A second monograph in preparation, tentatively entitled South Africa After the Rainbow and supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, looks at the rise of new social movements in South Africa—#FeesMustFall and #RhodesMustFall among them—against the backdrop of the state’s “capture.” Makhulu has published articles in Anthropological Quarterly and PMLA, served as special issue guest editor for South Atlantic Quarterly, and special theme section guest editor of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Cosmopolitan, world traveler, in exile. Africanist, urbanist, radical theorist. An almost newly-wed, late bloomer, dog owner, food lover, and OCD-er, Makhulu can be found on Twitter @DrMackMack.

This talk is sponsored by LOVA and the Decolonizing Collective Leiden.