Last Moyo’s book, “The Decolonial Turn of Media Studies in Africa and the Global South”
In this series, we ask acclaimed authors to answer five questions about their book. This week’s featured author is Latest Moyo. Moyo teaches in the Department of Communication and Multimedia Design at the American University of Nigeria. His book is The decolonial turn of media studies in Africa and in the countries of the South.
Roberto Sirvent: How can your book help BAR readers understand the current political and social climate?
Latest Moyo: The first thing readers need to understand is that this book is written from the perspective of a black African scholar who is a decolonial philosopher and activist. This is important because my characterization of the current political and social climate does not pretend to be universal even among those who live in the zones of non-being but is rooted in African socio-historical experiences as its place of enunciation. For starters, despite the utopian registers of human rights, globalization, and multiculturalism of modern empire that denote a cosmopolitan and just world order, we still live under a pervasive modern/liberal/colonial/capitalist/ patriarchal/white and eurocentric who anti-black. It is a world order that continues to be based on the Western paradigm of difference. It classifies people according to its cultural and bodily politics which attacks and demonizes otherness. Although its cultural and bodily politics are hidden by Western code – a theoretical discourse and language that obscures colonial realities – the real lived experiences of the black mainstream across the world continue to tell a story of suffering, dismemberment and operating even after the global institutionalization of human rights.
What do you hope activists and community organizers will take away from reading your book?
My book is a critique of social and epistemic apartheid in the production of political knowledge in the modern/liberal/colonial/capitalist/patriarchal and Eurocentric world order. I write from the prism of media and communication studies, and therefore naturally deal with questions of intersecting modes of oppression in terms of race, class, gender, culture, sexuality, nation, etc.
Activists and community organizers must understand this global system and its knowledge power structure as representing a form of global coloniality that is pervasive and inescapable. Coloniality is present in books, magazines, newspapers, television, family, church and state as institutions of consciousness. We all live under its invisible structures and hierarchies of oppression. We all speak consciously or unconsciously, for or against, depending on our social and epistemic location. A plethora of its media and political technologies are embedded in our lifeworld and they impinge on our political consciousness and transformative agencies to change our material and cultural conditions. As such, activists and community organizers must develop alternative, decolonized and counter-hegemonic knowledge systems and research methods to read the word and the world. Otherwise, modern social activists risk reproducing the matrices of coloniality of the global system, especially when dealing with racialized people and communities whose humanity is challenged by racial modernity. The fight for cognitive and social justice is not only for the simple recognition of the freedom of thought and conscience of racialized groups, but the acceptance of their humanity and their cultural identities as a civilization. Indeed, cultural and racial identities provide oppressed groups with the social and emotional bonds of community without which local and global resistance is diminished. In other words, activism against cultural racism and anti-black racism can only be effective in transnational and global solidarities that put community first.
We know readers will learn a lot from your book, but what do you expect readers to unlearn? In other words, is there a particular ideology you hope to dismantle?
My book is an invitation to readers to unlearn Western modernity as we know it and its concomitant supporting knowledge-power structure and systems. The reason for unlearning modernity as an ideology is that it is based on racism, coloniality and Eurocentrism. All three are integral to Western modernity, which is why modernity has been framed within the polemics of racial modernity, colonial modernity, and capitalist modernity. But modernity is nothing without its knowledge power structure in the form of media and cultural industries that support its colonial impulses. While racism is obviously a dehumanizing and altering force against black populations, Eurocentrism presents Western universalism as the only way and the only path to truth. Its structure of thought and practice is based on a binary logic that bifurcates the world into white/black, civil/barbaric, modern/primitive. Western universalism simply represents European knowledge, which must be provincialized at worst and decolonized at best. The time has come when we must attack and unmask the knowledge production politics of colonial modernity and break out of its paradigm of difference and war. Only through the paradigm of dialogue can we move beyond Western monoculturalism towards a multiversal and polycentric world characterized by transmodernity.
Who are the intellectual heroes who inspire your work?
I am a student of decolonial and Marxist scholars from the South and the North. These include such luminaries as Karl Marx, Harno Hardt, Nicholas Garnham, William DuBois, Frantz Fanon, Molefe Asante, Lewis Gordon, Ngugi WaThiongo, Walter Mignolo, Ramon Grosfoguel, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, etc. list of scholars from different generations and disciplines but who are not part of the Colonial Library and Archives. They write in the ethics of human liberation and freedom.
How does your book help us imagine new worlds?
The book offers a message of decolonization as a way to move from a monoculturalist idea of modernity to transmodernity: a kind of dialogical modernity that embodies the beauty of all humanity where all cultures and all planetary knowledge intersect and pollinate for the collective good of humanity. This new order is a truly multicultural order best expressed as a multiverse or pluriverse. Multiversity consists in provincializing and disciplining Western universalism and driving it out of its colonial and hegemonic impulses in terms of the coloniality of being and the coloniality of knowledge. He talks about the problem of culturecides and epistemicides at the border: the zone of non-being and exteriority largely occupied by blacks, whether they live in Western or non-Western regions. The end of culturecide and epistemicides is about re-humanizing and remembering black people as a race.
Roberto Sirvent is editor of the Black Agenda Report Book Forum.