The Body, Rhetoric and Postcolonial Criticism

in Religion and Theology
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Abstract

The paper concentrates on the Western presence in Africa in the midst of accusations of racism. Using a postcolonial framework posited by two books written/edited by R. S Sugirtharajah (1998. Asian Biblical Hermeneutics and Postcolonialism. Contesting the Interpretations, and The Postcolonial Bible) the paper follows recent events and public debates in South Africa regarding racism and AIDS in which President Thabo Mbeki played an important role. It argues that the representation of the 'white person' in this debate is that of the perpetrator of racism, a position from which there is no escape. The position of Western bodily presence is described in terms of the ambiguity of being the coloniser, yet, simultaneously, experiencing internal colonisation. The physical location and the physical features of the body remain important for a South African postcolonial condition. Bearing in mind Levinas' warning of the totalisation of the 'Other', the paper argues that the colonial binary oppositions are not yet overcome. The plurality claimed by postcolonial critics is denied for Western thinking, which is reduced to one grand narrative of exploitation. Although the paper acknowledges the need to lay bare the powerful structures and ideologies of the dominant forces in the global society, it questions the postcolonial project's imperialistic tendency of imposing its own.

Religion and Theology

A Journal of Contemporary Religious Discourse

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