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Brocker I 912
Postcolonialism/Mbembe/Herb: Achille Mbembe's study De la postcolonie. Essai sur l’imagination politique dans l’Afrique contemporaine(1) is, despite all appearances, not a postcolonial book about Africa. As little as the investigation wants to be a book, it is not sure about Africa as its subject. Under the title Postcolony, the author rather provides fragments of a study that first wants to find its approach to the subject of Africa, and this at a critical distance to the postcolonial currents of the present.
The reception (...) [of the] work obviously means otherwise. From the very beginning, the author is attributed to post-colonialism. The author, who was born in Cameroon in 1957, sees himself more as a dissident who moves freely between the boundaries of occidental rationality and postcolonial criticism, seeking to overcome the rigid boundaries between academic traditions and disciplines.
Brocker I 914
The chapters "du commandement" and "du gouvernement privé indirect" analyse the period of post-colonial regimes. Here Mbembe formulates his thesis of the manifest and hidden continuities between colonial hierarchy and postcolonial rule. It will be shown that violence, arbitrariness and death function as the matrix of African regimes, and this before and after the attainment of political independence from the colonial powers.
(...) in states such as Cameroon, Senegal and Togo (...) the idiosyncratic "aesthetics of vulgarity" ("Esthétique de la vulgarité") is still at work in the discipline and dressage of post-colonial societies. They are organized under the sign of fetish, ritual representation and the rule of the simulacrum.
Brocker I 917
Postcolony appears (...) as "epoch", "peculiarity" or "spirit of the age". "As an epoch, the postcolony in fact encompasses multiple periods of time, consisting of overlapping, nested and enclosing discontinuities, overturns, inertia, fluctuations" (Mbembe 2016(1), 66). >Tyranny/Mbembe.
The colonial transformation of the economy into political and social life also takes place under changed conditions in postcolonial regimes. It forms virtually the "cement of postcolonial African authoritarianism" (107).
Brocker I 923
Postcolony/Mbembe: Mbembe's analyses suggest that the conditions in the postcolony are not significantly different from those in the colony. In any case, the time after that does not mark a new beginning. It seems as if the same theatre is being performed, only with different actors and different spectators. The postcolony appears as an "epoch of raw life" (282), as a place of indistinguishability of life and death.
HigddlestonVsMbembe: After the publication of the postcolony, Mbembe had to put up with contradiction and criticism from various sides. His concept of the postcolony, as diverse, vociferous and colorful as it may have been, seemed to many as all too "abstract", his individual analyses as "somewhat hyperbolic and extraordinarily generalized" (Hiddleston 2009(2), 175). The individual colonial regimes were often lumped together and remained undiscovered in their historical particularities.


1. Achille Mbembe, De la postcolonie. Essai sur l’imagination politique dans l’Afrique contemporaine, Paris 2000. Dt.: Achille Mbembe, Postkolonie. Zur politischen Vorstellungskraft im Afrika der Gegenwart, Wien/Berlin 2016
2. Hiddleston, Jane, Understanding Postcolonialism, Stocksfield 2009.


Karlfriedrich Herb, „Achille Mbembe, Postkolonie (2000)“. in: Manfred Brocker (Hg.) Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert. Frankfurt/M. 2018.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Mbembe, Achille
Brocker I
Manfred Brocker
Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert Frankfurt/M. 2018


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