This conversation with Zoé Samudzi was recorded to operates as a complement of her text “Reparative Futurities: Thinking From the Ovaherero and Nama Colonial Genocide,” commissioned for and published in The Funambulist 30 (July-August 2020) REPARATIONS. Zoé begins by contextualizing the history of the first 20th century genocide, which was committed by the German settler colonial army against the Ovaherero and Nama nations in what is now Namibia. We then talks of the various forms of coalition settler colonial powers practice with each other, but also how the struggles against them can, in turn, form large solidarity fronts worldwide. Finally, Zoé describes the argument of her piece in The Funambulist 30 about the notion of reparative futurities.
Zoé Samudzi is a writer and doctoral candidate in Medical Sociology at the University of California, San Francisco. She is also a photographer and the archivist with MATATU Nomadic Cinema. Along with William C. Anderson, she is the co-author of As Black as Resistance: Finding the Conditions for Our Liberation (AK Press, 2018). She is currently a fellow with Political Research Associates.
EPISODE TRANSCRIPT ///
Léopold Lambert: Hello, everyone, today we’re coming back with a new episode of our regular podcast of The Funambulist. A little bit part of a few podcasts we’re doing in parallel with our brand-new issue, July-August 2020, our 30th issue called Reparations, and this is how my guest today is one of the contributor to this issue, Zoé Samudzi, who is a writer and a doctoral candidate in medical sociology at the University of California, San Francisco. She’s also photographer and the archivist with MATATU Nomadic Cinema, along with William C. Anderson she’s the co-author of As Black as Resistance: Finding the Conditions for Our Liberation that was published by AK Press in 2018. And she is currently a fellow with Political Research Associates. And we had already talked as part of the Funambulist podcast but in the in the small daily series, during our confinement called A True Moment of Decolonization. She had talked to us about black anarchism. And today as I said, we were we will give a little bit of a contextualization to her contribution to our series issue reparations, with the text entitled “Reparative Futurities: Thinking From the Ovaherero and Nama Colonial Genocide.” So, hello, hello, Zoé!
Zoé Samudzi: Hi!
LL: Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me today. So, today, we will, we will speak about the history of Namibia, formally German Southwest Africa during the during the settler colonial—the first part of the settler colonial era. And we will then talk about the sort of throughout 20 century history of the country that people may be aware or may not be aware, was also occupied by South Africa for close to 50 years. And we will eventually finish this conversation and in the third part have you tell us a little bit more about this contribution to the Reparation issue of The Funambulist. So perhaps let’s start things chronologically. Can you tell us a little bit, can you give us like historical contextualization of the German settler colonial project in Namibia? I mean, in the territories, plural, that ultimately formed what is today in Namibia? And tell us about the very first genocide of the 20th centuries that Germany already them had perpetrated against Nama and Ovaherero population in the early 1900s.
ZS: Yeah. So, I think that there’s often this way that Germany is thought of as a, quote and quote, “lesser colonizer” because their empire wasn’t as expansive as the British or the French or the Spanish. But Germany’s kind of, like colonial Imperial conquest was a lot more vast than we thought. So, in addition to Southwest Africa, there were also there was also a colonial project in China, and also in the Pacific, in Samoa. But Germany didn’t get to Africa until the Berlin Conference in 1884. And it was given Eastern Africa, so parts of what is now Tanzania, it was also given Cameroon, and Southwest Africa. What happened in Southwest Africa was that, you know, initially there were, because the colonial bureaucracy was not quite as strong and sophisticated as other colonial projects, they (the Germans) relied on these kind of protection agreements where there would be like local leadership would enter into strategic alliances with the Germans so that the Germans could have relations with all of these leaders instead of having an entire swath of land over which they were responsible for administrating. But after some time, when the colonial encroachments got too kind of aggressive, the Herero and the Nama leaders who were previously in these kinds of protection agreements with the Germans banded together and were kind of united in their resistance against German colonial encroachments. The first kind of real battle in the military campaign against the hero and the Nama was the Battle of Waterberg. And what resulted from the battle of Waterberg was that the Germans did not permit the Herero to kind of surrender. So, it forced them out into the desert where they force people to starve and they were poisoning wells so that people when people would encounter water, they would die. After the Battle of Waterberg Lothar von Trotha, who was a German general who was brought over by the Kaiser into kind of squash indigenous resistance by any means necessary, issued his extermination order, which was effectively to turn all Herero people into enemy combatants, regardless of whether they were women and children or they were actually part of the of the resistance.
So, we saw, there was the kind of widespread summary execution, there was further kind of destruction of cattle, of property, and after the elapsing of the order after it was rescinded, that was when Germany began the use of concentration camps. So, there were concentration camps. The most infamous one is at Shark Island, where it was the, you know, the kinds of conditions that were present at all of these kinds of war time, concentration camps: there was the kind of forced conscription of labor, you saw people dying of incredible rates of disease and malnutrition. And also at the time, something that kind of I—we can get into this when we talk about kind of contemporary reparations—because this genocide was happening in the kind of golden age of eugenics, what the concentration camps also served as was a means of collecting human remains because at the time of the genocide, Western Europeans had banned the use of had banned like grave robbing, so you could no longer you know, take cadavers or take corpses out of graves in order to chop them up and to use them for science. So, the remains of the Herero and Nama people and also San people were collected from concentration camps and sent to Germany. And this was a pretty like massive practice. There were military officers who are parts of this there were a concentration camp doctors and scientists and surveyors, who were part of different ethnological, historical anthropological societies, the most one of the most famous ones being the Berlin society for Anthropology, ethnology and prehistory that Eugene Fisher, who was a scientist who was in Germany, who in 1913, wrote this text about this mixed race group called the Rehoboth pastures, the offspring of Indigenous women and settler men, his conclusion ultimately was that there was some usefulness for them for labor and other things, but ultimately, they should not reproduce. And this is the theoretical text that Adolf Hitler picks up and uses as the kind of scientific foundation and justification for the anti-miscegenation laws that were a part of the Nuremberg laws. So in a number of different ways, there are some really important connections between the genocide that happened in, in in German Southwest Africa, and the kind of the architecture for what the Nazis ended up doing in Europe, in terms of the conception of Lebensraum, which came out of a German biologist’s response to Darwin, and was brought into the realm of geopolitics and really, really tested for the first time when German began its colonial project.
LL: But I think perhaps we can go, we can go even a little bit more in details, I mean, we have time for it, but because I think one needs to realize that 50% of Namas and 80% of Hereros were obliterated from in this genocide, and as you say, which, of course, cannot have echoes in a more well-known genocide, Germany committed in the 20th century, which is, of course, the Holocaust, but, but with that, without wanting to make to make, like of the Amazon heroes, sort of like, without involving them in the whole rhetoric of like, you know, the laboratory or like the trial trying, like the sort of colonial laboratory as we, as we often see, I think I think we ought to, maybe.
ZS: Okay, so, I think that, I think that the idea, and the concept of racial geography is really important for understanding Namibia. And to kind of think about Lebensraum as, as this organizing structure of land and also of the indigenous inhabitants of that land. So, I think that we’re generally familiar Lebensraum means living space. It’s kind of thinking about, in the colonial context, what does it mean to expand germaneness beyond the kind of continental borders of Germany and Europe. And when we think about land and geography and we think about property rights, and we think about what it means to claim land, the colonial claim to land is also a making a claim of the nature of the subjects who are the indigenous inhabitants of that land. It means and I think Brenna Bhandar’s book, Colonial Lives of Property gets into this really, really usefully in saying that, you know, the assertion of property rights means that people and things are property. The Herero through this regime and as colonial subjects came to be kind of akin to, to German property through the legislation of like, anti-miscegenation through the ways that race, race ceased to be, you know, ceased to be this this kind of culturally attributed idea and was legislated to be something that was hereditary and genetic, which is what we also see in Virginia, for example, through the idea of partus sequitur ventrem, which means that a person’s status as an enslaved or as a free person is inherited from the mother, which is what enabled white fathers to not have to be responsible for the offspring that was sired through them sexually assaulting people.
So, you’re creating these racial divisions through the exporting of colonial logics, through these relations to land. And the really important part of Labor’s realm and this idea of living room is its corresponding part, which is removal: in order to have access to land in order to claim this land as German land or American land or French land or whatever, the inhabitants have to be removed from it. And this is kind of the basis and the foundation for genocide, because the indigenous people through this settler colonial process refused to cede their land. And I think that part of the discourse that gets a little bit frustrating for me, is this idea that what happened in Namibia was a practice run for what happened in Europe. And I think that we can discuss how the violences that occurred in the colony are inevitably turned on to the European continent. But I think it’s crude and ahistorical to think that, you know, genocide, for the sake of this particular temporal conquest, the conquest in this moment, was not an end in itself. I think that this is a description that we can make retrospectively. But it’s not necessarily one that I think makes sense to make in the moment. This was a genocide because this was the mission of colonization that Germany saw as being necessary in this moment, full stop. After Africans are not a practice run for further violence is because the kind of genocides and the enslavement and the social deaths and all of the atrocities that are committed against African people on the continent and in the diaspora is not, is not a it’s not a kind of exercise, a refining exercise. It is a project in and of itself.
LL: Yeah, I totally join your frustration and share it when you know, when we talk also about Gaza as a laboratory, or that it’s always a colonial subject as a sort of guinea pig for the actual projects that would land on the European body each time. But let’s, let’s continue this sort of timeline, with of course. The first, the first the end of the First World War and the Treaty of Versailles that strips Germany from its African colony, and only to give it to other colonizers. With Togo to France, Tanzania to Britain, Cameroon, between Britain and France, I mean, mostly France, and Namibia, or Southwest Africa, which goes back to what are our dear, Tipa Manengozi calls like “countries with no name,” like South Africa being a country with no name, which reflects on the on the settler colonial roots of, of even in the very like, in the lack of imagination as well of settler colonialism that cannot find any other any other names than just like a sort of vague position on the map. And, and so can you tell us a little bit what’s the Treaty of Versailles, implies for what will become ultimately in Namibia? And how as I introduced a little bit before we, this country went through close to 50 years of occupation by the apartheid regime, reproducing the exact same rules than the ones applied on the indigenous black people in in South Africa, as well as Bantustans. I mean could you maybe enlighten us with this part of history as well?
ZS: Yeah. So, the Treaty of Versailles took Germany’s colonies away. I believe that Southwest Africa fell under a UN mandate for some time, and then it became a part of apartheid South Africa. There were the same kinds of structural violences in this apartheid, Southwest Africa, as we understand in South Africa with these restrictions of movements, with the humiliations of racial segregation, of these roles of subservience, you know, and so many with these kinds of agricultural sharecropping kind of kind of policies, like a really kind of cruel continuation of subjugation from the genocide. Similarly to the creation of Bantustans, there was the commission of inquiry into Southwest Africa fairs, which was called the Odendaal Commission, which started in 1964, and began being implemented in 1968. And this created a similar kind of two tiered—or what the Rhodesians called two pyramid development structure—that would obviously give the vast majority of the land to white settlers, Afrikaners where there would be these geographic designations for different indigenous groups.
So there was Ovando land, Herero land, there was supposed to be a space for the Himba, which I don’t think ever came into existence. There was Dimara land and other kinds of homelands that were supposed to be self-autonomous, self-governing territories. And so as with apartheid, South Africa, there was also native resistance to apartheid. And so when you go to the independence museum and the capital, after you, you kind of leave this this part where it talks about the genocide, you get into the creation of SWAPO, the Revolutionary Party and the ways that it fought against the South African government. And the ways that it coordinated operations with other parties and other groups in southern Africa that were also fighting against their respective colonial powers. So you have the border war, with what is described as the South African Border War, where South Africa is simultaneously fighting against groups in Angola, and Namibia and in Zambia, because Zambia, that had become independent in the 1960s was supporting different groups, allowing them to train, restock resources and go back to fight against duty to wage their guerrilla wars and in their kind of respective locations.
LL: Didn’t you want to talk about Rhodesia?
ZS: Yes. Um, yeah, of course.
LL: I thought it might be of interest coming from you.
ZS: Right. While SWAPO was fighting and these and the folks in Angola and Mozambique also were kind of fighting against the regime in South Africa. The Zanu and Zapu and their military wings were also fighting against the Rhodesians in what is now Zimbabwe. And there was a lot of like exchange and coordination and training between these groups, which I find, you know, really fascinating. Rhodesia, I think was like one of the is like the only country to ever use like weaponized anthrax against its civilians. So this period of apartheid and liberation struggle was like particularly, I think, particularly brutal. And if we’re thinking about the internationalism of settler violence, there was something that was really kind of special about Rhodesia and about apartheid South Africa in the kind of white nationalist imaginary because it represented these Edenic nation states in the kind of barbaric darkness of Africa, particularly of communist Africa. And so you had, you know, American veterans that were returning from Vietnam and, and going and serving as mercenaries and fighting on behalf of the Rhodesian government and fighting on behalf of the South African National Defense Forces because they believed in this mission of protecting these white Eden’s from these, like black communists, which is something that I found—I didn’t actually learn this until relatively recently, when Dylann Roof murdered those churchgoers in Charleston. I, I don’t think or, maybe I’ve blocked out what the Rhodesian flag looks like. But he had a pin of the South African the Union of South Africa and Rhodesia. Because, you know, this is a really these are both like really kind of important symbols in the white nationalist or in American paramilitary culture. And even though both of these countries were technically supposed to be under sanction, right, obviously, South Africa was under sanctions increasingly because of the moral, ethical blemish of apartheid. And Rhodesia was also under sanction because they unilaterally declared independence in 1965, when the British government had no independence, before Black minority rule, or black majority rule.
But despite the sanctions, I think it’s really important to talk about the role that actually Israel played as a really major supplier of military technology to both of the countries, that some of the tanks that were there’s this particular kind of armored vehicle that we’re seeing that we saw this random town in like West Virginia roll out. And it was one that was developed by the Rhodesian government to protect against IEDs. The reason that South African the South African government got nuclear weapons was because of a secret program that was given, or, a secret program between Iran and military exchange between Israel and the South African government. Or, you know, for example, the first time that video drones were used it was a piece of Israeli technology that was used by the South African National Defense Force Against SWAPO and that same piece of technology was later used against the PLO in Lebanon. So it’s really interesting to look at the kind of material supports, the parallels and kind of continuities in in the attempts to suppress indigenous resistance in the attempts to suppress indigenous self determinations. But I think most importantly, like just as we kind of have this ethos of international solidarity, settler states also had the same. The Rhodesians in the South African supported one another, I think, I believe also, the United States broke sanctions in an attempt to acquire resources.
LL: Yeah. And we can we can maybe think as well of, of the way as a settler colonial settler colony we know as Australia has been also very recently offering almost political asylum, I mean not political asylum, settlers asylum to Afrikaners, who might be losing some, of some part of their land based on a new law insight in South Africa. Needless to say that there they are in no danger whatsoever to actually lose a significant, significant amount of the land. But perhaps actually, I meant to, I meant to ask you this as a conclusion, but it might actually be the right time to talk about it, which is something that I absolutely love about your work: I think you just very eloquently, gave us a sort of snippet of which is a very international connections that you’re looking at, both from the side of the of the settler states and the white supremacist states and in terms of internationalist solidarity, so I sort of wanted to ask you, whether you could talk about this in in the context of not only Namibia, but perhaps Southern Africa in general and what it might, what it might mean today for Pan Africanism, but also for internationalism at large.
ZS: Yeah. I mean, to kind of to first kind of talk about the settler solidarity in Australia offering asylum to Afrikaners, I think it’s really interesting that the basis of this solidarity is this mythology of white genocide. Is this idea that white farm owners being killed for their land, or, I mean, is it something that has happened? Yes. Is this Is it a kind of systemic, systematic murder of white farmers like no, absolutely not. But it is really, it was really interesting to see President Trump talking about this as well. Because this is a meme. This is a phenomenon that is really popular to engage in white nationalist discourses and circles, while also simultaneously ignoring the historic and ongoing genocides that the settler colonies are inflicting on indigenous populations, like what is the irony of white Australians talking about a white genocide when they are actively participating in the genocide of Aboriginal communities. But also, I think, you know, reading a lot or reading what I have read about the Border War and the kind of different co-constituted and co-understood struggles, I think it’s really incredible that whenever you know, I think about Zimbabwean independence, I have to, I have to thank Mozambique, because of the ways that they sheltered Zimbabwean fighters and the ways that resources were being shared, obviously have to thank Angola, like have to thank the Cubans, because Fidel Castro sent a lot of troops and supportive of Angolan independence. I think that there’s something that’s so powerful of not just not, not this, not simply this kind of abstracted idea of anti-capitalism and, and of what it means for none of us to be free until all of us are free, but this really meaningful willingness to like fight and die for a people trying to free themselves from the violence of colonization.
So it’s and then it’s also really impactful to see, you know, folks in southern Africa, not only because of, of the way that Israel was helping to fund, the Rhodesian government was helping to fund the South African National Defense Forces, but to simply see similarities in the Palestinian struggle and to throw their weight wholeheartedly behind the support of the PLO. I think that there’s something that’s so incredible in in not attempting to say, and not attempting to force a contrived similarity where it doesn’t exist, but to recognize the uniqueness, as well as a sameness in structure. Because the thing about colonization is that nothing really is different. In any of these different manifestations, it might look different because of the resources that are at hand and because of the demographics of the community that are being colonized. But the reason that we can call settler colonialism ‘settler colonialism’ is that there are a series of traits and characteristics that are enduring and that persist in each kind of instantiation of the project. There is this replacement of indigeneity. There is this enslaved or subjugated workforce, there is this demographic replacement, you know. And so it’s very, it’s always really, you know, despite whatever critiques we might have of the ANC today, it really it strikes me when the ANC says, you know, we know what apartheid is, we have experienced apartheid, we have fought against apartheid, what is happening in Palestine is apartheid. I think, yeah, this not only has really important meaning for how we understand continental and diasporic liberation as black and Afro descendant people, but also how we exist in solidarity with struggles that are of people who are not black.
LL: Great, thank you so much for this. It was wonderful. So let’s move now to the last part of this conversation which is more oriented on this contribution you generously did for us in the new issue of The Funambulist about reparation which is thinking of the what you yourself introduce as reparative futurities for the Nama and Herero, descendants of from the genocide and the settler colonial project. You start surprisingly, or not surprisingly, I don’t know, you start you start with, with a phone call to the to the American Museum of Natural History in New York as a sort of starting point to think about those reparation and what’s sort of are the obstacles to it. I mean, “obstacles” does not even start to qualify it really, but can you tell us about it?
ZS: Yeah, I was heading out of the US, I was on my way to Armenia for this other kind of larger project that I’m thinking about with regards to kind of German coloniality and violence because Germany had been a part of the Armenian genocide as well. And I had recently learned about how the American Museum of Natural History in New York City had acquired a very large physical anthropology collection from Felix von Lauschann, who was a part of the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory that I had talked about earlier. And he had collected like a really massive kind of arrangement of human remains from around the world, and sold them to the Museum of Natural History at the beginning of the 20th century. And so I was hoping that in the time I was in New York, that I would be able to see the von Lauschann collection, because it was one that has, it’s like, really tremendously studied. And at the time, there was an ongoing lawsuit. And there’s a class action lawsuit between the hero and the hero in the Nama against Germany, in a New York Federal Court, because I think that there’s something particular about Alien Tort law that allows for these kinds of international legal civil rights cases to be held there. The case was ongoing. And for whatever reason, I was not able to access the records and I was not given that much of an explanation about why. So the more that I was reading, and the more I learned about the practices of remains collection, and I learned about how these Herero and Nama and San remains ended up in American and German archival collections. For example, the Alexander Eckerd collection at Freiburg University for it was one that was managed by Eugene Fisher, the scientists that I described earlier.
So part of the reparations demands that the Herero and Nama are making there, it’s from what I’ve come to understand they’re kind of twofold. The first is obviously to get those remains back. So that they can be buried in, wherever they need to be buried, more likely than not, I think, in the kind of ancestral lands. Because there’s something really devastating about, and I and I think that this is very different from the way that Westerners understand death, where it’s like, in the interview that I did with the Nama Traditional Leaders Association, which is quoted quite extensively in the piece, there’s this description of how, you know, you do not complete a lifecycle until your remains or your body or whatever is interred. And so in this way, there is this understanding of the genocide kind of still continuing, not only through the kind of cultural genocide of people not being able to access remains or not being able to learn about the history that is in the archives, but also through the physical holding of body parts. And if you read the history of the ways that the body parts were acquired, you know, it’s pretty gruesome, you know, you have, you know, women in the concentration camps, who are literally forced to scrape off you know, skin from the skull so that they can be kept and sent back to Germany. There were graves that were desecrated even back in the 20th century in order for the scientist or the military officers or whomever to be able to access the remains because of beliefs in African inferiority or the particular beliefs in the qualities of Khoisan body parts. Yeah, so the first obviously, it’s reparations from Germany, it’s the return and the repatriation of these remains. But secondly, there’s also this issue of kind of national unity, right. So this the second part of the reparations conversation has to do with the present Namibian nation state. Because of the kind of land based dispossession that they describe, as having begun during the process of genocide and still continuing through what they see as a kind of ethno hegemony that is held by SWAPO, because SWAPO was not just this this revolutionary party, it is particularly an Ovamgo party. And so, a big part of that really important part of ancestrialisation is a politic around land. And we know that like land reform is a really contentious issue in in southern Africa. And it’s not just contentious because of white people being afraid of losing what agricultural and commercial and other land holdings they hold. But also has to do with the ways that indigenous communities are being forcibly assimilated or resisting assimilation into the nation state. Right, you know, clinging to this idea of needing your ancestral home and land is antithetical to this idea that we are all in Namibia. And this is all Namibian land. And so if everything is on Namibian land, then there is no reason to think about how genocidal dispossession in the 20th century has continued into the present.
So there’s a lot of kind of animus towards the Namibian government because of what is perceived as an undermining of this reparation process, because the government is kind of is worried about compromising development aid. And so the German government, you know, there’s a quote in here that, to me, was really potent because they say, you know, “the Namibian government is the first obstacle to genocide recognition and reparations, because its approach allowed Germany to package the deal, through increased bilateral development aid arrangements, thereby completely exonerating the German government from the barbaric historical carnage left behind in Namibia.” Basically, this idea that what should be direct reparations to the community is instead going, is instead being understood as like, a development, reparation, aid, whatever, to the entire country, with the logic being, you know, were we not all harmed by colonization, right. But I think that there’s a very distinct difference between everyone being harmed by settler colonization and this very, these particular groups of people being explicitly targeted and annihilated by Germany, you know. 80% of the Herero were killed, like half of the Nama were killed like this is… And also, I think it’s important to recognize that the fighting of the Herero wars didn’t occur over the entire, the entire geographic expanse of Namibia. It was concentrated in particular areas.
And so, the question of reparations that I’m asking kind of in this piece, and that I’m thinking about in my dissertation work, is what does it mean, you know, two things, one, what does it mean to give reparations for a process that is still ongoing? Right, like what would it mean for, to give some kind of reparation to a people who are still being dispossessed of their land? And the second question is, is kind of not only what does it mean for this group of people but broadly, what does it mean to give reparations to black people, when anti blackness kind of is one of the kind of ontological structuring of whiteness, right? Because when whiteness evolved, or when what we understand as being whiteness kind of emerged in Europe, it’s this foil to the people who can be enslaved, the people who can be killed. Right? I think that there’s a really important point in the development of whiteness, when Europeans stopped also enslaving Slavs and began to exclusively enslave African people. So how do you begin to repair this wounding? That is not just about the loss of humans or the loss of in the case of the Herero and the Nama, you know, the loss of people who could be creating capital for that community? What does it mean to create a reparation for an atrocity that structured kinds of the Western episteme that structures modernity? And I don’t know what that—I don’t know what that means. I don’t I don’t know what it means to try to acknowledge or harm technology genocide, to acknowledge this process of violence, when to stop that process is to kind of undo the seams of what makes the world as we understand it, function. And I think that, you know, that’s something that Black Studies is tangling with, that’s something that, you know, Chapo and other radical kind of legal thinkers and historians are trying to grapple with… I have no idea.
LL: Perhaps, perhaps that’s where the notion of futurities that comes that comes at the very beginning of your text can come at the very end of this conversation.
ZS: Yeah, I mean, I read a lot of Sylvia Winter, and it was super exciting to see, you know, Ariella Azoulay’s letter to Sylvia Winter. But I read a lot of Sylvia Winter and it, and I was so taken aback the first time I started reading her work, like what her, not solutions, but like what her, what she sees as the kind of contention, right, the problem is not simply… it’s not, it’s not simply the harm that is being caused the problem is the human. The problem is this particularly, particular category of being to which to which marginalized people are forced to aspire, but from which they are always excluded. And so, you know, at the end of this, I talk about the kind of paradox of genocide recognition, because, of course, it’s, it’s critical, and it’s important to, to, to recognize to recognize genocides, but it is also to say that in order to recognize a genocide, it means, you know, that you are essentially recognizing someone’s humanity and that as you like that there is a violence being done against humans, right, which means that this is the process of making harm legible. So, in this way, genocide recognition becomes an act of assimilation into this frame of the human that Sylvia Winter has talked about as being as being violent, as being a colonial kind of invention.
And when I think about futurities, I think not of the kind of empathy project that allows for us to see historical harms and to find them atrocious and to seek recourse in the present, but also to consider what does it mean to affirm a historical event or process or phenomenon or whatever, without relying on this idea of the human? You know, what does it mean to think about solidarity in the Glissantian sense of everyone having this right to opacity, where we aren’t forced or compelled to make people or identities legible in order to be in solidarity to embrace difference, while not also being compelled towards hierarchy. And I think, and I don’t I don’t think I get into any of this too much in the piece, but I think a lot about, you know, what is the future after the end of the world? What is the future after not simply the recognition of these harms, but in a world where indigenous communities are able to be self-determining? And as much as you know, I’m not one for optimism, but as much as things seem a bit bleak, I think that that’s something that really kind of keeps me moving. That, you know, I have the ability to kind of work in concert with some of these incredible ideas and desires and, and urgent movements and gestures that are being made by indigenous communities and thinking about what it means to like to live in that world and to bring about that world in whatever capacity I can. In my own kind of corner. I think it’s exciting.
LL: Nice. Well, I’m not one for hope, but I’m one for tactical optimism. So I really liked this conclusion. Thank you. Thank you so much Zoé and I think you made you made a bridge towards Ariella Azoulay text in the issue, but I clearly see another one with Cases Rebelles in terms of what would that mean to actually, what would what would that mean if there were the actual reparations is total revolution of a world built on the on the white nationalist episteme to use your to use your terms, but also the text by Linda Quiquivix was titled Reparations Towards the End of the World. So I see a lot of connection there as well. Thank you so much, once again, for taking the time to do this little compliment and contextualization of your piece. I think it was incredibly useful to me and for sure to many other people who will listen and best of luck in finishing this this chapter you were you were telling me about in your in your PhD. Thanks Zoé!
ZS: Thank you so much.
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