Nigel Gibson & Kathy Oberdeck
In this edition we are sharing recent work from Nigel Gibson, another leading thinker that we’ve had the pleasure of hosting at CLP – many of you will remember Nigel as a key figure in CLP’s “Fanomenal Event” a couple years back. He presented “Finding Fanon, Looking for second liberations” (2013) at the Algiers conference on “Fanon and Africa” in June this year. When we commented to Nigel that what he has to say here is terribly important and that it really resonated with our own thinking and politics at CLP, he remarked that there was “not much resonance for the talk at the conference”, and that a persistent reaction was couched in the contemptuous, sometimes-marxist, notion of the lumpen-proletariat! That’s more than a little ironic since the talk itself begins with an account of Nigel’s experiences of this line of attack at a middle-class bookstore in Durban a couple of years ago:
“I was invited to speak about my book Fanonian Practices in South Africa, from Steve Biko to Abahlali baseMjondolo in a bookshop in Durban. Abahlali baseMjondolo … is a consciously ground-up, reflective, and radically inclusive democratic movement based on a shared experience of space. Someone in the audience asked whether I had spoken about Fanon in the shack settlements. The question was meant as a provocation, implying that the book was an intellectual exercise which had no resonance to shack dwellers who are stereotypically criminal, were uneducated and reactionary. In fact, on my arrival in Durban, I had been invited to talk about the book with Abahlali members in shack settlements and at an Abahlali meeting in Durban, where I was warned of the attacks I would face from the authoritarian left for my support of the movement. Clearly this organization of shack dwellers recognized the importance of its own reasoning and at the same time took seriously the discussion of liberatory ideas. Before I could answer the comments at the bookshop, somebody else pointed out that Fanon didn’t need to be brought to the shack settlements. He was already found there.” Read on…
Finally our sincere thanks to Kathryn Oberdeck from the University of Illinois for a fantastic Padkos conversation about religion and popular radical politics earlier this week at CLP. For those who weren’t able to be there (and, indeed, no less for the rest of us who were), we’re also sharing the text of Kathy’s input in this serving of Padkos. As you’ll see, Kathy drew on material from her earlier book, The Evangelist and the Impresario: Religion, Entertainment, and Cultural Politics in America, 1884-1914 and was kind enough to leave a copy of the book with us at the CLP resource centre – feel free to access it there.