It’s been a long time since my last blog post. So let’s do a bit of a reverse chronology…
I got the defibrillator inserted in early December. It was half a day in the hospital, followed by a couple of days in bed at home to let the outside wound heal. No more blackouts and no more arrhythmic episodes, hopefully!
A week later we travelled to Lisbon and on to Guinea-Bissau for the holidays. Filomena said the African sun would help the healing process and I think she was right. Good times with the family, good food everywhere, especially the seafood!
I lived in Guinea-Bissau in the 90’s so it was a type of homecoming for me. I have had (and continue to have) a special historical and academic interest in Guinea-Bissau’s two founders, its first African governor, Honorio Barreto Pereira (left, below), and the theoretician of its independence struggle, Amilcar Cabral (right, below). We will return to these two later, but as a spoiler alert, my father-in-law, Pedro Pinto Pereira, told me lots of stories about his great-grand father on vacation trips to Lisbon, so I was prepped.
The mango trees decided to pollinate in late December and I developed a hay fever reaction that I still haven’t quite shaken, coughs, intermittent fevers. Tropical living. But no malaria. We have that to be thankful for.
We returned home after the holidays. I picked up a few extra hours at the reference desk, and we plowed through the January snow storm that hit the region. The big news of February was a short day trip to Philadelphia for World Information Architecture Day, and a return to the beautiful mountains for a library meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee, The Library Collective. My lightning round talk proposal was rejected for LOEX but I still plan to go in early May.
This week I gave what will hopefully be my final Congressional testimony. Ever. It wiped me out a bit, as the questions both forced me to open up old wounds and to reconsider events that I’d prefer to be buried in the now distant past. I was scheduled to attend the WRLC (Washington Regional Library Consortium) annual meeting, but went home instead after the testimony.
Which brings me to #radlibchat. I hadn’t focussed on the date and quite by accident stumbled across some tweets towards the end of the livechat. It was ok. It gave me an opportunity to follow up on some of the tweeted links, the most interesting of which was the presentation by Dr. Spencer Lilley at UBC, “To Decolonize or To Indigenize.” I found it to be an interesting set of infinitives, and I am anxious to check out some of his other writings and sources. But I’d like, for a moment here, to address a particular aspect of his talk.
I understand “indigenize,” i.e., to allow a formerly colonized people to return to their own cultural standards and norms, their “pre-colonial,” if you will, way of doing and looking at things. And I understand “decolonize.” i.e., directly from Dr. Lilley, “how hegemonic systems and epistemological violence associated with hegemony can be dissected and restored to its indigenous state.” That’s all good. But what happens to the client class the colonizers developed, the locals who were assimilated, by culture and by blood, to carry out the colonizing process in the place of the colonial masters. What happens to them? They may be in a place where they can neither decolonize nor indigenize. What happens to their cultural institutions, their archives, their research institutes, built over several generations to preserve their place and justify their existence in the colonial ecosystem?
Amilcar Cabral wrote that this strata of society should ultimately commit class suicide:
“This situation, characteristic of the majority of colonized intellectuals, is consolidated by increases in the social privileges of the assimilated or alienated group with direct implications for the behavior of individuals in this group in relation to the liberation movement. A reconversion of minds–of mental set–is thus indispensable to the true integration of people into the liberation movement. Such reconversion–re-Africanization, in our case–may take place before the struggle, but it is completed only during the course of the struggle, through daily contact with the popular masses in the communion of sacrifice required by the struggle.”(1)
This may well be beyond the ambit of radical librarianship. But it may well be right smack in the middle of it. It brings to my mind lots of examples, in collection development, in what I like to call “meta-information,” in various aspects of community outreach, even in scholarly communication.
To be continued.
(1) Cabral, Amilcar. National Liberation and Culture. February 20, 1970; Eduardo Mondlane Memorial Lecture Series at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York. Accessed March 8, 2016 at www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/cabralnlac