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Genealogies of Epistemic Revolt: Walter Rodney, Cedric J. Robinson, and the Geopolitics of Knowledge

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Title: Genealogies of Epistemic Revolt: Walter Rodney, Cedric J. Robinson, and the Geopolitics of Knowledge
Author(s): Ahvonen, Onni
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Degree program: Master 's Programme in Society and Change
Specialisation: Political History
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2022
Abstract:
This thesis is concerned with the intellectual formation of two radical political thinkers in the Black radical and anti-colonial traditions: Walter Rodney and Cedric J. Robinson. Deploying the “Horne biographical method”, it contextualizes the knowledge-formation of Rodney and Robinson vis a vis the broader social, cultural, political, and intellectual environments in which they were situated. Particularly central are the national liberation-, Black power-, and post-colonial movements in the U.S., Jamaica, Tanzania, and Guyana during the 1960s and the 1970s. Furthermore, this thesis discusses the epistemological foundation of their knowledge-praxis through Enrique Dussel’s notion of the “geopolitics of knowledge” and Stuart Hall’s conceptualization of “the politics of location”, and contends that knowledge is to be understood in relational and positional terms. In analyzing the knowledge production of Rodney and Robinson, this thesis focuses on three central themes that emerge in their respective writings: (1) the role of the radical political intellectual, (2) the utility of Marxism to Black, Indigenous, and Third World peoples, and (3) the theorization of the emergence and development of the racial-colonial world-system. Finally, this thesis argues that in combining their deconstructive critiques with a constructive politics of worldmaking, Rodney and Robinson provide an important model for “guerrilla intellectualism”, where radical knowledge production is seen to emerge “from below” and conceived of as inseparable from material praxis and liberatory struggles.
Keyword(s): black radicalism geopolitics of knowledge intellectual history knowledge production


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