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Ubuntu, Radical Hope, and an Onto-Epistemology of Conscience

Swanson, D. M.

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Via the evocation of a lived narrative related to witnessing Middle Eastern refugees’ attempts at entering into the European Union in September 2015, I draw connections between the political, ethical, spiritual and embodied, recognising their always-already
be(com)ing enmeshed and relational. This narrative rendering enables an introduction to the African indigenous thought of Ubuntu. Ubuntu offers an ontological relationality of the human condition that brings into play the courage of radical hope and the hope of a more fully human existence, one that is more ethical and just than the globally legitimised vulnerability and dehumanisation that the Middle Eastern ‘refugees’ struggling for safety and a viable existence are constituted within. Butler (2004, 20) reminds us that we are “constituted politically in part by virtue of the social vulnerability of our bodies”, ones “attached to others”, “at risk of losing those attachments”, and in the sense of Ubuntu, thus also at risk of losing our humanity as a
consequence. I argue that it is through these attachments, in the surface-to-surface embodiments of our souls, in our ‘intersoular’ states and Ubuntu ways of being and knowing, that we can find a radical, ethical and courageous hope in the ontoepistemology of conscience, and thus become human.


Swanson, D. M. (2015). Ubuntu, Radical Hope, and an Onto-Epistemology of Conscience. Journal of Critical Southern Studies, 3, 96-118

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Nov 1, 2015
Publication Date Nov 1, 2015
Deposit Date Jan 7, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 13, 2023
Journal Journal of Critical Southern Studies
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Pages 96-118
Series ISSN 0796-1901
Keywords Ubuntu; radical hope; onto-epistemology of conscience; refugees; intersoular embodiments
Public URL
Publisher URL
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Swanson - Ubuntu Radical Hope And An Onto-Epistemology Of Conscience - Dec 2015 Final - Journal Of Critical Southern Studies Vol 3 (627 Kb)

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