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The Deer will Sing Again

"The deer will sing again: With-nessing emergence, radicalizing activism and indigenizing education"

By Bayo Akomolafe

A powerful narrative flows unhindered in many activist and civic society circles. It is the notion that the world is in crisis, and that this crisis is largely man-made (hence the popularity of the mega-concept, 'Anthropocene').

Whether it is climate change brought about by unbridled industrial activity, or species extinction and ecocide engineered by giant techno-economic consumerism, the response is largely the same: we must save our species from an external threat, and we must do this by mobilizing political action in favour of our continued survival.

But what if the way we respond to crises is part of the crises?

What if, by seeking a convenient solutionism and by drawing linear causal links with the most stubborn 'problems' of our time - and by situating the 'human' as the take-off point of politics - we are imprisoning ourselves in a paradigm that no longer serves?

What if we respond from the position of a different narrative? What about a story of a world that is alive and vibrant and beyond fixity? Against the old creed that the world is dormant, mute and passive unless animated by culture, we could think about a nonhuman world that is responsible, substantive and loud: a material world that matters. The very framing of 'crisis' (and the architecture of civic engagement) excludes other spaces of power and other ways of thinking about our humble place 'with' (not 'in') the world.

This is a post-humanist invitation to the critical recognition that we are the world in its ongoing materialization. As such, we need a new ethics that brings us to the edges - to places where we are ruptured, where we grieve, where we can slow down and fall apart, where we meet the inevitability of death and exclusions, where becoming-different is becoming-with, where language is sensuous, and where play is vital.

This is an activism of dancing and not-knowing.

It's simple: if we are going to survive, we are going to have to partner with the world - and, yet, there is no guarantee we 'win'.

There are two main questions that we need to hold space for:

1) How do we meet the world now that we are no longer its centre?

2) What kind of un/learning practices can facilitate a deeper intimacy and movement-with the world - and what are we excluding from our conversations when we frame learning as distance from land, tree and mountain?

In October, Manish Jain and I will be teaching a course at Schumacher College. Please join us: if you feel like we need a different politics to address our troubles; if you feel disenchanted with the 'normal' and the many palliatives to the 'normal'; if you think that a more radical shift is not just desirable but perhaps necessary to address a world in pain; if you suspect that political action - even when total - hasn't reaped the kinds of outcomes you want to see; if you sense that the many modern institutions that litter our landscapes and lives are just as complicit in sustaining our troubles as the so-called enemies; and, if you do not mind dancing and slowing down as the world is engulfed in flames of bureaucracy and urgency.


Short Course

My Partner, the World – Radical Activism, Education and Emergence

31/10/2016 to 04/11/2016

With Bayo Akomolafe and Manish Jain | Join activists and educators Bayo Akomolafe and Manish Jain as they consider how a new narrative of ‘partnering the world’, rather than being human-centric to I, can lead us to a radical reinvention of activism, education, and political systems. Read More...