Few continents have been as lost on the left as Africa. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been openings, however. From the anti-Apartheid movement of the 1980s, to the Arab Spring, there have been plenty of opinions on offer. But, the idea of Africa, as a site of political struggle, between the West, and its inhabitants, is relatively new. That is, to post-Cold War progressive politics. Ask veterans of the anti-colonial struggle in France, for example, from the 1960s, and you’ll get a very different answer.
Hence, the challenge of France’s recent intervention in Mali, and the complexities it engenders. Led by a leftwing French government, one that made the furthest attempts of any French leadership to date, to atone for France’s conduct in the Algerian conflict, its actions have been confounding. Coming on the heels of other recent European military operations in Africa, most signfiicantly, the Libyan War, many progressives as begun a process of soul searching, about their lack of preparedness for these interventions, and what they might mean.
Today’s translation from the Italian is a good example. A flyer found in central Turin, at the beginning of February, it asks precisely these sorts of questions. We’ve reproduced the text in its entirety, below, including the lack of line breaks. Click on the photograph for a closer look.
Opening of the first series of: “Knowledge in motion”
Culture creates conflict, conflict creates culture
Mali war, western interventions in Maghreb: why?
One of the main subjects of international press (right now) is France’s intervention in Mali. Everyone, more or less, has read at least one article about this topic. Between a meeting and small talk, we found ourselves unsatisfied with regards to how the subject is treated in Italian and foreign newspapers. Everything is limited to the “here and now.” It’s not possible to find a temporal dimension that goes beyond contingency, beyond the single, today-related event. Nonetheless, history, more or less recent, is full of interventions for democratization, of humanitarian wars, of armed missions for peace. Only thinking of the most striking cases in the international media, such as US intervention in the Middle East, you could get lost among the unaccountable journalists who attempted to reveal the long-term premeditation and interests, all but humanitarian. What makes Mali intervention different? Why is it disconnected from the history of relationship between France and its African former colonies? Starting from these questions, we found ourselves talking about another war, a media one: the Arab Springs, Tahrir Square. Why yesterday’s rebels were freedom heroes, while today’s are black bloc? Situations are radically different, but, (for) the redeeming and necessary essence of the “western democracies” intervention remains the same. Which are the differences between these situations? Where do they converge? On which historical basis are they founded? Which geopolitical scene do they outline? From these questions begins the first series of “knowledge in motion,” open questions that have no immediate answer. Rather, they require a well-structured, timely analysis, (offering) different points of view. This is what we would like to create.
7 pm dinner
9.30 pm shooting of the docu-movie “…that day they killed happiness” about Thomas Sankara, key figure of the anti-colonialist Africa struggles in the 70s and 80s
Following: music with Dj Krif.
Sunday 10th February @ VerdiLab Vicolo Benevello 4/b
Translated from the Italian, by Giulia Pace. Introduction and photograph courtesy of Joel Schalit.