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Hamzić, Vanja (2024) 'After Homo Narrans: Botany, International Law, and Senegambia in Early Racial Capitalist Worldmaking.' In: Arvindsson, Matilda and Jones, Emily, (eds.), International Law and Posthuman Theory. Abingdon: Routledge.

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Abstract

This chapter engages an emergent science of categorization and speciation and its reverberations and affordances in European international law in the long eighteenth century. I focus on a distinct material locale—that of ‘proto-colonial’ Senegambia—so as to reveal a circum-Atlantic capitalist economy of enslavement and human fungibility in the making, and its attendant, forcible sexing, gendering, and racializing regimes. The reductive, hierarchical ‘human’ such regimes sought to advance stood in stark contrast to eighteenth-century West African conceptualizations of human, non-human, and more-than-human being-in-the-world— and I dwell on the example of gender-nonconforming Mande griots and their increasingly precarious lifeworlds to underline the importance of storytelling as a mode of survival and resistance to gendered and racial capitalist violence. Recalling Sylvia Wynter’s insurrectionary homo narrans and learning from the wider Black radical tradition and decolonial trans/feminist critique, this chapter calls for new, materialist figurations of posthuman homo narrans, away from legal or lawlike biocentricity. To that end, I maintain that the challenge for posthumanist critique concerned with law might be twofold: first, how to include material, localized, multiple senses of the past in any ongoing re-worldings and re-imaginations of the present and the future, so as to rethink temporalities and recount anew, rather than ‘recover’, insurrectionary times; and second, how to retell critically law’s manyfold complicity in systemic world-destroying and worldmaking projects—such as that of racial capitalism—without succumbing to the false promise of law’s salvatory powers.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Law
Departments and Subunits > Interdisciplinary Studies > Centre for Gender Studies
ISBN: 9781032658025
Copyright Statement: This is the version of the chapter accepted for publication in: Arvindsson, Matilda and Jones, Emily, (eds.), International Law and Posthuman Theory. Abingdon: Routledge. Re-use is subject to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.4324/9781032658032-10
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2023 12:32
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/40331

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