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


Swanson DM (2015) Ubuntu, Radical Hope, and an Onto-epistemology of Conscience. Journal of Critical Southern Studies, 3, pp. 96-118.

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 globallylegitimised 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.

Ubuntu; radical hope; onto-epistemology of conscience; refugees;intersoular embodiments

Journal of Critical Southern Studies: Volume 3

Publication date31/12/2015
PublisherGlobal Hands Publishing
Publisher URL…-Winter-2015.pdf