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Cover Story

You Live On Samir Amin …… In Our Imagination

Volume 17, Issue 1  | 
Published 07/07/2020
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You Live On Samir Amin …… In Our Imagination Apocalypse by inSOLense.

By Natasha Issa Shivji

Dr. Natasha Issa Shivji is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cambridge and the Director in the Institute for Research in Intellectual Histories of Africa (Dra es Salaam, Tanzania)

Dear Samir Amin,

I  write  this  as  if  you  were  still  here  amongst  us,  for  an  individual  such  as  yourself who has lived for a continent, remains alive well after their death. You will not be lost in histories past, you will not be deemed irrelevant by futures to come, you will stay here in the material present as we struggle for the continent you committed your life to.

As a young lecturer in 2009 I recall desperately looking for books, articles, and ideas to use for teaching in my history classrooms. Ideas produced within the continent, ones that did not simply regurgitate the formulas of the West. My sweet encounter with Global History: A View from the South was all I needed. I read your work alongside Walter Benjamin, writing histories in spaces of contradiction, histories of the oppressed in worlds shaped by the demands and exploits of capital. How are we to struggle to produce ideas on our own terms? I used these methods in my classes; methods that belonged to our history, relevant to our struggles that revolutionaries  such  as  yourself  had  the  audacity  to  speak  of.  Producing a framework   relevant   to   our   context   wasn’t   simply   a   parallel   project   to   the Eurocentric view of the world, but it was in direct opposition to it. A view from the global south was a history of the oppressed as a weapon against oppression, it did not fashionably sit side-by-side Eurocentrism as an ‘alternative,’ but it was indeed a confrontation with the assumptions of an Africa without history. An affirmation of an Africa that was complex and an Africa that was coerced into  capitalistic  social relations but found hope in the oppressed.

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