Space and Representation: On “Authentic” Identities and the Façade of Total Revolution

Type of Publication
Main Author
Yusuf Serunkuma
Journal Name
Dhaxalreeb Xagaaga
Redsea Cultural Foundation


The anti-colonial narrative continues to be cast through the arena of yearning for total revolution.   Many anti-colonial elites have been criticised for harbouring “Eurocentric aspirations and their betrayal of Africa or the subaltern.” This rather ahistorical criticism remains blind to the fact that capitalist modes of production/consumption continue to connect the world in more ways than ever imagined.  Indeed, hitherto reified categories, First, Second and Third World – as ways of dividing and understanding the world – are fast becoming obsolete.

Despite this apparent change of fortunes, we still clamour for an authentic ideal [original Somali or original African], which we assign specific sensibilities and competencies.  Because these identities are increasingly becoming difficult to touch; are succumbing to influences/modernities from various corners, we have assigned as authentic, “that which is resisting.” The “inauthentic” then becomes defined as corrupted by especially Eurocentric ideas [in fashion, music, religion, language, or scholarly aspirations].  I want to suggest that we move away from asking questions about whether the subaltern can speak, to questions about the terrain in which the so-called subaltern speaks.

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