Ubuntu and Development: Decolonizing Epistemologies

What does Ubuntu mean and what could it help to understand? Raphael Sartorius pursues the question of what Ubuntu can teach about ‘development’ from a perspective of the global North and why ‘development’ should dare to be more Ubuntu.

Key question is the meaning(s) of ‘development’ in Ubuntu. In connection with the conference topic, the potential of Ubuntu in situations of crisis will also be explored. This will be followed by ideas for the ‘development cooperation’ of the global North. After a short explanation of several terms and discourse, examples will be used to show what ‘development’ could mean in an Ubuntu perspective. The focus is on examples that, as far as possible, were written by academics who know Ubuntu from lived experience. Examples will be shown from the fields of traditional democratic models and business ethics. Based on the examples of Ubuntu, recommendations for the development cooperation of the global North are made in the sense of a (intercultural) translation process, contrary to the usual direction of (post-)colonial knowledge transfer. The goal is to open up ‘development’ cooperation to a perspective of bottom-up and self-empowerment approaches, as thinkers in the tradition of de(s)colonial and discourses of theology of liberation have been demanding for decades. Thus, a contribution is designed to avoid different situations of crisis and to deal with them contextually in crisis situations. Great importance is attached to a critical, decolonial and multi-perspective approach.

The complete article of his research about Ubuntu can be found found here.

Raphael Sartorius is a research and teaching fellow at the department of Intercultural Theology and Religious Studies at Augustana-Hochschule and Visiting Scholar at Berlin’s Humboldt University “Religious Communities and Sustainable Development” research programme. The article is based on the keynote-lecture held at ANSA e.V.’s annual conference on September 24 in Passau, Germany. Please feel free to contact Raphael.Sartorius@augustana.de.[1] for comments and questions.

[1] The article may be used and referred to for non-commercial use only. Reprinting and reproducing is subject to the author’s consent with whom remain all rights.