The Africana paradigm

W.E.B. Du Bois as a founding father of human rights criminology

Authored by: Biko Agozino

The Routledge International Handbook of Criminology and Human Rights

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  August  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138931176
eBook ISBN: 9781315679891
Adobe ISBN: 9781317395553


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Human rights discourse is distorted by the imperialist assumptions of Occidentalism or the claim that such a discourse originated in the west and is therefore alien to the supposedly despotic Orient to the extent that human rights are presumed to be gifts to the rest of the world from a humanitarian western world. This papyrus (my preferred term for scholarly papers in honour of ancient Africans who invented writing and whose corpus continues to be referred to as such) departs from such criminological imperialist hubris to situate human rights discourse squarely within the Africana paradigm of struggles and achievements in thoughts and deeds by people of African descent (and their allies) who have been subjected by the west to the most heinous crimes ever known to humanity and yet remained committed to the struggle for social justice and human rights for all in a way that human rights discourse would be empty rhetoric if purged of all traces of Africana contents. An overview of what is without doubt the founding text of human rights criminology or the very first book of criminological research devoted to this theme, The suppression of the African slave-trade by W.E.B. Du Bois (1904), will support the choice here to make Africa central in the development of a critical and scholar-activist paradigm in human rights criminology. This papyrus surveys the spread of the benefits of the Africana struggles and theories of human rights to other oppressed communities for the benefit of all whose interests are strategically articulated with those of Africana communities. Finally, the papyrus concludes by highlighting the Africana paradigm of reparative justice as the most suitable response to human rights wrongs in contrast with the imperialist reason of ‘control-freak criminology’ that tends to abandon the fetishistic punitive obsession which it directs towards the relatively powerless when dealing with the enormous crimes of the powerful against humanity.

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