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How to co-exist in a time of rage, or Thinking with Giocherendan

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How to co-exist in a time of rage, or Thinking with Giocherendan 

With Dine Diallo, Sarah Schulman, Julia Bell, Clelia Bartoli,  and Tomiwa Owolade

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In 2016 Sarah Schulman published Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility and the Duty of Repair; in this original and polemical study, she argues for attention to the differences of degree in various speech acts and actions, for a willingness to consider the difficulties of a situation rather than rush to judgement (or to insults or shunning). Her arguments reflect the collective and deliberative spirit of giocherendan.  This word,  giocherendan, in the West African language of Fula, means cooperation and negotiation in the spirit of coexistence. Like the term Ubuntu in the South African context, giocherendan confronts the damage of hate speech, atomisation, destructive emphasis on individualism  and competitiveness by developing  processes of discussion, collective action, and cooperation, It expresses a relational spirit that is missing in our northern polities - or so argue several arrivants from Guinea, Mali, the Gambia and other West African nations.  The word is connected etymologically to jokk-, the stem for words for attachment and communication, while the ending could mean maternal relations. [1] Could this principle help towards addressing the vicious extremes of social media and redirecting users’ energies?

Sarah Schulman is a New York-based writer, gay activist and professor.   Clelia Bartoli, a civil rights campaigner and lecturer at the University of Palermo, is the co-founder with Dine Diallo, of  Giocherenda, a collective project and workshop based in Palermo (the Italian rendering plays on the word for play, giocare).   Julia Bell, in Radical Attention  (2019) revealingly explores her own experiences on and with social media and mounts a cogent critique of the political  as well as psychological consequences.  Tomiwa Owolade is a London-based essayist and journalist, and has distinguished himself by his independence of mind and his judicious assessment of some incendiary issues.

They will be in discussion with Marina Warner chairing.

[1] ‘It might be rendered along the lines of warm attachments between closely related folk’. Roy Dilley, personal communication 24 Sept. 2021. I am most grateful to him for his insights.


Dine Diallo is President of Giocherenda.

This event is organised by the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities.

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