In July Professor Musa Dube will visit Melbourne at the invitation of the Centre for Theology and Ministry and the synod’s Intercultural unit. Prof Dube is a sought-after post-colonial feminist theologian and lecturer in biblical studies at the University of Botswana.
She is the author of numerous articles published in journals, books, encyclopaedias and magazines. Her provocative book, Postcolonial Feminist Interpretation of the Bible is considered a must-read for Biblical scholars, theologians, and church leaders interested in cutting-edge biblical scholarship.
Dev Anandarajan, from the Intercultural unit interviewed Prof Dube on her impending visit to Melbourne.
Dev: The term ‘post-colonial’ is used widely in secular disciplines. But what has it got to do with theology?
Musa: Post-colonial, means since colonialism. It investigates the lasting impact of the empire and colonialism on the colonised and the coloniser. The impact is social, cultural, political, economic and ideological. It permeates and shapes all relationships in these stated categories.
Post-colonialism underlines that the relationship between the coloniser and the colonised does not end when the colonised attain their so-called independence, but rather continues in various hues.
Dev: Can you tell very briefly what post-colonial theology is all about?
Musa: In his book Culture and Imperialism, Edward Said underlined that the Empire, just like gender, race and age should be mainstreamed in all our studies.
Given that modern imperialism was so pervasive that nothing escaped it, Said points out that we live in over-lapping territories; namely, that the First and so-called Third World countries are overlapping territories, economically, politically, socially and culturally.
Unless theology and the church acknowledge that they were shaped by Empire-building and colonialism, they may inadvertently continue to underwrite these relationships of inequality, domination and suppression.
Thinking of post-colonial theology involves reflecting about God through the postcolonial framework and experience; resisting the continuing relationships of domination and suppression as well as striving to heal the wounds of the past.
Dev: Why is this theology relevant to Australia?
Musa: Australia’s history is grafted in modern Empire-building and colonialism.
The question is how relationships of the former colonisers and the colonised are shaped by the history of modern imperialism? How has the history of modern empire-building and colonialism given rise to border-crossing, hybridity, ambiguity, and complexity? How did this history shape race, gender, sexual, class and age difference across the overlapping territories?
Dev: How are the churches in Africa engaging with post-colonial theology?
Musa: Churches of Africa come in multitudes of diversities and cannot be easily generalised. Some were historically part of the colonising mother countries; others, particularly African Independent Churches, were founded as resistance movements against colonialism; Others were visible activists in Apartheid South Africa, for example, characterised by the Kairos document. Contemporary explosion of neo-Pentecostalism is complex and defies easy generalisations. But it notably preaches the gospel of prosperity, health and wellness, which underlines the autonomy of African people.
It suffices to say sub-Saharan African churches are inseparably tied to the history of modern Empire-building and colonialism.
Dev: Is post-colonial theory anti-west and anti-missionary?
Musa: It examines participants in these histories and the ideologies they spin to justify themselves. Post-colonialism exposes structures of oppression, wherever they are practised and by whoever participates as an agent of oppression. It is quest for justice for all. It requires all of us to reflect on our role and participation in this history and its contemporary expressions.
Dev: What would a post-colonial church look like?
Musa: It is a church that commits itself to self-education concerning all structures of oppression. It seeks to strategically position itself to be a place of healing wounds of the past and present as well as participating in celebrating the dignity of all members of the Earth community.
Such a posture requires a repenting church which acknowledges its histories of consorting with the Empire, colonialism, patriarchy, heteronormativity and other forms of oppression that denies all members of the Earth community their God given dignity. Empire-building and colonialism was built on ideology of racism, sexism, gender discrimination and oppression of the Earth, among other social oppressions, which need to be tackled simultaneously.
While in Melbourne Prof Dube will address three forums. She is speaking at ‘Wisdom’s Feast’ at the Centre for Theology and Ministry on the theme “Let there be light: Reading the Bible for social and cultural transformation” from Tuesday, 19 Jul to Thursday, 21 Jul. Prof Dube will also deliver the Northey lecture on Tuesday night.
She is lead speaker at the conferences organised by the Intercultural unit. The Women’s Conference will be held on 24 and 25 July at the Centre for Theology and Ministry on the theme ‘Women doing Post Colonial Theology with Prof Musa Dube –Moving, Living & Preaching Between Borders’.
A post- colonial theology conference on the theme ‘Ministry in the Contact Zone and the Third Space’ will be held on 26, to 28 July at the Korean Church, Malvern.
For more information please contact Dev Anandarajan 0414721015 or Ann Byrne 03 9251 5404