Exploring the pre-Newtonian sustainable development meta-power of African totems in the age of Anthropocene
Main Article Content
African totem regimes enact a holistic pre-Newtonian ontology and hence are bound to be dismissed as “unscientific”. As such they have not been accorded the same level of epistemic importance as scientific conceptualisations in the quest for the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are dominantly framed by a Cartesian methodology and plot methods that do not easily accommodate mysterious and ambiguous worldviews. Nevertheless, this paper demonstrates that African totems are an advanced form of social organisation in that they maintain a balance between human and natural systems through their regulatory efficacy and habitual compliance. Furthermore, the SDGs, unlike the regimes of African totems, are often operationalised in economistic terms and hence tend to be subject to budgetary constraints. African totems are not hampered in the same way. It can be argued that the aspirations of the SDGs have been the norm in Africa for centuries through the regulatory effects of totem meta-governance. This paper therefore makes a case for a rethink of the ontology of (social) science. Doing so, it is argued, would accommodate the worldview of African totems in the worldview that is implicit in the aspirations expressed by SDGs.
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