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Beer, Blood, and the Bible: Economics, Politics, and Geolinguistic Praxis in Kongo-Ngola (Congo-Angola)


This dissertation argues that educational praxis rooted in local epistemologies can combat the erosion of ethno-histories and provide quotidian securities free of war and exploitative practices of extraction and overuse of the land for non-subsistence purposes, which deny basic human life. Colonial ethnocide, linguicide, and epistemicide serve as the central focus of this study, which uses mixed anthropological methods to investigate economic production, political history, and cultural transmission, with the goal of advancing language revitalization efforts concerning native epistemologies within the multidisciplinary fields of Africana, African, Black, African American, and African diaspora studies. I employ a toolbox of techniques unique to the four fields of anthropology (physical/biological, archaeological, but especially socio-cultural and linguistic anthropology) with a concentration on the four elements of culture [kinship/gender, economics, politics, and religion].

Three metaphors (Beer, Blood, and Bible) examine scientific agriculturalist economies, local jural systems of governance organized by uterine kinship tied to geospatial terrains among the Lunda, and sociolinguistic worlds of pre-colonial indigenous Kongo-Ngola, which occur contemporaneously alongside post-colonial capitalist, neoliberal geopolitical, and cosmological paradigms in present-day Congo-Angola. As such, geolinguistics, ethno-history, and terroir epistemologies become vital to survival and to the continuity of humanity and peace. By decolonizing science, deconstructing imperialist systems of power-knowledge, and reconfiguring ontologies of production and reproduction, this dissertation revitalizes locally grounded epistemologies which face extinction and extermination due to colonial wars of geological extraction, while recognizing significant depths of indigenous governance within opposing post-colonial structures, with respect to technologies of literacy, cosmological consciousness, and numeracy relevant to generational preservation and perpetuation of heritage into the future.

This work becomes significant to African American studies given the historical significance of missionaries educated at Historically Black Colleges and Universities who lived in Belgian Congo and Portuguese Angola from the 1880s into the early 1900s, both preserving and changing local culture, following the Conference of Berlin and leading to the independence movements. Their global goals of progressive work in the era of Old Jim Crow in US come to light in Chapter Four (Bible), which uses the legacy of these late nineteenth and early twentieth century Black American diasporic transnational returnees in order to transpose a practical five-language Swadesh list, where lexicography precedes cultural and linguistic revitalization techniques anthropologists on the ground would use to resurrect lost folkloric knowledge linked to local languages. Kongo-Ngola since migrations of Proto-Bantu speaking peoples parallels with Congo-Angola since 1880 as one of many contested sites, from whence to develop multiple comparative analyses of geolinguistic divisions of indigenous ethnic communities.

This triangular metaphor of Beer, Blood, and the Bible concludes with an analysis of education in multiple spaces such that museums and schools teaching Kongo-Ngola native epistemologies in Congo-Angola, the United States, and Europe in deracinated colonial spaces, as well as in reclaimed territories of indigeneity. Perhaps the solution to colonial erasure and epistemicide rests within local universities in Angola, such as Universidade Lueji a Nkonde (ULAN)—named for the ancestress and founder of the Lunda Empire. This ethno-history of scientific, economic, linguistic, political, religious, musical performance, and educational epistemologies in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Angola employs a rarely known interdisciplinary method known as geolinguistics, while following a metaphor of beer (production), blood (reproduction and power), and the bible (knowledge).

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