Julia Hango: Techniques of Asserting Humanity

by Bongisa Msutu

How individuals of differing society define their humanity is based on what that particular society prioritises. The modern western colonial point of view prioritisesthe sense of sight. All things, people and processes are judged according to what or how they look, and this is why the human body has become the site onto which social construction of differences are mapped. [1] Humanity was and still has been reserved for bodies that look a particular way – white European bodies. Discriminatory systems were legalised to ensure that bodies behave in an acceptable manner socially and politically. Black female bodies – within the modern colonial framework – have been subjected to legislated systems of sexism, hypersexuality and racism in an effort to justify their abuse and to dehumanise them. Even beyond the eradication of these discriminating legal systems, the doctrine (Christianity) that advocated them still exists, and the narrative thereof is deeply entrenched in society. Modern western citizenship is not available for female bodies, as they (‘naturally’) transgress social and cultural constructions of sexual appropriateness and political acceptability. [2] However black women activists, artists and feminists have taken it upon themselves to use their bodies, as they are, to claim their humanity. They have appropriated the very thing that transgresses and is not acceptable within the modern colonial bounds of being, to assert their humanity. Julia Hango is such an artist and feminist. A Namibian native, Hango makes use of their natural naked body to assert themselves. They interrogate the boundaries of what is acceptable by confronting their audience with what has been deemed non-human.

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