Original Research

The colonial matrix of power: Image ontology and the question of blackness

Itumeleng D. Mothoagae
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a7074 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.7074 | © 2021 Itumeleng D. Mothoagae | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 August 2021 | Published: 17 December 2021

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Itumeleng D. Mothoagae, Institute for Gender Studies, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

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The question of blackness has always featured the intersectionality of race, gender, sexuality and class. Blackness as an ontological speciality has been engaged from both the social and epistemic locations of the damnés (in Fanonian terms). It has thus sought to respond to the performance of power within the world order that is structured within the colonial matrix of power, which has ontologically, epistemologically, spatially and existentially rendered blackness accessible to whiteness, while whiteness remains inaccessible to blackness. The article locates the question of blackness from the perspective of the Global South in the context of South Africa. Though there are elements of progress in terms of the conditions of certain Black people, it would be short-sighted to argue that such conditions in themselves indicate that the struggles of blackness are over. The essay seeks to address a critique by Anderson (1995) against Black theology in the context of the United States of America (US). The argument is that the question of blackness cannot and should not be provincialised. To understand how the colonial matrix of power is performed, it should start with the local and be linked with the global to engage critically the colonial matrix of power that is performed within a system of coloniality. Decoloniality is employed in this article as an analytical tool.

Contribution: The article contributes to the discourse on blackness within Black theology scholarship. It aims to contribute to the continual debates on the excavating and levelling of the epistemological voices that have been suppressed through colonial epistemological universalisation of knowledge from the perspective of the damnés.


decoloniality; social and epistemic location; damnés; blackness; whiteness; coloniality; colonial matrix of power; zone of non-being


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