Jenna N. HancheyAug 29, 2023
The Center Cannot Hold
Decolonial Possibility in the Collapse of a Tanzanian NGO
Duke University Press 2023
In The Center Cannot Hold: Decolonial Possibility in the Collapse of a Tanzanian NGO (Duke UP, 2023), Jenna N. Hanchey examines the decolonial potential emerging from processes of ruination and collapse. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in rural Tanzania at an internationally funded NGO as it underwent dissolution, Hanchey traces the conflicts between local leadership and Western paternalism as well as the unstable subjectivity of Western volunteers—including the author—who are unable to withstand the contradictions of playing the dual roles of decolonializing ally and white savior. She argues that Western institutional and mental structures must be allowed to fall apart to make possible the emergence of decolonial justice. Hanchey shows how, through ruination, privileged subjects come to critical awareness through repeated encounters with their own complicity, providing an opportunity to delink from and oppose epistemologies of coloniality. After things fall apart, Hanchey posits, the creation of decolonial futures depends on the labor required to imagine impossible futures into being.