Entre la rue et le musée : le problème du « moment présent » en Afrique du Sud

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Politique Africaine, Volume 103, p.81–99 (2006)




This essay assesses recent scholarship and the general intellectual climate found in South Africa today. Such assessment is performed in two ways. First, trends found within South Africa are measured against the backdrop of earlier postcolonial schools in Africa, particularly those in Nigeria and Tanzania. The opportunities and challenges of the nation-state framework are revealed through such comparison. Second, the unique features of intellectual life in post-apartheid South Africa are also considered. It is argued that multiple sites for the production of knowledge can be located, with scholars needing to navigate the intellectual terrain between « the street » and « the museum ».

African Futures

As major transformations unfold, our understanding of Africa, its past, its future and its relation to the world seems to be caught between two contending paradigms. The first is shaped by the discourse of crisis and disaster, emergency and survival. The second is future-oriented. It is preoccupied with Africa’s shifting position within the global economy and its apparent rise, the material and virtual flows and the infrastructures that connect Africa to its diasporas and the broader world, and to the social and aesthetic experiences of its inhabitants. This project will take stock of the contending discourses on African futures. It aims at drawing together in robust conversation a broad range of parallel debates currently going on in areas as diverse as literature, science-fiction, music and digital technologies, economics, futures markets, demography and public health, environmental studies, arts, design and fashion. It will also tease out the theoretical and practical implications of these discourses and the extent to which Afro-futurism could be read against similar trends elsewhere, in China, India, Russia and Brazil in particular.

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