Locations of African and African Diaspora Critical Thought

Monday, 14 August, 2017 - 10:00

Within the domain of critical thought, it is clear that the Western archive is in danger of being exhausted. Humankind is faced with the fundamental question: in what ways can we think about the present, develop categories of thought and, most importantly, map new forms of human life? The aim of this workshop is to generate a dialogue about these possibilities. It is a platform from which to grapple with a hermeneutics of the world from the perspective of Africa and the African diaspora.

Its second objective is to draw from the existing archives and to begin to develop critical theory that will be African inflected. By this we mean drawing from the various intellectual traditions of African and African diasporic thought to begin to content with the world, not in any provincial sense, but in ways that allow for a renewal of critical thought for our times.

For those of us in Africa and for the African diaspora now, there is an urgent need to rethink and reformulate our horizons of thought. We are no longer colonies, but the afterlives of colonial power lingers. The end of the colonial empires reorganised a world system of nation-states, but importantly, it continued to keep Africa as the site of the other and of strangeness. This workshop pushes against this trend and hopes to start to develop a network of thinkers, artists, scholars, writers who are committed to dialogue about the world and Africa.

The histories and contemporary predicaments of both African and African diasporic critical thought will be discussed on Saturday by, among others, Achille Mbembe and Hortense Spillers.

Monday’s focus will be continental and Afro-diasporic emerging epistemes while on Tuesday the programme opens with emerging voices in African thought and closes with the open session: ‘Towards an African and African Diaspora Platform in Critical Thought.’

This is a joint project with Brown University and the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (University of the Witwatersrand).

Locations of African and African Diaspora Critical Thought

August 12-15 2017

Hosted by the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) and the African Diaspora Knowledge Project in the Africana Studies Department at Brown University.  

Saturday August 12


Opening Remarks: Sarah Nuttall and Anthony Bogues


Roundtable 1: African Critical Thought: Histories and Contemporary Predicaments

Achille Mbembe, Hlonipha Mokoena (TBC), Rogers Orock, Anthony Bogues

12.30-1.30 Lunch


Roundtable 2: African Diaspora Thought: Histories and Contemporary Predicaments

Brian Meeks, Hortense Spillers, Geri Augusto, Rupert Lewis

Dinner at 1, 9th Avenue, Parktown North

Sunday 13 August

Activities in Johannesburg  

Monday 14 August


Roundtable 3: Emerging Epistemes: Continental  

Bongani Madondo, Claudia Gastrow, Juan Obarrio,  Achille Mbembe

12 noon Lunch


Roundtable 4: Emerging Epistemes: Afro-Diaspora

Ronald Judy, Isabel Hofmeyr, Victoria Collis-Buthelezi, Albino Jopela

Dinner: Free evening

Tuesday 15 August


Roundtable 5: Emerging Voices

Candice Jansen, Grieve Chelwa, Bedour Allagraa, Kristen Maye


Open Session: Towards an African and African Diaspora Platform in Critical Thought

Facilitated by Achille Mbembe and Hortense Spillers

Summation: Tony Bogues and Sarah Nuttall