Africa in the Dialectics of History
October 26 & 27, 2007. The New School, New York City
Now recognized as the cradle of humanity, once declared a continent without history by the intellectual father of European colonialism, extending by its many diasporas to every part of the world, Africa raises for those of us [involved in a philosophy born of struggle] many questions and challenges [concerning the past, present and future.
Participants in the next Philosophy Born of Struggle Conference will discuss these questions and face their challenges. Here are some of the particular questions that will be discussed.]
First, what role has Africa played in the liberation struggle and the creation of an alternative to “European Civilization”? Of special importance here is the place Africa has occupied in the struggle in the United States for Black Power [and against U.S. apartheid (or “Jim Crow”)], and the reconstruction/revaluation of African identity and values. From Du Bois and Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X and Alice Walker, most Black revolutionaries have seen their relation to Africa as crucial to their political, intellectual project. What has Africa—in practice and in the collective imagination—meant in the struggle of black people in the US and worldwide? What ideological, political, philosophical visions has the African struggle for self-determination opened up for the anti-colonial revolt worldwide?
Second, what does Africa today with its cultural and linguistic diversity signify [after decades of postmodern thinking, neoliberalism and Afro-pessimism]? Does it make sense still to speak of Africa (as Mudimbe has questioned)? Is Africa, as a totalizing intellectual concept or a commodified image, a distortion of the actual experiences and diversities present on the continent? Are there (social, economic, cultural) trends, contributions, and problems that define the “African experience” today? And if there are, what are they? What lessons are there to be learned from the contradictions (social, economic political) many Africans are confronting in their lives? And what are the politics of the dominant discourse on Africa as shaped by intellectuals in the EU and the US?
Lastly: which way Africa? What are the [internal and external] forces that will shape Africa’s future?
What is the dialectics of history seen from the viewpoint of the struggles taking place on the African continent? [Can African communal life transform itself once more into a political force that will give power to those struggling for liberation in the United States?, in the Americas? Philosophy Born of Struggle will explore these questions in our coming conference of October 26-27, to be held at the New School for Social Research, New York City.
Looking forward to your participation and support.
J. Everet Green