Interregional Philosophical Dialogue between Africa and the Americas – “Africa and its Diaspora”

© UNESCO / P. Chanthalangsy - from left to right: J.-G. Bidima (Cameroon), I.-P. Lalèyê (Senegal), K. C. Mabana (Barbados/DRC)

The Interregional Philosophical Dialogue between Africa and the Americas was convened jointly by UNESCO and the Alain Locke Society at Purdue University, West Lafayette (United States of America) from 18 to 20 April 2011. Organized in the framework of the International Year for People of African Descent, the event also received support from the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO). More than 35 speakers participated in 6 thematic roundtables and more than 100 participants including students gathered at the event.

The Dialogue allowed for the creation of a network of philosophers from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and North America.

Discussions addressed several themes pertaining to intellectual dialogue and enquiries existing or missing in the History of the relationship between Africa and the Americas.

You will find below the main topics discussed.

  • Philosophy can help rethinking thoroughly many contemporary challenges, especially in a context of global change.
  • Owing to their multicultural identities, African, Latin American and Caribbean philosophers have the power of understanding problems from plural perspectives. Most of them are trained in Western universities, while they also have knowledge of their intellectual traditions. This intrinsically pluralistic power to analyze reality is of particular importance in examining complex issues of today’s societies.
  • In the context of the African Diaspora, philosophy has served as a means of liberation and achievement (“philosophy born of struggle”). This paradigm also applies to movements of liberation that fought for independence in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • African philosophy has been the victim of “epistemic violence” due to the colonial past of the continent. All philosophers and intellectuals of the continent need to address this situation actively, in cooperation with all stakeholders and partners.
  • All philosophical communities acknowledge nowadays that philosophical thinking is the basis for many African intellectual traditions. Past debates on the existence or not of an “African philosophy” are now outdated.
  • “Eurocentrism” in philosophical debates, in particular in relation to African philosophy, can be overcome by further enhancing South-South and North-South-South dialogues where the epistemic paradigm will not be imperialism, but mutual recognition.
  • Mutual ignorance between African youth and African descent youth in the Diaspora is still persistent. More efforts need to be made towards mutual cognition and recognition.
  • The role of women intellectuals and philosophers who get engaged in public debates is still problematic in many parts of the regions involved. Scholars and political and civil society actors need to take care of this issue seriously.
  • Engaging in “modernity” requires in-depth reflection on key concepts such as “justice”, “equity”, “representation/imitation”, “ideologies”, “the South”, “standards of development”, “traditional knowledge”, “cosmopolitism”, etc.. It is urgent to reflect upon these concepts in order to inform public policies in emerging countries. Youth must be included in this process.

See also

Back to top