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

© AF
Logo "2011 International Year for people of African Descent"

The conference brought together philosophers from throughout Africa, its diasporas, and the Americas to address contemporary challenges.
It was organized in the framework of the celebration of the International Year for People of African Descent (2011) proclaimed by the UN General Assembly at its 64th session and has benefited from ISESCO’s financial support.

The dialogue between philosophers from Africa and the Americas – North America, and Latin America and the Caribbean – around the theme “Africa and its Diaspora” is founded on a strong conviction: the very rich intercultural exchanges between the regions have given birth to a quintessence of intellectual wealth. Such wealth is embodied by the very valuable and insightful philosophical and theoretical debates on the meaning of “African Philosophy”, “African-American Philosophy” and “Caribbean/Latin Philosophy”.

As the famous African American philosopher Alain Locke put it, an authentic dialogue requires “fluid and functional unity rather than a fixed an irrevocable one”, having as “its vital norms…equivalence and reciprocity rather than identity or complete agreement”. This conference was intended as a contribution to a fluid dialogue between individuals and groups as well as an addition to the corpus of works that help form Africana networks.

The conference aimed at
(1) bringing together for the first time philosophers from throughout Africa and its Diaspora to address contemporary challenges, in particular related to the nature and the role of philosophizing in the regions concerned;
(2) establishing a solid and sustained network of scholars between the three parts of the world concerned, so as to enhance academic cooperation and capacity-building;
(3) creating an e-Library on Africana philosophy, and a database of interviews with famous philosophers and of key debates from the conference.

A special session also addressed the theme proposed by the International Year for People of African Descent: “People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice and Development”.

This endeavour is all the more important in light of the past and current migrations and the brain-drain/brain-circulation phenomenon whereby the intellectual resources are redeployed between the two continents. These dynamics question the notion of region and make identities more complex. Cultures have always been composite entities, subject to the influence, hostility and indifference of neighboring cultures. Rather than resigning the future development of Africana Philosophy with its diverse trajectories on the African, North and South American continents, and the Caribbean, to the blind interplay of such forces, the conference aimed to foster a more sharpened vision of the potential intersections between these traditions.

The debates were webcast live in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese ( Video interviews of the philosophers and webcasts of the conference debates will now be archived and made available on request.


Type of Event Category 8-Symposium
Start 18.04.2011 16:00 local time
End 20.04.2011 12:30 local time
Date to be fixed 0
Focal point Goucha, Moufida
Organizer UNESCO; UNESCO Office in Montevideo; UNESCO Office in Dakar
Contact Philosophy and Democracy Section, philosophy&, +33 1 45 68 45 52
Country United States of America
City West Lafayette, IN
Venue Purdue University, West Lafayette, USA
Street Steward Center (STEW), 128 Memorial Mall
Permanent Delegation Contact
Major Programme
Language of Event English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Estimated number of participants 100
Official Website “Africa and its Diaspora”
Link 1 Agenda, Concept Note and Biographies [PDF, 107 KB]
Link 2 UNESCO Programme on Philosophy
Link 3 UNESCO Media Advisory
Link 4 Webcast