Against Decolonisation w/ Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò

21 May 2024 – 17:00 - 19:30 BST
University of York
Room CL/A/057
Church Lane Building
Campus West, University of York
YO10 5DD
United Kingdom

Join the University of York for the keynote lecture of the Anticolonial Agendas workshop with Professor Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, who is visiting York for the first time.

Professor Táíwò will present his latest book Against Decolonisation: Taking African Agency Seriously, which provides an intellectual and moral critique of today’s decolonisation movement.

This thought-provoking lecture will be followed by a Q&A and drinks reception, and is hosted by the University of York Anticolonial Reading Group, with support from the Department of Politics and IR.

About the book

Decolonisation has lost its way. Originally a struggle to escape the West’s direct political and economic control, it has become a catch-all idea, often for performing ‘morality’ or ‘authenticity’; it suffocates African thought and denies African agency.

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò fiercely rejects the indiscriminate application of ‘decolonisation’ to everything from literature, language and philosophy to sociology, psychology and medicine. He argues that the decolonisation industry, obsessed with cataloguing wrongs, is seriously harming scholarship on and in Africa. He finds ‘decolonisation’ of culture intellectually unsound and wholly unrealistic, conflating modernity with coloniality, and groundlessly advocating an open-ended undoing of global society’s foundations. Worst of all, today’s movement attacks its own cause: ‘decolonisers’ themselves are disregarding, infantilising and imposing values on contemporary African thinkers.

This powerful, much-needed intervention questions whether today’s ‘decolonisation’ truly serves African empowerment. Táíwò’s is a bold challenge to respect African intellectuals as innovative adaptors, appropriators and synthesisers of ideas they have always seen as universally relevant.

About the author

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò is Professor of African Political Thought and current Chair at the Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University. His writings have been translated into French, Italian, German and Portuguese. His book How Colonialism Preempted Modernity in Africa won the Frantz Fanon Award in 2015.

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