Has Decolonisation Lost Its Way? w/ Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò and Alexandra Reza

27 Jun 2022 – 19:00 BST
The Philosopher (online)
Against Decolonisation: Taking African Agency Seriously author Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò will be in conversation with Alexandra Reza about today’s decolonisation movement and whether it truly serves African empowerment.
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.

About the moderator

Alexandra Reza is Lecturer in Comparative Literatures and Cultures at the University of Bristol. Her research and teaching spans postcolonial studies, comparative literature and political thought, and focuses on twentieth and twenty-first century writing, broadcasting and film in French, Portuguese and English.

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