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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:What's in a name? African philosophy in the making
Author:Gratton, Peter M.ISNI
Periodical:Philosophia Africana: Analysis of Philosophy and Issues in Africa and the Black Diaspora
Geographic term:Subsaharan Africa
African identity
Abstract:If African philosophy is going to contest the traditional boundaries of its given colonial identity, as Lucius Outlaw argues, then it must not only counter the content of Africa's identity as the dark other of Europe. It must also deconstruct the essentializing force of any simple identity, from the racist portraits of the colonial period to the Négritude philosophy of Léopold Senghor. Building on Outlaw's assertion that African philosophy is deconstructive/reconstructive, the present author argues that African philosophy takes place in a dynamic in-between space in the always 'contemporary' interstices dividing past and future. This temporal dynamic is implicit at the heart of recent debates between the universalist and particularist camps in African philosophy. The present author attempts to read between these two positions, which he argues can only be thought in contradistinction to each other. He argues that African philosophy is part of the 'emergence of the interstices' in the 'hybrid' forms of postcolonial cultures. By operating between these positions, as a syncretic but never stable mélange, 'African philosophy' as 'singular-plural' becomes a practice beyond the problematic essentialist and/or colonialist assumptions underlying the most simplistic versions of the particularist and universalist positions. In order to clarify these assertions, the author first reviews Henry Odera Oruka's 'four trends' of African philosophy, and then reads the questions regarding particularism/universalism on the one hand and past/future on the other alongside Lucius Outlaw's work. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]