LUCAS Annual Lecture 2022 by Prof. Ndlovu-Gatsheni: “Politics of Decolonizing Knowledge in African Studies”

Please join us on Thursday 29th September 4.00-6.00 pm (BST) for the Leeds University Centre for African Studies annual lecture of 2022, which will be delivered by Professor Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni (University of Bayreuth) who will speak about:

“Politics of Decolonizing Knowledge and Trajectories of African Studies in Africa”

The event  will take place in hybrid form, meaning that you can attend in person or online, (via MS Teams). For in person attendees there will be the opportunity to continue the discussion in the nearby bar The Library after the lecture.

Professor Ndlovu-Gatsheni

Professor Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni holds the Chair of Epistemologies of the Global South with Emphasis on Africa at the University of Bayreuth in Germany, and was previously Research Professor at the University of South Africa (UNISA). He is a leading decolonial theorist with over a hundred publications in the fields of African history, African politics, African development and decolonial theory. His latest major publications include Decolonization, Development and Knowledge in Africa (Routledge, 2020), Epistemic Freedom in Africa: Deprovincialization and Decolonization (Routledge, 2018); and, edited with Morgan Ndlovu, Marxism and Decolonization in the 21st Century: Living Theories and True Ideas (Routledge 2021).

Lecture abstract

Two contemporary moments symbolised resurgent and insurgent politics of decolonizing knowledge in Africa. The first was the launch of the African Studies Association of Africa (ASAA) in Accra in Ghana on the 25th of October 2013, with a mission to promote African Studies in Africa.  Ghana was not only the first African country in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain political independence in 1957 but was also where Kwame Nkrumah officially opened the Institute of African Studies on the 25th of October in 1963. At the same time, the attainment of political independence in 1957 by Ghana coincided with the establishment of the largest Association of African Studies (ASA) in the United States of America, which had just emerged as a superpower. That Africans would gather in Accra in 2013 to launch an ASAA, provokes the need to revisit decolonizing of knowledge initiatives and necessity to audit the trajectories of African Studies in Africa. The second moment was the outbreak of the Rhodes Must Fall movement in South Africa in 2015, a country located at the southern tip of the African continent. South Africa has been the last part of Africa to liberate itself from apartheid colonialism at a time of triumphalism of neoliberalism in the 1990s. In the spirit of the 1990s, neoliberal democracy and human rights rather than decolonization and Africanization, were privileged in the South African national discourse.  Not surprising, by 2015 South Africa became a site of resurgence and insurgence of politics of decolonizing and Africanizing of knowledge. This snapshot on events reflects not only imbrications of the politics of decolonizing knowledge and trajectories of African Studies in national and international politics but also entanglements of the past and the present in African struggles for epistemic freedom. This annual lecture seeks to perform five tasks. The first task is to highlight some of the entangled existential, historical and epistemic questions driving contemporary politics of decolonizing knowledge in Africa. The second is to briefly explain how knowledge is colonized and how coloniality of knowledge has impacted on African consciousness, African scholarship and African Studies. The third task is to revisit the definition of decolonization, a concept which has assumed omnibus character but remains relevant today. The fourth task is to examine the trajectories of African Studies in Africa, capturing decolonial turns and challenges across time, thus making connections between decolonial initiatives of the 1960s and those of the present. The last task is to draw conclusions and reflect on the future on African Studies.