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African FuturesEssays on Crisis, Emergence, and Possibility$
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Brian Goldstone and Juan Obarrio

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226402246

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226402413.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 30 June 2022

Africa in Theory

Africa in Theory

(p.211) Fifteen Africa in Theory
African Futures

Achille Mbembe

University of Chicago Press

To write the world from Africa, or to write Africa into the world, is an exhilarating and most of the times perplexing task. As a name and as a sign, Africa has always occupied a paradoxical position in modern formations of knowledge. On the one hand, Africa has provided most of our modern disciplines with their foundational categories. From anthropology to political economy, from post-structuralism to psychoanalysis and postcolonial theory, Africa has been the purveyor of some of the most compelling concepts without which the face of modern criticism would be utterly poor. On the other hand, it has been largely assumed that “things African” are residual entities, the study of which does not contribute anything to the knowledge of the world or of the human condition in general. This assumption has itself led to too narrow a definition of what “Africa” stands for in the history of human thought, and too vulgar a conception of what “knowledge” is all about and whom it is supposed to serve.

Keywords:   social theory, economy, postcolonialism, critique

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