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Abudu, Kenneth U. , Imafidon, Elvis. Epistemic Injustice, Disability, and Queerness in African Cultures
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 393-409
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Added by: Björn Freter
Abstract: Perception, representations, and knowledge claims about disability and queerness vary across societies and cultures. In African cultures negative knowledge claims and representations of disability and queerness create a perception of the disabled and queer that are not only detrimental to such persons in African societies but arguably undermine the work of understanding difference and tolerance in general. These negative claims raise some epistemological questions, such as: how do Africans come to know about disability and how are such knowledge claims validated within African communities? Against this backdrop, this chapter critically examines the epistemology of disability and queerness in African traditions. It shows that the epistemic authoritarianism found in African epistemology leads to an epistemic injustice that contributes immensely to the discrimination against disabled and queer beings as reflected in many cultural practices across the continent of Africa. The chapter argues that knowledge claims about disability and queerness in Africa emerge mainly from neglect, superstition, myth, and, above all, ignorance.

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Abudu, Kenneth U.. Language and Othering in African Contexts
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 317-329
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Added by: Björn Freter
Abstract: Postmodern and post-analytic understanding of African thought was primarily a shift from attempts to understand African thought using Western conceptual lenses to attempt to understand African framework of thought from the conceptual scheme of the people whose thought was being studied. This paradigm shift in the study of a people’s culture championed by such scholars as Ludwig Wittgenstein – notable in his shift from the pictorial theory of language to the game theory – had and continues to have very successful results in the attempts by sociologists, anthropologists, and philosophers to understand African (philosophical) thought. We recall, for instance, the insightful studies of Edward E. Evans-Pritchard, Peter Winch, and Robin Horton and the continuous records by ethnophilosophy. What stands out from this shift to conceptual scheme of a people as a means for unraveling their thought and ideas is the importance of language as a factor that cannot be ignored in understanding various aspects of the being, knowing, and acting of a people. This essay follows in this line of reasoning. It focuses on an underexplored area of the role of language in African thought: how language promotes or impedes positive and negative experiences of othering or alterity in African spaces. It argues that language is imperative to understanding the different levels of othering in African societies. It explores four areas where this is obvious: (1) the lack of competence to speak and communicate in the particular language spoken in the African community in which one dwells naturally in others such as person from the community in a manner that may be inimical to her well-being; (2) the ability to speak in a language of an African people to which one was not naturally born to promote positive relation with the self (the speaker) by the other (the community of selves) to the extent of blurring the gap between the self and the other; (3) the power of language to turn a complete stranger to a close friend when two African strangers meet in a foreign land such as in the Diaspora, a friendship formed solely on the basis of the sameness of language; and (4) the manner in which the other in an African place is conceptually represented to express the people’s understanding of and their responsibility toward the other in such a place. The essay concludes that language remains the richest source to explore and the fastest route to follow in the search for a people’s ideas about othering and difference.

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Aigbodioh, Jack A., Abudu, Kenneth U.. Pragmatics and Difference in the Social Othering of African Colonial Experience
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 301-315
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Added by: Björn Freter

Abstract: Pragmatics, beyond language, is construed here as the deliberate and surreptitious use of language, not just to communicate but “to do things” or recreate some desired order. Difference is, as it were, its philosophical correlation whose syntax, with the idea of the One and the Other, has been used to “make up” or to other the peoples and cultures of colonial Africa South of the Sahara. The purpose of this chapter is to examine how the philosophical affirmations or, simply, the language of difference and the inflectional use of pragmatics on certain terms such as “native,” “primitive,” and “savage” have served as a major plank for the establishment of the social Otherness of the African colonial experience. Put differently, what role, if any, does language play in the social othering of African colonial experience? To this end, we shall seek, first, to determine briefly the sense of critical narrative of how the social othering of African colonial experience was attained via the combined themes of pragmatics and Difference. The chapter concludes that although difference and othering are necessary conditions of human existence, the denigrating othering via language of the African colonial experience by the European colonialists was a case of calling the dog a bad name in order to hang it; and its consequences remain embedded in the physical, metaphysical, and transcendental architectonics of Africa till date.

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Alena Rettová. Afrophone Philosophy: Reality and Challenges
2007, Středokluky: Zdeněk Susa
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Added by: Sara Peppe, Contributed by: Jonathan Egid
Publisher’s Note:

The point of departure of this publication is philosophy, more precisely African philosophy and the question of the possibility of using African languages in philosophical discourse. This book sees Afrophone literatures as a prominent locus of philosophical discourse in African cultures. In its eleven chapters, the book investigates literary works in African languages and reads them with respect to their contribution to philosophy. Studying Swahili, Ndebele, Shona, Bambara, Yoruba and Lingala literatures, we have found philosophical insights which sometimes amount to no more than philosophical commonplaces, but occasionally make highly original contributions to philosophy. The deeper we penetrated into Afrophone discourses, the more remote became the departure point. The issue of "philosophies in African languages" was both methodologically and empirically settled, and we found ourselves looking for "a philosophy for Afrophone literatures". Philosophy became more of a tool than a goal in this process: it has the conceptual inventory to articulate the insights found in Afrophone literatures. Drawing on both Western and African philosophical traditions, with their concepts and conceptual frameworks, provides these new articulations with the necessary distance to secure a creative reflexion of the literary texts, developing their theme and showing them in a broader context of intellectual history. This book examines literatures in six African languages, from several regions within Bantu Africa (Swahili, Lingala, Shona, Ndebele) and from West Africa (Bambara, Yoruba). With the exception of Yoruba, where (although we know the language to some extent) we used texts collected and translated by other researchers, we have always relied on original texts written (and mostly also published) by their authors.

Comment: A great survey of general approaches to African philosophy in many languages, at the cutting edge of modern research. Great for classes on philosophy and literature or on introductions to global thought best discussed alongside the primary texts it discusses.

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Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Akan and Euro-American Concepts of the Person
2004, In Lee M. Brown (ed.), African Philosophy: New and Traditional Perspectives. Oxford University.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: This essay explores the theories of the person within Western and Akan traditions. It identifies six obstacles to theory comparison. It argues that there may be no non-question begging way of comparing theories since these theories themselves play key roles in understanding how each is to be used.

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Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (Issues of Our Time)
2010, WW Norton & Company.
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Added by: Simon Fokt
Back matter: "A welcome attempt to resurrect an older tradition of moral and political reflection and to show its relevance to our current condition." -- John Gray "Cosmopolitanism is... of wide interest-invitingly written and enlivened by personal history... Appiah is wonderfully perceptive and levelheaded about this tangle of issues." -- Thomas Nagel "Elegantly provocative." -- Edward Rothstein "[Appiah's] belief in having conversations across boundaries, and in recognizing our obligations to other human beings, offers a welcome prescription for a world still plagued by fanaticism and intolerance." -- Kofi A. Annan, former United Nations secretary-general "[Appiah's] exhilarating exposition of his philosophy knocks one right off complacent balance... All is conveyed with flashes of iconoclastic humor." -- Nadine Gordimer, winner of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature "An attempt to redefine our moral obligations to others based on a very humane and realistic outlook and love of art... I felt like a better person after I read it, and I recommend the same experience to others." -- Orham Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Comment: The introduction provides a particularly good entry text to ethics, race and cosmopolitanism.

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Appiah, Kwame Anthony. In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture
1992, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Simon Fokt
Back matter: Africa's intellectuals have long been engaged in a conversation with each other, and with Europeans and Americans about what it means to be African. At the heart of these debates on African identity are the seminal works of politicians, creative writers and philosophers from Africa and its diaspora. In this book, Appiah draws on his experiences as a Ghanaian in the New World to explore the writings of these African and African-American thinkers and to contribute his own vision of the possibilities and pitfalls of an African identity in the late twentieth century. Appiah sets out to dismantle the specious oppositions between "us" and "them," the West and the Rest, that have governed so much of the cultural debate about Africa in the modern world. All of us, he maintains, wherever we live on the planet, must explore together the relations between our local cultures and an increasingly global civilization. Combining philosophical analysis with more personal reflections, Appiah addresses the major issues in the philosophy of culture through an exploration of the contemporary African predicament.

Comment: Chapters 1 & 2 can be particularly useful in teaching on the social construction of race.

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Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Reconstructing Racial Identities
1996, Research in African Literatures 27 (3):58-72.
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Added by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: The main theoretical gap in In My Father's House - in the opinion, at least, of its author - is the lack of a proposed alternative to the account of identity in the black diaspora that the book criticizes. The pseudo- biological essentialist account of black identity is, in my judgment, now generally understood to be untenable; what is lacking is an alternative positive account of black identity. In the book I criticized the biological account as a proposed basis for identities in the continent as well: but I offered, in the chapter on "African Identities," some suggestions for a positive basis for a range of continentally based mobilizations of Africa as what I called "a vital and enabling badge." But what I had to say about diasporic identities was, to put it kindly, perfunctory. Katya Azoulay's critique of my work ("Outside Our Parents' House: Race, Culture, and Identity" in RAL 27.1 [1996]: 129-42) identifies this theoretical gap and rightly draws attention to it. Let me offer at least a sketch of an approach.

Comment: The article follows up on Appiah's In My Father's House.

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Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Whose Culture Is It, Anyway?
2007, in Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New York, London: W. W. Nortion & Company.
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Added by: Erich Hatala Matthes
Summary: In this chapter, Appiah offers a cosmopolitan critique of the concept of cultural property/patrimony. By emphasizing the common features of our humanity and the tenuousness of certain cultural identity claims, he puts pressure on conceptions of cultural property that would exclude others, particularly those that have a nationalist character. He raises important philosophical questions about cultural continuity over time, and explores how the location of art can best facilitate its value for humanity. In general, he supports a cosmopolitan/internationalist approach to cultural property that promotes the exchange of cultural products around the world.

Comment: This text offers a clear and effective overview of philosophical issues concerning cultural property, and uses a range of cultural and artistic examples. It offers a concise summary of the legal scholar John Merryman's classic article in support of internationalism about cultural property (not included in this curriculum). It pairs well with Lindsay's article.

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Azenabor, Godwin. The Idea of African Philosophy in African Language
2000, Indian Philosophical Quarterly. 27 (3): 321-328.
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Added by: Sara Peppe and Björn Freter
Abstract: The necessity of writing African philosophy in African languages has been proposed more than once. But, expressing African philosophy in indigenous languages of Africa does not make it more authentic. Authentic African philosophy is the philosophy that takes into account African culture and life. Moreover, the problem of using indigenous languages deals with the fact that the above-mentioned languages are scarcely taught in schools and have almost no place in education. Regarding this, the Nigeria case is paradigmatic.

Comment: Godwin Azenabor considers the problem of African philosophy in the African language by examining both the concepts of African philosophy and language. The author underlines that the fact that African philosophy should be written in the African language derives from the idea that other philosophies are written in their respective languages. This led the author to think that translating African philosophy into other languages may not depict the true picture of African philosophy, with African philosophy lacking in authenticity. The author focuses on the fact that African indigenous languages are not taught in schools, and scholars do not master the indigenous languages as much as to write in indigenous languages for education purposes. This occurs in Nigeria, where official institutions and education bodies use colonial languages. Plus, the problem of language is rooted in the idea that most African languages are local while philosophy aims to be international. The author also explains why Africans use colonial languages, i.e., to remove communication and understanding barriers. And Azenabor concludes that the language used does not determine the authenticity of African philosophy. Plus, what makes a philosophy African is that it is applied to the conceptual problems of African life and encompasses its tradition.

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Blyden, Edward Wilmot. Christianity, Islam, and the Negro Race
1887, Black Classic Press
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, Contributed by: Quentin Pharr
Publisher’s Note: A native of St. Thomas, West Indies, Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832-1912) lived most of his life on the African continent. He was an accomplished educator, linguist, writer, and world traveler, who strongly defended the unique character of Africa and its people. Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race is an essential collection of his writings on race, culture, and the African personality.

Comment: This collection of essays is seminal in the intellectual foundations of Pan-Africanism, African Islamism, African Anti-colonialism, the Back-to-Africa Movement, and the educational revival in Liberia/West Africa. The essays are great for courses on African thought, or African anti-colonialism/postcolonialism. They would also be excellent companion texts for reading Marcus Garvey or Kwame Nkrumah, or vice versa.

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Bodunrin, Peter Oluwambe. The Question of African Philosophy
1981, Philosophy. 56 (216): 161-179.
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Added by: Sara Peppe and Björn Freter
Abstract: Philosophy in Africa has for more than a decade now been dominated by the discussion of one compound question, namely, is there an African philosophy, and if there is, what is it? The first part of the question has generally been unhesitatingly answered in the affirmative. Dispute has been primarily over the second part of the question as various specimens of African philosophy presented do not seem to pass muster. Those of us who refuse to accept certain specimens as philosophy have generally been rather illogically said also to deny an affirmative answer to the first part of the question. In a paper presented at the International Symposium in Memory of Dr William Amo, the Ghanaian philosopher who taught in German universities in the early part of the eighteenth century, Professor Odera Oruka identified four trends, perhaps more appropriately approaches, in current African philosophy

Comment: The article is focused on the theme of African philosophy giving a clear picture of the difficulties in defining what is African philosophy. This paper does not treat the theme of African philosophy and African language, but it provides a base for the above-mentioned debate giving an account picture of African philosophy. The paper indicates that the philosopher Oruka found four trends in African philosophy: Ethno-philosophy, Philosophy sagacity, Nationalist-ideological philosophy and Professional philosophy. The author highlights that the nature of African philosophy is understood differently by the various contemporary African thinkers. And, the article deeply considers the effects of contact with Western populations. Thus, the article links the philosophical problem of defining philosophy in Africa with colonialism. Moreover, Bodunrin examines the four categories of African philosophy proposed by Oruka in the light of the four challenges Africa faces after entering in contact with Western countries.

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Bright, Liam Kofi, Daniel Malinsky, Morgan Thompson. Causally Interpreting Intersectionality Theory
2016, Philosophy of Science 83(1): 60--81
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Added by: Simon Fokt
Abstract: Social scientists report difficulties in drawing out testable predictions from the literature on intersectionality theory. We alleviate that difficulty by showing that some characteristic claims of the intersectionality literature can be interpreted causally. The formal-ism of graphical causal modeling allows claims about the causal effects of occupying intersecting identity categories to be clearly represented and submitted to empirical test-ing. After outlining this causal interpretation of intersectional theory, we address some concerns that have been expressed in the literature claiming that membership in demo-graphic categories can have causal effects.

Comment: This text contains a summary of some key concepts in intersectionality theory and a discussion of how they have been used in empirical sociological research, as well as an introduction to methods of causal statistical inference. Students needing an introduction to any of these things could therefore benefit from this text. It also contains arguments about the permissibility of using demographic categories as the basis of causal claims that may be interesting matters of dispute or discussion for students of the philosophy of race.

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Chimakonam, Jonathan O.. Othering, Re-othering, and De-othering. Interrogating the Skolombo’s Fight-Back Strategy
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 433-488
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Added by: Björn Freter
Abstract: I argue that the phenomenon of “othering”—the stratification of identities into in-group and out-group by the norm and the consequent marginalization of the out-group—has created another problem which can be referred to as “re-othering,” that is, when the victim of othering responds with disidentification strategy to counter identity constructed for them by the norm. I use the context of the residents—the legitimate people in the city of Calabar, Nigeria and the Issakaba—the marginalized other, to show how negative identity construction has been used to discriminate against the homeless poor in the city of Calabar. I explore the conditions that compelled the homeless poor to reconstruct their imposed identity Issakaba to Skolombo and contend that it was a fightback strategy. I then employ a new concept, de-othering, as a conversational strategy that might be able to address the mutually opposing negative identification and disidentification constructions in Calabar specifically and in other places where similar problem emerges.

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Darby, Derrick. Reparations and Racial Inequality
2010, Philosophy Compass 5 (1): 55-66.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord
Abstract: A recent development in philosophical scholarship on reparations for black chattel slavery and Jim Crow segregation is reliance upon social science in normative arguments for reparations. Although there are certainly positive things to be said in favor of an empirically informed normative argument for black reparations, given the depth of empirical disagreement about the causes of persistent racial inequalities, and the ethos of 'post-racial' America, the strongest normative argument for reparations may be one that goes through irrespective of how we ultimately explain the causes of racial inequalities. By illuminating the interplay between normative political philosophy and social scientific explanations of racial inequality in the prevailing corrective justice argument for black reparations, I shall explain why an alternative normative argument, which is not tethered to a particular empirical explanation of racial inequality, may be more appealing.

Comment: This text provides a clear overview and introduction to debates about reparations for decendents of African American slaves. It also surveys quite a bit of empirical data surrounding racial inequalities. It would fit well in a course that considered questions of social justice, racial inequality, or reparations.

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