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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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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, Contributed 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Bright, Liam Kofi, Daniel Malinsky, Morgan Thompson. Causally Interpreting Intersectionality Theory
2016, Philosophy of Science 83(1): 60–81
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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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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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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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Freter, Yvette, , . Difference in African Educational Contexts
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 217-237
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Abstract: Educational institutions pull together students of different genders, abilities, races, classes, and religions and are the microcosm of their communities. In African contexts, schools have been the location of “cultural parochialism” and “colonial epistemicide and the consolidation of colonization” (Lebakeng et al. 72, 2006). Thus an additional dimension of difference drawn along the fallacious line of the superior dominant Eurowestern colonizer versus the inferior indigenous African population has been institutionalized within the educational system. I engage in a philosophical examination of the African context of difference in the sphere of education. I consider the hopeful gaze philosophy offers in the light of difference, by considering the concept of pluralism, and argue for a view of difference that is both inclusive and appreciative of diversity and suggests ways educators can critically assess their own differences by considering their positionality. I conclude by applying the philosophical outlook that embraces pluralism to our classroom spaces and suggests multicultural theory that embraces difference by including both dominant and marginalized educators to impact education in an efficacious way.

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Glaude, Eddie S., , . In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America
2007, University of Chicago Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Bart Schultz

Publisher’s Note: In this timely book, Eddie S. Glaude Jr., one of our nation’s rising young African American intellectuals, makes an impassioned plea for black America to address its social problems by recourse to experience and with an eye set on the promise and potential of the future, rather than the fixed ideas and categories of the past. Central to Glaude’s mission is a rehabilitation of philosopher John Dewey, whose ideas, he argues, can be fruitfully applied to a renewal of African American politics. According to Glaude, Dewey’s pragmatism, when attentive to the darker dimensions of life – or what we often speak of as the blues – can address many of the conceptual problems that plague contemporary African American discourse. How blacks think about themselves, how they imagine their own history, and how they conceive of their own actions can be rendered in ways that escape bad ways of thinking that assume a tendentious political unity among African Americans simply because they are black, or that short-circuit imaginative responses to problems confronting actual black people. Drawing deeply on black religious thought and literature, In a Shade of Blue seeks to dislodge such crude and simplistic thinking, and replace it with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for black life in all its variety and intricacy. Only when black political leaders acknowledge such complexity, Glaude argues, can the real-life sufferings of many African Americans be remedied. Heady, inspirational, and brimming with practical wisdom, In a Shade of Blue is a remarkable work of political commentary on a scale rarely seen today. To follow its trajectory is to learn how African Americans arrived at this critical moment in their history and to envision where they might head in the twenty-first century

Comment: A really terrific, historically sophisticated work that highlights how philosophical pragmatism can be developed in connection with critical race theory.

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Imafidon, Elvis, , . Africa and the Unfolding of Difference: An Introduction
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 1-11
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter

Abstract: This chapter provides introductory comments or preliminary remarks to the Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. It begins by defending the claim that difference stands under as the foundation of the unfolding of African philosophy as an academic discipline and the unfolding of many lived experiences in African spaces both in Africa and in the Diaspora. Hence, African philosophy of difference is a critical reflection on the place of difference in the African experience. The chapters in this handbook thus explore various and specific aspects of such lived experiences and the roles difference or alterity play in their unfolding. The handbook is thus divided into five sections with each section exploring key aspects of the importance of difference in the understanding of the African experience. The first section provides conceptualizations of difference in African thought. The second section explores various aspects and provides critical comments on the question of racism, particularly the institutionalized racial discrimination by whites against blacks due to racial differences. The third section examines some key issues emerging from the role difference plays in the unfolding of African experiences such as epistemological issues, the language issue, the role of art in the institutionalization of difference, and moral issues. The fourth section explores the important roles that difference plays in questions of disability, gender, and the non-human other. The last section examines how difference plays key roles in the unfolding of lived experiences in specific African places such as the experience of xenophobia in South Africa, the Skolombos in Calabar, Nigeria, and the land distribution question in Zimbabwe. The chapter concludes that this handbook is an important contribution to alterity discourse in African philosophy not because it exhausts the issues involved, but because it provided a robust discussion that would provoke further reflections and discussions.

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Imafidon, Elvis, , . Alterity, African Modernity, and the Critique of Change
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 171-189
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Abstract: A large chunk of the existing literature on African modernity understood here as African experience largely defined and influenced by her contact with the West or foreign cultures has mainly described the modern experience in African spaces as a predicament, an unfortunate distortion of the pre-modern status quo or systems in Africa. In this chapter I intend to explore a perspective for understanding and appreciating the description of the African experience of the West as a predicament, one founded on alterity and difference. I argue that the primary basis for understanding the claim that African modernity is a predicament is to understand the ways in which the one mode of thought or cultural orientation (African) was radically alien from, and different from, the other mode of thought or cultural orientation (Western). Specific cases of alterity between both cultures include moral values, system of education, religion, ontologies, and knowledge production and cognition systems. The African experience of the West could easily become a predicament because the former’s experience of the latter was under compulsion and the latter refused to accept and respect the otherness of the former, but rather painted it as nothing of worth. To explore this line of thought, I begin by examining important texts in the description of the African experience of the West as a predicament. I then proceed to show that these texts can best be understood as emanating from the difficulties that were associated in coping with the difference and changes that came with African contact with the West. I conclude that difference can be a positive force and easy to accept if it is willfully understood and assimilated, but it can become a negative force and a source of frustration if it is imposed on the other by the self or vice versa.

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