Between Agora and Palaver

junio 14, 2012 – junio 16, 2012

COORDINADORES: Elisio Macamo | Paulo Inglês


The panel seeks to ponder the conditions of possibility of knowledge produced by the social sciences on Africa. It is mainly concerned with the process of translation entailed when concepts developed in very specific cultural and historical contexts (especially in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries) are brought to bear on the description and analysis of African cultural and historical contexts which seem to us to be different. What makes Africa different, however, is not any essential cultural trait, but rather the colonial experience which is at the root of present day Africa. While the issues arising out of the difficulty of translating concepts has been at the centre of epistemological discussions in Africa and other so-called peripheral regions, the critiques ensuing from such discussions have had to grapple with the basic difficulty of criticising "Western epistemologies" without, thereby, raising doubts around the practice of science as such. Jean-Godefroy Bidima has suggested the idea that African history over the past century may have been the history of the loss of the word (palaver) in the African public sphere. In this sense, then, our panel asks for the extent to which this loss of the word can be articulated with the challenge of producing conceptual translations that yield vocabularies which render African experience understandable to ordinary Africans. The panel invites papers which can address the following questions: (a) what assumptions underlie social science concepts and what is the extent to which these shape our understanding of Africa? (b) how is knowledge production on Africa affected by what Mahmood Mamdani calls "history by analogy" and what are its practical effects? (c) what are the implications of the fact that knowledge production on Africa is concentrated on the Northern hemisphere? (d) what are the methodological implications of a debate on the translation of concepts?

Idiomas: Portugués y Español

Formato: Discussant

Información del panel

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