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The historiography of Léopold Sédar Senghor’s oeuvre and life shows the pervasive effects of coloniality in Africana Studies. His critics and biographers have traditionally paid more attention to his experiences within the colonial system and the influence of the European intellectual tradition on his work. They have consequently downplayed, if not ignored, his experiences in and of Sereer culture in Joal, Djilor, Djilaas, Fa’oye and Simal in Senegal, and the role of African intellectual traditions such as those of the Bambara and the Dogon on the development of his philosophy. Senghor’s oeuvre and life are, accordingly, often perceived as the logical progression of a young colonized pupil who joined the Christian seminary in Ngazobil at the age of seven and attended secondary school in Dakar between the
ages of thirteen and twenty-two, before he flew to France to attend Lycée Louis-le-Grand, Collège de France and the Sorbonne. In this talk, I ask: what happens when we read Leopold Sedar Senghor’s philosophy beyond the pervasive centralization of the Euro-modern subject? I argue, that reading Senghor as an Africa-centered philosopher shows that Negritude is a systematic Africa-centered ontology and epistemology leading to a groundbreaking political philosophy. This reading of Negritude opens the possibility to re-visit pivotal moments in Africana Studies such as Gilroy’s concept of “Black Atlantic” and Glissant’s philosophy of Relation in a new light. Reading Gilroy and Glissant’s
groundbreaking philosophies in light of Senghor’s work will allow me to show the continued relevance of the philosophy of Negritude.

Speaker: Cheikh Thiam

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