One month late, here is my post about the conference on Shifting the Geographies of Reason June 19-22 in Dakar. It has to open with the incredible poster, designed by former CPA president Jane Anna Gordon, featuring the magnificent photos by Djibril Drame. That already says a lot about this conference, which was co-organized by the Carribean Philosophical Association and La Société Sénégalaise de la Philosophie. It expresses that art is an integral element of the reflection that philosophy practices. An approach which reminded us, participants of this conference, of many thinkers, such as Senghor and Césaire, who would integrate poetry into their work to say things that purely academic language can not. Poetry was also a part of this conference, when at its closing session Rozena Maart read her impressive poem which seemed to reflect something of the deeper layers of experience which made this meeting possible.
It was a meeting in the true sense of the word, of scholars with roots in the Carribean and in African countries, as well as other world citizens who adhere to the fact that we are all together in what I discussed at another conference to be the global postcolony. More than at other philosophical conferences many presenters were young, and many were female, and this made for a unique possibility to hear the research and reflection of those who are so often not heard in the usual format of scholarly gatherings, where the system of keynotes by established professors overrepresents the older, and the male colleagues, and pushes the others into the workshop rooms.
This conference had the workshop rooms as its heart – young and older were to be heard there, and the general gatherings provided the frame where members of the two organizing societies, who so enthusiastically had joined forces, met.
For me it was a pleasant return to the Université Cheikh Anta Diop, which since last December I had come to know as a most hospitable place of intellectual encounter – with delicious meals by the most friendly catering service, eager students attending many of the presentations, colleagues who already have become friends, and of course, the natural beauty of the most Western tip of the African continent. It is impossible to give a short rendering of all that I learned through these encounters, but may it suffice to say that I
heard papers being presented on all the subjects I would like to hear at a conference – papers which disregarded the restrictive boundaries of disciplinarity, and which, informed by high quality historical, sociological, anthropological, and of course philosophical work, centered the experiences and events that brought us, humans, where we are in together – the postcolony, and centered intercultural and decolonial approaches as well that work toward us moving beyond this existential situation – with all the necessary truthfulness and open-mindedness to not leave anything out. To me, this is what philosophy should be. And places such as UCAD are where true philosophy therefore happens today.