This is the name of the newest study group in the framework of the Dutch Research School of Philosophy. This week, on December 12, 2019, it held its first meeting, at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. The group will meet twice a year and wants to create a collegial, inclusive and friendly meeting place for those working in African Philosophy in the Netherlands in an academic context. Exchanging knowledge and experiences should keep research and teaching in the field in our country on a high level, and expand it from there.
The group aims to make African Intercultural Philosophy visible as an academic field. There is a lot of interest in African Philosophy outside academia in our country, but within, it is still in its first stages – with here and there a course taught, and a researcher working mostly in isolation (locally, though often not internationally).
As our OZSW page says: “The group focuses on the Intercultural Approach in African Philosophy, which has from the start of the academic study of African Philosophy been an important point of departure. It aims to study, discuss and bring African Philosophy further in ways that stress its meaning in and for a globalizing philosophy.” Thus we make clear that we do not view African philosophy as something contained in certain cultures, or which concerns only ‘local’ problems or traditions. African philosophy, on the contrary, offers much to enrich philosophy from other traditions and also a ‘globalizing’ philosophy.
The group hopes to raise consciousness in universities to introduce courses on African Philosophy in their programs, and perhaps even inspire the initialization of a master program for those wanting to specialize in it. It also hopes to increase collaboration in supervising of PhD students, of whom several were present yesterday. It may be a vehicle to organize or inspire conferences and make intercontinental collaborations easier. Attention to the issue of the closedness of Western philosophy (materially through visa and travel problems for philosophers from the African continent, and mentally through exclusionary epistemological frameworks) is not a side issue.
We want to articulate the field as deserving its own programs and conferences, not to be an afterthought in ethnology or ‘general’ philosophy. Finally, we want to exchange research findings, and collaborate in publishing projects. This first meeting Dr Henk Haenen (to our knowledge the second person ever to do a PhD in African Philosophy in the Netherlands) held a presentation on the concept of beauty in the work of Woly Soyinka, a topic which managed to raise in the discussion all the major issues concerning ‘African’ philosophy and African ‘philosophy that makes this field so exciting.
Our call: if you teach African Philosophy or if you research it at an academic level in the Netherlands, then you are invited to join the research group, in order to enrich each other and help this important field grow in depth and outreach. You can reach us through our page which is behind the top-most link in this post.