Critical Revisions and Alternative Approaches of Intercultural Philosophy

Just last week the third edition of our VU graduate Wintercourse in (alternatingly) Intercultural and African Philosophy was held. Last year the topic was African Philosophy in Global Times, with guest lecturers from Senegal, Cameroon, South Africa, this year we returned to the initial topic – Intercultural Philosophy, and as the subtitle ‘Critical Revisions and Alternative Approaches’ made clear, we looked into possibilities to critize and decolonize this relatively new and dialogical approach in academic philosophy.

Intercultural Philosophy as a specific field with that name is known in Europe since the 1990s, when men such as Ram Adhar Mall, Heinz Kimmerle and Franz Wimmer – all working in the German language philosophical space – wrote their systematic articles and books on the topic. As a practice – to dialogue beyond and to think through cultural differences – it is of course not restricted to any philosophical place. In the course we started out with these ‘grand old men’, to further discuss critical revisions of their Gadamer/Derrida inspired reflections on meaning and truth and alternative approaches to the topic as well.

All teachers led a lecture session and an interactive session. We had students of education, of philosophy (different fields), criminology and development. In Renate Schepen’s lecture we learned how Kimmerle learned from a philosopher such as Mogobe Ramose. In Monika Kirloskar‘s interactive session the students were one by one invited to reflect on the connection between the texts read and their own field of study and research. Pius Mosima shared how the Intercultural approach is at work among African philosophers such as Kwasi Wiredu and Henry Odera Oruka.

Together and each for themselves we worked to make our research work more grounded and more informed by insights and events from this postcolonial (and neocolonial) age. The presentations by the students gave ever so many interesting takes and clear analyses of the many texts digested in a short time.

Intense, one week, in the coldest month of the year here in the Netherlands. Still on Zoom, on three different continents, from nine different birth countries – our screenshot photo says it all: rays of intellectual light, warmth of connectedness in collaboration, and the joys of understanding characterised another great week in the VU Winter School. Thanks to all teachers, to all students, and to the people from the VU Winter School team who made things roll smoothly. May the light spread through your work.

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