Achille Mbembe “Decolonizing Knowledge and the Question of the Archive”

In his lecture “Decolonizing Knowledge and the Question of the Archive”, Achille Mbembe, Professor at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER), University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, gives insight into his understanding of the concept of “decolonization” with respect to higher education and the universities in post-Apartheid South Africa.

Jameson Hall at the University of Cape Town (Photo: Ian Barbour under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Jameson Hall at the University of Cape Town (Photo: Ian Barbour under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Mbembe convincingly sets forth the necessity of a complete political, economic, social and intellectual change of higher education elaborating on the notions of “De-Westernization” and “Africanization” with reference to the thought of Frantz Fanon and Ngugi wa Thiong’o promoting the idea of a non-racial “pluriversity” as a common good. But for Mbembe it is crucial to expand this necessity for change and “an entirely new struggle” beyond the boundaries of the South-African education system towards Africa herself, the whole world, and to humanity as such and, thus, to challenge the fundaments of neo-liberalism and financialized economy, national-chauvinism, anthropocentrism and humanism, technology and science, and new forms of racism, because “true decolonization necessarily centers on ‘the destiny of humankind’ (Dubois, 1919) and not of one race, color or ethnos” (Mbembe).
Living in the ‘Anthropocene’ the need for a whole new perspective on humanity and its relation to the non-human world becomes pressing when we want to prevent our own extinction.

You can find Achille Mbembe’s lecture here.


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