HomePhilosophies et danses actuelles d'Afrique et de ses diasporas

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Published on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

From the 27th of October until the 10th of November 2018 the university consortium Erasmus Mundus Europhilosophie is organising, under the title “Corpus Africana; Current philosophies and Dances in Africa and its Diasporas”, an important international meeting, aiming to bring to the heart of arts and humanities university research in Europe the knowledge and the study of “Africana Philosophy”, of choreographic knowledge that is of African or contemporary African lineage in nature. The meeting will take place at the University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès as part of the research seminar “Thinking Decolonisation”, in collaboration with the James Carlès Centre of Choreography’s Festival of Dance and the Black Continents.

Announcement

Argument

From the 27th of October until the 10th of November 2018 the university consortium Erasmus Mundus Europhilosophie is organising, under the title “Corpus Africana; Current philosophies and Dances in Africa and its Diasporas”, an important international meeting, aiming to bring to the heart of arts and humanities university research in Europe the knowledge and the study of “Africana Philosophy”, of choreographic knowledge that is of African or contemporary African lineage in nature. The meeting will take place at the University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès as part of the research seminar “Thinking Decolonisation”, in collaboration with the James Carlès Centre of Choreography’s Festival of Dance and the Black Continents.

The African-American philosopher Lucius Outlaw introduced the notion of ‘Africana Philosophy’ in 1996 in his book On Race and Philosophy. Its formula aims to combine several cultural domains which are ordinarily treated separately: on the one hand, African philosophies, on the other, the philosophies of Afrodescendent diasporas (the Caribbean, North America, South America, Europe…). There was indeed a development of African and Afro-American philosophies over the course of the twentieth century that went unnoticed in Europe, despite the fact that figures linked to France such as Césaire or Fanon featured as principal reference points. The term ‘Africana’ refers therefore to the blueprint of a pan-Africanism in thought, an attempt to embrace the variety of knowledge, speculations and expressions born out of Africa and its diaspora.

Corpus Africana aims to explore and to re-establish these traditions of thought by asking how they did, and will continue to, disrupt the intellectual routines of European philosophy.  Because it will be necessary to confront extreme experiences: slavery, trafficking, colonisation. These questions- central to the philosophies of Frantz Fanon and Steve Biko, as to the theology of black liberation, have recently been resurrected by the young, yet already influential afro-pessimism critique in the United States. Africana philosophy is rooted not in wonder, but in the bitter pain of a historical observation. Every African, every Afrodescendent comes from a people that has seen the humanity of his/her ancestors contested and denied by philosophy, theology, political economics, psychiatry and European law. The link to Africa reveals that, since the beginning of the modern era, what man signifies has not been self-evident. This is why, as Lewis R. Gordon emphasizes, the anthropological question which is peripheral in European philosophy, was always central in Africana thought: it is a response to the issues of racism and dehumanisation that Blacks and Africans have been confronted with. But this ‘original denial of the human in the African’ (Achille Mbembe) results in one of the most profound paradoxes in modern culture. As Aimé Césaire wrote in his ‘Discourse on Negritude’, Black people all belong ‘in one way or another to human groups that have suffered the worst violences in history, groups that suffered and often still undergo marginalisation and oppression’. Yet, from blues to jazz, from rock and roll to hip-hop, from reggae, from afrobeats, afro-trap to grime, peoples of African ancestry are consistently at the root of mainstream popular culture which, in the urban context, has driven the musical and artistic modernity of the Global North. They are born of the afrodescendent creativity that ‘celebrates the rootedness of the aesthetic in other dimensions of social life.’ (Paul Gilroy).

Born from the disaster and the dehumanisation of bodies bent by colonisation and trafficking, Africana philosophy bears witness to an unshakeable force and an effort to think and recreate humanity at the borderline, on the edge of the precipice of the zone of non-being. In this regard it carries the same objective and origins as African and Caribbean contemporary dance: but as a philosophy that, deep down, carries the memory of bodies being raped, it doesn’t contribute to the hegemonic fiction of a universal sky and eternal ideas, freely applicable, rather stands for the immediate environment of the authors and the unstable situations that belong to them, with the sole aim of reinstating a verticality, of affirming the recovered dignity of the body. Africana dance and philosophy work together towards the resurrection of a denied humanity, for the reinvention of the self and of a hidden collective history, for the opening of a genuine spiritual space, through the creation of a new corpus that is to be written with the indelible ink of the blood and sweat of racialized bodies, in words and in concepts as in movements and in states of bodies- to bring into existence a body of memory (Germaine Acogny, Qudus Onikeku), a body of percept, a Creole, Haitian, Guadeloupian body (Léna Blou)… a differentiated corporeality that is meaningful for all bodies.

Whilst the disciplinary administration of philosophy that conforms to the western colonial university model, founded upon the prestige economy alone, opposes literary and theoretical practices to bodily practices, reducing philosophy to one ‘of the principal instances of the legitimation and the effective exercise of power and domination’ (Fabien Eboussi Boulaga), Africana thought, especially that which is inspired by Yoruba philosophy, doesn’t separate knowledge and the reparation of the social and cosmic order from the practical knowledge of choreographic vocabulary which enables a feeding of the eyes of our fellow man through the enactment of a spectacle, creating beauty without inheriting it passively from a prescriptive master. The Africana schools of choreography, such as Germaine Acogny (the mother of contemporary African dance)’s ‘School of the Sands’, or Léna Blou’s Centre of Dance and Choreography Studies in Pointe-à-Pitre, are philosophical schools for life which provide their students with the science of motions for critical adaption in an adverse world, unheard of in European teaching. Contrary to the scholarly practice of Europe, which consists of tradition, its own tradition, as forms and contents of knowledge to be transmitted without change- without change other than that introduced by a more essential exegesis, better suited to a steadfast fixing of the identity-, the current dances of Africa and its diasporas, far from the stereotypical exotic and folkloric stereotypes, mobilise their traditions because of what they have always been: active metamorphic principles of improvisation and of contextualisation; and if they hybrid and blend, it’s among the mobile forms of African and diasporic art that this blending has long taken place; already a blend of African narratives, of capoeira, of hip-hop, of gwo-ka dance, of afro-Trap…that it tackles its relationship with the western vocabulary of contemporary dance to work towards this becoming-Africa of the global north which is an example of what the Franco-Cameroonian Léonora Miano calls ‘Afropean’.

Invited lecturers, philosophers or choreographers

  • Germaine Acogny
  • Mehdi Alioua
  • Mohammed Ali Benmakhlouf
  • Jean-Yves Blot
  • Florence Boyer
  • Maria Mercedes Campo
  • Thomas De Frantz
  • Elsa Dorlin
  • Fabien Eboussi
  • Lewis Gordon
  • Laënnec Hurbon
  • Kiswendsida Parfait Karobé
  • Nadia Yala Kisukidi
  • Achille Mbembe
  • Bernardo Montet
  • Qudus Onikeku
  • Robyn Orlin
  • Muriel Plana
  • Salia Sanou
  • Rita Segato
  • Guillaume Sibertin-Blanc
  • Nelson Maldonaldo Torres
  • Elise Van Haesebrock
  • Françoise Vergès
  • Abdourahman Waberi
  • Zora Snake

Organisation

Corpus Africana will consist of an ensemble of conferences given by philosophers, writers and choreographers. There will be workshops discussing practical choreography and theory overseen by researchers and artists, indoor and outdoor performances where choreographic and theatrical Afro-diasporic companies will come together. A cycle of Africana and Afro-Brazilian documentary screenings, as well as a workshop analysing social and political documentary filmmaking will be offered to participants in the meeting. The full programme will be published and regularly updated on this webpage.

Free entry to the ‘foundational techniques’ autumn workshops at the James Carlès centre will be offered in the style of gospel and afro-beats to sixty students (from bachelors through to PhD) taking part in Corpus Africana from the 27th to the 31st of October. The conditions for enrolment will be published in May on this webpage.

  • James Carlès, Jean-Christophe Goddard (UT2J),
  • Marc Maesschalck (CPDR-UCL)

Submission guidelines

Paper submissions for the workshops are to be addressed to corpus.africana@gmail.com

before the 15 of September 2018.

Each contribution to the workshops may last between 15 and 20 minutes and must relate to a choreographic or philosophical Africana corpus. A longer version of the speech may be separately published on the Corpus Africana website (undergoing development) for the purpose of the proceedings of the meeting. The invited lecturers, philosophers or choreographers, of whom a list will be published on this webpage at the start of April, will oversee the workshops. A specific workshop will be dedicated to the work of Germaine Acogny.

Organisation Committee

  • Norman Ajari,
  • Lina Alvarez,
  • Lucie Baudet,
  • Hourya Bentouhami,
  • Anne Coignard,
  • Loreline Courret,
  • Marion Detienne,
  • Christian Alain Djoko,
  • David Fimiez,
  • Christiane Fioupou,
  • Emmanuel Manteau,
  • Alexandra Mönkemöller,
  • Gabriel Rivière.

Date(s)

  • Saturday, September 15, 2018

Keywords

  • danse, race, identité, genre, postcolonial

Contact(s)

  • Jean-Christophe Goddard
    courriel : jean [dot] christophe [dot] goddard [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Hourya Bentouhami
    courriel : bhourya [at] gmail [dot] com

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Hourya Bentouhami
    courriel : bhourya [at] gmail [dot] com

To cite this announcement

« Philosophies et danses actuelles d'Afrique et de ses diasporas », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, https://calenda.org/453762

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