Institute of African Studies - Columbia University

Columbia's Global Africa Seminar

Monday, September 23, 2019

The Institute of African Studies’ African Philosophy Working Group began in 2018 under the direction of Kai Kresse. The 2018 installation of the project centered around the works of African philosophers influenced by the writings and research of Kenyan Philosopher Henry Odera Oruka – best remembered for seeking out local thinkers recognized as "wise" within their own communities, and documenting discussions with them so as to create an archive of Kenyan “Sage Philosophers” outside of academia. This opened into a year-long public lecture series at Columbia that was followed by a workshop in Nairobi at the Global Center that included faculty and students from Columbia and universities in Kenya.

The 2019 iteration of the project broke new grounds as it began to develop new teach materials of the Wolof Language. Led by Prof. Diagne, a team of scholars and graduate students - including Columbia graduate students Althea Sully Cole and Youssef Akbar - came together this past July to engage in a workshop at the Tunisia Global Center translating works of philology and philosophy into the Wolof language. The primary aim of this group is to produce a dictionary similar to Barbara Cassin’s Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon. This new book will include translations from French to English of Cassin’s original text with some additional pieces written in Wolof. This text will be used for scholarly and teaching purposes, and marks an important contribution to the field of African language and philosophy. The second workshop will take place at Columbia this spring and will include a public panel on the project.