The Postcolonial Condition and Its Possible Futures in Achille Mbembe, Tsenay Serequeberhan, and Lewis R. Gordon

Journal of World Philosophies 4 (1):188-200 (2019)
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Abstract

This review article puts two recent publications —Existence and Heritage: Hermeneutic Explorations in African and Continental Philosophies by Tsenay Serequeberhan and What Fanon Said. A Philosophical Introduction to His Life and Thought by Lewis R. Gordon—in conversation with Achille Mbembe’s renowned On the Postcolony, first published in French in 2000, in English in 2001, and here reviewed in the 2015 Wits University Press edition. The opportunity for such a literary dialogue to take place across fifteen years is occasioned both by the latest South African edition of On the Postcolony, which in itself invites a fresh reading of Mbembe’s manifesto on postcolonial authoritarianism in Africa, as well as by the different potential outcome of the postcolonial condition that Gordon and Serequeberhan envision and propose with respect to Mbembe. I argue that while Mbembe’s pessimistic portrayal of the postcolonial present is one whereby it is difficult to envision transformation, both Serequeberhan and Gordon’s books offer a rich philosophical terrain from which to imagine possible futures, grounded in notions of dialogue and solidarity, that, however, vary significantly for each author.

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