Ethnic and racial valorisations in Nigeria and South Africa: How ubuntu may harm or help

South African Journal of Philosophy 39 (3):296-307 (2020)
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Diversity is a fact of the social world; however, it can also be a problem if it leads to the valorisation of ethnic or racial identities. The social structures that inform the problems that arise from differences are based on historical, geographical, social, political, and economic stratifications; as well as on thought paradigms that either explicitly or implicitly promote the proliferation of binaries between “us and them”. We argue that an uncritical uptake of the African philosophy of ubuntu may inadvertently support negative identity binaries. Particularly, we argue that a conception of ubuntu premised on unity is – paradoxically – in danger of fostering disunity between communities. In place of “unity”, we explore, and argue for, an interpretation of ubuntu premised on “relationality”. Specifically, we argue that “relationality” is capable of incorporating both identity and difference.



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Author Profiles

John S. Sanni
University of Pretoria
Minka Woermann
University of Stellenbosch

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A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
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Just the Beginning for Ubuntu: Reply to Matolino and Kwindingwi.Thaddeus Metz - 2014 - South African Journal of Philosophy 33 (1):65-72.
The end of ubuntu.Bernard Matolino & Wenceslaus Kwindingwi - 2013 - South African Journal of Philosophy 32 (2):197-205.
The being-with of being-there.Jean-Luc Nancy - 2008 - Continental Philosophy Review 41 (1):1-15.

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