The Place of Africa, in Theory: Pan-Africanism, Postcolonialism, Beyond.

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Twentieth-century African theory translated two destructive diasporas - of peoples by the slave trade, of lands by empire - into a creative third: a pan-Africanist philosophy of decolonization that recovered Africa's pluralism as a powerfully 'diasporic' defiance of imperial taxonomies. Comparing a 1967 lecture given in Cairo by Senegalese poet-president Léopold Sédar Senghor with a 1955 treatise on the philosophy of revolution by Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser (Jamal cAbd al-Nasir), and both with Achille Mbembe's 2001 On the Postcolony, this essay shows how Senghor marshals race/culture hybridities, Nasser historical/geographic alignments, and Mbembe temporal entanglements to deconstruct monolithic constructions of 'Arab', 'Black', and ' African' being, space, and time - and to pluralize and 'world' a continent. It argues that the logics of trans-territoriality and trans-temporality that informed Third World solidarity in the 1950s-1970s represent a forgotten legacy of pan- Africanism to postcolonialism and to global theory generally. Africa's place, in theory, decenters Eurocentrism.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-323
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Historical Sociology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014


  • SENGHOR, Leopold Sedar, 1906-2001
  • NASSER, Gamal Abdel, 1918-1970
  • MBEMBE, Achille
  • ON the Postcolony (Book)
  • PAN-Africanism
  • POSTCOLONIAL analysis


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