Bristol Conversations in Education - The undisciplined campus forms of Cheikh Anta Diop: Cultural production and decolonial thought in francophone African universities

19 June 2019, 1.00 PM - 19 June 2019, 2.00 PM

Dr Ruth Bush

Room 4.10, School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square, Bristol, BS8 1JA

This event is part of the School of Education's 'Bristol Conversations in Education' seminar series. These seminars are free and open to the public.

Speaker: Dr Ruth Bush

This paper will explore the enduring cultural legacies of the historian and scientist Cheikh Anta Diop as they play out in the university, and beyond. From the landmark occasion of his doctoral viva at the Sorbonne to the baptism of the University of Dakar under his name in 1986, from spoken word poetry, graffiti, the 2016 biopic, Kemtiyu: Séex Anta (winner of best documentary at FESPACO) to the recent Diop-themed special issue of the Chimurenga Chronic (developed during a residency in Dakar in 2017), Diop’s image and ideas have consistently blurred the line between formal and informal sites of learning. Drawing on the ‘undisciplined’ approach to knowledge production proposed by V.Y. Mudimbe, I ask what these archives of Diop, whose work was deeply inscribed in notions of scientific truth and scientific methodology, might reveal about decolonial responses to university education and its associated epistemological frameworks in francophone Africa. The central source material will be a recent series of short films (fiction and documentary) about campus life made by students of Université Cheikh Anta Diop. A starting hypothesis is that any a priori assumption of humanistic education’s aims and value is helpfully shaken up by creative representations of the African university in the twentieth and twenty-first century.

Ruth Bush is Senior Lecturer in French and Comparative Literature at the University of Bristol. Her first book was Publishing Africa in French: Literary Institutions and Decolonization 1945–67 (Liverpool University Press, 2016), which won the First Book Prize of the African Literature Association in 2018. She has also published a short history of New Beacon Books, the UK’s first radical black bookshop and publishing house; and co-produced an exhibition and digital resource about Awa: la revue de la femme noire, an early African women’s magazine.


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Emma Rossiter


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