Towards a decolonization of knowledges in West Africa: history, actors, and productions
More than sixty years after the national independences and political decolonization formally speaking, West African States are still struggling on how to “decolonize” and to “africanize” society and culture. Today, decolonization has experienced a strong renaissance as a political and intellectual project in many countries, and it is exacerbated by the fragile democratization processes, at times even democratic breakdowns, and the multiple security crises in West Africa. The crises and insecurities in West African Sahel is a case in point. Beyond the political and territorial claims, the issue of knowledge, and knowing, is central to intellectual decolonization struggles, as well as daily practices in West Africa.
The 12th International Conference on Mande Studies will take stock on struggles and conversations, discourses and practices when it comes to the decolonization of knowledge and knowing across West Africa. Participants are encouraged to explore signs and practices, discourses and processes that point “towards decolonization of knowledge and knowing” and beyond. Conceptually, an important distinction needs to be made between decolonization and decoloniality. While decolonization generally refers to the dismantling of colonial systems, structures or institutions – including universities and research institutes – decoloniality is about a way of ‘re-learning’ knowledge that has been pushed aside, forgotten or discredited by forces born of modernity, settler colonialism and race-based capitalism. Unlike decolonization, decoloniality is a method and a paradigm for recreating and perhaps even repairing that which depends on context, historical conditions and geography. Conversation about decolonization and decoloniality raise many important and intricate questions.