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Teaching and research around the chair of Foundations of Intercultural Philosophy

at the Philosophical Faculty, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Prof. Wim van Binsbergen


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Institutional Framework

The chair of Foundations of Intercultural Philosophy was founded by the Trust Fund of the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) in 1990 when its first incumbent, Heinz Kimmerle, retired from his chair of continental philosophy and the philosophy of difference. After five years, Prof. Kimmerle retired from the Chair of Foundations of Intercultural Philosophy, to be succeeded by Wim van Binsbergen in 1998. Wim van Binsbergen held his inaugural lecture in January, 1999. Prior to this appointment, Wim van Binsbergen -- who in the 1970s-1980s established himself as a specialist on religion in Africa (historic forms, Christianity and Islam -- had been Professor of Ethnicity and Ideology in Transformation Processes in the Third World at the Free University, Amsterdam (1990-1998), as well as a long-standing senior member of the African Studies Centre, Leiden (1976- ); he had also served in professorial positions at the universities of Manchester, Leiden, Berlin and Durban-Westville. Wim van Binsbergen's appointment in the chair of the Foundations of Intercultural Philosophy is financed by the African Studies Centre, while his research, conferences, and PhD projects are largely subsidised by the Trust Fund of the EUR, with minor contributions from the Philosophical Faculty, EUR. The chair is monitored by a Curatorium consisting of Mr. R.A. Felix on behalf of the Trust Fund EUR, Dr. H. Oosterling on behalf of the Philosophical Faculty EUR, and Dr. G. Hesseling on behalf of the African Studies Centre, Leiden; the Curatorium meets once a year.

   

Research

As professor of the foundations of intercultural philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and as chair of the Dutch-Flemish Association for Intercultural Philosophy, Wim van Binsbergen is involved in a number of research projects: on interculturality,

   
virtuality, religion, medieval Islamic philosophy, spirituality, the Southern African philosophy of Ubuntu, and the analysis of globalisation, ethnicity, commodification, consumption.

Most recently his philosophical research has concentrated on

     
From 2002 onwards, a detailed and up-to-date chronological record of ongoing research, presentations and publications is provided on the webpage Topicalities which is part of the present Shikanda domain. For Wim van Binsbergen's publications see his list of publications; more detailed information is available in the various subject-based websites which make up the present Shikanda domain. The texts of most of these publications have now been included in the present Shikanda domain: core sections of Wim van Binsbergen's book Intercultural Encounters (2003) and of most of his other recent books, as well as papers on Guattari, Derrida, Kant, Mudimbe, Sandra Harding, a short book on virtuality, etc. See the internal search facility at the bottom of this page. This allows the visitor to enter specific authors, concepts and topics, and trace their ramifications through Wim van Binsbergen's recent work.
     

Current and imminent publication projects

The lines of research indicated above came largely together in the voluminous book Intercultural encounters: African and anthropological lessons towards a philosophy of interculturality (610 pp; Berlin & Muenster: LIT); this was published end of 2003, and forms a central reference point in Wim van Binsbergen's philosophical teaching and research. With Peter Geschiere a collective volume was completed on Commodities and Identities: 'Social life of things' revisited, which seeks to take up the inspiration of Arjun Appadurai's work; this book has now been submitted to publishers. Similarly, a long-standing publication project with Martin Doornbos, Identity and power in Africa: Continuing dialogues, is scheduled to go to the publishers in 2004. Nearing completion and scheduled to appear in 2005 is now a book on Ancient models of thought, tracing earliest recorded forms of human symbolism and conceptual thought throught remote prehistory. Since the mid-1990s, and largely as a result of his comparative long-range work on the intercontinental connections of African geomancies (a wide-spread form of divination, pervading many aspects of African life, and of pre-modern and early-modern life in Europe), a constant line of research in Wim van Binsbergen's work has sought to assess the question (highly relevant from a point of view of intercultural philosophy) as to the antecedents of European philosophy, religion and science outside Europe; here his work has contributed to current debates on Black Athena and Afrocentricity. His successful and rapidly exhausted collection Black Athena Ten Years Later, which appeared as a special issue of the journal TALANTA, is now being reprinted in greatly expanded form as Black Athena Alive, scheduled to be published in 2004 (LIT publishing house). Extensive work on the African philosopher Valentin Mudimbe is now promising to yield the core of another book, Palavers on intercultural philosophy, and work on philosophy and spirituality yet another one (Explorations in intercultural spirituality), both scheduled for 2005-2006.

   

Seminars and conferences

Besides his Ph.D. seminar, Wim van Binsbergen co-ordinated the Research Group of the Dutch-Flemish Association for Intercultural Philosophy (1998-2000), in his capacity of chair. With the fiancial assistance of the Trustfund of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, a Colloquium on Intercultural Philosophy was held in May, 2000, as well as a number of significant international conferences:

   

Quest: An African Journal of Philosophy / Revue Africaine de Philosophie

The 2004 colloquium just mentioned marked the publication of the first volume of that journal (volume XVI) to appear under the Editorship of Wim van Binsbergen, who took over that position from founder-Editor Pieter Boele van Hensbroek -- both Editors having taught at the University of Zambia, where this journal was initiated by Bwalya and Boele van Hensbroek in the late 1980s. The Editorship entails the intellectual and organisational running of this unique journal of African philosophy and of philosophy in Africa. The Editor is greatly assisted in this task by the Editorial Team, comprising Professor Sanya Osha (Ibadan, Nigeria) and Mrs Kirsten Seifikar M.A. (Rotterdam); by the Advisory Editorial Board (comprising big names in African philosophy: Paulin Hountondji, Kwasi Wiredu, Lansana Keita, as well as the Dutch emeritus Lolle Nauta); and by a network of mainly African senior philosophers serving the journal's peer review structure as referees. The African Studies Centre, Leiden, has extended an agreement of hospitality to Quest as from 2004. Within five years, the journal is to find an institutional base in Africa, where its intellectual base has always been anyway.

   

Ph.D. projects

Wim van Binsbergen is supervising Ph.D. and M.A. research, and offers a Ph.D. seminar which meets on a monthly basis at the Philosophical Faculty, Erasmus University, Rotterdam (now temporarily discontinued). In May, 2000, Gerda Sengers defended her Ph.D. thesis on Women and demons (a study of zar and Qur'anic healing among women in Cairo, Egypt, today) as produced in the context of the chair on Intercultural philosophy. Gerda Sengers' thesis appeared as a fully-fledged commercial book on the day of the thesis defense, in Dutch; the Netherlands Research Foundation (NWO) subsequently granted a Euro 10,000 subsidy to have the text translated into English, and has subsequently (November 2002) appeared with the prominent international publishing house Brill (Leiden). On 12 January 2001, before the University of Amsterdam, Ferdinand de Jong defended his Ph.D. thesis Modern secrets: The power of locality in Casamance, Senegal, on secrecy, globalisation and the construction of locality, with special reference to Southern Senegal today (guest principal supervisor Wim van Binsbergen; co-supervisor Bonno Thoden van Velzen). On 6th September 2001, Thera Rasing,defended her Ph.D. thesis on female puberty initiation, Catholicism and globalisation in urban Zambia, under the title: The bush burned, the stones remain; of this thesis a commercial book edition in English was available from the very day of its defense (LIT publishing house). Present Ph.D. candidates include Julie Duran-Ndaya, with a study of the articulation of identity in the context of women's groups belonging to the Congolese movement of Le Combat spirituel (supervisors Wim van Binsbergen and Wouter van Beek); and Fred Woudhuizen, with a study of the ethnicity of the Sea Peoples in the Ancient Near East. Several new Ph.D. projects are currently being initiated, especially by PhD students from Africa and Asia, and will be formally announced here before long.

M.A. projects

Half a dozen students have recently written Master's or Doctorandus' theses in intercultural philosophy under Wim van Binsbergen's supervision (Louise Muller, Piotrek Swiatkowski, Stephanus Djunatan, Laura Kelly, Kirsten Seifikar, Carolien Ceton), and others are in the process of being written right now. These projects will be advertised here before long.

     

Scheduled teaching

In the years 1998-2003 Wim van Binsbergen has taught a post-graduate scheduled course 'Some foundations of intercultural philosophy', which until 2003 was an integral part of the English-language stream offered by the Philosophical Faculty, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and was then made an optional course. Due to major changes in the degree structure at the EUR Philosophical Faculty, from the academic year 2004-2005 Wim van Binsbergen's course is no longer offered in English but in Dutch, and no longer as a post-graduate course but as a Bachelor III course (FW-IF3002); click here for a preliminary course description.

     
       

 

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page last modified: 15-04-04 13:38:41