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Quest international Colloquium on:

The transcultural framework for the construction of African knowledges /

Le cadre transculturel pour la construction des connaissances africaines:

  Methodological, epistemological, and political considerations /

Considérations méthodologiques, épistémologiques et politiques

e-mail to Wim van Binsbergen

ISSN 1011-226


An African Journal of Philosophy

Revue Africaine de Philosophie

international colloquium in collaboration with:

·          The African Studies Centre/ Centre d’Etudes Africaines, Leiden

·          The Chair of Foundations of Intercultural Philosophy, Philosophical Faculty, Erasmus University Rotterdam

·          The Dutch-Flemish Association for Intercultural Philosophy (NVVIF)

The transcultural framework for the construction of African knowledges:

Methodological, epistemological, and political considerations

  Le cadre transculturel pour la construction des connaissances africaines:

Considérations méthodologiques, épistémologiques et politiques

time: Tuesday/Mardi 23rd March/mars, 2004, 13.30-17.00 hrs

place: African Studies Centre, Pieter de la Court building, Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, Leiden, room: 1A47


Lectures I: The academic production of African knowledges mainly by African intellectuals

in the chair:   Wim van Binsbergen (EUR Rotterdam / ASC Leiden / Quest )

13.30-13.31     Opening by the chair

13.31-14.10     Pieter Boele van Hensbroek (Groningen / ex-Quest ): ‘African intellectuals today: The modalities of South-North intersubjectivity in the social sciences as contrasted with philosophy’

14.10-14.50     Julie Duran-Ndaya Tshiteku (ASC Leiden): ‘Entre le marteau et l'enclume: Les défis de la recherche identitaire parmi son propre groupe africain’

14.50-15.00 tea break

Lectures II: The academic production of African knowledges involving non-Africans

in the chair:   Pieter Boele van Hensbroek

15.00-15.40     René Devisch (Louvain): ‘Reading Wim van Binsbergen’s Intercultural Encounters (2003): A personal letter to an old friend’

15.40-16.20     Wim van Binsbergen: ‘ ‘‘Aristotle in Africa’’: Reflections on Truth in Politics (Quest XVI 1-2) as an attempt to apply mainstream Aristotelian rhetoric to significant political processes in modern Africa, especially the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (1994-1998)’

Presentation and key note

in the chair:   Wim van Binsbergen

16.20-16.30     presentation of Quest XVI to Paulin Hountondji (Université de Bénin / African Institute for Advanced Study / Quest ) by Pieter Boele van Hensbroek

16.30-17.10     Paulin Hountondji, Key note address ‘Le cadre transculturel pour la construction des connaissances africaines: Considérations méthodologiques, épistémologiques et politiques’

17.10-17.15     Closure by the chair

17.15-18.00     drinks at the ‘village well’, African Studies Centre, same building, same floor, in front of room 1A12


scroll on for pictures of the Colloquium, introduction of the speakers, and summaries


From left to right: Paulin Hountondji (key note speaker, and member of the Quest advisory editorial board), Wim van Binsbergen (chair, and Editor of Quest), and Pieter Boele van Hensbroek (speaker; co-founder and lprevious Editor of Quest)



Paulin Hountondji inspects the display of Quest volumes published over the years



Some of the participants during the Colloquium



Behind the executive table, from left to right: René Devisch, Julie Duran-Ndaya Tshiteku, Pieter Boele van Hensbroek, Wim van Binsbergen, Paulin Hountondji (holding his key note address)



From left to right: Julie Duran-Ndaya Tshiteku (speaker), René Devisch (speaker), Gerti Hesseling (Director of the hosting African Studies Centre, Leiden), enjoying a well-earned drink after the Colloquium



Pieter Boele van Hensbroek and Paulin Hountondji sharing a moment of friendship during the meal after the Colloquium



Speakers and abstracts

Dr Pieter Boele van Hensbroek, founder (with Ron Bwalya) and for 15 years Editor of Quest, Associate Professor of African Philosophy, University of Groningen, Netherlands, and specialist on academic socio-political thought in Africa since the late 19th century. His current research mainly addresses the position of African intellectuels, their potential, their problems, and their social and political responsibilities. He will contrast South-North exchange in philosophy with that in the social sciences. Presentation in English.

Prof.Dr. René Devisch, an anthropologist who has always worked on the intersection between anthropology, philosophy, and psychoanalysis; Africanist, and Professor at Louvain, Belgium. He will approach our general theme by a critical reflection on Intercultural encounters: African and anthropological lessons towards a philosophy of interculturality (van Binsbergen), which has just come out. Presentation in English.

Prof.Dr Paulin Hountondji, Professor of Philosophy, Benin University, Director of the African Institute for Advanced Studies, Porto Novo, Benin, and one of the leading African philsophers today – as well as member of the Advisory Editorial Board of Quest. On the basis of his ongoing research and publication projects, Prof. Hountondji will offer a general discussion of the leading theme of this Colloquium; in passing he will reflect on the role of Quest in this connection.

Drs Julie Ndaya, of Zairese/Congolese origin, M.A. in ethnic studies (Brussels), subsequently active in the field of intercontinental development co-operation, and currently Associated Member of the African Studies Centre, Leiden, where she just finished the first version of her doctoral thesis on identitary expression, especially in the religious field (in a movement named ‘Spiritual Battle’), among Zairese/Congolese in Zaire/Congo and especially in the European diaspora. She will speak on the problems of the politics of knowledge, and of methodology, which this study has forced her to confront. Presentation in French.

Prof.Dr Wim van Binsbergen, Professeur of Intercultural Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Senior Researcher at the African Studies Centre, Leiden, and currently Editor of Quest, will speak on the dilemmas and the perspectives of African knowledge construction on the basis of Volume XVI 1-2 of Quest, entitled: TRUTH IN POLITICS: Rhetorical Approaches to Democratic Deliberation in Africa and beyond. As an exciting and topical exercise in intercultural philosophy, this volume attempts to apply the western philosophical tradition of rhetoric (Aristotle, Protagoras, Cicero – a tradition which recently has undergone great renewal and is now enjoying a considerable popularity in the philosophical study of politics and identity) to African contexts, especially the analysis of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa (1994-1998). This poses questions concerning the universal and the particular, hegemony and anti-hegemony, the imposition of alien and alienating Western models on Africa, and the possibility of better understanding the dynamics of South Africa today on the basis of models and parallels derived from other African societies and polities, past and present. The articulation of this type of questions takes up the 35 pp. Postscript in the Quest XVI volume , and in fact constitutes some sort of manifesto for Quest in coming years. Presentation in English.

Languages of communication / Langues de communication: anglais et français

Admission: open and free / Toute personne intéressée est la bien venue; entrée gratuite

The Quest volume in question (XVI) is available at / La volume de Quest XVI est disponible sur

Copies of the newly published volume XVI of Quest will be for sale during the Colloquium (€25; non-instituional buyers receive a 30% discount and pay €17.50). Also back issues are on display and orders can be placed

for further contacts:

with thanks to the Quest editorial team (comprising Sanya Osha and Kirsten Seifikar, a.o.), the African Studies Centre, Leiden, support Staff (especially Marieke van Winden and Maaike Westra), and the African Studies Centre, Leiden, management (especially Titia van der Werf)


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