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"Hegel in the Black Atlantic. A case for Postcolonial Cannibalism"

Talk by Jamila Mascat

2nd October 2014, 7pm

In his ‘Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Geschichte’, Hegel notoriously elaborated a teleological conception of Universal History, wherein civilization advances from the East to the West significantly leaving Africa out of its trajectory. From the standpoint of postcolonial critique, Hegel's Eurocentric teleology and his support of colonialism and Anti-Black racism raise a serious issue about how to deal with his controversial legacy.
The talk aims at examining the meaningful presence of Hegelian traces to be found in the Franco-Caribbean tradition of the 20thcentury, and more specifically in the works of Aimé Césaire, Franz Fanon and Édouard Glissant, in order to illustrate their multiple strategies of re-appropriation of Hegel's words.
The topic would be the starting point for a broader discussion on how to relate to the cumbersome heritage of Western Modern thought from a postcolonial perspective.
African American poet Audre Lorde famously warned that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master's house”. Yet the “master's tool” cannot be simply dismissed and rejected altogether, and there may be good reasons to investigate the complex legacy of Enlightenment and Modernity together with their contradictory consequences for our postcolonial present.
“Postcolonial cannibalism” becomes then a watchword to explore such a strategy, with the aim of sabotaging modernity and decolonizing Enlightenment.


Jamila M.H. Mascat is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department “Normes, Société, Philosophie” (NoSoPhi) of the University Paris 1 – Sorbonne. Her research interests focus on Hegel's philosophy and the French reception of Hegel in the 20th century, as well as Postcolonial Studies and Feminist Theories.