- Category: TOW 2011
Renowned scholar and philosopher ACHILLE MBEMBE was born in Cameroon, obtained his Ph.D in History at the Sorbonne University in Paris and a D.E.A. in Political Science at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Paris). Mbembe’s extensive résumé includes being Assistant Professor of History at Columbia University in New York, Associate Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania and Executive Director of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa in Dakar, Senegal. Mbembe was also a visiting Professor at the Universities of California and Yale in 2001 and 2003 respectively.
Noted as one of the most renowned of postcolonial theorists writing today, Mbembe has taught at several leading US universities, Dakar, Senegal and Johannesburg. He has also written extensively in African history, social science and politics.
Mbembe is the author of On the Postcolony, a collection of thought-provoking essays which was published in French, in Paris in the year 2000. The English translation was published the following year.
This collection sees Mbembe arguing that academic and popular discourse on Africa is caught within a variety of clichés tied to Western fantasies and fears. Mbembe posits that Africa is seen by the West as "a headless figure threatened with madness and quite innocent of any notion of center, hierarchy, or stability…a mixture of the half-created and the incomplete…in short, a bottomless abyss where everything is noise, yawning gap, and primordial chaos." In contesting these perspectives, Mbembe proffers a profoundly renewed understanding around notions of power and subjectivity in the African continent.
On the Postcolony was the winner of the 2006 Bill Venter/Altron Award.
Mbembe is research professor in history and politics at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and a senior researcher at WISER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research), as well as a contributing editor of the scholarly journal Public Culture.
On the Postcolony, University of California Press, 2001
Du Gouvernement prive indirect, Karthala, 2000
La naissance du maquis dans le Sud-Cameroun,1920-1960: histoire des usages de la raison en colonie, Karthala, 1996
Les Jeunes et l'ordre politique en Afrique noire,Harmattan, 1985