Bachir Diagne + Drucilla Cornell

Bachir Diagne + Drucilla Cornell

Columbia University + Rutgers

Souleymane Bachir Diagne is a professor of French, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Philosophy at Columbia University.

Drucilla Cornell is an Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Women’s Studies, and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University. She is a playwright and also launched The uBuntu Project in South Africa in 2003 and has been working with the project ever since. Professor Cornell’s theoretical and political writings span a tremendous range of both topics and disciplines. From her early work in Critical Legal Studies and Feminist Theory to her more recent work on South Africa, transitional justice, and the jurisprudence of Ronald Dworkin, Professor Cornell continues to think through new and evolving issues in philosophy and politics of global significance. Her latest title, coauthored with Stephen Seely, is called The Spirit of Revolution: Beyond the Dead Ends of Man, and she recently edited Creolizing Rosa Luxemburg with Jane Anna Gordon, which was published earlier this year. 

Talk Information:

Ubuntu, Nite, and the Struggle for Global Justice
October 15, 2021 | 9:00 AM
Associated Edited Volumes: 2

This event will be an exchange about African philosophy and African humanisms. The exchange is rooted in a recent paper by Souleymane Bachir Diagne in which he compares the philological basis of Nite and uBuntu. Bachir points out the philological similarity between uBuntu and Nite, the spirit of which, to quote Diagne, is achieving humanity together, but the starting point of both is that African philosophy and humanism do not reside in philology. Instead, both uBuntu and Nite must be constructed as philosophical concepts. What this means is that the meaning of these concepts always lies in the future. These constructions can be challenged and reinterpreted and yet such concepts also are African in the specific sense suggested. The exchange will tackle some of the most burning issues of our time, starting with what African philosophical concepts and humanisms can give us as new ways of thinking about what it means to be a human being. How do we emerge from instinct based in our biology and reach out to oneself and others to develop together new meanings of what it means to embrace humanity rather than tribalism? How can we develop these concepts to guide us in the fight against global capitalism? How do these concepts help us understand differently the cultural content that underlies the economic development and "underdevelopment" in the Global South and the exploitative relationships by Euro-America with the Global South? How can we use uBuntu and Nite to develop a notion of the global common good and what Leopold Senghor, the Senegalese philosopher, statesman, and poet, has called a civilization of the universal”? These are just some of the crucial questions that will be addressed in the exchange. 

For further reading:

Cornell, D. & Van Marle, K., 2015, ‘Ubuntu feminism: Tentative reflections’, Verbum et Ecclesia 36(2), Art. #1444, 8 pages. http://dx.doi. org/10.4102/ve.v36i2.1444v