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Publication: Decolonising the Academy: A Case for Convivial Scholarship (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2019)

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Francis B. Nyamnjoh's Carl Schlettwein Lecture makes a plea for not just conversations across disciplines but also the integration of popular epistemologies into scholarship. The lecture was held in the frame of the conference "Africa and the Academy in the 21st Century" at the University of Basel in November 2019.


The scarcity of conviviality in universities, within and between disciplines, and among scholars suggests that the position in and production and consumption of knowledge are far from neutral, objective, and disinterested processes. They are socially and politically mediated by webs of humanity, hierarchies of power, and instances of human agency. Given the resilience of colonial education in Africa and among Africans, endogenous traditions of knowledge are barely recognised and grossly underrepresented. Conviviality in knowledge production would entail not just seeking conversations and collaboration with and across disciplines in the conventional sense but also the integration of sidestepped popular epistemologies informed by popular universes and ideas of reality. Such scholarship is predicated upon recognising and providing for incompleteness as a necessary attribute of being, from persons to disciplines and traditions of knowing, and knowledge making.

About the author

Francis B. Nyamnjoh is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town and has taught Sociology, Anthropology and Communication Studies at universities in Cameroon and Botswana. He also served as Head of Publications at CODESRIA. Nyamnjoh received numerous distinctions, most recently the ASAUK 2018 Fage & Oliver Prize for best monograph for his book #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa (2016). His other monographs include: Africa’s Media, Democracy and the Politics of Belonging (2005); Insiders and Outsiders: Citizenship and Xenophobia in Contemporary Southern Africa (2006); “C’est l‘homme qui fait l’homme”: Cul-de-Sac Ubuntu-ism in Côte d’Ivoire (2015); Drinking from the Cosmic Gourd: How Amos Tutuola Can Change Our Minds (2017); Eating and Being Eaten: Cannibalism as Food for Thought (2018); and The Rational Consumer: Bad for Business and Politics: Democracy at the Cross-roads of Nature and Culture (2018).

Francis B. Nyamnjoh. Decolonising the Academy: A Case for Convivial Scholarship. Carl Schlettwein Lecture 14. Basel: Basler Afrika Bibliographien, 2020.