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10.05.2018 14:07 Alter: 17 days

Africa in a Polycentric World

Call for Papers

Theme: Africa in a Polycentric World
Subtitle: Cosmopolitanism and the Local
Type: 5th Asixoxe – Let’s Talk! Conference on African Philosophy
Institution: Centre of Global Studies (CGS), Czech Academy of Sciences
  School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics (SLCL), University of
Location: Prague (Czech Republic)
Date: 18.–19.6.2018
Deadline: 21.5.2018

From Albert Kasanda <>

Cosmopolitanism is a concept with a variety of political, economic,
moral, and cultural aspects and approaches, based on the basic
premise that all human beings are, can be or should be citizens in a
single community. Political cosmopolitanism explores the conditions
of a citizenship without borders, balancing universal citizenship
against citizenship confined within national states. It scrutinizes
the relationship between local or national government and
international governance bodies, such as the United Nations or the
European Union, and raises debates concerning nationalism, ethnicity,
but also xenophobia, migration, and diaspora identities. Prominent
political events and trends in the world have recently manifested a
turn away from universalist politics and multiculturalism towards
narrowly nationalist attitudes (Brexit as “reclaiming British
independence”, “America First”, but also the anti-migration politics
of Central European states). The social and economic aspects of
cosmopolitanism are related to the idea that it is social and
economic principles that constitute universal citizenship. The global
economy regulated by human rights (civil, political, social, economic
and cultural ones defined by the UN) and other legal norms
guaranteeing social and economic justice is seen as the
materialization of this citizenship.

From the meeting of “world citizens”, a plurality of truths emerges
in a vast spectrum of globalized media that present “facts” and
“truth” in the same communicative modality and with equal power as
false information. These developments usher into the so-called
“post-truth” or “post-factual” era. Moral cosmopolitanism postulates
a universal community that shares a set of ethical principles, such
as the principles of justice which are basis of human rights. This
trend tackles challenges such as global solidarity, responsibility
toward the future generations, environmental changes, but also the
fundamental questions of cognitive and moral relativism.

Cultural approaches to cosmopolitanism focus on the idea of a
globalized world culture opposed to the diversity of particular
cultures. Globalization has enabled a great mobility of cultural
capital and contributed to cultural homogenization. Yet, the
resistance to these processes leads to an emphatic assertion of local
cultures. Cultural cosmopolitanism deals with questions of cultural
identity, multiculturalism, and intercultural dialogue. It also
studies language, which remains one of the key defining features of
culture. It explores whether the encounter with otherness is an
opportunity to openness and universalism or a motivation for the
rejection of the other and a defensive attitude of enclosing oneself
within one’s cultural limits.

Our conference asks questions that cut across this spectrum of
meanings. We ask questions related to cultural and geo-political
identity. What is the role of language and culture in the expression
of political identity? How is “world citizenship” defined in terms of
race, language, gender, or socio-economic status? Is Afropolitanism a
cosmopolitanism? How can migrants, in particular those from
underprivileged regions, claim rights in the globalized world? How is
migration linked to colonialism? What is the relationship between
language and decolonization? When should politicians use
interpreters? We also question the role of philosophy in politics.
Can we preserve a moral ethos in politics? How can we, and should we,
aspire to “truth” in the “post-truth era”? Is the figure of the
“president-philosopher” a viable model for a politician of the
“post-factual times”? Finally, we explore the relationships and
interdependencies between globalized cultural manifestations and
national, grassroots cultural initiatives. How does the “multilingual
local” (Orsini) interact with “world literature”? Where does African
literature in English, French or Portuguese position itself with
respect to the global literary market, on the one hand, and to
literatures in African languages, on the other? How are genres of
speculative fiction, such as magical realism, sci-fi, or
Afrofuturism, embedded in historical, economic and political
conditions? What are philosophical discourses in African languages?
Is “mainstream” African philosophy decolonized?

We invite you to explore these questions at the fifth edition of
Asixoxe – Let’s Talk! Conference on African Philosophy, organized
jointly by the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics (SLCL)
of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and the Centre
of Global Studies (CGS) of the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech
Academy of Sciences. The conference will take place in Prague, on
18-19 June 2018.

Titles and abstracts of 200 words, as well as any queries,
should be sent by 21 May 2018 to:

Each speaker will be given 20 minutes for the presentation, with
subsequent 10 minutes for questions and discussion. We envisage a
publication of selected papers from the conference.

There is no registration fee for presenters and other participants.
English is the working language.


Albert Kasanda
Centre of Global Studies
Institute of Philosophy
Czech Academy of Sciences
Jilská 1
110 00 Prague 1
Czech Republic