On the value of Black African view of man….

(An excerpt from my working chapter on Africana doctrine of humanity and Africana theological anthropology. This is a draft.)
 
On the value of Black African view of man….
 
It is assumed that traditional African perspective on man (humanity) stresses the value of community rather the individual, as it is commonly practiced in Western societies. Traditional African doctrine of humanity is more promising, dignifying, and liberating. The role and destiny of the individual is essentially determined within the framework of the community or kingship, and the individual’s active participation in the life of the community. That does not mean that the African people do not see any merit in the individual, nor do they undermine the worth and implications of individual choices or preferences; however, it does mean that the African people prioritize communal choices over individual preferences. The individual exists as a corporate entity.
 
The notion of “social man” or “corporate individual” (even “collective solidarity”) affirms that the individual knows his or her functions in and responsibilities to the community. It is only in this manner can he or she be deemed a genuine being in the African stance of corporate humanity. While one is born human (humanness), one has to become (evolutionary theory) a person (personhood) in the context of communal life and communal engagement. Being a human is a biological category; being a person is not. The person is the product of the community. Hence, African anthropology–both from a social and philosophical perspective— promotes the notion of radical dependence and radical interdependence since human beings are radically interdependent and dependent.
 
It is also assumed that traditional African philosophical ethics and humanism ought to be praised, as compared to those of the Western ethico-philosophical traditions. For example, in the African worldview and cosmology, all principles of morality and ethics are to be sought within the context of preserving human life and its power or force (See Laurenti Magesa, African Religion).
 
Traditional African view of man and moral philosophy promote an ethics of relationality and interpenetration, and make a clarion call upon us to the imperative and practice of sociability, bonding, and collective solidarity in the modern world.
 
 
 
 

Soyinka on Religion

I’m pleased to announce my newly-published article on Wole Soyinka

“‘Shipwreck of Faith: The Religious Vision and Ideas of Wole Soyinka” (Toronto School of Theology, 2016)

Abstract

“This article investigates the religious vision and ideas of Wole Soyinka in selected non-fiction writings. While African spirituality is deployed as a literary trope in Soyinka’s creative works and dramatic masterpieces such as Death and the King’s Horseman and A Dance of the Forests, scholars have given scarce attention to his engagement with religion in his non-fiction productions. To highlight that engagement, first, this article proposes the notions of radical skepticism and religious inclusivism as symbolic markers to describe Soyinka’s perspective on religion and his shipwreck of faith. His witness of religious violence and fanaticism in his home country of Nigeria and the host countries outside of his native land had shaped his religious experience and altered his religious vision. To call Wole Soyinka a radical agnostic and religious inclusivist in the humanist tradition is to confront the uneasiness and ambivalence of religion that had marked both his adolescent and adult life. Second, it argues that Soyinka’s abandonment of his Anglican faith, the “imported religion” of his childhood and Nigerian parents, was a consequence of his re-evaluation of the merits and liberalism of his ancestral faith: the Yoruba religious tradition and spirituality. Third, it contends that Soyinka rejected the Christian faith because of a theological crisis he encountered both as a teenager in Ake (his hometown) and as a student at the University College in Ibadan. The article resituates Soyinka’s religious sensibility not in the tradition of the Abrahamic religions but within the religious world view and cultural framework of African indigenous faiths and spirituality. Finally, it presents Wole Soyinka as a religious critic and radical theistic humanist.”

 

Keywords:Yoruba religion, religious fanaticism, religious inclusivism, African humanism, African spirituality

http://www.utpjournals.press/doi/10.3138/tjt.3845

 

 

 

 

Chukwuka–“Chukwu is Supreme”: When Religious Beliefs Collide, and “Things Fall Apart”

“Neither of them succeeded in converting the other but they learned more about their different beliefs.” —Chinua Achebe, “Things Fall Apart” (1958)
 
Chukwuka–“Chukwu is Supreme”:
When Religious Beliefs Collide, and “Things Fall Apart”
I guess that I have not succeeded in convincing my students in my literature class–in which we have read Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, the most influential novel in the Anglophone Africa, written by Chinua Achebe in 1958– that the Igbo people of Nigeria are monotheists just like the Christians, Muslims, and Jews, they “worship” one God. Those how have written their final essay on the subject of religion in the novel or have done a comparative analysis of African traditional religion and Christianity as their subject of research have emphasized that the Africans are polytheists and believe in strange religious customs and traditions. (Not all of my students made that claim, but most of them do.)
Interestingly, in the story itself, there’s an important debate on the very nature of God in African theology, as well as what is deemed religious; this conversation about faith occurs between an important Igbo character and intellectual named Akunna and the British missionary named Mr. Brown who, along with the colonial administrators, came to “civilize” and “Christianize” the Igbo people. According to Akunna, Mr. Brown misses the mark and misinterprets both the nature of religion and the nature of God in Afrian religious tradition. Consider the following conversation:
“You say that there is one supreme God who made heaven and earth,” said Akunna on one of Mr. Brown’s visits. “We also believe in Him and call Him Chukwu. He made all the world and the other gods.”
“There are no other gods,” said Mr. Brown. “Chukwu is the only God and all others are false. You carve a piece of wood–like that one” (he pointed at the rafters from which Akunna’s carved Ikenga hung), “and you call it a god. But it is still a piece of wood.” The tree from which it came was made by Chukwu, as indeed all minor gods were. But He made them from His messengers so that we could approach Him through them. It is like yourself. You are the head of your church.”
“No,” protested Mr. Brown. “The head of my church is God Himself.”
“I know, said Akunna, “but there must be head in this world among them. Somebody like yourself must be the head here.”
“The head of my church in that sense is in England.”
“That is exactly what I am saying. The head of your church is in your country. He has sent you here as his messenger. And you have also appointed your own messengers and servants. Or let me take another example, the Disctrict Commissioner. He is sent by your King.”
“They have a queen,” said the interpreter on his own account.
“Your queen sends her messenger, the District Commissioner. He finds that he cannot do the work alone and so he appoints kotma to help him. It is the same with God, or Chukwu. He appoints the smaller gods to help Him because His work is too great for one person. “
“You should not think of Him as a person,” said Mr. Brown. “It is because you do so that you imagine He must need helpers. And the worst thing about it is that you give all the worship to the false gods you have created.”
“That is not so. We make sacrifices to the little gods, but when they fail and there is no one else to turn to we go to Chukwu. It is the right to do so. We approach a great man through his servants. But when his servants fail to help us, then we go to the last source of hope. We appear to pay greater attention to the little gods but that is not so. We worry them more because we afraid to worry their Master. Our fathers knew that Chukwu was the Overlord and that is why many of them gave their children the name Chukwuka–“Chukwu is Supreme.”
“You said one interesting thing,” said Mr. Brown. “You are afraid of Chukwu. In my religion Chukwu i a loving Father and need not be feared by those who do His will.”
“But we must fear HIm when we are not doing His will,” said Akunna.” And who is to tell His Will? It is too great to be known.” (Things Fall Apart, 178-281)
For Chinua Achebe, Christian missionaries from Western countries who have set their foot on the “dark soil” of the “Black Continent,”  have misinterpeted African traditional religion (s) and, as a result, misunderstood the African people, their culture, cosmology,  and worldview. Achebe has underscored this phenomenon as one of the major failures of (historic) colonial Christianity in colonial Africa in the project of mission civilatrice and christian evangelism. Sometimes, the real enemy is within. Unhealthy religious ideology just like cultural supremacy can be an arrogant thing, especially in the case that when one’s religious confession or piety becomes the very hindrance that blocks communication and defers understanding between people of different religious persuasion. Arrogant faith could be the most dangerous weapon that destroys faith itself, and hinders  interreligious dialogue and religious conversion.
I wish my students would have read the passage noted above more critically and responsibly. Indeed, Chukwuka–“Chukwu is Supreme.”

“In the Example of Bonhoeffer and ‘Costly Discipleship'”

“In the Example of Bonhoeffer and ‘Costly Discipleship'”

Oh how much American Evangelical Christians need to learn from the life and social and political activism of Pastor and Political Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer who, in the first half of the twentieth-century, stood up against Hitler’s political correctness and Germany’s racial violence and ethnic cleansing against the Jews!

Bonhoeffer was not afraid to denounce the  social evils and the destructive racial ideologies of the Hitler regime and totalitarianism. He was not afraid to declare in public and through his political  sermons the dignity of all people, even the Jews!

Sadly, there were powerful and influential  German Christians and theologians who were Hitler’s allies and who helped him carry out his plan to annihilate the  Jews.

In the same line of thought, sadly, contemporary American evangelicalism has fostered  certain destructive ideologies that are detrimental to the promise of American democracy, equality,  freedom, and pluralism; they’re also detrimental to true Christianity  and  the imperative of Christian love, tolerance,  racial harmony, and “sacrificial discipleship.”

Who among today’s American Evangelicals will speak against Trump’s racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric?

Who among today’s American Evangelicals will speak against Hilary Clinton’s crime against Blacks in America and her exploitation of the Haitian underclass and masses?

Who among today’s American Evangelicals will speak against Ted Cruz’s anti-poor, anti-immigrant, and anti-democracy discourse?

Who among today’s American Evangelicals will speak against Police brutality and racial profiling against Blacks and minority groups?

True Christianity rejects any type of human oppression, exploitation, and violence, and condemns human structures and actions that desecrate life and dehumanize individuals.  Genuine discipleship promotes a life of compassion, sacrificial love, justice, selflessness, human solidarity, and what Bonhoeffer famously called “costly discipleship.”

On April 9,1945, Pastor and Political Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer died at a concentration camp in Germany. Bonhoeffer was hung by the Nazi because he refused to yield to the political correctness of the day, and his conviction to remain faithful to the practice of sacrificial and costly discipleship and his commitment to human dignity and solidarity was more important than political correctness and affiliation, and the triumph of German nationalism and the doctrine of racial superiority.
Some Important Quotes by Bonhoeffer:
On Silence: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
On Injustice: “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”
On Peace: “There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.”
To learn more about  Bonhoeffer,  click on the link below

 

Brief Reflections on the Crisis of the Haitian public intellectual…

Brief Reflections on the Crisis of the Haitian public intellectual…

 The crisis of the Haitian intellectual is that he separates his academic interest from a life of service and activism toward the common good of the Haitian society and the Haitian people. He establishes a great distance and tall fence between himself and the Haitian masses he claims that he is trying to reach and redeem.  The Haitian intellectual has no knowledge about the lived-experiences and lived-worlds of the Haitian masses nor does he have any interest to know or learn from the masses. He is not interested in forging a constructive politics of relationality with those who live in the margins of the Haitian society.

The Haitian intellectual isolates himself from the Haitian masses. He is not a servant to the Haitian people or the masses.  The Haitian intellectual does not perform self-criticism in order to reevaluate his own conduct or action, thinking or ideas about the nature of things and his public role in the Haitian society as a social critic and a servant to the Haitian people.  For him, leadership means an opportunity for one to get rich and be elevated to a position of power and influence—by any means necessary…including the exploitation and dehumanization of the Haitian people.  He is devoid of any sense of servant leadership.

The conundrum of the Haitian public intellectual—both in Haiti and the Diaspora—is also his failure to mentor young Haitian scholars and thinkers. The Haitian intellectual sees the rising young Haitian scholars or thinkers in the academia and public sphere as a threat to his own hegemony, academic success, and sphere of influence; the emerging Haitian thinker is not seen as a collaborative partner or someone who can be mentored toward the common good of the nation of Haiti and the welfare of the Haitian people.

The Haitian public intellectual is devoid of any sense of public responsibility and patriotic zeal and love. Contemporary Haitian society is in deep social, economic, political, and cultural trouble because of the profound crisis and ignorance of the Haitian intellectual to serve and lead sacrificially and responsibly.  He is a selfish individual who cares only about his individual success and his rise to the top of the ladder. He is an individual with no goals or objectives when it pertains to the development of Haiti; however, he criticizes those with a plan for Haiti’s development. He has no sympathy toward the Haitian masses but criticizes those who are trying to love the people and perform acts of kindness and compassion toward them.

The Haitian public intellectual is an individual with dazzling rhetoric, but his words are meaningless and lack of substance because they do not contribute meaningfully to the improvement of the Haitian condition in Haiti or in the Haitian Diaspora. The Haitian intellectual is a man of word only and not of action. He criticizes the Empire in the public sphere; in the private sphere, he is an ally and servant of the Empire and contributes substantially to the suffering and social death of the Haitian masses. He calls himself a humanist, but he made no humanitarian deeds to justify his delusional thinking. He writes prolifically about human solidarity and collective mobilization, but his life and actions contradict his own thinking or ideas.

The Haitian intellectual is not loving, serving, and aiding his own people. In the twenty-first century, Haiti has produced few engaged, responsible, and organic public intellectuals.The Haitian intellectual has failed Haiti and the Haitian people.

 

Jesus, a Man of Color: Rethinking about the Color of the Historical Jesus and His Redemptive Message of Hope and Reconciliation during the Christian Holy Week

Jesus, a Man of Color: Rethinking about the Color of the Historical Jesus and His Redemptive Message of Hope and Reconciliation during the Christian Holy Week

The color of Jesus does matter in the present time because it could help reshape Christian theology and transform Christian churches in the 21st century, and enhance interfaith dialogue between Abrahamaic and non-Abrahamaic religions. Jesus’ skin color bears tremendous implications on how we should now rethink about theology and race, Christianity and the problem of the color line in the modern world, God’s relationship with the poor, the oppressed, and people of color, and how we should treat those who live in the margins of society.

If one believes that religion can be used as a potential tool to enhance the conundrum of race and ethnicity in the modern world, then Jesus’ non-European flesh matters. If one is persuaded that a non-racialized Christianity and Jesus can help improve racial reconciliation and harmony among Christians of different racial and ethnic background, then Jesus’ skin color is extremely important. If one is convinced that Jesus’ dark body matters, it could potentially be used instrumentally to ameliorate ecumenical conversations between people of different religious persuasions on the planet.

Let’s not spiritualize Jesus’ historical human flesh! Let’s not undermine the important fact that Jesus was a historical person, a Palestinian first-century Jew, and a man of color who chose to live among the oppressed, the poor, and the outcast of the Jewish Diaspora. He was not a white male as traditionally depicted in the American and Western media, and taught in religious, seminary, and divinity schools, and theological textbooks. He certainly did not have any European features nor has he any European ancestors. To affirm these truths is to take seriously the practical and sociological dimensions of Christianity and the Christian message.

To spiritualize the historical Jesus merely as a divine being without taking into account of his true humanity is to undermine his true identity as a person of color. To acknowledge Jesus’ true skin color and ethnicity is the first act of decolonizing Christian theology and an important move forward toward a theology of liberation and a decolonial turn in theological anthropology. Finally, to affirm Jesus’ non-European body is to dewesternize Christianity and Christian theology. Critical theological discourse always involves the process of rethinking about what we believe and practice, and why we believe what we confess and do.

Unfortunately, the Westernized Jesus has been used in the past both in the tragic times of slavery and Western colonization as a tool to make people suffer, to humiliate non-European people, and dehumanize the image of God in humanity. The Christian churches in the twenty-first century cannot continue to stay silent about these pivotal issues that have changed the world, transformed the dynamics and human relations between Western and non-Western people, and continue to have a devastating impact on Christian missions, evangelism, and the message of the Gospel in the world. Followers of Christ are repairers of bridges and light of the world.

The Christian message of Easter affirms that God has raised Jesus from the Dead. The Easter story is a message of repentance and reconciliation, hope and resistance, and love and peace. It is also a profound reflection on the humanity and Jesus’ physical body which God has vindicated. The Easter message is also a message of God’s universal love for humanity: men and women, male and female, the homosexual, the lesbian, the transgender, the disable, the orphan, the widow, the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, people of all color, people of all ethnic group. Easter speaks loudly about God’s unconditional love for the world and all people!

The Jesus Christians everywhere in the world confess as both Savior and Lord was a real human being who was self-conscious about his own ethnic identity as a person of color of Jewish background. He was also self-conscious about his underrepresented social class in the first-century Jewish Diaspora and Palestine.

The historical Jesus proclaimed a message of reconciliation and love between people of different social classes, of competing religious persuasions, and of individuals of different ethnic identity and background. Through his message of love and acceptance, he was determined to dispel the ideology of ethnic superiority—what we may call in the twenty-first century society racial heritage and racial supremacy. The message of this same Jesus, a person of color who is the Savior and Lord of White, Black, Asian, Middle-Eastern, Native Americans, Latino/a, and male and female Christians, provides meaningful lessons and wisdom to help us rethink critically about our common humanity, can help us break down the high racial, gender, and ethnic walls in contemporary Christianity and churches, and improve the human condition in the world.

Moreover, I believe that there are both creative and strategic ways to diminish the power and influence of structural racism in our society and the modern world. There is nothing “essential” about one’s racial identity, designation, or category; if this logical reasoning is valid or justifiable, then we do not need to wait for the great eschatological moment of the Christ or the future life…to work through our racial conflict or to dismantle the power of structural racism in our society. I believe we can undo race! There are equally important human factors that intersect with human racial identity (or racial identities) and shape the human experience in this world; these things include gender, sexuality, culture, ideological worldviews, economics, even religious and political identification. I would contend further that one of the devastating factors contributing to the conundrum of racism in our culture and the modern world is that we have miserably cultivated a low view of humanity and love. At the moment, our collective view of anthropology and love is defective and “messed up.”

Hence, potentially, a more constructive conversation about race and racism must begin with the fundamental question of what it means to be human and to love one another. We would have to deal honestly and responsibly with the existential dimensions of love, which bears substantial implications on human relations and our shared or common humanity. We can learn from Jesus as a person of color who has modeled for us a positive view of humanity/anthropology by intentionally promoting the dignity of all people including the Jew and the non-Jew (i.e. the Samaritan, for example), male and female, the religious and the non-religious. I would argue that the life of Jesus has provided the most useful resources, and meaningful life lessons and strategic methods to recreate a more inclusive, constructive, redeeming, holistic, and optimistic anthropology.

Jesus’ earthly interactions with people—both Jews and non-Jews—and his compassion toward men and women—the rich, the poor, the widow, the oppressed, the leper, the disable— (Yet, Jesus gave special attention to the outcast, the poor, and the disheartened) also provide effective resources to dismantle the power of race in contemporary world. Jesus’ theological anthropology was rooted in the social (lived-) experiences and lived-worlds of the people, as he was conscious about the socio-economic, and political dimensions that have stained the image of God in humanity. In the example of Jesus, we need to foster a view of humanity that is more dignified, inclusive, tolerant, and egalitarian. I suppose the modern conversation about race and racism in both intellectual and popular circles in the American society are missing these vital elements.

In the same line of thought, Christians and Christian churches have failed to respond appropriately to the crisis of race and its related problems because most of the churches in America are plateaued and are not applying the principles of Jesus to deal with life existential issues and to bring healing and comfort to the poor, the oppressed, the disfranchised individual, etc.

On the other hand, as a theologian, I must acknowledge there is indeed a theological aspect of race and racism, as the latter is a clear reflection of human depravity and our shortcoming to love God and our neighbor unconditionally and unreservedly. Racism is in fact a profound theological crisis; it is also an inevitable demonstration of the dark side of humanity. Nonetheless, the disposition in our hearts to sin and not to love another person as we’re supposed to is not an excuse to be racist, for example. We all need to be responsible for our actions and social sins, and make necessary amends or reparations for them. However, God through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ made it possible for humanity to achieve redemption in Christ.

The Easter message is also a story about God’s (and Christian) victory over sin and death. It gives us a reason to hang on in this life of uncertainty and despair. Easter is about hope, reconciliation, and love. By consequence, what are/should be the implications of the message of Easter for those whose humanity has been disvalued in our society? What are/should be the implications of the Easter message for the tremendous problem of racial reconciliation and harmony in Christian churches and our society? What are/should be the implications of the message of Easter for the problem of pain, suffering, and global terrorism in the modern world? What are/should be the implications of the Easter message for those who have the political, economic, and religious power and influence over people and to change the present and future worlds?

Happy Resurrection Day!

A brief note on Nationality, Religion, and the Question of the Muslim Immigrant

A brief note on Nationality, Religion, and the Question of the Muslim Immigrant
 
Abraham, the founding father of ancient Israel, was not a Jew by birth. He was an” immigrant,” a Chaldean from the land of Ur/Babylon (Modern Iraq). Abraham became a Jew and the fountainhead of the Abrahamaic faiths: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Jews, Christians, and Muslims claim him as both their spiritual and physical father.
 
Abraham, the immigrant from what is known today as the modern Iraq and the Hero of the Jews, Muslims, and Christians, just like the founding fathers of the United States of America were illegal aliens and undocumented workers. Yet, Abraham would become the greatest immigrant who has ever graced human history. He would also become the model of religious piety and faithfulness.
 
This message is for my Evangelical Christian brothers and sisters, those who call themselves children of Abraham and Abraham their father, and those who claim this country as their own–and no one else’s– should love all children of Abraham. The Muslims are also the seed of Abraham, and they are your brothers and sisters! Love them, care for them, and extend kindness and hospitality to them!

Call for Papers: “Between Two Worlds: Jean Price-Mars, Haiti, and Africa”

Call for Papers: “Between Two Worlds: Jean Price-Mars, Haiti, and Africa” Edited by Drs. Celucien L. Joseph, Glodel Mezilas, Jean Eddy Saint Paul, and Jhon Byron

Extended Deadline: Thursday, March 31

Price-Mars

 

Jean Price-Mars (1876 – 1969), Haitian physician, ethnographer, diplomat, educator, historian, politician, was a towering intellectual in Haitian history and cultural studies, and a Pan Africanist who called to reevaluate the contributions of Africa in universal civilizations and to revalorize African retentions and cultural practices in the Black diaspora, especially on Haitian soil. Through his writings, Price-Mars, whom Leopold Sedar Senghor called “the Father of Negritude,” sought to establish connecting links between Africa and the Black Diaspora, and the shared history and struggle between people of African descent in the Diaspora.

For many scholars, Price-Mars is the father of Haitian ethnology and Dean of Haitian Studies in the twentieth-century, and arguably, the most influential Haitian thinker that has graced the “Black Republic” since the death of Joseph Auguste Anténor Firmin in 1911. In Haitian thought, Price-Mars has exercised an enduring intellectual and ideological influence on the young Haitian intellectuals and writers of the generation of the American Occupation in Haiti (1915-1934) and the post-Occupation culture from the 1930s to 1970s. He is especially known for launching a cultural nationalism and an anti-imperial movement against the brutal American military forces in Haiti.

The writings of Price-Mars were instrumental in challenging the Haitian intellectual of his leadership role in the Haitian society, and in promoting national consciousness and unity among Haitians of all social classes and against their American oppressor. Comparatively, his work was a catalyst in the process of shaping and reshaping Haitian cultural identity and reconsidering the viability of the Afro-Haitian faith of Vodou as religion among the so-called World religions. His thought anticipated what is known today as postcolonialism and decolonization.

Moreover, scholars have also identified Price-Mars as the Francophone counterpart of W.E.B. Du Bois for his activism, scholarly rigor, leadership efficiency, and his unremitting efforts to challenge Western racial history, ideology, and white supremacy in the modern world. Unapologetically, Price-Mars challenged the doctrine of white supremacy and the ideological construction of Western history by demonstrating the equality and dignity of the races and all people, and their achievements in the human historical narrative. As Du Bois, he was a transdisciplinary scholar, boundary-crosser, and cross-cultural theorist; in an unorthodox way, he had brought in conversation various disciplines including anthropology, ethnography, geography, sociology, history, religion, philosophy, race theory, and literature to study the human condition and the most pressing issues facing the nations and peoples of the world, as well as the possible implications they may bear upon us in the postcolonial moment.

“Between Two Worlds: Jean Price-Mars, Haiti, and Africa” is a special volume on Jean Price-Mars that reassesses the importance of his thought and legacy, and the implications of his ideas in the twenty-first century’s culture of political correctness, the continuing challenge of race and racism, and imperial hegemony in the modern world. Price-Mars’s thought is also significant for the renewed scholarly interests in Haiti and Haitian Studies in North America, and the meaning of contemporary Africa in the world today. This volume explores various dimensions in Price-Mars’ thought and his role as medical doctor, historian, anthropologist, cultural critic, public intellectual, politician, pan-Africanist, and humanist.

Hence, the goal of this book is fourfold: 1) The book will explore the contributions of Price-Mars to Haitian history, thought, culture, literature, politics, education, health, etc., 2) This volume will investigate the complex relationships between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in Price-Mars’ historical writings, 3) It studies Price-Mars’ engagement with Western history and the problem of the “racist narrative,” and 4) Finally, the book will highlight Price-Mars’ contributions to Postcolonialism, Africana Studies, and Pan-Africanism.

If you would like to contribute a book chapter to this important volume, along with your CV, please submit a 300 word abstract by Thursday, March 31, to Dr. Celucien Joseph @ celucienjoseph@gmail.com

Successful applicants will be notified of acceptance in the first week of April, 2016. We are looking for original and unpublished essays for this book. Translations of Price-Mars’ works in the English language are also welcome. Potential topics to be addressed include (but are not limited to) the following:

I. Price-Mars as Historian
• Price-Mars as Historian
• Price-Mars’ engagement with Western history
• Price-Mars’ interpretation of Haitian history
• The function of Haitian heroes and heroines in Price-Mars historical writings
• The Origin (s) and History of Haiti and Dominican Republic in Price-Mars’ works
• Particularism and Universalism in Price-Mars’ historical writings

II. Price-Mars as Cultural Critic and Public Intellectual in Haitian Society
• Price-Mars as cultural theorist and literary critic
• The role of Price-Mars’ thought in the Haitian Renaissance in the first half of the twentieth-century
• Price-Mars and the Crisis of Haitian Intellectuals
• Price-Mars and the Crisis of Haitian bourgeoisie-elite
• Price-Mars, Vodou, and the Haitian culture
• The Haitian peasant in the writings of Price-Mars
• The Education of the Haitian masses in the writings of Price-Mars
• The problem of Race in Price-Mars’ writings
• Haitian Women in the thought of Price-Mars
• Price-Mars’ contributions as Medical doctor in Haitian society.

III. Price-Mars as Politician
• The Political career and goals of Jean Price-Mars
• Price-Mars, Haiti’s Ambassador to the nations
• Price-Mars and the American occupation and American imperialism
• The political philosophy and democratic ideas of Price-Mars
• Nationalism and Patriotism in Price-Mars’ thought

IV. Price-Mars as Pan-Africanist
• African history or the meaning of Africa in the writings of Price-Mars
• The Black Diaspora in the thought of Price-Mars
• Price-Mars’ Postcolonial Rhetoric and Linguistic Strategy
• The Vindication and Rehabilitation of the Black Race
• The Role and Contributions of Pre-African civilizations to world civilizations
• Price-Marsian Negritude or Blackness

About the editors

Jean Price-Mars (1876 – 1969), Haitian physician, ethnographer, diplomat, educator, historian, politician, was a towering intellectual in Haitian history and cultural studies, and a Pan Africanist who called to reevaluate the contributions of Africa in universal civilizations and to revalorize African retentions and cultural practices in the Black diaspora, especially on Haitian soil. Through his writings, Price-Mars, whom Leopold Sedar Senghor called “the Father of Negritude,” sought to establish connecting links between Africa and the Black Diaspora, and the shared history and struggle between people of African descent in the Diaspora.

For many scholars, Price-Mars is the father of Haitian ethnology and Dean of Haitian Studies in the twentieth-century, and arguably, the most influential Haitian thinker that has graced the “Black Republic” since the death of Joseph Auguste Anténor Firmin in 1911. In Haitian thought, Price-Mars has exercised an enduring intellectual and ideological influence on the young Haitian intellectuals and writers of the generation of the American Occupation in Haiti (1915-1934) and the post-Occupation culture from the 1930s to 1970s. He is especially known for launching a cultural nationalism and an anti-imperial movement against the brutal American military forces in Haiti.

The writings of Price-Mars were instrumental in challenging the Haitian intellectual of his leadership role in the Haitian society, and in promoting national consciousness and unity among Haitians of all social classes and against their American oppressor. Comparatively, his work was a catalyst in the process of shaping and reshaping Haitian cultural identity and reconsidering the viability of the Afro-Haitian faith of Vodou as religion among the so-called World religions. His thought anticipated what is known today as postcolonialism and decolonization.

Moreover, scholars have also identified Price-Mars as the Francophone counterpart of W.E.B. Du Bois for his activism, scholarly rigor, leadership efficiency, and his unremitting efforts to challenge Western racial history, ideology, and white supremacy in the modern world. Unapologetically, Price-Mars challenged the doctrine of white supremacy and the ideological construction of Western history by demonstrating the equality and dignity of the races and all people, and their achievements in the human historical narrative. As Du Bois, he was a transdisciplinary scholar, boundary-crosser, and cross-cultural theorist; in an unorthodox way, he had brought in conversation various disciplines including anthropology, ethnography, geography, sociology, history, religion, philosophy, race theory, and literature to study the human condition and the most pressing issues facing the nations and peoples of the world, as well as the possible implications they may bear upon us in the postcolonial moment.

Between Two Worlds: Jean Price-Mars, Haiti, and Africa is a special volume on Jean Price-Mars that reassesses the importance of his thought and legacy, and the implications of his ideas in the twenty-first century’s culture of political correctness, the continuing challenge of race and racism, and imperial hegemony in the modern world. Price-Mars’ thought is also significant for the renewed scholarly interests in Haiti and Haitian Studies in North America, and the meaning of contemporary Africa in the world today. This volume explores various dimensions in Price-Mars’ thought and his role as medical doctor, historian, anthropologist, cultural critic, public intellectual, politician, pan-Africanist, and humanist.

Hence, the goal of this book is fourfold: 1) The book will explore the contributions of Price-Mars to Haitian history, thought, culture, literature, politics, education, health, etc., 2) This volume will investigate the complex relationships between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in Price-Mars’ historical writings, 3) It studies Price-Mars’ engagement with Western history and the problem of the “racist narrative,” and 4) Finally, the book will highlight Price-Mars’ contributions to Postcolonialism, Africana Studies, and Pan-Africanism.

If you would like to contribute a book chapter to this important volume, along with your CV, please submit a 300 word abstract by Monday, February 29, 2016, to Dr. Celucien Joseph @ celucienjoseph@gmail.com, and Dr. Jean Eddy Saint Paul @ jsaintpaul@yahoo.fr
Successful applicants will be notified of acceptance in the first week of April, 2016. We are looking for original and unpublished essays for this book. Translations of Price-Mars’ works in the English language are also welcome. Potential topics to be addressed include (but are not limited to) the following:

I. Price-Mars as Historian
• Price-Mars as Historian
• Price-Mars’ engagement with Western history
• Price-Mars’ interpretation of Haitian history
• The function of Haitian heroes and heroines in Price-Mars historical writings
• The Origin (s) and History of Haiti and Dominican Republic in Price-Mars’ works
• Particularism and Universalism in Price-Mars’ historical writings

II. Price-Mars as Cultural Critic and Public Intellectual in Haitian Society
• Price-Mars as cultural theorist and literary critic
• The role of Price-Mars’ thought in the Haitian Renaissance in the first half of the twentieth-century
• Price-Mars and the Crisis of Haitian Intellectuals
• Price-Mars and the Crisis of Haitian bourgeoisie-elite
• Price-Mars, Vodou, and the Haitian culture
• The Haitian peasant in the writings of Price-Mars
• The Education of the Haitian masses in the writings of Price-Mars
• The problem of Race in Price-Mars’ writings
• Haitian Women in the thought of Price-Mars
• Price-Mars’ contributions as Medical doctor in Haitian society.

III. Price-Mars as Politician
• The Political career and goals of Jean Price-Mars
• Price-Mars, Haiti’s Ambassador to the nations
• Price-Mars and the American occupation and American imperialism
• The political philosophy and democratic ideas of Price-Mars
• Nationalism and Patriotism in Price-Mars’ thought

IV. Price-Mars as Pan-Africanist
• African history or the meaning of Africa in the writings of Price-Mars
• The Black Diaspora in the thought of Price-Mars
• Price-Mars’ Postcolonial Rhetoric and Linguistic Strategy
• The Vindication and Rehabilitation of the Black Race
• The Role and Contributions of Pre-colonial African civilizations to world civilizations
• Price-Marsian Negritude or Blackness

About the Editors

Dr. Celucien L. Joseph is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Indian River State College. He received his Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Texas at Dallas, where he studied Literary Studies and Intellectual History. Professor Joseph also holds an M.A. in French language and literature from the University of Louisville. In addition, he holds degrees in theological and religious studies. He serves in the editorial board and Chair of The Journal of Pan African Studies Regional Advisory Board; he also the curator of “Haiti: Then and Now.” He edited JPAS special issue on Wole Soyinka entitled “Rethinking Wole Soyinka: 80 Years of Protracted Engagement” (2015). Dr. Joseph is interested in the intersections of literature, history, race, religion, theology, and history of ideas.

Professor Joseph is the author of several books including Race, Religion, and the Haitian Revolution: Essays on Faith, Freedom, and Decolonization (2012), From Toussaint to Price-Mars: Rhetoric, Race, and Religion in Haitian Thought (2013), Haitian Modernity and Liberative Interruptions: Discourse on Race, Religion, and Freedom (2013), God Loves Haiti (2015). He has also contributed several encyclopedia entries and scholarly articles in various journals. His forthcoming book is entitled Thinking in Public: Faith, Secular Humanism, and Development in Jacques Roumain (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2016). He is the lead editor of a forthcoming two volume anthology entitled Vodou in Haitian Memory: The Idea and Representation of Vodou in Haitian Imagination (Collection 1), and Vodou in the Haitian Experience: A Black Atlantic Perspective (Collection 2)—to be published by Lexington Books in 2016. He is currently working on a volume on Jean-Bertrand Aristide, former President of Haiti and Catholic-Priest Liberation Theology entitled Aristide: A Theological and Political Introduction (under contract with Fortress Press).

Academic Bio of Jean Eddy Saint Paul, PhD, Sociologist,
Professor of Sociology and Politics
Universidad of Guanajuato (Guanajuato, Mexico).

Jean Eddy Saint Paul is a Haitian scholar and social scientist. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology from El Colegio de México (2008), an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá (2002) and a B.A. in Social Work from the State University of Haiti. Dr. Saint Paul is a Professor of Politics and Sociology whose specializations include Religions, Citizenship, and Democracy, and Elites, Political Discourse and Ideologies. He currently works as a Professor for the Division of Law, Politics and Government at the Universidad of Guanajuato (Guanajuato, Mexico). He is also a regular Professor at the Inter-Institutional Doctorate (Ph.D.) Program in Law. Dr. Saint Paul is one of the founders of the Doctorate Program in Law, Politics and Government, and the Master Program in Political Analysis at the Universidad de Guanajuato. He usually teaches in the undergraduate and graduate programs and offers courses such as “Political Science”, “Sociological Theory”, “Politics and Religions”, “Political Theory” and “Qualitative Research Methods.” Before joining the University of Guanajuato, Dr. Saint Paul was a visiting professor of “Comparative Politics” and “Political Theory” at the Ph.D. Program in Political Science and Master Program in Sociology at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City.

Prof. Saint Paul’s work covers an unusually broad spectrum of topic including Historical Sociology of Politics, Politics and Religions (Secular State for Civil Liberties and Human Rights), Civil Society, Politics of Memory and Citizenship, Civil Society and Democratization from a Political & Sociological Perspective, Sociology of Violence, Patrimonialism, Neopatrimonialism, and Politics of the Belly. A Member of the National System of Scholars-CONACyT, level 1, Professor Jean Eddy Saint Paul was in 2013 a “Visiting Scholar” at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Va. United States of America) and previously in 2011 was a “Visiting Fellow” at the Centre d’études et de recherches internationales (Centre for International Studies and Research (CERI), SciencesPo, CNRS, Paris.

Dr. Saint Paul conducts research on Latin America and the Caribbean, and has published his works in prestigious national and international press, like Karthala (Paris), Maison des sciences de l’homme (Paris) and El Colegio de México (Mexico). Among his recent publications on Haiti, it is important to mention: Chimè et Tontons Macoutes comme milices armées en Haïti. Essai sociologique, published in 2015 by the Cidihca press in Montreal (Québec), Canada; “La laïcité en Haïti. Approche sociologique des erreurs épistémologiques et théoriques dans les débats récents,” published in the international Peer Review Journal: Histoire, Monde et Cultures Religieuses (HMC), Thematic Number: Etat, Religions et Politique en Haïti (XVIII-XXI siècles), # 29, April 15, 2014, Paris: Karthala, pp. 83-100. ISBN: 9782811111540. Currently, he is working on two new books: Duvalierism, Rhetoric and Political Practices, and Civil Society and Politics of Memory in Haiti”.
Prof. Saint Paul is fluent in Haitian Creole, French, English and Spanish.
https://ugto.academia.edu/JeanEddySaintPaul.

Email address: jsaintpaul@yahoo.fr or jsaint@colmex.mx
Professional link: https://ugto.academia.edu/JeanEddy
His new book: Chimè et Tontons Macoutes comme milices armées en Haïti. Essai Sociologique. Montreal, Ca.: Cidihca, 2015.

http://lenouvelliste.com/…/Chime-et-tontons-macoutes-la-log…

http://lenouvelliste.com/…/Chime-et-tontons-macoutes-la-log…

Skype: Jean Eddy Saint Paul (Charlottesville)

Bio for Glodel Mezillas, PhD

Glodel Mezillas is a political scientist, diplomat,
theorist, philosopher, and a scholar of Caribbean and Latin American Studies. He received his PhD in Latin American Studies from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM), a Master’s degree in International Studies from Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 2001-2002. He also studied at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) of the Université d’Etat d’Haïti, UEH), from which he received a Bachelor’s degree in Modern Letters, and at the Université Toussaint Louverture a B.A. in Political Sciences He has also done special studies in Diplomacy and International Politics at Escuela Diplomática de Madrid, and in International Public Administration (ONU) at the École Nationale d’Administration de Paris, Institut des Relations Internationales du Cameroun (IRIC),and at the Institut des Nations Unies de la Recherche et la Formation (UNITAR), he specialized in the field of United Nations System.

Dr. Mezillas has served as Professor of Genealogy of Postcolonialism at Instituto de Estudios Críticos, of International Relations and the Caribbean Studies at the Institut d’Études et Recherches Africaines (IERAH) de l’Université d’État d’Haiti, of International Relations at Université Polyvalente (Haiti), and Professor of Political Sciences and Epistemology of Social Sciences at the Université Toussaint Louverture. His teaching and scholarly research interests include Black Diaspora, Cultural, Political Theory and Epistemology of Social Sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Dr. Mezillas is a prolific writer and has published in three languages English, Spanish, and French. His books including Que signifie philosopher en Haïti? Un nouveau concept du Vodou (L’Harmattan, 2015), El trauma colonial, entre la memoria y el discurso. Pensar (desde) el Caribe (EDUCAVISION, 2015), Qu’est-ce qu’une crise. Eléments d’une théorie critique (L’Harmattan, 2014), Civilisation et discours d’altérité. Enquête sur l’Islam, l’Occident et le Vodou (EDUCAVISION, 2014), Généalogie de la théorie sociale en Amérique Latine (Editions de l’Université d’Etat d’Haïti, 2013), and Haití más allá del espejo (Editorial Praxis, 2011).

E-mail address: glodelmezilas@hotmail.com

Bio for Jhon Picard Byron, PhD

Dr Byron is a Professor and Researcher at the Faculté d’Ethnologie at the State University of Haiti (UEH). His research interests are centered around Jean Price Mars’s work and legacy as well as the Construction of culture and citizenry in Haiti and the Caribbean. He is the Chair of a Research Unit working on Language, Discourses and Representations (LADIREP) and the Coordinator of the Masters Programme in Social Anthropology at the Faculté d’Ethnologie. His most recent publication is “La pensée de Jean Price-Mars : entre construction politique de la nation et affirmation de l’identité culturelle haïtienne.” In Production du savoir et construction sociale. L’ethnologie en Haïti. He has two forthcoming publications: one on the influence of Haitian Anthropology at the origin of François Duvalier’s discourse and the other on Jean Price Mars and the transformation of Haitian Anthropology: challenges and stakes.

E-mail: jpicard.byron@gmail.com

Sincerely,
Celucien L. Joseph, PhD
Assistant Professor of English
Indian River State College
Curator of “Haiti: Then and Now”
http://www.haitithenandnowhtn.com/

Jean Eddy Saint Paul, PhD
Professor of Sociology and Politics
Universidad of Guanajuato (Guanajuato, Mexico)

Email address: jsaintpaul@yahoo.fr or jsaint@colmex.mx
Professional link: https://ugto.academia.edu/JeanEddy

Glodel Mezilas, PhD
Counselor and Diplomat
Haitian Embassy in Spain

Jhon Picard Byron, PhD
Professor and Researcher at Faculté d’Ethnologie
State University of Haiti (UEH).

 

Poetic Lament!

In “Choruses from the Rock,” eminent poet T. S. Eliot laments over the lack of a sense of community in Western societies:

“What life have you if you have no life together?
There is no life that is not in community,
And no community not lived in praise of God…

And now you live dispersed on ribbon roads,
And no man knows or cares who is his neighbour
Unless his neighbour makes too much disturbance
But all dash to and fro in motor cars,
Familiar with the roads but settled nowhere.
Nor does the family even move about together,
But every one would have his motorcycle,
And daughters ride away on casual pillions.”

On Intellectual Reparations: Hegel, Franklin Tavarès, Susan Buck-Morss, Revolutionary Haiti, and Caribbean Philosophical Association (CPA)

On Intellectual Reparations: Hegel, Franklin Tavarès, Susan Buck-Morss, Revolutionary Haiti, and Caribbean Philosophical Association (CPA)

 by Celucien L. Joseph, PhD

 

About six to seven years ago in a short note, I voiced my concern about the decision of the Board of Caribbean Philosophical Association (CPA) to grant the Frantz Fanon 2009 Book Award to Susan Buck-Morss for her brilliant book on Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009). Professor Buck-Morss’ basic thesis is that the revolutionary events (1791-1803) in Saint-Domingue-Haiti had substantially influenced Georg Hegel’s master-slave dialectic in his major work “The Phenomenology of Spirit,” which he published in 1807—only four years after the Haitian Revolution—and that revolutionary Haiti had a profound impact on Western history of ideas and universal history, respectively. While Buck-Morss mentioned the writings of the African historian and intellectual Pierre Franklin Tavarès in her work, she failed to give serious attention to his major claims concerning Hegel and Haitian History.

The CPA board, as I mentioned in my previous message to them, has also failed to recognize the meritorious contribution of the African historian who was actually the first scholar to argue, in a series of articles based on his doctoral dissertation (1989) at Sorbonne, that Hegel’s dialectic thesis was influenced by the Haitian Revolution, and that Haiti had had a tremendous impact on Enlightenment modernity, and the history of thought in the West. The Frantz Fanon 2009 Book Award should have been given to Dr. Pierre Franklin—not Prof. Susan Buck-Morss whose thesis is heavily dependent on Tavarès.

In May 1992, the Haitian journal Chemins Critiques, Revue Haïtiano-Caraíbéenne, published an excerpt of Tavares’s 1989 doctoral dissertation ; the article is entitled “Hegel et Haiti ou le silence de Hegel sur Saint Domingue” (Chemins Critiques, Revue Haïtiano-Caraíbéenne, Vol. 2, No. 3, mai 1992, pp. 113-131.) The chief editor of the journal at that time was the renowned Haitian sociologist, anthropologist, and theologian Laënnec Hurbon; Georges Castera, Syto Cavé, Delano Gilbert, Monique Lafontant, Franklin Midy, Bérard Cénatus, Jacky Dahomay, Laënnec Hurbon, Georges Mauvois, Michèle D. Pierre-Louis, and Frantz Voltaire served on the editorial board of Chemins Critiques. Below is the first page of Tavares’ article that was published in Chemins Critiques:

Hegel and Haiti 2

(The interested reader is encouraged to consult some of Pierre Franklin Tavarès’ writings on the subject matter: “Hegel, critique de l’Afrique : introduction aux études critiques sur l’Afrique” (PhD dissertation, Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, 19989) ; the article is entitled “Hegel et Haiti ou le silence de Hegel sur Saint Domingue” (Chemins Critiques, Revue Haïtiano-Caraíbéenne, Vol. 2, No. 3, mai 1992, pp. 113-131.) ; “Hegel et l’abbé Grégoire : question noire et révolution française” (Annales historiques de la Révolution française, 1993) ; “À propos de Hegel et Haïti Lettre de Pierre Franklin Tavares à Jean Ristat” (L’Humanité, 2006.
By contrast, eight years later after the publication of Tavares’s article in Chemins Critiques, in Summer 2000, Susan Buck-Morss would publish the influential essay entitled “Hegel and Haiti” in Critical Inquiry (Vol. 26, No. 4 (Summer, 2000), pp. 821-865)—published by The University of Chicago Press. Below is the first page of Buck-Morss’ essay, which she would expand in her 2009 book, Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History:
Susan Buck-Morss

Susan Buck-Morss.jpg 2

In my doctoral dissertation, “The Haitian Turn: Haiti, Black ‘The Haitian Turn’: Haiti, the Black Atlantic, and Black Transnational Consciousness” (University of Texas at Dallas, 2012), I coined the expression “The Haitian Turn” to reclaim the significant impact of Haiti and Haitian history in the emergence of Black internationalism, Pan Africanism, and Black radicalism, as well as Haiti’s major impact on modern history of ideas in the West and the Black Atlantic; I also coined the theoretical concept of “black transnational consciousness” to explain and analyze the nature, content, and workings of black internationalism in the first half of the twentieth-century. In the same line of thought, I rightly acknowledged Tavarès’ vital contributions to scholarship and Haitian revolutionary studies. Subsequently, in a major article I wrote about the recent studies on the Haitian Revolution, I gave the credit to where it is due—to Dr. Tavarès (See, “’The Haitian Turn’: An Appraisal of Recent Literary and Historiographical Works on the Haitian Revolution,” The Journal of Pan African Studies, 5:6 (September 2012):37-55)

Allow me to reproduce below an important paragraph from the essay noted above:

In a 1989 Sorbonne dissertation, “Hegel, critique de l’Afrique,” Pierre Franklin Tavares strikingly argues that the revolution in Saint Domingue and the birth of Haiti—as a double event—were the main historical sources (but not unique) of the famous “figure of consciousness” entitled “Domination and bondage of the Phenomenology of Spirit,” which incorrectly named “the dialectic of master and slave.” Building on Tavares’s thesis, more recently, in an article (“Hegel and Haiti”) published in Critical Inquiry in 2000 and later extended in book form as Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History in 2009, Susan Buck-Morss contends that the events of revolutionary Haiti inspired the young Hegel distinctively in his development of the lord-servant dialectic, and substantially provides the concrete experimental resources for theorizing freedom and the process of history. She also insists that the Haitian Revolution has contributed significantly to European critical discourses on subjectivity, freedom, identity, and consciousness. Although the news about the revolution was censored in the French media after 1803, Buck-Morss informs us, “newspapers and journals in Britain (also in the United States and Poland) highlighted the events of the final revolutionary struggle in Saint-Domingue” (43-44). Buck-Morss asserts, “The Haitian Revolution was the crucible, the trial by fire for the ideals of the French Enlightenment. And every European who was part of the bourgeois reading public knew it” (44).

Furthermore, in the same article, I also wrote: “Buck-Morss and Tavares have convincingly demonstrated Hegel’s philosophy of freedom and philosophy of right (Nesbitt, “Troping Toussaint” 19-33) also were dependent on the Haitian Revolution, a signal event in human narrative of liberty that provided him the empirical data to think through freedom.”

Interestingly, in a recent essay, “Global History and The African: A New Reading of Hegel,” published this month (February, 2016) in Tanbou, Haitian writer Wilson Décembre, who understands the value and imperative of intellectual reparation, wrote these important paragraphs about the implication of Pierre Frankly Tavarès’s thesis in regard to Hegel, Haiti, and universal history:

“Franklin Tavarès has written a series of articles that grew out of his work on a doctoral dissertation. All these articles are about the connection between Hegel and the African participation in History. In the letter that he has sent to the French journalist Jean Ristat, he gave a short and clear explanation of his points of view. As I already pointed it out, he is the first scholar to ask the question whether Hegel was inspired by the revolutionary events of Saint-Domingue or not. For him, the African Revolution in Saint-Domingue and the birth of Haiti as a State must be considered as the main historical source (not the only one) of the famous “figure of consciousness” called “dominion and servitude” but that is improperly called, “the master-slave dialectic”. Nevertheless, for him, The Phenomenology of Mind refers to the Revolution of 1789 and to the victorious slave uprising in Saint-Domingue only as “figures of consciousness”. It’s up to the reader to find out the times and the historical events behind these figures of consciousness. For this reason, he affirms that the figure called “dominion and servitude” had many sources (Old Testament, Hercules, Spartacus, etc.) but that the main source is the book of L’Abbé Raynal, Histoire philosophique des établissements européens dans les deux Indes, in which, Raynal and Diderot, for the first time, announce the future victory of a Black slave over his master in the Black world. According to many historians, Toussaint Louverture, the leader of the Revolution in Saint-Domingue, has read the book.

According to Tavarès, Hegel read the book when he was in Berne. And by reading it, he became aware of the horrors of slavery. From then on, he became a violent opponent of slavery in the Caribbean. Because of that—and this is one of the points on which Susan Buck-Morss disagrees with him—Tavarès refuses to consider Hegel as a racist. He points out that Hegel had a long relationship with Abbé Grégoire friends’ circle. Moreover, he criticizes Buck-Morss for ignoring that particularly in The Philosophy of Mind, Hegel completely destroyed the racist and racialist arguments of his time, notably by criticizing and making a mock of Gall’s phrenology. According to Tavarès, Hegel is not the author of the texts that are attributed to him (Cf. in this report: “Hegel and Africa”). Hegel is considered as a racist because of texts that are apocryphal.”

Source: http://www.tanbou.com/2016/GlobalHistoryAndTheAfrican.htm#.Vrz2fgcE1e8.facebook

On the Importance of Intellectual Reparations

At the beginning of his short essay, Professor Décembre also wrote convincingly about Tavarès:
“Pierre Franklin Tavarès, a Cap-verdian born Hegelian scholar educated at the Sorbonne, is the one who started it all. He was the first to raise the question whether Hegel was inspired by events happening in Saint-Domingue at the end of the eighteen-century. He wrote a series of articles in the nineties in which he showed that Hegel was not unaffected by the issue of slavery that was very important at his time. He showed that Hegel criticized slavery in many texts even though the criticism is not obvious, due to many references made by Hegel to the ancients, notably Aristotle. Tavarès stated that Hegel read Diderot and Abbé Raynal’s History of the Indies in the center of which was the issue of slavery in the Caribbean. Therefore, for Tavarès, Hegel was aware of the problem and he was an abolitionist throughout his life.”

He also commented: “Susan Buck-Morss gave credit to Tavarès. Drawing on his conclusion, in her book called Hegel, Haiti and Universal History, she showed that the master and the slave that Hegel speaks of in the Phenomenology of Spirit are in fact “real slaves revolting against real masters” in a context that is the one of the Haitian Revolution of the end of the 18th century.”

Intellectual Reparation, which aims at acknowledging and recognizing the contributions of non-Western writers and those who have been placed in the margins of universal history and the human narrative, has always been an important concern for African, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Latino/a, and non-Western thinkers in the history of Western scholarship and history of intellectual exclusion in Western academia. Intellectual historian Peter K. J. Park has brilliantly argued for intellectual reparations in his groundbreaking study: Africa, Asia, and the History of Philosophy: Racism in the Formation of the Philosophical Canon, 1780-1830 (SUNY Press, 2014). The content of the book is described in these words:

“In this provocative historiography, Peter K. J. Park provides a penetrating account of a crucial period in the development of philosophy as an academic discipline. During these decades, a number of European philosophers influenced by Immanuel Kant began to formulate the history of philosophy as a march of progress from the Greeks to Kant—a genealogy that supplanted existing accounts beginning in Egypt or Western Asia and at a time when European interest in Sanskrit and Persian literature was flourishing. Not without debate, these traditions were ultimately deemed outside the scope of philosophy and relegated to the study of religion. Park uncovers this debate and recounts the development of an exclusionary canon of philosophy in the decades of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. To what extent was this exclusion of Africa and Asia a result of the scientization of philosophy? To what extent was it a result of racism?
This book includes the most extensive description available anywhere of Joseph-Marie de Gérando’s Histoire comparée des systèmes de philosophie, Friedrich Schlegel’s lectures on the history of philosophy, Friedrich Ast’s and Thaddä Anselm Rixner’s systematic integration of Africa and Asia into the history of philosophy, and the controversy between G. W. F. Hegel and the theologian August Tholuck over “pantheism.”

I wholeheartedly applaud the board of CPA for recognizing the value and implications of this important study; Professor Peter’s book has won The Frantz Fanon Award for Outstanding Book in Caribbean Thought in 2016.

Aldon Morris, in his award-winning and stimulating book, The Scholar Denied: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology (University of California Press, 2015) — 2016 R.R. Hawkins Award, PROSE Award for Excellence—has also made the case for intellectual reparations in the example of the laudable contributions of W.E.B. Du Bois and his writings in the foundation of American sociology. As the blurb of the book reads:
“In this groundbreaking book, Aldon D. Morris’s ambition is truly monumental: to help rewrite the history of sociology and to acknowledge the primacy of W. E. B. Du Bois’s work in the founding of the discipline. Calling into question the prevailing narrative of how sociology developed, Morris, a major scholar of social movements, probes the way in which the history of the discipline has traditionally given credit to Robert E. Park at the University of Chicago, who worked with the conservative black leader Booker T. Washington to render Du Bois invisible. Morris uncovers the seminal theoretical work of Du Bois in developing a “scientific” sociology through a variety of methodologies and examines how the leading scholars of the day disparaged and ignored Du Bois’s work.”

Like Du Bois, the Haitian anthropologist and thinker Joseph Anténor Firmin—the first Black anthropologist—whose pioneering study, De l’égalité des races humaines : anthropologie positive (The Equality of Human Races/University of Illinois Press, 2002)) , which he published in 1885 at the emergence of anthropology as an academic discipline in the West, has been a victim of Western academic isolation. It was recently Firmin was recognized as a “pioneer of anthropology (for further detail, see Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban’s seminal article, “Anténor Firmin: Haitian Pioneer of Anthropology” (American Anthropologist, Vol. 102, No. 3 (Sep., 2000), pp. 449-466); however, Firmin’s work is not widely known in the academia in the Anglophone world, and unfortunately, Joseph Anténor Firmin as a founding father of Western anthropology is not widely accepted, for example, by American Anthropological Association. In the academic practice  of intellectual exclusion and epistemic disobedience, The Association of Black Anthropologists (ABA), which was founded in 1970, has yet to officially recognize Firmin as a founding father of Black anthropology. Nonetheless, careful scholarship does reveal that the history of thought in Francophone Black Atlantic, Hispanophone Black Atlantic, or Anglophone Black Atlantic, etc. intersect, converge, and confluence. This observation, however, does not undermine the prominence of décalage, and intellectual conflicts and misapprehensions in the wider Black Atlantic and African Diasporic thought and culture.

To bring this short reflection to a close, allow me to take us back to the core of the issue: unfortunately, the board of the Caribbean Philosophical Association who decided on The Frantz Fanon Award in 2009 has also missed the mark. It is never too late (to practice) for intellectual reparations. Pierre Franklin Tavarès is still alive!!! An important scholarly and professional guild like CPA cannot practice what it is been fighting for since its foundation that is “Shifting the geography of reason.” To me, the motto of CPA calls for our continuous efforts and collaboration to interrogate the (exclusive and absolute) value of Western intellectual hegemony and the practice of academic isolation—as it pertains to the works and ideas of Non-Western thinkers.

Intellectual reparation is the right thing to do. Joseph Anténor Firmin once declared, “Il faut réparer au nom de la philosophie morale” (“We must repair in the name of moral philosophy.”) In the same line of thought like Firmin, Frantz Fanon, and Walter D. Mignolo, the Haitian scholar and sociologist Jean Eddy Saint Paul has exclaimed, “Il faut réparer au nom de la décolonialité, une manière de faire justice aux damnés de la terre. Il faut réparer au nom de la désobéissance épistémique conçue ici comme contre-poétique décoloniale” (“We must repair in the name of decoloniality, a manner of doing justice to the wretched of the earth. We must repair in the name of epistemic disobedience as conceived here as decolonial poetics.”) Intellectual reparation is morally, ethically, and academically justified.

*This essay is also available as a PDF document. Click on the link below to access it:

On Intellectual Reparations