RAP: Research in African Philosophy

Who makes up the Network?

The network Research in African Philosophy (RAP) includes:

John Drabinski (Amherst College)

Grant Farred (Cornell University)

Pierre-Philippe Fraiture (Warwick University)

Axelle Karera (Wesleyan University)

Kasereka Kavwahirehi (Université d'Ottawa)

Mpay Kemboly (Faculté de Philosophie Saint Pierre Canisius, Kimwenza, DRC)

Jean-Paul Martinon (Goldsmiths)

Isaïe Nzeyimana (University Source du Nil, Butare, Rwanda)

Daniel Orrells (King’s College London)

Its membership is open.

What is the aim of the Network?

RAP brings together scholars interested in the development of African philosophy, thought, and culture. While the discipline of African philosophy is often perceived as a marginal academic pursuit on student syllabi in both African as well as European and North American universities, this network perceives it, on the contrary, as a central component of the continent’s culture as a whole. The network seeks to re-centralise the importance of philosophy not only in African cultural and literary studies, but also much more widely, beyond these academic confines. Ultimately, this configuration of experts allows us to ask new questions about African philosophy, with a view to exploring the impact of African thought on a broad range of contexts and disciplines.

What is the history of the Network?

RAP was founded in 2015 at the Africana Research Centre at Cornell University, USA, during the first colloquium, African Thinking And/At its Limits. The colloquium explored the edges of what is currently understood by “African thought”: its historical, anthropological, geographical, political, and linguistic limits.

The group met again in 2016 at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Warwick, UK, for our second colloquium, Translating African Thought and Literature. This one-day event focused on the way in which African and European languages have contributed to the development of African thought and literature until today.

Finally, the group organised a third colloquium in 2017 at The Centre for Humanistic Inquiry, Amherst College, on the theme of Africa / Philosophy / Violence. The colloquium explored African philosophical responses to violence on the continent.

What future plans for the Network?

The network is currently fundraising in order to organise two colloquia exploring how philosophy, theology, and culture contributed, since decolonization, to the emergence and development of African thought and what lessons can be learned from them? These are:

    1. Kinshasa: City of Cultures (1960-79) - Faculté de Philosophie Saint Pierre Canisius, DRC -

        Spring 2019

For this first colloquium, our objective is to produce a set of cultural analyses of the intertwinement between these three vibrant scenes during the crucial period of 1960-1979. These explorations aim to assess the relevance of this heritage and to uncover how it can help open a new future for Kinshasa in the 21st century.

Whilst historians have become interested in Kinshasa’s lively cultural scene of the 1960s, no one has brought these strands together to ask: what was the relationship between philosophy, theology and culture in postcolonial Kinshasa? And how did this intertwinement contribute to the rise of African thought in the world?

In order to address these questions, the network plans to invite a number of established philosophers, theologians, and cultural practitioners from the DRC and beyond.

     2. African Philosophy, Theology, and Culture - Warwick University -

         Summer 2020

For the second colloquium, our objective is to produce a new set of cultural analyses of this intertwinement between philosophy, theology and culture in an African context, but this time, beyond the historical specificity of Kinshasa. These analyses aim not only to widen the scope of the perspective, but also to provide UK, US, and EU scholars and interested parties with an overview of the future potential of this intertwinement of disciplines.

For this new colloquium we will put forward the following questions: What was the impact of the Kinshasa scene on European and American philosophy, including Africana Philosophy? And how have postcolonial African philosophies and theologies informed the visual arts and literary production on the rest of the continent and beyond?

In order to address these further issues, the network plans to invite experts from the wider field of African philosophy, theology, and culture.

For further information please see Links



“Every thought, philosophical or other, braids itself with many other pre-existing threads of thoughts; forming more or less original or intricate fabrics; never an ex-nihilo creation. Strictly speaking, human thought is never universal or singular, but particular, and consequently and paradoxically, irreducibly collective.”

                                                                                                          Meinrad P. Hebga

A brief overview of the RAP Project