Africa Knows! It is time to decolonise minds

Accepted Paper: C15-02. To panel C15.

Title of paper:

Gender discourse in Eastern European and Sub-Saharan philosophy: a cross-cultural exploration

Adeolu Oyekan (Nelson Mandela University).

Long abstract paper:
African Philosophy as a site of confrontation and collaboration with Europe has focused largely on Western and Southern Europe as mostly representative of European culture and scholarship, much to the negligence of Eastern and Central Europe. This cultural reductionism though, is best situated within a historical and imperialist context of blanket inferiority created by European scholarship, and to which much of anticolonial African scholarship has been a response. The idea of a monolithic, non-literate and barbaric Africa as conceived by Europe, is historically antecedent to the continent's counter-hegemonic decolonial scholarship that ignores the diversity and plurality of European history, culture and scholarship. This situation however, places significant limitations on the cross-cultural, collaborative and reflexive scholarship between Africa and Europe needed for decolonizing and decentering knowledge for mutual benefits. Using gender discourse as fodder, this paper makes a case for intercontinental multiplicity of knowledge by exploring the prospects for collaborative scholarship between Eastern Europe and Africa. Some of the questions that this paper aims to answer include: What instances of cultural, semantic or epistemic difference account for contested notions of gender and women rights, and to what extent is their appreciation obscured by the marginalization of peripheral voices? What contradictions and similarities characterize the conceptions of gender in Pre-communist Eastern Europe and Precolonial Africa? To what extent has the Western notion of gender contributed or inhibited meaningful gender discourse in Post-communist Europe and Postcolonial Africa? What are the prospects and challenges of a cross-cultural engagement between Eastern Europe on the one hand, and Sub-saharan Africa on the other, in the bid to proffer meaningful alternatives to dominant Western views on gender? Interrogating the notion of gender rights in Sub-Saharan African and Eastern European cultures represents one promising area of cross-cultural interrogation that stimulates a reimagination of the Western conception of gender as universal canon. The paper posits further that Eastern Europe, like Africa, has to some degree been a victim of Western epistemic and cultural subjugation, such that both are confronted with the burden of moving from the periphery to the centre in a bid to reclaim epistemic agency. While anticipating the methodological, historical, linguistic and cultural impediments to cross-cultural understanding, the paper concludes by identifying promising ways of reconceptualizing gender discourse from a diverse and inclusive perspective that normatively resonates with prevailing global realities.

* This conference took place from December 2020 to February 2021 *
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