We are currently engaged in producing a critical reader of the Congolese philosopher Valentin Yves Mudimbe. The volume will comprise a substantial scholarly introduction and 10 excerpts from Mudimbe’s writings, prefaced by short introductions by us. The book will chart the intellectual history of Mudimbe’s work, which began in the newly independent Congo to his more recent, well known scholarship in postcolonial studies written whilst at Duke university. As well as tracing the particulars of what was at stake in African thought in the 1960s, the Reader will narrate Mudimbe's involvement in more global philosophical debates around structuralism and anthropology in the 70s, through to his international interventions in debates on critical theory and the postcolonial. The Reader seeks to do something largely new: that is, to produce a concise history of the thought of a seminal African thinker in debates which are often viewed as mostly European and North American affairs. Bringing together and introducing Mudimbe's oeuvre from the 60s to the late 80s offers a unique opportunity to trace out the place of African thinking within the intellectual-philosophical history of the second half of the twentieth century, allowing us to plot and historicize the moves from structuralism to post-structuralism from a strikingly different, but equally important, perspective.
A crucial part of the originality of this project will be making available in English for the first time three essays by Mudimbe produced in the late 1960s and 1970s. With IATL funding, we will be teaching a series of seminars to students from the Departments of French and Classics, in which students, with a professional translator, will work on sections of Mudimbe's French texts, in order to produce reliable and scholarly English versions for the publication. The students will be actively involved in the production of exciting research that cuts across disciplines. The students will learn about the processes of linguistic and cultural translation as well as the technicalities of academic production. These seminars are designed to offer students an introduction to professional translation and to encourage them to think about further research possibilities in their own academic careers. The students will be fully acknowledged when the publication comes out, recording their participation and IATL support.
Pierre-Philippe Fraiture is Associate Professor (Reader) in French at the University of Warwick. His research focusses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century French and Belgian literatures, Francophone colonial and postcolonial literatures, especially sub-Saharan literature written in French.
Daniel Orrells is Associate Professor in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Warwick. He specialises in the study of the cultural and intellectual reception of antiquity in the modern world (eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries).