Unthinking Eurocentrism about Africa


1 June 2017


Egmont Palace

For the celebration of Egmont Institute’s 70th Anniversary, the Africa Programme is holding a workshop:

Unthinking Eurocentrism about Africa

Analyses and policy debates on Africa seem too often thrive on common place narratives encapsulated in catch-phrases such as ‘Africa rising’, ‘Scramble for Africa’ or ‘Africa uprising’ – to list just a few of the most recent ones. While these are usually founded on a grain of truth, such commonplace narratives are also reductive and project representations of Africa which are ahistorical and skewed by Western biases about the African continent. In the end, they don’t tell us much about the true depth and scope of political, economic and security developments on the continent. Analyses of African dynamics and Africa’s role in international relations furthermore tend to focalize on how African countries are acted and impacted upon by great powers and global structures, to the neglect of African countries’ own agency in their relations with external actors and more broadly as diplomatic actors on the global scene. If European countries and the European Union are to build genuine partnerships with Africa it is high time we reflect on how we think about Africa. How much do we understand about the dynamics unfolding on the continent, their meanings for people in African countries, and their differentiated impact across the continent – not from our perspective, but from African perspectives? In addition, there is a need to come to grips with how knowledge about Africa is (re)produced and continues to be straight jacketed into Western modes of thinking and political and philosophical thought. This workshop will bring together eminent African thinkers to shed some light on these issues.


Chair:  Koen Vlassenroot, Egmont Institute – Director of the Africa Programme

Moderator: Richard Dowden, Royal African Society, Executive Director

Speakers:   Adekeye Adebajo, Centre for Conflict Resolution, Executive Director

                   Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, Graduate Institute Geneva, Professor

                   Andrew Mwenda, Ugandan journalist and founder of The Independent




(Photo credit: European Commission)