Keeping Africanity Open
Achille Mbembe’s text (“African Modes of Self-Writing,” Public Culture 14 [winter 2002]: 239–73) can be read as carrying out a double movement of desubstantiation: on the one hand, desubstantiation of difference, and on the other, desubstantiation of identity. The first movement corresponds to a critique of discourse about what it means to be “African” in some unique sense—the “metaphysics of difference,” as it is called. The second aims at answering that question by explicitly stating that “Africanity” must be seen as an open question. It appears to me that what is at stake in this essay is authenticity. And one of the essay’s great achievements is to propose a quite new understanding of that concept.
End of Excerpt | access full version