“A Gesture of Reciprocity”: Souleymane Bachir Diagne on Translation and Restitution

To create an encounter between . . . two languages is an ethical gesture, a gesture of reciprocity.

In this episode

Caro Fowler speaks with Souleymane Bachir Diagne, professor in the departments of French and philosophy and director of the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University. Bachir reflects on his early studies in Senegal as well as formative experiences studying with Louis Althusser and Jacques Derrida in Paris. He revisits his role in creating the Dakar Biennale and shares his thoughts on restitution and the arts of Africa. Finally, he describes translation as an act of hospitality.


Souleymane Bachir Diagnes areas of research and publication include the history of philosophy, history of logic, Islamic philosophy, African philosophy, and literature. Recent publications in English include In Search of Africa(s): Universalism and Decolonial Thought (Polity, 2020)Postcolonial Bergson (Fordham University Press, 2019)Open to Reason. Muslim Philosophers in Conversation with Western Tradition (Columbia University Press, 2018)and The Ink of the Scholars. Reflections on Philosophy in Africa (Codesria, 2016). He is a member of the Royal Academy of Belgium and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

This conversation was recorded on October 14, 2020. 

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