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ALICE Advanced Seminar – Ebrima Sall – “The Study of Africa in a Multipolar World – A Perspective from Within”

Video in English:

Coimbra, 2014-03-17

Summary: in a paper he presented at a Conference co-organized and hosted by the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) in January 2013, Achille Mbembe, a one-time executive secretary of the Council, drew our attention to one of therecent books of Jean and John Comaroff, Theory from the South, in which they argue that “the history of our times” is now made outside of the West, especially in the Southern parts of the world. This being the case, they [the Comaroffs] then ask how does one de-center social theory and the production of knowledge in such a way as to better account for the complexities of modern world history and for the multiple ways in which various parts of the world relate to each other. The project of de-centering theory is not only a response to the colonial event. De-centering theory has been part of a larger quest to rewrite world history (Mbembe 2013: 1-2). It is a project that has been at the heart of the thinking of all the great pan-African intellectuals, from W.E.B. Du Bois, through Nkrumah and many others, to Cheikh Anta Diop.De-centering theory and rewriting African and world history is, in some sense what CODESRIA has also been engaged in, all through its 40-year history. Promoting social science research and knowledge production in Africa and by Africans was, as Cabral used to say, a question of encouraging African intellectuals to learn to “think with our own heads, based on our own realities”. This has led to the interrogation of theories and the critic of dominant paradigms of development, governance and international relations.

Ebrima Sall is the Executive Secretary of CODESRIA. Before his appointment as Executive Secretary, CODESRIA in April 2009, Dr Sall was Senior Researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI) in Uppsala (Sweden) and Director of the Centre for the Promotion of Village Savings and Credit Associations (VISAC) Gambia. He also taught at the University Gaston Berger of Saint-Louis (UGB) in Senegal for five years. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (France), was promoted ‘Maitre de Conférences/Senior lecturer in “Sociology-Demography” by the French National Universities Council (CNU) in 1992. He is also a beneficiary of the post-doctoral fellowship of the Yale University Programme in Agrarian Studies.
Before assuming the duties of Executive Secretary Dr Sall, successively, was the Programmes Officer in charge of the Academic Freedom and Child & Youth & Conflict Programme, Senior Programme Administrator, Research Programme Officer and Head of Research Programme. His most recent publications include the following books: Human Rights and the Dilemmas of Democracy in Africa (co-edited with Lennart Wohlgemuth), Citizenship and Violence in Cote d’Ivoire (co-edited with Jean-Bernard Ouedraogo) and Women in Higher education: Gender and Academic Freedom in Africa and the Social sciences in Africa. Dr Ebrima Sall is Gambian. All the information about the seminar is available here: