VY Mudimbe: Undisciplined Africanism is the first English-language monograph dedicated to the work of Valentin Yves Mudimbe. This book charts the intellectual history of the seminal Congolese philosopher, epistemologist, and philologist from the late 1960s to the present day, exploring his major essays and novels. Pierre-Philippe Fraiture highlights Mudimbe’s trajectory through major debates on African nationalism, Panafricanism, neo-colonialism, negritude, pedagogy, Christianisation, decolonisation, anthropology, postcolonial representations, and a variety of other subjects, using these as contexts for close readings of many of Mudimbe’s texts, both influential and lesser-known. The book demonstrates that Mudimbe’s intellectual career has been informed by a series of decisive dialogues with some of the key exponents of Africanism (Herodotus, EW Blyden, Placide Tempels), continental and postcolonial thought (Jean-Paul Sartre, Frantz Fanon, Michel Foucault, and Claude Lévi-Strauss), and African thought and philosophy from Africa and the diaspora (L.S. Senghor, Patrice Nganang, and Achille Mbembe).
A detailed study of V. Y. Mudimbe’s critical and creative writing has long been overdue. That it should finally appear in a form that is accessible and genuinely illuminating will be a cause for celebration amongst scholars working not just in the areas of African Studies and postcolonial studies more widely, but for all those who share Mudimbe’s ‘undisciplined’ approach to the study of writing, history, and critical thought.
Aedin Ni Loingsigh
I expect this book to contribute immensely to the fields and sub-fields it engages with, bridging disciplines and regional foci, and bringing Anglophone and Francophone scholars into (closer) dialogue. The book is theoretically advanced and develops its more general arguments in relation to, and by means of, selected textual and personal case studies that are embedded in specific regional and socio-historical circumstances. Still, its structure is sound, and the overall argument clear. It speaks to a wider interdisciplinary audience of researchers and (advanced or) graduate students in literature, philosophy, African Studies, (post)colonialism, intellectual history, and more.