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African Philosophy Reconsidered

Venue: Encina Hall West, Room 219, 417 Galvez Mall.

Host: Join the Center for African Studies for our weekly lunchtime lecture series, Africa Table. This talk is co-sponsored by the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies.

Speaker: Oludamini Ogunnaike is a scholar of Islamic, African, and Religious Studies, with a focus on the intellectual and artistic dimensions of West African Sufism and Ifa, an indigenous Yoruba religious tradition. He is a graduate of Harvard College and earned his PhD from Harvard University's Department of African and African American Studies. His research examines the postcolonial, colonial, and precolonial Islamic and indigenous religious traditions of West Africa, seeking to understand the philosophical dimensions of these traditions by approaching them and their proponents not merely as sources of ethnographic or historical data, but rather as distinct intellectual traditions and thinkers, even as sources of theory and possible inspirations for methods of scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.

He is currently working on a book entitled Sufism and Ifa: Ways of Knowing in Two West African Intellectual Traditions, which examines and compares the epistemologies of two of the most popular West African intellectual traditions: Tijani Sufism and Ifa. Employing theories native to the traditions themselves and contemporary oral and textual sources, the work examines how these traditions answer the questions: What is knowledge? How is it acquired? and How is it verified? Or more simply: “What do you know?,” “How did you come to know it?,” and “How do you know that you know?” After analyzing each tradition separately, and on its own terms, the work compares them to each other and to certain contemporary, Western theories.

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