CAAAR visiting scholar, Felix Asiedu
V. Y. Mudimbe is something of an institution. Before the conferring of an honorary degree on him at Leuven in 2006, Professor Dr. Filip De Boeck stated in part as follows:
“Both in Africa and through out the world, his work has become one of the main sources of
inspiration for the development of a broad field of knowledge within the humanities, situated at the crossroads between philosophy, ethics, anthropology, social sciences, literary theory, cultural studies, and postcolonial theory. Today, this field in particular is making the most promising and relevant endeavours to answer the major questions confronting our increasingly globalised world.”
My lecture takes one strand out of the many threads of the tapestry of Mudimbe’s work to consider how he addresses the themes of enlightenment and conversion in his book, Tales of Faith. I shall seek to raise questions about Mudimbe’s interrogation of religion as political performance; probe whether conversion in all its forms (cultural, intellectual, religious, etc.) should be resisted; and to what extent an answer to this question complicates our understanding of African religious subjectivities and the possibilities of an African Enlightenment.