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The Idea of Africa (African Systems of Thought) Hardcover – November 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Series: African Systems of Thought
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (November 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253338980
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253338983
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,779,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

V. Y. MUDIMBE is the R. F. DeVernay Professor of Romance Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature and Anthropology at Duke University. His books include The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy and the Order of Knowledge, Fables and Parables, and The Surreptitious Speech.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pol on July 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
If you don't mind fuzzy organization, dig out ideas and criticism from "The Idea of Africa".

If you value clarity of writing and unambiguous statements that one can discuss and possibly disprove, drop it.

There is a scholarly review by Kenneth C. Wylie at [...] which I recommend before you embark into reading this book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chane on July 25, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thanks for the clean copy!
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20 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Western literature has long portrayed Africa as the antithesis of Europe, or as V.Y. Mudimbe puts it, "a paradigm of difference." For centuries, Europeans have viewed Africans as embodiments of all that they disdained: foreigness, savagery, and irrationality. In other words, to use an academically voguish phrase, Europeans "otherized" Africa and Africans.
In "The Idea of Africa," Mudimbe explores the origins and development of this negative conception of Africa. His approach is unique in that it attempts to synthesize a diverse body of sources, including Greek histories, 20th century primitive art, contemporary African artists and the structuralist theory of Michel Foucault.
The reliance on Foucault is a warning that we're headed into the murky realm of postmodern philosophy. In his preface, Mudimbe writes that he hopes to tackle the "simple issue" of how he would explain the idea of African otherness to his two "Americanized" children. This presumption of simplicity highlights the sheer unreadability of this otherwise interesting work. Mudimbe's writing is so cluttered with flashy jargon and inscrutable theory so as to be practically inaccessible, even for readers who are comfortable with his topic. As one academic reviewer put it, "Mudimbe has produced a work that is as ambitious in concept as it is impenetrable in style." Even when Mudimbe's ideas are strong, they are obscured by his plodding style and pedantic tone.
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