Achille Mbembe : Social Sciences facing the challenges of the world to come


With the support of UCLouvain Culture
In partnership with the ESPO Faculty, Louvain Coopération, CNCD 11.11.11, AGL.
In the presence of Ms Solange Lusiku (DHC of UCLouvain in 2012)

On Tuesday 24 October, the Institute for the Analysis of Change in History and Contemporary Societies (IACCHOS) - a confederation of 10 social science research centres of UCLouvain, with a staff of nearly 200 - awarded its first honorary doctorate to Prof. Achille Mbembe. This event was preceded by an interdisciplinary colloquium, in the presence and around the thought of Achille Mbembe, on Monday 23 October and Tuesday 24 October.

  • From De la postcolonie to Critique de la raison nègre or Politique de l'inimitié, Achille Mbembe is the author of a major work, which has renewed thinking in many social science disciplines. At a time when the tendency to turn inward is multiplying on all sides, he is taking up the torch once held by his predecessors and campaigning tirelessly against all forms of colonialism that still underpin international relations today. But he also asks each region of the world - Africa in particular - to assume its own history, to be its own centre. In the age of the world-economy, he pleads for the formation of a new global humanism, beyond the inherited borders. He invites the social sciences to take up the challenges of the world to come.
  • On Tuesday 24 October, the ceremony began with a performance of Stefan Zweig's Le Monde d'hier, performed by Jérôme Kircher exclusively for UCLouvain. In this text, written in 1942, shortly before he took his own life, Stefan Zweig recounts what Europe was like at the beginning of the 20th century, particularly in Vienna in the 1900s: a cradle of openness to the world, a hotbed of critical humanism, ready for all intellectual and cultural audacity. But it also tells of its collapse in the decades that followed. This play was a great success in Paris: Jérôme Kircher gives the Viennese writer's text a rare colour and density. [Article in Le Monde, October 2016]. From one to the other, this evening was an opportunity not only to underline the qualities of an academic "passer de frontières", but also to make the past and the future, Europe and Africa, "l'envers et l'endroit", as Albert Camus said, resonate together.
  • In partnership with the ESPO Faculty, this ceremony ended with the awarding of the title of Doctor honoris causa to Prof. Achille Mbembe by the Rector of UCLouvain, Prof. Vincent Blondel, in the presence of the members of the Rectoral Council, academics, researchers and administrative staff of the IACCHOS Institute and the general public.
  • Finally, Achille Mbembe stayed for a week in Louvain-la-Neuve and Brussels for a series of meetings.