What to expect when you're expecting 20th c Africana Philosophy

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As you'll have noticed we are just about up to the year 1900 in the Africana Philosophy series, which means we'll soon be launching into the third, and by far most extensive, section of that series. It will make for a whole book's worth of episodes, beginning on Jan 24 with episode 68. Here is our tentative list of episodes, which will surely change a bit as we go along; suggestions welcome! Please note that interviews are not included in the list.

Releasing these in alternate weeks with the Renaissance and then Reformation episodes, we can expect this to take a little longer than two years to cover; after that, I will go on to do classical Chinese philosophy, co-authored with Karyn Lai.

Introduction to 20th century Africana Philosophy
American Negro Academy
J.E. Casely-Hayford and Other West Africans
Early African-American Socialism
Marcus Garvey and Garveyism
The Two Amy Garveys
Harlem Renaissance
Alain Locke
African American Professional Philosophy
Leopold Senghor
Aime Cesaire
Du Bois from Darkwater Onward  
Carter G. Woodson
Zora Neale Hurston
Paul Robeson
E. Franklin Frazier
Oliver C. Cox
C.L.R. James
Claudia Jones
Richard Wright
Ralph Ellison
James Baldwin
Martin Luther King
Malcolm X
Juan Rene Betancourt
Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo
Kwame Nkrumah
Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin White Masks
Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth
Julius Nyerere
Amilcar Cabral
Black Power
Black Panther Party
Maulana Karenga
Black Arts Movement
Black Theology
Abdias do Nascimento
Nelson Mandela
Bob Marley and Fela Kuti
Walter Rodney
Steve Biko
Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Toni Morrison
Black Feminism
Angela Davis
Audre Lorde
Afrocentricity and Afrocentrism
Black British Cultural Theorists
Edouard Glissant and Creolite
Critical Race Theory
Sylvia Wynter
Cornel West
Africana Professional Philosophy Since the 1970s

Rudy on 3 January 2021


Great list. I know the list is long already but did you think about doing one on Afropessimism

Karl Young on 8 January 2021

list looks pretty extensive...

...and grateful to see a possible slot for Sun Ra re. the Afrofuturism episode - and I thought some of his debates with Elijah Muhammad were interesting, though you’ll probably cover some material that overlaps with that in the Malcolm X episode.

mehmet on 8 January 2021

uh-oh.. I think we have to…

uh-oh.. I think we have to forget about china or continuation of india..

In reply to by mehmet

Peter Adamson on 8 January 2021


No not at all! As I say above, I will tackle classical China with Karyn Lai as soon as this series is over. Actually we need this lead-up time anyway to get quite a bit of the China material written between now and then; it will be quite a challenge for me to wrap my head around this further tradition!

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Eammon Hary on 25 January 2021


Out of curiosity, do you have realistic timeline for when you will finish everything with 500 more years of Western to cover (including the very active 1800-2000), 2 years worth of Africana material, China, the possible expansion of Indian philosophy, Latin American philosophy, etc. At the current rate how long do you think all that will take?

In reply to by Eammon Hary

Peter Adamson on 25 January 2021


Well not really, but here are some speculations. Africana 20th c will take about 2 years and similar for the Reformation series, so that brings us to somewhere in 2023. Then I think classical China will also take at least 2 years, in parallel with the first chunk of Early Modern European Philosophy which I think will focus on France and the Netherlands. So let's say that that takes us to 2026. After that I'm not sure what will be happening on the "non-Western" side (the options are later Chinese/Korea/Japan; later India; philosophy in the Americas - at the moment I kind of lean towards the latter since it would be the last major world tradition not yet tackled). But Early Modern European will take at least another 4 years, basically covering British/early US and German/eastern European philosophy. And at that point I would in theory be up to the year 1800, so I wouldn't really expect to tackle the 19th century until 2030! Obviously a lot could happen between now and then but if all goes well this is my vague plan. 

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Jorge on 27 January 2021

Latin America

Hi Peter,

Do you envision post-Columbian Latin America as a separate tradition from the west or will it be encompassed within the main narrative of the history of philosophy as you did with the Islamic world? For example, something like the Valladolid debates seems like an important development in both America and Europe with both philosophical and practical consequences to the history of both. Latin America seems to be a tricky tradition to place, Octavio Paz characterized it in his essay about Mexico and the United States "...two different versions of Western civilization", Borges on the other hand said that (and please excuse my poor attempt at a translation) "We participate in western culture, we speak a western language (Spanish) and nevertheless we know ourselves non-Europeans, non-Spanish and, in any case, our history comes about from the decision of not being Spanish,..." * arguing also that as such (both participating in and not belonging to "the West") Latin America has a revolutionary place to critique and innovate upon Western culture and Spanish language literature.**

This notion gets problematized when we consider the still persisting and vital traditions of pre-Columbian thought that are intermingled or sometimes living in the same paradoxical relationship of belonging and exclusion within the extremely diverse cultures of Latin America and their adoption of Western ideas, Oswald Andrade's "Manifesto Antropófago" comes to mind as well as the interactions between communism and traditional communal organization of indigenous groups in the south of Mexico during the Mexican Revolution and still alive today in some form or another like through the ELZN. In some countries, there are places where the modern state is still a distant concept, or where traditional grass-root movements arising from indigenous communities managed to take over the government as Bolivia with the MAS and establishing a pluralistic view of a country that would encompass its western element within.

Not only that but, as Paz mentions in El Laberinto de la Soledad, this tension between what could be two distinct western traditions can come together in the form of the Chicano culture (descendants of Mexicans living in the US) whose members are neither recognized as American by Americans nor Mexican by Mexicans trace their roots to and form a part of both traditions.

This plural lineage of Latin American thought (in Paz it is seen as a dual Indigenous and European)*** might not seem that different to the one that the Jewish, Christian or Muslim thinkers brought together in their philosophical works. This mixing of ideas, peoples and worldviews is part of a concept which I think quite prevalent and that is mestizaje.

I am very curious about how the podcast would handle these complexities and what Buster Keaton would say or (not say) about all of this. 

* "Nosotros participamos en la cultura occidental, manejamos una lengua occidental –el español– y sin embargo nos sabemos no-europeos, no-españoles y, en todo caso, nuestra historia parte de la decisión de no ser españoles,..."  Jorge Luis Borges, Conferencia sobre James Joyce. Universidad Nacional de La Plata, 1960 

** As a side note, this belonging to a tradition and a lack of allegiance to it is something that he identifies (following Thorstein Veblen) as the reason why Jewish people seem to have such a preponderance in western culture and thought and why there is such a high amount of famous Irish writers in the literary tradition of the English language. 

*** One cannot overlook the great influence of africano culture and thought. as well as other traditions like the huge Japanese presence in both Brazil and Peru, or sometimes surprising ones like Bolivia having the 3rd largest Quaker population mostly composed of indigenous Aymara people brought to La Paz by Navajo quaker William Abel.


In reply to by Jorge

Peter Adamson on 28 January 2021

Latin America

Thanks very much for this interesting comment! I especially found the fact about the Quakers amazing.

I would really like to do a series in the future, analogous to Africana Philosophy, called "Philosophy in the Americas" which would cover the pre-contact cultures (Native American, Incan, Mayan, Aztec) and then the Latin American tradition up until at least 1900, say, or maybe do the 20th c too as we are doing with Africana. I may do this directly after classical China, though that would still be a few years off. However I will be touching on the tradition sooner than that since as you mention there is the Valladoid debate and I plan an episode on that as part of the upcoming Reformation/Counter-reformation series.

Kenfromdc on 11 January 2021

About to come on the home-stretch.

Can't belive we are about to enter the desscent of the Africana phiolsophy series, but I have been enjoying it. A lot has happenend in my life and I have had to step away, but I am binging my way back (currently on Henry McNeal Turner) and hope to be caught-up soon. With all that has happened this week, this podcast's importance can't be overstated and I will be sad to see it all end (I still hope you do an episode on May Ayim and Afro-German writers and Audre Lorde's Berlin era).

Michael Miller on 13 January 2021

Ben Ammi and Hebrew Israelite thought

Just a thought, as I don't see an episode here covering Hebrew Israelite thought - which in my opinion is a crucial 20th century development. Ben Ammi in particular is a very interesting thinker who spanned the latter half of the 20th century into the 21st, and offered developments of Garveyism, Nation of Islam socio-political thought and Black Theology general (this subject also helps to cover the Judaic element which has been gaining traction throughout the diaspora as well as many places within Africa. Thanks for the excellent podcast!

Otterlex on 15 January 2021


I noticed MLK is 24 episodes in.  now interviews will push it out a little, but are you considering pushing it up so you can release that episode for MLK day next year?

In reply to by Otterlex

Peter Adamson on 16 January 2021


Ooh, that's a nice idea. Let's see how the schedule goes, maybe we can make that happen!

Rania Petridou on 20 January 2021


This site and your work are a great resource. THANK YOU!


What is the best way to include some of the podcasts in a bibliography, say. at the end of an essay?

Try as I may, none of the usual formats 'fit'.

Please help! I have a deadline :-)

In reply to by Rania Petridou

Peter Adamson on 21 January 2021

Referring to the podcast

Oh, good question. I am not sure there is really a commonly accepted citation style for that, but something like this might do it:

"Title of podcast episode," Episode 123 of the History of Africana Philosophy podcast by P. Adamson and C. Jeffers, accessed on Jan.21, 2021.

And you could also add the website address (URL).

Alternatively you could also just cite our forthcoming book version:

P. Adamson and C. Jeffers, A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps: Africana Philosophy from Ancient Egypt to the Nineteenth Century (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

Otterlex on 27 January 2021

bell hooks

Ohh, will you be talking about bell hooks in one of the episodes?  (not saying you should or shouldn't, just mentioning her in case she got overlooked.)

In reply to by Otterlex

Peter Adamson on 27 January 2021

bell hooks

Oh good point, thanks. I'll note that down and ask Chike.

Thinkers After… on 4 February 2021

Incredibly excited for this!…

Incredibly excited for this! 

Regarding thinkers after the 1970s, will you be covering figures like Kimberlé Crenshaw and Achille Mbembe? If so, who else are you planning to cover?

In reply to by Thinkers After…

Peter Adamson on 4 February 2021

Crenshaw and Mbembe

Yes, we're excited too! I'm guessing we'll cover Crenshaw in the feminism episode (or actually I can imagine that may expand into more than one). Not sure about Mbembe, I'll ask Chike (it's hard to know, in general, how far to go with covering figures who are still "current" though as you see we do plan episodes on people who are still alive).

Jack on 21 March 2021

Gap alert?

I think there are some gaps! As the list stands there is no mention of Albert Murray (unless you plan to cover him in the episode on Ralph Ellison). He and Ralph Ellison were very important to each other and in his own right Murray was an intellectual who had interesting things to say about race/culture in the US and continues to exercise an influence on American culture at large through Wyton Marsalis and the writings of the late Stanley Crouch.

There is also no mention (again, unless you plan to cover this with Malcolm X and/or in another series) of the various Black Muslim movements (Nation of Islam, Moorish Science Temple, etc.), which I think are a fascinating link between Africana, European, Indian, and Islamic philosophy (the same is true of Rastafarianism, maybe another gap?). I guess covering all these religions as such, rather than particular thinkers professing those religions maybe outside of the scope of the podcast, but it seems to me that in the Africana series you have been especially broad as to what "counts" as philosophy and that these religions as such are sort of like individual thinkers in that they articulate a distinctly Africana worldview (and in some cases, even a distinct cosmology and anthropology) that is worthy of discussion.

More debatably, I still think you should have a standalone episode on Jazz, since it plays such an important role in: the Harlem Renaissance, the life/thought of Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Fela Kuti (and Albert Murray!), Black Power, Black Arts Movement (Baraka), Afrofuturism (as far as I know entirely the product of the mind of Sun Ra), Afrocentricity (lots of this in Jazz in the late 60s/70s, topos of Jazz and black American music in general coming from Africa, etc., cf. Art Taylor's Notes and Tones, you'll see this question and many similar ones come up time and time again), and the Black Muslims and possibly yet other topics/persons already included above with whom I am less familiar that it seems like you would have to discuss it so frequently in passing that a standalone episode might save you some time. Maybe just an interview with someone who can connect the dots between the music and the thought/wider culture?

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