Souleymane Bachir Diagne

on "Translation & Decolonization." Thursday, January 17, 2019, 4:00-6:00 pm in the Wallis Annenberg Conference Room.

Professor Souleymane Bachir Diagne (Columbia University) is the 2019 Distinguished Professor from the Graduate Center for Literary Research.

1) He will be Guest Lecturer in Comparative Literature 171 on Tuesday, January 15 at 6:30 pm in Buchanan 1910 at a screening of two landmark Senegalese films: Ousmane Sembène's Borom Sarret (1963) and Djibril Diop Mambéty's La petite vendeuse de soleil (1999). The film screening will be followed by a Q&A with Professor Eric Prieto.

2) His GCLR lecture will take place on Thursday, January 17, 4:00-6:00 pm in the Wallis Annenberg Conference Room, and is entitled "Translation and Decolonization."
In the colonial space, one imperial language presents itself as the Logos incarnate, in contrast to the local indigenous vernaculars which are then deemed lacking and incomplete. How the act of translation, of “putting in touch” languages (Antoine Berman, The Experience of the Foreign), creates linguistic equality and reciprocity, even in a colonial situation, is the topic of this presentation.

3) His Guest Seminar with graduate students will be held on Wednesday, January 16, 2:00pm in Phelps 6206C: "A Postcolonial Bergson: élan vital in the Philosophy of Muhammad Iqbal and Leopold Sédar Senghor."
The impact of French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941) is immense. In the history of ideas, it has defined what Frederic Worms has rightly called the “Bergson moment,” whose influence on literature and philosophy started with his 1889 Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience (known in English under the title Time and Free Will) and still endures, as can be seen for example in Gilles Deleuze’s works. Bergson’s concepts of duration, intuition, élan vital (life force), dynamic religion and open society revolutionized philosophical thought. Furthermore, Bergson’s ideas were profoundly meaningful for intellectuals in Asia and Africa in their fight for a decolonized world. This seminar focuses on the influence of Bergsonism among colonial/postcolonial subjects. After a presentation of Bergson’s philosophy and key concepts, we will examine how “Bergsonism” shaped the views of two important poets and thinkers of the twentieth century: Muhammad Iqbal of British India and Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal.Space is limited, so please contact Dalia Bolotnikov Mazur ( to sign up as soon as possible. The seminar will be preceded by a lunch.

Souleymane Bachir Diagne is a professor at Columbia University in the departments of French and Philosophy. He is currently the Director of the Institute of African Studies. His areas of research and publication include History of Philosophy, History of Logic and Mathematics, Islamic Philosophy, and African Philosophy and Literature. His latest publications in English include: Islam and the Open Society: Fidelity and Movement in the Philosophy of Muhammad Iqbal (Dakar: Codesria, 2010); African Art as Philosophy: Senghor, Bergson, and the Idea of Negritude (Seagull Books, 2011); The Ink of the Scholars: Reflections on Philosophy in Africa (Dakar: Codesria, 2016); and Open to Reason: Muslim Philosophers in Conversation with Western Tradition (New York: Columbia UP, 2018). Forthcoming is an English translation of his Bergson Postcolonial, to be published by Fordham University Press, New York, in 2019.


date of event: 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - 18:30