African Philosophy in Global Times – Knowledge and Culture

Note: all our courses are taught online this year.

We live in a time of increasing contact between different cultures. The opportunities, as well as the problems this brings are traceable in all academic disciplines, but especially in the social sciences and in the humanities. This course aims to guide you to a deeper reflection on the historical conditions of intercultural encounters, the philosophical conditions of intercultural dialogue, and the framework of post-coloniality that determines the need to politically negotiate the conditions of such a dialogue - all from an African perspective

Course days11-15 January 2021
Course levelMaster, PhD candidates and professionals from all disciplines 
Coordinating lecturerDr Angela Roothaan
Other lecturersDr Hady Ba, Dr Oumar Dia (Université Cheikh Anta Diop), Dr Pius Mosima (University of Bamenda), Dr Louise Müller (Leiden University)
Forms of tuitionOnline interactive lectures, text-reading seminars and self-study assignments.
Forms of assessmentActive participation in the sessions, doing the self-study assignments, writing an essay.
Credits3 ECTS
Contact hours25 hours
Tuition feeRead all information about our tuition fees and what's included here 
How to applyFind our application form here
PhD and Master’s students in Philosophy, Intercultural Studies, Humanities and Social Sciences interested in African Philosophy, as well as professionals working in relevant fields who have the educational background to be able to follow a philosophy course at this level. If you have doubts about your eligibility for the course, please contact us: [email protected]

While internationally the field of philosophy is still mostly dominated by Euro-American traditions of thought, diversification and intercultural dialogue are gaining steam rapidly. The voice of African philosophers is increasingly heard in global philosophical discussions, and this course will introduce you to some of their main texts and themes. 

African philosophy can be approached in many different ways – as a discussion on the nature of philosophy itself and what an African philosophy would be, and also as a focus on issues of global and current interests where historically and geographically African experiences will shed some light on the little-known facts in global philosophy. In this course, we will focus on the latter to better understand the world of today from an African perspective.

As the present-day African states came into being less than a century ago, inheriting institutional structures and boundaries from a colonial age, African philosophers have spent much thought on questions of identity, culture, differences between knowledge systems, the relationships between language and understanding, and more issues that pertain to the postcolonial, multicultural and intercultural world we all live in. Their viewpoints and answers contain insights and points of reflection for all humankind. 

In the course, we will read texts from renowned philosophers such as Kwame Appiah, Paulin Hountondji, Henry Odera Oruka, and Kwasi Wiredu. Texts will focus on the relations between cultural identity and knowledge systems in the global post-colony. Written by and sometimes for Africans, the texts help to understand the dilemmas of the present times that are relevant to people from all over the world. 

This course is organised by the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, but the guest lecturers include African-based philosophers – from Cameroon and Senegal. The Dutch lecturers are affiliated to both Dutch universities and those on the African continent, in Nigeria and South Africa.

At the end of the course you will:

  • Have a firm grip on key texts in African philosophy regarding knowledge and culture in our globalizing age.
  • Have improved your capability to critically read the relevant texts.
  • Have learned about intercultural dialogue as practiced with your peers and lecturers.
  • Have written a short essay on your own philosophical question regarding the course matter.
All texts will be made available by means of a digital reader.
25 contact hours – 5 hours a day, 2 hours of online lecture in the morning, 3 hours of online text reading and discussion, based on assignments.


Dr. Angela Roothaan (coordinator) lectures at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Her research focuses on African and Intercultural philosophy, spirit ontologies and epistemology of Indigenous knowledge systems.


Dr. Hady Ba is a lecturer at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal. He specializes in Philosophy of Science, Logic and Mathematics. His current research focuses on epistemologies of the South. 


Dr. Oumar Dia is a lecturer at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal. He specializes in Contemporary Philosophy and Philosophy of Culture. He has published on democracy in Africa and other contemporary issues.


Dr. Pius Mosima lectures at University of Bamenda in Cameroon. He specializes in African and Intercultural Philosophy, with a focus on the potential contributions of African thought to a globalizing philosophy.


Dr. Louise Müller is a Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Kwazulu Natal and a guest researcher at Leiden University. Her work focuses on African History and Intercultural Philosophy, especially in relation to the religion, politics and culture of African societies.