Africana Phenomenology

Paget Henry
2005 The CLR James Journal  
iven some of the exclusive claims on reason that the West has made, it has been difficult to see clearly the rationality of non-Western peoples. This eclipsing of the rationality of non-Western peoples, particularly people of African descent, has made problematic the status of theory in fields such as Africana Studies. Quite often, it is assumed that developments in this field will take the form of case studies that will help to confirm or disconfirm theories and methodologies produced by the
more » ... s produced by the West. In other words, nothing new of theoretical importance is expected to emerge from the growth of Africana Studies. Indeed even some Africana scholars have associated theory and rational linear thought with white males. This is certainly not how I see Africana Studies. My disagreement with this view is confirmed with every new development in the growing field of Africana philosophy. Here the theoretical side of Africana Studies becomes particularly evident, given the nature of philosophical practices. In this paper, I examine the case of Africana phenomenology, an emerging subfield within the larger discursive terrain of Africana philosophy. Like the larger terrain of which it is a part, Africana phenomenology is not very well known because it too has been forced to exist in the non-rational and a-theoretical shadow cast over it by Western philosophy in general, and Western phenomenology in particular. Thus our aim in this paper is twofold: the first is to bring the field of Africana phenomenology clearly into view by outlining its contours, problems and theorists. In particular, I will focus on the contributions of WEB Dubois, Frantz Fanon and Lewis Gordon. Second, I will explore the philosophical implications of the emergence of Africana phenomenology as a subfield of Africana philosophy. These I will argue point to a metaphysical distinctness that can only be adequately engaged by a more comparative approach to philosophy.
doi:10.5840/clrjames20051113 fatcat:yp5nwtn2kzel3hwsklkhy5t24i