Ubuntu and the Principle of Co-Agency in African Ecology
– Conversation with James Ogude
Parting from the Bantu concept of ubuntu, which Prof. James Ogude has researched extensively, this conversation will explore the relevance of this ethical and philosophical concept in the current times of global pandemics and environmental crises. Ubuntu implies co-agency and relationality – notions that, according to this philosophy, go well beyond a purely anthropocentric perspective. Prof. Ogude will offer insights into how this concept can be used in postcolonial ecocriticism theories, and how it can serve as the lens to look at the current politics of extractivism and climate (in)justice issues, in this epoch controversially labeled as the Anthropocene.
James Ogude is the Director at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship, University of Pretoria, a position he assumed in 2017, having been with the Centre since May 2013. He is an “A2” rated researcher by the National Research Foundation (NRF). He has just concluded a five year project on the Southern African philosophical concept of Ubuntu funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation. He is currently leading a Mellon funded supra-national project involving the Universities of Ghana, Makerere, Cape Town and Pretoria. He is also the Director of the African Observatory for Environmental Humanities located at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship. He is the author of Ngugi’s Novels and African History: Narrating the Nation and he has edited several books and one anthology of African stories, the most recent edited book is Ubuntu and the Reconstitution of Community (Indiana University Press, 2019).