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The Manufacture of Failure: How 'Africa' (De)Constructs the 'West'

Thursday Lecture Series, Failure

dateMarch 30, 2023 timeThursday, 12:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University locationVirtual Event
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Construction in Blue by Paul Gaulois, abstract painting of geometric shapes primarily in black, red, and blue

In the global popular imagination, Africa is still primarily considered a locus of violence and chaos. More specifically, the contemporary, familiar narrative of failed African nation-states continues to place the continent under the discursive signifier of lack. This talk aims to first challenge the epistemological premises of this view by deconstructing its main implicit binary, namely that “Africa” and “the West” constitute mutually exclusive, internally-coherent discursive objects of knowledge. Second, it aims to explore possible venues for restoring the African continent as a site of political, social, and epistemic innovation and experimentation.


Imane Terhmina is an Assistant Professor of Francophone Studies at Cornell University. Her research lies at the intersection of aesthetics, ethics, and politics. Areas of specialization include Francophone African literature and culture, critical theory, political philosophy, petrofictions / ecotopias, and non-western modernities.

This event will be in person at the Heyman Center and live-streamed online. Please register for both in-person and virtual attendance via the link.

Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.