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The inventions of African identities and languages: The discursive and developmental implications

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dc.contributor.author Zeleza, Paul T
dc.date.accessioned 2015-09-30T05:29:46Z
dc.date.available 2015-09-30T05:29:46Z
dc.date.issued 2006
dc.identifier.citation Zeleza, Paul Tiyambe. "The inventions of African identities and languages: The discursive and developmental implications." Selected proceedings of the 36th conference on African linguistics. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project, 2006. en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://erepo.usiu.ac.ke/11732/1138
dc.description.abstract African identities, like African languages, are inventions, mutually constitutive existential and epistemic constructions. Invention implies a history, a social process; it denaturalizes cultural artifacts and practices, stripping them of primordial authenticity and essentialism. This is predictable coming from a historian, a field that investigates and invests the past with meaning, seeks to unravel the complex and often contradictory ebbs and flows of human institutions, inventions, ideas, and imaginations, in which change, often messy and unpredictable in its causes and consequences, is the only constant. Flagging my disciplinary affiliation is another way of trying to save myself from embarrassment in this gathering of eminent linguists, to tell you that while I know something about history, I know very little about linguistics, so you will have to forgive my uninformed remarks. I have entitled my talk “The Invention of African Identities and Languages: The Discursive and Developmental Implications.” I will begin by discussing the challenges of defining “Africa” because that affects, in considerable measure, how we identify and analyze African identities and languages, which in turn, has discursive and developmental implications. The term “invention” has become rather ubiquitous in African studies ever since the publication of Mudimbe's renowned book, The Invention of Africa.1 For us historians, the signal intervention came with Terence Ranger’s influential essay, “The Invention of Tradition in Colonial Africa.”2 The advent of the “posts”—postmodernism, poststructuralism, and postcoloniality—further reinforced the constructivist view of social processes and practices. The term “development” enjoys an even more powerful presence in African studies and public policy; it constitutes the unyielding imperative by which all intellectual, institutional, and ideological prescriptions are judged. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.title The inventions of African identities and languages: The discursive and developmental implications en_US
dc.type Other en_US


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