2023 Black August

Call for Papers: The Department of Cultural and Political Studies at the University of Limpopo in collaboration with the Department of Jurisprudence at the University of Pretoria invites you to the second Black August International Intellectual and Cultural Festival of the Azanian Philosophical Society.




Date: 29–31 August 2023




More than six years have passed ever since a group of Black philosophers challenged the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa (PSSA) to dissolve itself out of ethical responsibility. The argument which was made by the Black philosophers at the time was that given the more than century-long racist existence of the PSSA during which it had supported white supremacist state power – during the period of Union colonial segregation and Apartheid – and a continued culture of marginalizing Black scholars in the present day, it was not a body that it was desirable for Blacks to join.


The argument was that rather than its diversification through the “inclusion” of Blacks into a fundamentally white body (in demography and ideology), all those ethically sincere should rather form a new body in which African philosophy and interests would not simply be included but would constitute the very basis of organisation and dialogue with other traditions. The Black philosophers made a prediction that rather than dissolve such institutions, white supremacist bodies usually chose to appoint, following the Black Consciousness lexicon, “non-white” leaders to maintain themselves. Historically, the consequence of this strategy has been that white supremacist domination and its legacies continue without the explicit or direct rule of whites – something long studied by critical race theorists. It was the hope of the Black philosophers who challenged the establishment that it would not follow this historical pattern.


Since the events of January 2017, many developments have taken place in South African philosophy. These have included the formation of the Azanian Philosophical Society (APS) and the South African Society for Critical Theory (SASCT). The APS recently produced a special issue in the social and political theory journal Theoria titled “The Azanian Philosophical Tradition Today (2021)” in its development of a theoretical enterprise unified by an ethical commitment to ideology critique of the uses and abuses of the sciences (broadly construed) to defend historical injustice and continuing oppression. The appointment of  an unprecedented number of Black and “non-white” staff to permanent positions has almost doubled in figures since 2017, and there has been a concurrent growth of curricula offerings of ‘African philosophy’ throughout the country. The critique of the PSSA as white supremacist and the consequent exodus and establishment of the APS calls on us to reflect on the events of 2017 in historical context beyond the contention that was levelled against the undisturbed continued existence of the PSSA and the orientation of philosophy in the country.


The theme of the conference arises out of this context and a desire to attend to the ethical exigency bestowed by Azania unto those who wish to see it freed from white supremacist domination among other kinds of oppression and discrimination including the narrow anti-African nationalisms we see publicly on the rise. Historically, such forces have been countered through Black and African Nationalism which, when properly understood, are Pan-Africanist and internationalist. This conference aims to investigate the relevance of these movements for contemporary African challenges such as post-colonial imperialism, transformation in education, the realities and challenges of multicultural citizenship, issues pertaining to governance, the question of nationalisation versus privatisation, the stubborn state of various demographic inequalities in Africa and the African diaspora, issues pertaining to migration, racism, various forms of gender discrimination, homophobia, and xenophobia among other issues.


Call for papers: individual abstracts and panel proposals


The APS is inviting papers in African(a) philosophy and Black Studies for its second Black August International Intellectual and Cultural Festival. Papers can either be proposed for one-speaker sessions or can be submitted as part of 3–6 speaker panel sessions. Abstracts for proposed panels should be sent in a single e-mail as a unit with a one-page proposal for the panel.


The broad theme of this year’s conference within the second Black August International Intellectual and Cultural Festival is the history and theory that has informed Black organisations. The conference will also include general sessions covering contemporary topics in African philosophy and Black Studies, and the philosophical interests or projects of African philosophers. This call for papers hopes to attract papers dealing with theoretical examinations of Black organisations widely construed. This includes social and political organisations, movements, institutions, academic organisations, and intellectual and cultural circles, both historical and contemporary. Studies of the intellectual history of movements and intellectual tendencies in African traditions are also welcome.


In respect to contemporary movements, the conference aims to attract papers surveying the changes which have taken place in the South African academy since the student protests that rose to national interest with Rhodes Must Fall in 2015/16. Papers are invited that will deal with theoretical reflections on what made this moment significant when considering the longer history of protest and struggle seen in Rhodes Must Fall, and reflections on curriculum changes and studies since the advent of “decolonisation” in South Africa and elsewhere. One theme in this regard that could be addressed is the development of Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (DEI) as a discourse and corporate mechanism in universities around the world. Submissions may interrogate the meaning, effects, and functions of this development.


Finally the conference invites papers that will concern themselves with the liberation of the university at large and consider what the relationship and tensions are that dwell between the university and the society in which it exists. Topics that may be addressed connected to this theme include but are not limited to addressing:


•       The confines, history, and meaning of “The Black Radical Tradition” and its contemporary tensions with other movements / intellectual traditions.

•       African feminism, Black feminism, decolonial feminism, and womanism.

•       Assessing the anti-imperialist struggle legacy of Pan-Africanism and African Nationalism.

•       The contrasts and contests between Black experience(s) across the diaspora (e.g., the Africana tradition) and the experience of peoples in Africa. What are the implications for borrowing, transposing, developing, comparing, and cooperating?

•       The epistemological significance of doing philosophy and theory in African languages.

•       Africanist historiography and its decline.

•       The methods, approaches and categories which arise from the centring of African/ Black experience (culture, language, geography, history).

•       The state of African philosophy, African engagement and development of science, Africanity, Afrocentricity, Afro-pessimism, Black studies, Black theology, post-colonial studies, decoloniality, Black Consciousness, Afrocentricity, Négritude, Black Power, Afro-pessimism and related progenies.

•       The challenge of national sovereignty for Pan-African integration (who/what to unite, for what purpose?).

•       What is the relevance of African Nationalism/Pan-Africanism for contemporary African challenges such as: post-colonial imperialism, education, multicultural citizenship, governance, nationalisation, privatisation, inequality, migration, racial prejudice, xenophobia, etc.

•       Exploring the differences in philosophical outlooks between African Nationalism and Pan-Africanism, Continentalism vs Sub-Saharanism, identity and philosophy in the Magreb, East Africa, and the diaspora in relation to Africa.  

•       Marxism vs Pan-Africanism, class vs race, liberalism and its discontents, the philosophical assessment of conquest and constitutionalism.

•       Tensions between African(a)/Black philosophical theory and “decoloniality”.

•       Decolonising the curriculum: theories, challenges and experiences of teaching.

•       The intellectual biographical examination of any major contributor to the struggle for liberation of African-descended peoples.





Interested authors are requested to submit an abstract of no longer than 250 words describing the general thesis of their paper by identifying the problem to be examined and the method and approach their presentation will adopt. Abstracts for proposed panels should follow the same instructions with the addition of a single page description or motivation of the proposed panel and how its papers hang together. Panels can have 3–6 members. Panel proposals with all their supporting documentation should be sent in a single e-mail by the convenor of the panel.


Abstracts and panel proposals should be sent to: Thabang Dladla blackaugustfest@gmail.com on or before Friday the 5 June 2023.


Decisions about whether your abstract or panel has been accepted will be communicated by Friday the 15th of June 2023 and the final programme will be sent to you before the end of June 2023.


Keynote speakers and artists for the festival and conference:


·      Prof Tiffany Willoughby-Herard (University of California Irvine)

·      Prof Mogobe Ramose (University of Limpopo/ Sefako Makgatho/ UP)

·      Athi Mongezeleli Joja (University of Pennsylvania)

·      Ziyana Lategan (UCT / SUNY)




Conference Fees


·      Postgraduate Students/ Adjunct /Associate Staff (African): R500-00

·      Postgraduate Students/Adjunct/ Associate Staff (International): R1000-00

·      Tenured Faculty (African): R 1000-00

·      Tenured Faculty (International): R 1500-00



In exceptional cases there will be a waiver granted for postgrads and adjunct staff who request it. Please make enquiries to blackaugustfest@gmail.com (Subject Line: Fee Waiver Request)

Website: https://www.theaps.org/