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Sep 08 2020


12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Virtual Only



A Conversation with Felwine Sarr and Maboula Soumahoro

Join us on Zoom at noon EDT on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, for a public discussion of Afrotopia with author Felwine Sarr. He will be joined in conversation by French scholar of the Atlantic Maboula Soumahoro. Moderated by Laurent Dubois.

Note: In recognition of #ScholarStrike and the related teach-in scheduled for September 8 and 9, 2020, Sarr and Soumahoro will share their perspectives on the links between the political struggles and transformations they see unfolding in France and Africa and the current struggles against racial injustice in the United States.

Free and open to the public. Zoom registration required. This event is co-sponsored by the Forum for Scholars and Publics and the Regulator Bookshop as part of the Community & Scholars series of events.


About the Book

Afrotopia is a vibrant meditation and poetic call for an African utopian philosophy of self-reinvention in the twenty-first century. In the recent aftermath of colonialism, civil wars, and the AIDS crisis, a new day finally seems to be shining on the African continent. Africa has once again become a site of creative potential and a vibrant center of economic growth and production. No longer stigmatized by stereotypes or encumbered by the traumas of the past — yet unsure of the future — Africa has other options than to simply follow the paths already carved out by the global economy. Accordingly, Felwine Sarr urges the continent to set out on its own renewal and self-discovery — to create an active utopia by reflecting on the continent’s vast mythological universe and ancient traditions, nourishing a cultural reinvention, and embracing green technologies that tackle climate change and demographic challenges.

Through a reflection on contemporary African writers, artists, intellectuals, and musicians, Sarr elaborates Africa’s unique philosophies, shared values, and communal economy. He also reflects on concepts that are deeply rooted in its ancient traditions and landscape, such as ubuntu, the life force in Dogon culture; the Rwandan imihigo; and the Senegalese teranga. Afrotopia takes the reader on a philosophical journey and demands the elevation of a collective consciousness.

Order a copy of the book at


Additional Reading

The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage: Toward a New Relational Ethics

By Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy | Translated by Drew S. Burk

On November 28, 2017, inside a packed amphitheater at the University of Ouaga 1, Professor Joseph Ki-Zerbo from the University of Ouagadougou, under the watchful eye of the president Roch Kaboré and those of several hundred Burkinabé students, the President of the French Republic verbally confirmed his decision to break with several decades of longstanding French practices and official discourses in terms of cultural heritage and museums ...

Continue Reading

A Call for a Living Economy

By Felwine Sarr | ERSTE Foundation

The Covid-19 crisis has laid bare the fault lines in the neo-liberal economic system. For several decades now, numerous scientific studies published since the Meadows (1972) and Brundtland (1987) reports have been calling the sustainability of this system into question.

Read the Article

A Racial Awakening in France, Where Race Is a Taboo Topic

By Norimitsu Onishi | New York Times

With an eye on the United States, children of immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean are bringing race into the public discourse, in a perceived challenge to France’s universalism.

Keep Reading

The New Negritude: Asserting Black French Identity

Interview with Maboula Soumahoro | France 24

France prides itself on its guiding principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity. But how much do those lofty ideals really have to do with the lived day-to-day experience of France's ethnic and religious minorities? A discussion of Black identity and the French diaspora with Franco-Ivorian lecturer and author Maboula Soumahoro.

Watch the Interview


Felwine Sarr

Duke University

Felwine Sarr is a humanist, philosopher, economist, and musician and the Anne-Marie Bryan Chair in French and Francophone Studies at Duke University. He is the author of Afrotopia (University of Minnessota Press, 2019, tr. by Drew S. Burk). Well-known for his groundbreaking report "The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage: Toward…...

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Maboula Soumahoro

University of Tours, France

Dr. Maboula Soumahoro is an associate professor in the English department of the University of Tours, France, where she also received her PhD. A specialist in the field of Africana Studies (Atlantic), Dr. Soumahoro has conducted research and taught in several universities and prisons in the United States and France:…...

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