Achille Mbembe, born in Cameroon, obtained his Ph.D in History at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1989 and a D.E.A. in Political Science at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Paris). He was Assistant Professor of History at Columbia University, New York (1988-1991), a Senior Research Fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. (1991-1992), Associate Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania (1992-1996), and Executive Secretary of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) in Dakar, Senegal (1996-2000). He was also a Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley (2001), at Yale University (2003), at the University of California at Irvine (2004-2005), at Duke University (2006-2011), and at Harvard University (2012). He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Paris VIII (France) and Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium). He has also held the Albert the Great Chair at the University of Koln (2019) and was an Honorary Professor at the Jakob Fugger-Zentrum, University of Augsburg (Germany). He has been awarded numerous awards including the 2015 Geswichter Scholl-Preis, the 2018 Gerda Henkel Award and the 2018 Ernst Bloch Award.
A co-founder of Les Ateliers de la pensée de Dakar and a major figure in the emergence of a new wave of French critical theory, he has written extensively on contemporary politics and philosophy, including On the Postcolony (University of California Press, 2001), Critique of Black Reason (Duke University Press, 2016), Necropolitics (Duke University Press, 2019), and Out of the Dark Night: Essays on Decolonization (Columbia University Press, 2020). Originally written in French, his books and numerous articles have been translated in thirteen languages (English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Slovenian, Danish, Swedish, Romanian, Arabic, and Chinese).