A review of Asante, Molefi Kete and Clyde Ledbetter Jr., eds. Contemporary Critical Thought in Africology and Africana Studies. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016, xxi, pp.218, 24 cm, index [pp.213-215], biographical references, ISBN: 978-1-4985-3070-S, LCCN: 2015043484, OCLC: 925498172 by Itibari M, Zulu (editor, Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies).
This book (a part of the 'Critical Africana Studies: African, African American, and Caribbean Interdisciplinary and Intersectional Studies' series edited by Reiland Rabaka) via thirteen articles (seven by co-editor Molefi Kete Asante) argues that the Afrocentric study of African phenomena represents an oasis of innovation in progressive venues and that the goal of the work is to spark further debate, critical interpretations and extensions, and to reform/reformulate the way critical thought is approached. Secondly, it offers new interpretations, analysis, and challenges to predominant frameworks in diverse areas like philosophy, social justice, literature, and history. The first co-editor is Molefi Kete Asante, the architect and chair of the Department of Africology and African American Studies at Temple University (co-editor and the founding editor, The Journal of Black Studies), and the second editor, Clyde Ledbetter Jr. is an instructor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Science at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (Cheyney, Pennsylvania) and a 2013 graduate of the doctoral program in African American Studies at Temple University.
In the introduction, the co-editors waste no time making their argument that it has been the practice of Western social sciences (and to a lesser extent the humanities) to ignore theories advanced by African or African American studies scholars as they are absent from recommend reading lists, and thus, "... one would find little information suggesting African American studies scholars as theorist or philosophers" and are regularly taught at universities in the U.S., Africa or Europe (pp. vii). Nevertheless, the co-editors aim to showcase some of the new thought from African American scholars originating outside a Eurocentric and uncritical neoliberal capitalist paradigm that does not question or establish responsibility (pp. viii).
The book begins with a 2013 presentation by Asante at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on decolonizing university education in Africa, saying: African mental health and liberation depends on an ability to reassert the dignity of the foundations of knowledge set by our ancestors (paraphrasing Frantz Fanon/Michael Onyebuchi Eze, p.3); a total reassertion of Africa at the center of knowledge discovery and dissemination is needed in Africa in order to awaken a new response to the human condition (p.4); knowledge in Africa must begin with a Kemetic-Nubian axis for fundamental references; and thus, every concept of European colonial control must be thoroughly vetted. Such a critique is needed in Africa and throughout the African world community as there is a Eurocentric ongoing battle for the minds of people. Asante is one of a very few African American scholars based in the U.S. able to offer such a critique to people and institutions based on the continent, without much controversy suggesting foreign internal interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign community/nation.