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Lecture | Research Seminar

CA-OS Research Seminar | Decolonising Time: Cultural Heritage in Senegal

  • Dr. Ferdinand de Jong (University of East Anglia)
Monday 6 March 2017
Pieter de la Courtgebouw
Wassenaarseweg 52

Decolonising Time

Examining several lieux de memoires in Senegal, this seminar explores sites of memory for the contours of a national imagination. The seminar suggests that Senegal’s collective memory and national imagination is fragmented across ethnic, regional and religious lines, but unified by a legacy of Pan-Africanism.

Acknowledging postcolonial fatigue in the present, the lecture suggests that it is no longer the postcolonial future, but the Pan-African past that holds out the promise of emancipation. Even though the promise of postcolonial liberation is largely ruined, heritage sites in Senegal continue to produce decolonial utopias. Considering the ‘untimeliness’ of these utopias, the seminar explores how Senegalese heritage decolonizes time as a form of belated Utopianism.

About Ferdinand de Jong

Ferdinand de Jong is senior lecturer at the School of Art, Media and American Studies of the University of East Anglia. After travelling through West Africa, De Jong decided to study African history. For his doctoral dissertation he conducted fieldwork in the southern region of Senegal, a part of the country claimed by an armed separatist movement.

Researching masquerading, De Jong found that the object of his research was defined as secret by the interlocutors. He became more interested in anthropological understandings of the practice of secrecy and how this practice enables people to produce locality in an increasingly globalising world.

This is when De Jong's academic orientation shifted towards anthropology. His doctoral dissertation demonstrates how people engage modernity on their own terms through secretive performances. Since masquerading is a form of performance, he took up the opportunity to teach African art and performance at the School of Art History and World Art Studies.

Here, De Jong developed new interests in art, performance and memory. He became interested in heritage, as one of the masquerades he had researched in Senegal was declared UNESCO World Heritage. At present, De Jong is developing research and teaching in the archive and postcolonial futures. 

This seminar is organised by the Leiden Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology. 

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