V. Y. Mudimbe

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Valentin-Yves Mudimbe (born 8 December 1941, Jadotville, Belgian Congo) is a Congolese philosopher, professor, and author of poems, novels, as well as books and articles on African culture and intellectual history.

Early life and career[edit]

He was born in the Belgian Congo, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As a young man, he joined a monastery, but left in 1962 in order to study the forces that shaped African history. He studied in Louvain (PhD, 1970), came back to Congo and flew to the United States in 1979 for political reasons. He has taught at Haverford College and Stanford University, and is now Professor Emeritus in the Program in Literature at Duke University. His work has had a major impact on many disciplines including Philosophy, Sociology, Anthropology, Linguistics, Literature, and History.


He is generally considered to be the Edward Saïd of African studies, notably for his major book The Invention of Africa (1988), a work widely regarded to be as significant to the field of African studies as Saïd's Orientalism (1978) has been to postcolonial studies[by whom?]. A considerable body of work has been devoted to Mudimbe's publications.

Mudimbe focuses most closely on phenomenology, structuralism, mythical narratives, and the practice and use of language. As a professor, he has taught courses on these topics, as well as on ancient Greek cultural geography.


  • Junior College Degree, Lovanium University, Leopoldville (Kinshasa), Congo (1962)
  • Diploma, Lovanium University, Kinshasa, Congo (1964)
  • BA, Lovanium University, Kinshasa (1966)
  • Graduate Studies, University of Paris (1968)
  • PhD with High Honors, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium (1970)


  • Déchirures (1971)
  • Entre les eaux (1973); trans. as Between Tides by Stephen Baker (1991)
  • Entretailles (1973)
  • L'Autre Face du royaume (1973)
  • Les Fuseaux (1974)
  • Le Bel immonde (1976); trans. as Before the Birth of the Moon by Marjolijn de Jager (1989)
  • L'Ecart (1979); trans. as The Rift by Marjolijn de Jager (1993)
  • Shaba deux (1988)
  • Les Corps glorieux des mots et des êtres (1994)
  • L'Odeur du père, Présence Africaine (1982)
  • The Invention of Africa : Gnosis, Philosophy and the Order of Knowledge, Indiana University Press (1988)
  • Parables and Fables : Exegesis Textuality and Politics in Central Africa, The University of Wisconsin Press (1991)
  • The Surreptitious Speech: Presence Africaine and the Politics of Otherness 1947-1987, University of Chicago Press (1992)
  • Africa & the Disciplines, coeditor, University of Chicago Press (1993)
  • The Idea of Africa, African Systems of Thought, Indiana University Press, (1994)
  • Tales of Faith: Religion as Political Performance in Central Africa, Athlone Press (1997)
  • Nations, Identities, Cultures, editor, Duke University Press (1997)
  • Diaspora and Immigration, coeditor, South Atlantic Quarterly special issue, Duke University Press (1999)
  • The Normal & Its Orders, coeditor, Editions Malaïka (2007)
  • On African Fault Lines: Meditations on Alterity Politics, University of KwaZulu-Natal Press (2013)

On Mudimbe's work[edit]

In English
  • White fathers in colonial central Africa : a critical examination of V.Y. Mudimbe's theories on missionary discourse in Africa Friedrich Stenger, Münster : London : Lit, 2002.
  • Singular performances : reinscribing the subject in Francophone African writing, Charlottesville : University of Virginia Press, 2002.
  • Postcolonial theory and Francophone literary studies, Adlai Murdoch and Anne Donadey. Gainesville : University Press of Florida, 2005.
  • Postcolonial Francophone autobiographies : from Africa to the Antilles Edgard Sankara, Charlottesville : University of Virginia Press, 2011.
  • VY Mudimbe: Undisciplined Africanism Pierre-Philippe Fraiture, Liverpool, Liverpool University Press, 2013.
In French
  • V.Y. Mudimbe, ou, Le discours, l'écart et l'écriture, Bernard Mouralis, Présence Africaine, Paris, 1988
  • Le roman africain face aux discours hégémoniques : étude sur l'énonciation et l'idéologie dans l'œuvre de V.Y. Mudimbe, Jean-Christophe Luhaka A. Kasende, L'harmattan 2001.
  • L'Afrique au miroir des littératures, des sciences de l'homme et de la société : mélanges offerts à V.Y. Mudimbe, Kasende, Jean-Christophe Luhaka A, L'harmattan, 2003.
  • V.Y. Mudimbe et la ré-invention de l'Afrique: poétique et politique de la décolonisation des sciences humaines, Kasereka Kavwhairehi, éditions Rodopi, 2006.
  • Pour un nouvel ordre africain de la connaissance : hommage à V.Y. Mudimbe sous la direction de Alphonse Mbuyamba-Kankolongo, Paris, 2011.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]