The formation of an African intellectual: an interview with Mahmood Mamdani
Kuan-Hsing CHEN, GAO Shiming and TANG Xiaolin
Editorial Note: In mid April 2015, Prof. Mahmood Mamdani, a leading African intellectual, was on a 12 days journey, organized by the Inter-Asia School, to first participate in the “Bandung/Third World 60 Year” Hangzhou Forum, and afterwards to travel to Nanjing and Shanghai, delivering lectures at different universities. Mamdani is from Uganda, and of Indian descent. His work is a result of social and political engagements, as well as commitment to the Pan-African cause collectively envisioned and practiced in the intellectual community such as CODESRIA, a transnational scholarly group established since 1973. The uniqueness of his living trajectory has made him one of very few global intellectuals actually working across three continents: Asia, Africa and America. On April 21, in Hangzhou, we conducted a group interview with him, with a purpose in mind: to introduce, translate and publish his important works to readers in East Asia. We hope his corpus of knowledge, a body of historically grounded work, will open up our understanding of contemporary Africa and the world at large.
Mahmood Mamdani is Professor and Director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research (Uganda), and Herbert Lehman Professor of Government and Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. In 2008, Mamdani was voted as the 9th “top public intellectual” in the world on the list of Top 100 Public Intellectuals by Prospect Magazine (UK) and Foreign Policy (US). Mamdani specializes in the study of African and international politics, colonialism and post-colonialism, extreme violence in civil wars, the politicization of culture, and the politics of knowledge production. He is the author of many books, including Define and Rule: Native as Political Identity (2012); Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror (2009); Scholars in the Marketplace: The Dilemmas of Neo-liberal Reforms at Makerere University, 1989-2005 (2007); When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism and Genocide in Rwanda (2001); Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (1996); Politics and Class Formation in Uganda (1976).
Kuan-Hsing Chen teaches in the Institute for Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. His most recent monograph is Asia as Method: Toward Deimperialization (2010, Duke University Press).
Gao Shiming is a curator and art critic based in Hangzhou, China. He is currently the vice president of the China Academy of Art (CAA), and a professor of contemporary art theory, social thoughts and curatorial studies. He has published many books and catalogs including Farewell to Post-colonialism (2008), Rehearsal (2010), All things Lethal Remain Unutterable (2011), Book in Action: On Curatorial Writing (2012), Post/Colonial Condition of Knowledge (2012), and Three Parallel Artworlds: 100 Art Things from Chinese Modern History (2015). In 2013, he launched the simplified Chinese version of Renjian Thought Review, and has since served as Editor-in-Chief for this intellectual journal.
Tang Xiaolin received her PhD in contemporary art and curatorial studies from the China Academy of Art. Her primary research focus is Chinese contemporary art history in the 1980s. She is currently an executive editor of the simplified Chinese version of Renjian Thought Review and New Arts: Journal of the National Academy of Art.