Valentin Mudimbe

Valentin Mudimbe

Professor Emeritus of Literature

External address: 
115 Art Museum, Buchanan and Trinity, Durham, NC 27701
Internal office address: 
Box 90670, Durham, NC 27708-0670
(919) 684-4240

Newman Ivey White Professor of Literature at Duke University, V.Y. Mudimbe received his Doctorat en Philosophie et Lettres from the Catholic University of Louvain in 1970. In 1997, he became Doctor Honoris Causa at Université Paris VII Diderot, and in 2006, became Doctor Honoris Causa at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Before coming to Duke, he taught at the Universities of Louvain, Paris-Nanterre, Zaire, Stanford, and at Haverford College. Among his publications are three collections of poetry, four novels, as well as books in applied linguistics, philosophy, and social sciences. His most recent publications include: L'Odeur du père (1982), The Invention of Africa (1988), Parables and Fables (1991), The Idea of Africa (1994), and Tales of Faith (1997). He is the editor of The Surreptitious Speech (1992), Nations, Identities, Cultures (1997), Diaspora and Immigration (1999), and editor of a forthcoming encyclopedia on African religions and philosophy. He is also former General Secretary of SAPINA (the Society for African Philosophy in North America) and co-editor with Robert Bates and Jean O'Barr of Africa and the Disciplines (1993).

V.Y. Mudimbe is a Membre Honoraire Correspondant de l’Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre Mer (Belgium); a Member of the Société américaine de philosophie de langue française; as well as of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, and the World Institute for Advanced Phenomenological Research and Learning. He has also served as Chairman of the Board of African Philosophy, and since 2000, as the Chairman of the International African Institute (SOAS, University of London). His interests are in phenomenology and structuralism, with a focus on the practice of everyday language. He regularly teaches on French existentialism, theories of difference, phenomenology, ancient Greek geography, and African themes.


  • Ph.D., Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) 1970

Selected Grants

On the Transfer of Knowledge from Europe to Africa awarded by Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1989

Mudimbe, V. Y. África: pensamiento y controversias. Centro de Estudios de Asia y África, El Colegio de México, 2014.

Ciekawy, Diane, et al. Recontextualizing Self & Other Issues in Africa: The Practice of a Conference. Africa World Press/Red Sea Press, 2013.

ed, VY Mudimbe, and VY Mudimbe Mudimbe V. Contemporary African Cultural Productions/Productions culturelles africaines contemporaines. Codesria Publications, 2013.

Mudimbe, V. Y. Coda: On the Practice of a Conference. Edited by Diane Ciekawy et al., Africa World Press/Red Sea Press, 2013, pp. 235–52.

Mudimbe, V. Y. Au nom de la gratitude: une méditation. Edited by Justin K. Bisanswa, Editions Champion, 2013.

Mudimbe, V. Y., and Barry Hallen. A cerca de la filosofía africana. Edited by Felix Valdés García and Yohanka Léon del Río, Ruth Casa Editorial, 2013, pp. 19–62.

Mudimbe, V. Y. Afterword: A Meditation of the Convener. Codesria Publications, 2013.

Mudimbe, V. Y. “Reading There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra.” Journal of Asian and African Studies, vol. 48, no. 6, Dec. 2013, pp. 671–82. Scopus, doi:10.1177/0021909613506487. Full Text