Law and the Public Sphere in Africa

9780253011244: Hardback
Release Date: 11th December 2013

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 208

Series World Philosophies

Indiana University Press

Law and the Public Sphere in Africa

La Palabre and Other Writings

Written by
Jean Godefroy Bidima
Translated by
Laura Hengehold
Hardback / £16.99

Jean Godefroy Bidima’s La Palabre examines the traditional African institution of palaver as a way to create dialogue and open exchange in an effort to resolve conflict and promote democracy. In the wake of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commissions and the gacaca courts in Rwanda, Bidima offers a compelling model of how to develop an African public space where dialogue can combat misunderstanding. This volume, which includes other essays on legal processes, cultural diversity, memory, and the internet in Africa, offers English-speaking readers the opportunity to become acquainted with a highly original and important postcolonial thinker.

Foreword Souleymane Bachir Diagne

Preface to the English Edition Jean Godefroy Bidima


Introduction: Speech, Belief, Power Laura Hengehold

La Palabre: The Legal Authority of Speech
1. The Public Space of Palabre
2. A Political Paradigm
3. Convergent Suspicions
4. A Difficult Place in Political Thought

Other Essays

1. Rationalities and Legal Processes in Africa

2. Strategies for "Constructing Belief" in the African Public Space: "The Colonization of the Life-world"

3. African Cultural Diversity in the Media

4. Books between African Memory and Anticipation

5. The Internet and the African Academic World




Jean Godefroy Bidima is Yvonne Arnoult Chair of French Studies at Tulane University. He is author of Théorie Critique et Modernité Négro-Africaine.

Laura Hengehold is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Case Western Reserve University. She is author of The Body Problematic: Political Imagination in Kant and Foucault.

"Law and the Public Sphere in Africa presents a valuable philosophical argument that will most certainly be of interest to those working on the topics of postconflict justice, peacebuilding, and democratization in Africa."

African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review

"Opens promising vistas for legal and political discourse. Its multidisciplinary orientation and the erudition of the author make for a text that has crossover appeal."

Olúfémi Táíwò
Cornell University

"Bidima has done a very important work here which deserves the critical attention of philosophers, political theorists, legal scholars as well the general public."

Journal of Modern African Studies

"[Casts] an invigorating light on law, politics, public language and social practice in modern Africa, raising searching questions not only about the heritage of colonialism but about the various postcolonial policies and theories that have aimed to overcome the problems of that heritage.85.2 May 2015"