SOAS University of London

ERC funding for Dr. Alena Rettová's research on African philosophy

29 January 2019

Dr Alena Rettová, Reader in Swahili Literature and African Philosophy, has been awarded an  ERC Consolidator Grant of 1,997,762 Euro for the project ‘Philosophy And Genre: Creating A Textual Basis For African Philosophy’ a project which pioneers a multilingual approach to African philosophy, based on an understanding of philosophy as expressed through texts. In contrast to definitions of philosophical texts as solely non-fictional, written sources, this project looks at both oral and written texts, fictional and non-fictional ones, public and private ones. The project will start in September 2019 and run for five years, involving a team of seven researchers.

The key premise of the project is that to understand the philosophical meaning of texts, it is necessary to start with an analysis of textual genres. The project examines how genre impacts meaning on several genres of literature in eight African and European languages. The case studies include the essay in Ciluba and French, the novel in Swahili, Shona, Ciluba, Lingala, French, and English, digital texts such as blogs and social media, scenario planning narratives, Sufi poetry in Swahili and Wolof, and Alexis Kagame’s poetic work in Kinyarwanda and French, adapting the traditional genres of dynastic, heroic and pastoral poetry.

ERC Consolidator Grants of up to 2 million Euros which are designed to support researchers at the stage of consolidating their own research team or programme.