This essay demonstrates the need to unpack the colonial and postcolonial history of the Sorbonne in order to better understand this institution’s symbolic meanings and in turn their epistemic implications for francophone universities on the African continent. The contribution explores these issues through analysis of two speeches by Léopold Sédar Senghor (one given at the Sorbonne, the other at the inauguration of the University of Dakar) and the landmark event of Cheikh Anta Diop’s viva at the Sorbonne in January 1960. Underpinning the discussion is a defense of humanistic concepts of education, borrowed and adapted by Senghor from Michel de Montaigne.
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