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Cluster of Excellence EXC 2052 - "Africa Multiple: reconfiguring African Studies"

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Women as Sages: Exploring the nature and value of Feminine Wisdom

Project Summary

Ever since the late African philosopher, Odera Oruka, put forward his conception of Philosophic Sagacity as an authentic African philosophy, widespread discussion on this position has made Philosophic Sagacity so authoritative that it is proposed as one of the most reliable sources of African knowledges (Mosima, 2016). Perhaps owing to the influence of Paul Radin (1927) and his genderrestrictive reference to “man” in the discovery of African knowledges, Oruka and his followers seemed also to have excluded women from the category of sages. Thus, despite the possible existence of many female powerhouses of wisdom in Africa, and despite the global push for equal opportunities and recognition for women, the Sage Philosophy project is still predominantly chauvinistic. This research project titled “Women as Sages: Exploring the nature and value of Feminine Wisdom” is an agenda-setting work that seeks to investigate the possibility of woman sages, the nature and content of the form of knowledge they produce, and the value of such knowledges to the contemporary African and others. This project seeks to unpack the multiple ways of knowledge production, characterisation, transmission and recognition through heuristic investigation of the epistemic agency of female sages, hitherto, ignored in the documentation of indigenous knowledges. Since ideas, knowledges and wisdom are purveyors of civilisation and societal development, reconfiguring the scales of indigenous knowledges and wisdom through female agency is pivotal in holistically deploying indigenous knowledges, practices and wisdom to serve Africa’s needs. This research project is significant because by investigating women epistemic powers and feminine wisdom, it de-genderises the epistemic enterprise, and promises to provide another perspective to, the male-dominated production, management and dissemination system of indigenous knowledges in Africa. In this way it contributes to literature on feminism, gender studies, and related fields, and ultimately to the Knowledges Research section of the cluster.

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