Reopening the Future

Tuesday, December 11, 2018, 7:00pm - 8:30pm

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Felwine Sarr

Felwine Sarr delivers a free, public lecture as part of the Intra-Disciplinary Seminar series. A key figure of western modernity was the promise of progress in all domains of social life, driven by scientific revolution. The various crises experienced by societies since the early 20th century (world wars, fascisms, environmental challenges) have shown the failure of this promise. To reopen the future is to consider history as a space of possibility. Felwine Sarr’s lecture proposes ways of reclaiming the future through a renewed thinking about history, epistemology, and the arts.

Felwine Sarr is a writer, a scholar, a publisher, and a professor of economics at the Université Gaston Berger of Saint-Louis, Senegal. His lectures and academic research focus on epistemology, economic policy, and the history of religious ideas. 

Among his many books are Dahij (Gallimard, 2009); 105 Rue Carnot (Mémoire d'encrier, 2011); Méditations africaines (Mémoire d'encrier, 2012); and Afrotopia (Philippe Rey, 2016), an essay in which he calls for conceptual decolonization and a re-appropriation by Africans of the metaphors of their future. Felwine Sarr is also an editor of the Journal of African Transformation (CODESRIA-UNECA). In 2016, with Achille Mbembe, he founded the "Ateliers de la Pensée", which gathers Afro-diasporic scholars and artists in Dakar and Saint-Louis in order to reflect on our world’s transformations. With Bénédicte Savoy he co-authored the ground-breaking report on The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage, submitted to the French Presidency in November 2018.

The Fall 2018 IDS Lecture Series at The Cooper Union is organized by Leslie Hewitt and Omar Berrada. The IDS Public Lecture Series is part of the Robert Lehman Visiting Artist Program at The Cooper Union. We are grateful for major funding and support from the Robert Lehman Foundation for the series. The IDS Public Lecture Series is also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. 

Located in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, at 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets)

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.