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Souffles Monde: A Pan-African Platform & Journal

Public education in Tamazgha, the broader North Africa, is in a shambolic state. Universities are caught between brutal regimes that stifle free inquiry and starve academic departments of resources, and religious movements that are staunchly illiberal and intolerant of critique of patriarchy or tradition. In addition, the scholarship that does reach students is using concepts derived from a non-African context, and often written in languages few can read. The downside of globalization is that scholars and researchers from the Global South are putting American labels on their problems, deploying American and European categories in incongruous contexts. Social scientists in India have pushed back against this dominance by launching the “subaltern school,” Latin America has responded to intellectual marginalization with “decoloniality.” South Africa is responding with a discourse of “African Renaissance." Yet North Africa, squeezed between Western and Arab-Islamic hegemony, and bled by brain-drain, has not mounted an effective response. It is high time that intellectuals and scholars from this region generated both theory and language that expresses their own processes of decolonization in their own terms, and our resurrection of Souffles is a contribution to this lofty endeavor. One benefit of the information revolution is that it is now possible to bypass state bureaucracy and borders by starting initiatives online. Our hope is to create a platform that will function like an academic and decolonial hub online, publishing original research, promoting South-South intellectual dialogue, promoting and translating scholarship from different parts of Africa and the Global South, developing local social science paradigms to analyze African and global developments.
Souffles Monde/Anfas al-‘alam follows in the footsteps of Souffles, which fifty years ago, was a flagship journal of the pan-African and Third World Left. Our hope is to use this august publication as a platform for academic exchange across Africa. From its modest base in Rabat, this cultural review sought to liberate North Africa from colonial paradigms and nativist thinking, and put forth a new discourse of Tri-Continentalism and Afro-Arab cosmopolitanism. The journal would go on to connect a range of discourses and literatures: the editors would put Frantz Fanon and the authors of Présence Africaine into dialogue with Arab nationalist poets, bringing proponents of Third World Cinema into conversation with theorists of the Bolivian and Vietnamese revolutions. For six years, this publication would publish political commentary and literature in French and Arabic. Our time is different from the 1970s when Laâbi and Serfaty had to pay for their right to intellectual freedom with political disappearance, torture, and lengthy jail periods. In resurrecting Souffles, we are not striving to resurrect the mother-journal but rather envisioning to build off of this history to put the broader North Africa into dialogue with itself and the wider world.
In term of mission, our credo is “Decolonizing Decoloniality.” For all the talk of “epistemic freedom” and “intellectual sovereignty,” much of the thinking about the Global South is framed using concepts produced in the Global North; even decoloniality is studied through frameworks produced at Harvard and Berkeley, rather than the theories of Kwame Nkrumah or Amical Cabral. As decoloniality is caught up in discursive practices developed in the Global North, the colonial and its effects are forgotten about. The challenge then is to push against a Global-North-focused decoloniality, which has been reduced to a discourse, and foreground scholar and civic action in the Global South, for which colonial legacies are life issues, to decolonize education, culture, language, and even economies. We hope to promote the work of scholars in Africa, but also to promote direct South-South contact. 
Our second objective is to transcend Africa's language divides. Africa’s universities are struggling for multiple reasons, but also the little scholarship that does reach students in Africa is often written in languages few can access.  Our objective is to create a platform to support and showcase original research, but also to support translation that will bring research from scholars across Africa to the rest of the world, and to translate cutting edge scholarship in Western languages into local languages. The long-standing geographic and discursive division between “North Africa” and “sub-Saharan Africa” has had grave consequences for social science research in Africa and the West. It has led to the marginalization and Middle East Studies of North Africa (from African Studies), a sidelining that has carried over to the canonical outlets of  production of knowledge. In reinventing Souffles' trans-African and transnational spirit, the journal will not only bridge the scholarly divide between North and sub-Saharan African, but will also reflect the changing cultural and political mood in North Africa that has been turning southward.  Souffles will help normalize scholarly research that puts North and sub-Saharan Africa in dialogue in a consistent and systematic manner.
Central to this initiative is mentorship. As part of its mentoring mission, Souffles Monde will hold writing and editing workshops for African contributors. The journal will be a space for intergenerational mentorship and exchange; we will connect younger researchers with established scholars to work on thematic issues relevant to their shared interests. The editors will make every effort to reach minority writers and underprivileged groups to help them benefit from the opportunities the journal will offer in terms of training, mentorship, and guidance. Our base will be the American Legation in Tangier, though we are already building ties with various universities and institutions in the region.

Read more about the Editorial Committee.


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