Research project: History of Ancient Sciences of Africa: epistemological problems and studies of oral archives and manuscripts in Arabic and Ajami
This project is based on the idea that a study of the history of ancient sciences in Africa must start from the epistemological principle that scholarly knowledge which, according to the rationality of C. Lévi-Strauss, is called "savage mind" is also different from popular knowledge, magic, mysticism, religion, cosmogony and it is practiced in closed places and areas by élites and networks of distinguished élites. It is in the sense of this other view on the so-called savage mind that this research is carried out on the learned traditions of Africa, those of oral archives, and those of the manuscripts in Arabic and Ajami. On the one hand, the study posits that in order to overcome the obstacle which is the weakness of oral memory to deliver history, the study of the history of the science of oral archives in Africa must focus, as a priority, on the places of circulation of scholarly practices, the intercultural dynamics of areas of knowledge and the dynamics of contemporary relationships between academic research and traditional knowledge. On the other hand, on the basis of the historical reality of African written traditions, it is necessary to open an area of study, hardly explored so far, on the history of sciences within the field of research on manuscripts in Arabic and Ajami.
Yaovi Akakpo is a Togolese philosopher. He studied at the University of Lomé and at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar. He holds a doctorate degree in epistemology and a ‘doctorat d’État’ in history, philosophy and sociology of sciences. He is the current Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Society at the University of Lomé, where he is also in charge of the doctoral program in history and philosophy of science and techniques. He is also General Rapporteur of the CTS Letters and Human Sciences of the African and Malagasy Council on Higher Education ‘Conseil Africain et Malgache pour l’Enseignement Supérieur’ (CAMES) and an associate researcher at the Alexandre Koyré Center in Paris. He is the author of L’horizon des sciences en Afrique (Peter Lang, 2009), La recherche en philosophie (L’Harmattan, 2012), and Science et reconnaissance (Présence africaine, 2016). His main fields of research concern scientific and technical transmutations in Africa, the issues of invention and innovation, the history of science of oral archives and African manuscripts, the imagination in science, and the powers of the body.