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Achille Mbembe Wins the 2015 Geschwister Scholl-Preis for the German Translation of His Latest Book, Critique de la Raison Nègre

Africa in Two Acts: Achille Mbembenull

Achille Mbembe has won the prestigious Geschwister Scholl-Preis for the German edition of his latest book, Critique de la raison nègre.

The prize is awarded by the Association of German Publishers and Booksellers (Bavaria) and the City of Munich, and honours a book which “testifies to intellectual independence and promotes civil liberties, moral, intellectual and aesthetic courage and to give impetus to the present awareness of responsibility”. The prize comes with an endowment of 10 000 Euros (roughly R150 000).

Glenn Greenwald won the prize last year for No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the Nsa and the Surveillance State. Other notable winners include Rolf Hochhuth, Jürgen Habermas, Peter Gay, Anna Politkovskaya and David Grossman.

The award ceremony will take place on November 30, 2015, at the University of Munich.

Mbembe is a philosopher, political scientist, and public intellectual based at WiSER (Wits Institute of Social and Economic Research) in Johannesburg.

“The award is a tribute to the work we do at WiSER and at the University of the Witwatersrand. Critique de la raison negre could not have been written anywhere else in the world,” Mbembe told WiSER. “I want it to be read as a South African book. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to South Africa, and just as many other descendants of Africa in the world, I entertain huge hopes for this country.”

The prize jury called Kritik der schwarzen Vernunft a “powerfully written book” and a “remeasurement of the history of capitalism and globalisation” that, with its proposition that global society not only moves goods and capital but also humans and labour, “comes at exactly the right time”.

Critique de la raison negre was published in German by Suhrkamp Verlag AG. An English translation of the book is in the works.

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