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Achille Mbembe scoops the 2018 Gerda Henkel Award

- Wits University

Acclaimed Wits historian, Professor Achille Mbembe has been recognised for his sterling scholarly achievement.

The Gerda Henkel Prize, which is worth 100, 000 euros was set up in 2006. It is awarded every two years to excellent and internationally acclaimed researchers who have demonstrated outstanding scholarly achievement in the disciplines and funding areas supported by the Gerda Henkel Foundation and can be expected to continue to do so. Mbembe, who has an A1 rating from the National Research Foundation was selected from a number of scholars from universities worldwide who had been nominated for the Award.

He is a Research Professor in History and Politics at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER) and is widely regarded as one of the most important public intellectuals writing about contemporary African and global phenomena in the world today. Mbembe was born in Cameroon and obtained his PhD in History at the Université de Paris I-Pantheon Sorbonne and a DEA in Politics at Sciences-Po (Paris).

Professor Achille Mbembe of WiSER is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

He previously taught at Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University. From 1996 to 2000, he was the Executive Director of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA). He has been a Visiting Professor in various academic institutions including Harvard University; Yale University; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of California, Irvine and the Jakob-Fugger Zentrum of the University of Augsburg. 

Earlier in his career, he published extensively in African politics and history. His landmark work, On the Postcolony has deeply influenced postcolonial thought and various other disciplines in the field of the humanities. 

Mbembe, who has won numerous awards including the 2018 Ernst Bloch Award and the 2015 Geschwister Scholl-Preis, has powerfully contributed to the renewal of critical theory from a global Southern perspective with his later work , Sortir de la grande nuit, 2010; Critique de la raison negre, 2013; and Politiques de l’inimitie, 2016). 

A wonderfully learned, rigorous and original mind, his many books have been translated in various languages, including German, Italian, Spanish, English, Dutch, Portuguese, Polish, Romanian and Arabic. 

He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a worldly recognised public intellectual, as well as one of the leading and most recognisable voices writing in French today.