Original Research

Blackhood as a category in contemporary discourses on Black Studies: An existentialist philosophical defence

M. John Lamola
Transformation in Higher Education | Vol 3 | a55 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/the.v3i0.55 | © 2018 Malesela John Lamola | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 August 2018 | Published: 03 December 2018

About the author(s)

M. John Lamola, Department of Philosophy, University of Fort Hare, South Africa


Background: An era and academic milieu that clamour at post-racialist and globalist theoretical frameworks juxtaposed with evidence of growing anti-black dehumanizing racism, and the persistence of psycho-social alienation of black learners in multi-racial educational institutions.

Aim: To engage in a critical philosophical–phenomenological and political review of the experience of being-black-in-the-world as a factor that justifies the establishment and maintenance of Black Studies programmes. The article seeks to contribute to the debate on the vagaries accompanying the institutionalisation of culturo-epistemic exclusive spaces for socially suppressed selfhoods in a postmodern academy.

Setting: Racialised social environments as affecting Higher Education, with post-apartheid South Africa as a case.

Methods: Existential Philosophy, Black Consciousness and Paulo Freire’s philosophy of education.

Results: The category of blackness as derived from a Fanonian existential phenomenology and Steve Biko’s perspective, contrasted against Achille Mbembe’s semiological–hermeneutic and cosmopolitan treatment of blackness, is an existential–ontological reality that should function as a cardinal category in educational planning, justifying specialised learning and knowledge-exchange spaces for the re-humanisation of black existence.

Conclusion: The experience of black existential reality, conceived from blackhood as an external recognition and an internally self-negotiated consciousness within the social immanence of whiteness, justifies the institutionalisation of learning spaces and programmes that are aimed at nurturing antiracist black self-realisation, namely Black Studies.


black consciousness; black studies; cosmopolitanism; existential phenomenology; education transformation; mbembe


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Crossref Citations

1. South African Higher Education as Mutating Plantation: Critical Reflections on Navigating a Racialized Space
Suriamurthee Moonsamy Maistry, Lesley Le Grange
Educational Studies  vol: 59  issue: 4  first page: 420  year: 2023  
doi: 10.1080/00131946.2023.2248328