Explorations in Ethnic Studies

Explorations in Ethnic Studies


John McClendon

Orginal Publication Date


Journal Title

Explorations in Ethnic Studies





First Page


Last Page



This article is a philosophical critique of a very controversial paradigm within Africana Studies. The methodology employed in this paper is a philosophical critique of the epistemological and ontological underpinnings of Afrocentricity. The quest for a distinctive (metaphysical) Africanist perspective has cast Afrocentricity as a subjectivist approach to affirming the integrity of an Africana existential condition. While in the course of African American intellectual history a number of scholars and thinkers have supported the notion of an unique Black metaphysics, Afrocentricity brings to the table a particular approach to the tradition of affirming an African metaphysical exclusivism. What I mean by the quest for particularity is the notion that there is a unique Africana presence in the world, such that it stands antithetical to the European/Western experience. I explore what I call "weak Afrocentricity," i.e., a cultural determinism demarcating the African and European experience. Afrocentricity, in positing a cultural relativism, renders that not only is Eurocentrism a false universality, but that universality per se is false. This denial of universality (at the ontological level ) has as a corresponding category the negation of objectivity (at the epistemological plane). I examine the works of two leading Afrocentric proponents, Molefi Asante and Marimba Ani, arguably two of the most significant contributors to the philosophical foundations of Afrocentricity.


Copyright, ​©EES, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1995