Volume 10, Issue 3, September/December 2021
M. John Lamola
The Crisis of African Studies and Philosophy in the Epoch of the Fourth Industrial Revolution
The very claim of the historical instance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is increasingly being subjected to critical interrogation from a variety of cultural and ideological perspectives. From an Afrocentric theory of history, this questioning of the ontology of the 4IR is sharpened by Africa’s experience of the claimed progressive mutation of global industrial progress from the “first” to this “fourth” revolution. Africa experienced the first industrial revolution as a European revolution in the exploitation of her natural and human resources, as well as the despoliation of her cultural-epistemic sovereignty. The challenge to fully engage in the theorisation of this 4IR, given the overwhelming and inexorable effects of its digital technologies on the personhood, sociality and geopolitical state of Africa has exposed the critical need for a set of rigorous Africanist analytical tools and epistemological approaches capable of guiding Africa’s appropriation of this techno-social revolution. This essay introduces the collection of research papers that have been selected for their endeavour to meet this challenge. It is highlighted that all of them move from a unique approach that asserts that technological progress is historical-cultural and socially embedded. Some of them address the question of the historico-ontological status of the 4IR innovatively with original African methodological tools, while others demonstrate how an African epistemology can be applied to issues such a digital virtual communities and robotics. This contribution to the bourgeoning field of African Philosophy of Technology is admired as work in progress.