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Senghor, Léopold Sédar (1906–2001)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-Z024-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2005
Retrieved June 22, 2024, from

Article Summary

Léopold Sédar Senghor is one of the most influential African poets of the modern era. He also left his mark as a controversial cultural theorist and president of his native Senegal from 1960 until 1981. The poet and statesman participated with Aimé Césaire and Léon Gontran Damas in founding the négritude movement during the interwar period in Paris. Négritude was a cultural revolution that affirmed black African culture across geographical borders, combining a political vision of social justice for all peoples of African origin with an innovative poetic idiom. Senghor’s distinctive contribution to this avant-garde effort was a set of inter-related concepts with which he developed his theory of black African culture. The first was a notion of cross-cultural creativity entailing an interpenetration of African and European cultures. The second was a selective assimilation of certain aspects of French culture into an African conceptual framework. The third was an African version of socialism that integrated a community-centred ethics with a traditional African spirituality. Senghor believed that African culture had unique contributions to make to European thought, and worked to define a theory of culture based on dialogue, reciprocity and an inclusive humanism, which would pave the way for Africa’s integration into a civilization of the universal. His philosophy of culture is unsystematic; it appears as a collection of insights derived from various sources on the central theme of négritude.

Citing this article:
Taoua, Phyllis. Senghor, Léopold Sédar (1906–2001), 2005, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-Z024-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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