UCL Urban Laboratory


Unfinished Symphonies: PhD workshop with Professor Achille Mbembe

15 October 2021, 1:00 pm–3:00 pm

Statue Removal by Desmond Bowles

Workshop for PhD students from Witswatersrand University and UCL in response to the theme of transformational decolonial urbanism, with Professor Achille Mbembe, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research. To register please write to urbanlaboratory@ucl.ac.uk

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

UCL students






UCL Urban Laboratory


In July, two online roundtables brought together staff and students from Witswatersrand University and UCL to share and discuss work-in-progress on transformational decolonial urbanism. Contributions reported on a variety of research, teaching and other initiatives for change in our institutions. You can access these online talks via the UCL Urban Laboratory facebook page.

Speakers included: Jhono Bennett, Nnamdi Elleh, Hayley Gewer, Neil Klug, Nkosilenhle Mavuso, Clare Melhuish, Matimba Ngobeni, Kamna Patel, Makena Phaledi, David Roberts, Nathaniel Télémaque and Tsepang Leuta.

These discussions will lead into a public lecture by Professor Achille Mbembe (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research) with responses by Dr Tsepang Leuta (Wits) and Dr Adam Elliott-Cooper (Queen Mary, University of London and Visiting Research Fellow, UCL Sarah Parker Remond Centre, UCL). You can register for this public lecture via Zoom.

Further details on Unfinished Symphonies public lecture

Following the lecture, Professor Mbembe will hold a PhD workshop for UCL and Wits students to present their work-in-progress on transformational decolonial urbanism, as part of this series, on 15th October, 13:00 - 15:00 BST. 

Doctoral Researchers are welcome to participate in a dialogue with Professor Mbembe and each other, and are encouraged to read from Professor Mbembe's latest book, Out of the Dark Nightwhich is available via UCL's diditgal library.

Unfinished Symphonies is organised by Ben Campkin, Solam Mkhabela, Naigwe Kalema and Jennifer van den Bussche with support from the UCL-Wits Strategic Partnership fund.

About the Speaker

Professor Achille Mbembe

Research Professor at Wits Institute For Social & Economic Research

Professor Achille Mbembe, born in Cameroon, obtained his Ph.D in History at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1989 and a D.E.A. in Political Science at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Paris). He was Assistant Professor of History at Columbia University, New York (1988-1991), a Senior Research Fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. (1991-1992), Associate Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania (1992-1996), Executive Secretary of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) in Dakar, Senegal (1996-2000). He was also a Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley (2001), at  Yale University (2003), at the University of California at Irvine (2004-2005), at Duke University (2006-2011) and at Harvard University (2012). 

He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Paris VIII (France) and Universite Catholique de Louvain (Belgium). He has also held the Albert the Great Chair at the University of Koln (2019) and was an Honorary Professor at the Jakob Fugger-Zentrum, University of Augsburg (Germany). He has been awarded numerous awards including the 2015 Geswichter Scholl-Preis, the 2018 Gerda Henkel Award and the 2018 Ernst Bloch Award.

A co-founder of Les Ateliers de la pensee de Dakar and a  major figure in the emergence of a new wave of French critical theory, he has written extensively on contemporary  politics and philosophy, including On the Postcolony (University of California Press, 2001), Critique of Black Reason (Duke University Press, 2016), Necropolitics (Duke University Press, 2019) and Out of the Dark Night. Essays on Decolonization (Columbia University Press, 2020).  Originally written in French, his books and numerous articles are translated in thirteen languages (English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Slovenian, Danish, Swedish, Romanian, Arabic, Chinese). He has an A1 rating from the South African National Research Foundation and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

More about Professor Achille Mbembe