Ruines d'Utopies: L’École William Ponty et L’Université du Futur africain

Ferdinand De Jong, Brian Quinn, Jean-Nicolas Bach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During his autocratic reign, former president Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal initiated a number of infrastructural projects. Once announced to great fanfare and used to evoke a nebulous image of a modernist African future, these projects often transformed into costly white elephants. Such has been the case with the President's plan for l'Université du Futur Africain, to be built at Sébikotane, within view of the former École normale William Ponty. In his pedagogical vision for l'Université du Futur Africain, Wade has attempted to revive several aspects of Ponty's method for nurturing a new generation of African leadership. This vision included instilling within students a profound connection, both symbolic and utilitarian, to the African soil. The contemporary projection of colonial models onto the former Ponty site makes this a veritable palimpsest of Utopias. In this article we examine the Senegalese President's attempted revival of Ponty's colonial model for educating African elites in the name of a future Pan-African Utopia. Examining how the different temporalities of Utopian modernism and Afro-nostalgia intersect in the nearby ruins of the École normale William Ponty and l'Université du Futur Africain, we mourn the ruination of African futures upon sites of ever-renascent Utopian infrastructures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-94
Number of pages23
JournalPolitique africaine
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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